Just in time for cocktail hour, an unruly line of tanned fashion girls is forming behind a velvet rope. The assembly is not for an invite-only sample sale or a runway extravaganza or a movie premiere but for a private outdoor concert at Chelsea Piers by Dogstar. The band, which is known mostly -- all right, only -- for its bass player, Keanu Reeves, has just released its first U.S. CD, Happy Ending. One glance at the black-and-white cover photo, which centers on singer Bret Domrose and nervily crops Reeves's famous mug, makes it clear that the trio has given up its flannel-and-torn-jeans grunge motif for a Matrix-esque makeover. And the evening's sponsors, DKNY Jeans and Mademoiselle, have provided Dogstar with a discerning audience full of Prada bowling bags and purple-tinted Chloe shades on which to give it a test drive.
"I saw Keanu come in," reports one fashion publicist. "He was wearing a black suit but with really big Timberland hiking boots, and his face was all scruffy. He's still fighting to retain some grunginess," she sighs. Not one audience member has ever heard a Dogstar song, but one fashion-house employee in a tube top comes the closest: "One time I was staying at the Chateau Marmont," she says, "and they were staying right next to me!"
By 10 p.m. there's still no sign of the featured players, and the crowd, pumped up on Chambord margaritas, begins to get ugly as the Guns N' Roses song "Sweet Child o' Mine" blasts from the speakers. "They're going to suck in comparison," growls a brunette in search of a cigarette. Just before the breaking point, Reeves, in a respectable red button-down and a black suit, as advertised, appears onstage. "Thank you, ladies," he mumbles into the mike, prompting the sea of sophisticates to bum-rush the platform, pulling digital cameras from Fendi baguettes.
After the short set, two girls -- one in wedge heels, the other in a Pucci-print tank -- profess their new love for Domrose, who is promptly cornered by a pack of Earl jean jackets. "We should host a party like this," he shouts from the center of the throng. "We could use some positive energy."