Dating back to 1985, the low-key pool hall/dive bar fondly referred to by locals as Hawaiian Brian’s is rebranding as HB Social Club. Once an arcade, then a billiards hall, the site has evolved into a multi-purpose venue featuring three music and event spaces, pool tables and a kitchen.
“Most people who have lived in Honolulu for the past 30 years have been to Hawaiian Brian’s, and if they haven’t, they’ve probably heard something about it,” explains Lee Anderson, general manager of HB Social Club. “There’s a lot of history here and most people have an opinion about the place, be it good or bad, just because it’s been here for so long.
“The rebranding has been a conversation for a while now because there are a lot of people who still don’t understand how there could possibly be a concert at Hawaiian Brian’s, or maybe a different person sees all of the shows we do now and thinks that they can’t shoot pool here anymore. We felt that the name ‘HB Social Club’ still holds on to the nostalgia of Hawaiian Brian’s by including the initials in the name, but also commemorates the evolution of the space.”
Since returning to Honolulu in 2012, Anderson and the team at HB Social Club have worked hard to reposition the venue, adding an upgraded sound system and creating event spaces of varying sizes. On any given night, as many as three different acts could be performing, while patrons can also continue to visit to play pool or order food.
Notable events have included hosting the college radio station KTUH’s 50th Golden Anniversary Concert Series featuring The Richard Thompson Electric Trio in October.
The eclectic event space provides local residents and visitors with performance venue options. HB Social Club includes four main rooms available to rent out any day of the week: Crossroads, a 500-person hall; The Studio, a 75-person room; Electron, a “hidden” dance club typically featuring a mix of underground house music and drum and bass; and Hawaiian Brian’s, with 23 pool tables and a dart room. The venue is open daily from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Booking inquiries can be emailed to email@example.com.
ANDERSON AND the team began transitioning the location into a multi-space venue in 2013 with the hope that “if bands loved playing here, then their crowds would follow.”
“We’ve always prioritized our obsession of achieving sonic perfection and giving artists the best possible stage experience. Many of the improvements and investments we make are inspired by talking to our favorite artists and getting their opinion on what would make the venue better,” Anderson said.
One such artist who has built a name for himself at the venue is local reggae musician and Na Hoku Hanohano award-winner, Mike Love, who often performs at the club with his band, The Full Circle.
Anderson and Mike Love joined forces in September 2016, with Anderson serving as a manager, and they have formed a unique friendship. When not touring or recording, Love is a mainstay at the venue, sometimes performing as often three times a week for his avid fans.
In June, Mike Love and The Full Circle celebrated five years of shows at Hawaiian Brian’s with his first-ever live album recording and concert filming during a two-hour power set.
“We love that the crowd he brings has a genuine interest in taking care of each other, our venue, and creating a vibrant community around positive music,” Anderson said. “The atmosphere falls perfectly in line with the vision we have behind the HB Social Club brand.”
Taking on the rebrand of a 21,000 square-foot venue is no small project. Anderson and his team have taken steps in order to solidify Hawaiian Brian’s refreshed identity by establishing a new logo, updating social media platforms, re-working the website, designing new graphics and more.
“We want to continue to work with people that inspire us and be a melting pot of artistic and cultural expression,” Anderson said. “We hope the rebrand will pique the curiosity of people that may not have been here yet and encourage them to check us out with an open mind.
“We feel that the neutrality of the name will lead to more opportunities to share our space with the community and leave the canvas open for evolution.
“We also want to continue to be a great, world-class music venue for local and touring acts and be a solid place for people to shoot pool and have a drink.”
The HB Social Club will still have the same good vibes Hawaiian Brian’s was known for. The venue also has a stacked lineup of performances to round out 2019, including a homecoming show for Ron Artis II and special guest Justin Chittams of Nahko & Medicine for the People on Dec. 13, and a performance by well-known artist and producer Citizen Cope on Dec. 15. For tickets, go to hbsocialclub.com.
Featuring Olivia Thai; hosted by Hawaii Slam with DJ Monkey and live painting
>> Where: Crossroads, HB Social Club
>> When: 8:30 p.m. today
>> Cost: $3-$5; all ages
>> Info: 387-9664, hawaiislam.com
RAD: THE 80S PARTY
With Drink from the Alawai (rock/alternative), Kwali, Yung Hawaii and Jehzan (hip hop), ‘A Collective, Kokoke Kaulana and Nadia (island/Hawaiian)
>> Where: The Studio, HB Social Club
>> When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27
>> Cost: $10; all ages
>> Info: 946-1343