Review by Bethlehem Desta
This Wednesday night I found myself crowded into what felt like a giant living room with a couple dozen of my closest friends. We gathered to watch a cozy live show by The Sugar Honey Iced Tea (otherwise known as The S.H.I.T.) at Federal Hill vegetarian restaurant, The Grange. This show was a part of The Grange Live Music Series, where every Wednesday night at 9 pm, The Grange hosts an intimate and free live show of local musicians. This week, the act was really The S.H.I.T.
The Grange is a delightfully stylized restaurant that serves magically delicious food. From two arm chairs suspended and swinging in the corner, to mason jar cups, a smattering of succulents, dangling lights, and even the worn blue wooden floorboards, it’s a cool and funky place.
The S.H.I.T is Ana Mallozzi, Kate Jones, Emily Shaw, and Laila Aukee. They seemed right at home in The Grange. There was little physical separation between the band and their audience. Four mikes and some amps were set up in the corner of the restaurant, and the space was so packed that people ended up sitting on the floor directly in front of this temporary stage. Throughout the evening, all members of the band could be seen milling around, talking and laughing with the audience.
The band was formed in 2012 when Emily was a second year at RISD, and Laila a fourth year. It became an escape from College Hill and led them to Providence’s unique and tight-knit music community. The members of the band also became best friends, and in watching them perform live, it becomes abundantly clear how in tune they are with one another. The band uniquely and equally features each member’s voice.
In August of 2014 the band released their first LP, Silver Spells. Emily and Ana discussed that a lot of their work went into creating a full sound through their harmonies, and that the recording process was a project in its own, affecting the ways in which they are currently developing and expanding their sound.
During the show, each musician provided vocals and sported her own instrument; Ana on the banjo and bass, Emily on the electric guitar, Kate on the banjolele (banjo-ukulele hybrid), and Laila on the ukulele.
The sound of this group is quite fittingly dubbed “folk doo-wop.” For those unfamiliar with this type of intersectional sound, the band offers an explanation: the instrumentals of folk but the sound and style of doo-wop, all combined with beautiful and carefully composed four-part harmonies.
The S.H.I.T. performed a great set consisting of newer and older songs, with a few breaks during which individual members played covers and originals. Instruments were constantly swapped in and out, and even throughout each song, the layering of vocals changed.
The performance closed out with the band indulging a raucous audience with a special encore rendition of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” The band then disappeared into the packed restaurant floor, laughed among friends and cooled down after a long day’s work. I imagine the music had been something like a tall cool glass of sugar honey iced tea.