Founder Connor Marr on the movement that is the Green Headband Gang
July 12, 2019 – I am standing side-stage as the sun is going down on night one of the Levitate Music Festival. Ripe was rocking the stage with such presence that I swore the crowd even made the sky smile above. Quickly into the first song, I notice a sea of green laid out before me in the ocean of people that had lined up all day to see the somewhat hometown / Boston-based band do their thing.
“There’s something happening here,” I thought. This is a movement. There’s a community forming – amongst the community, that is truly a feeling where you are an ambassador for the – Joy in the Wild Unknown.
I spot a fan in the front row, seemingly the green headband captain who is simultaneously engaging with the audience and the band. Singer, Robbie Wohlfsun gets handed a small green headband from a woman on the side and he clutches it tightly in his hands as he sings in lockstep – from the heart to the sea of green.
Shortly after this unforgettable festival weekend, I connect with Connor Marr, the gentleman who was sporting and embodying the headband in the front row. I’m then introduced to the entire gang – the Green Headband Gang – who not only support Ripe and represent loud and proud at each show, but also make their music a way of life.
It’s with much pleasure, that here, we have Marr to take us directly inside the green wave.
I was grooving incredibly hard at my new favorite band’s set at Levitate – 2018. Someone caught it on camera and Ripe posted it on their Instagram, naming me “Green Headband Guy”
“Ripelove -”The bar has JUST BEEN SET for how hard one must party at a Ripe show. Thank you Green Headband Guy for showing us the way. See you a little later Chicago”
I had noticed this girl side stage filming me, so I decided to ham it up for the camera. The girl happened to be Sally Stempler, girlfriend of Calvin Barthel, Ripe’s trombonist.
The next day I woke up shocked because I was on Ripe’s Instagram page, and then that day I walked around Levitate wearing the same bandana on my head and a couple people were like “Hey Green Headband Guy.” Which was pretty cool and flattering in the way extremely relative viral fame can be.
A month later I went to see Phish at Merriweather in Maryland and during set-break someone shouted out “Connor?!?” I look to my right and see Jon Becker and Robbie Wulfson of Ripe. We hung out for the rest of the night and they invited me to come see them in Charlottesville. They were doing three nights opening for Moon Taxi. I went to all three and brought with me a bunch of bandanas that I dyed green. Over those three days, I danced around the audience wearing a green bandana rolled up around my head trying to get the people to boogie with me, and it worked. I didn’t give any away until a guy I was dancing with all show came up to me afterwards and said, “Next time I go to a ripe show I gotta wear a green headband.” He was the first person I ever gave one to.
I gave away the rest of them at a show in Northampton a few weeks later – thinking I’d never give out another green headband again. I was wrong. I have been making green headbands ever since and giving them out at each Ripe show I attend. It’s been amazing to see people where them now all over North America, even at shows I am not at.
But prior to all of that, I initially found Ripe’s music through the Levitate Music Festival. My brother and I went the year before, the summer 2017, for one day (not the day Ripe was playing) and fell in love with the festival so we got full weekend passes for the summer of 2018. In preparing for our first full weekend of Levitate, we wanted to listen to all the bands on the lineup. I will always remember when my brother, Andrew Marr, first sent me “Goon Squad”. I said to him something along the lines of “Holy sh*t, this is our music.” Granted we like a little bit of everything, but the horns definitely have a special place in our hearts.
That winter Ripe was releasing new tunes in preparation for their Joy In The WIld Unknown Tour and I was lucky enough to see them in Charlottesville where I was working at the time. I bought three tickets to the show and could only convince one other person to go with me to the Sunday night show because we had to teach then next morning at 8am.
One of my clearest memories of my first Ripe show ever is the band taking the stage in this basement venue that can barely fit all seven of them up there and Robbie says something along the lines of “We’re Ripe and we make dance music. We’re gonna be dancing our ass off up here but it’s more fun when this thing is a two-way street so we hope you join us” and I think I started dancing before the first song even started. (sorry Robbie if I butchered that opening).
In early January of 2019, I did a takeover of the @Ripelove account. When I went on tour with them later that month, we decided the gang needed its own account. Thus, the official @GreenHeadBandGang Instagram community was born.
One of the goals of the account is to create FOMO, build up that desire so that you can’t miss the next show. But also, maybe a quick 15 second clip can transport you back to the show you were just at the previous weekend. Maybe you will catch something amazing or incredibly goofy that the boys are doing that you’ve never seen before. Whatever it may be we want you to feel connected to every show and the full tour if you wish to be.
So far on this current winter Ripe tour, the Green Headband Gang has been fantastic. A lot of friends I’ve made along the way have stepped up by either making their own headbands, running the @GreenHeadBandGang account, and simply just showing up to shows and boogieing. So much of life is just showing up being there when people in your life need you. I have been amazed with how the gang has done that this tour.
The thing I love about the shows I cannot make it to is that there are still going to be people there who wear a little green to let the band know, “Hey I’m here and I’m ready for one hell of a show.”
I’ve really enjoyed how the community has been able to grow and operate without my presence at shows. I’d guess over 20 different fans, some that I have met, some that I only have connection with via social media, have run the Instagram account. It’s so cool because each individual has brought their own spin to it. Some people have done fan interviews. Some people go live during the shows. Some people only share pictures. Some don’t take any video during the show, which we also love. When people ask, “What am I supposed to do?” I just tell them to have fun, lead by example, if you feel the urge to take some videos do so, if not then have a great show and BOOGIE!
Drummer, Sampson Hellerman has done a couple GHBG takeovers and those are always really fun because he is able to show more behind the scenes stuff with the guys pre-show. His takeovers are also incredibly cool because he shows how much the band loves and appreciates this movement, this community, the aspect of their fandom, and that they are active members in the community themselves.
Most recently Lena, bassist Nadav Shapira’s partner, did a takeover for the Saturday show in NYC, but was worried the videos night be too lovey, but we decided – no, that’s EXACTLY what we want. Be true to your individual self and share with people how you enjoy a Ripe show because there are so many different ways to enjoy a Ripe show.
First Time Feeling:
I have made so many friends that I talk to everyday purely because they also love this band. After the initial video came out a year and a half ago, a couple Ripe fans reached out to me and followed me on Instagram which was pretty cool. Last winter I was having a hard time adjusting to living in NYC and just generally getting down on myself and my life. I also had just left my backpack with my laptop in it on the subway. So, I reached out to all of those Ripe fans, maybe 15 people, that had followed my personal Instagram account and asked them “what is your favorite Ripe lyric?” In a short time so many of them got back to me sharing their favorite lyrics and asking me, “Do I have to pick just one?” One of them asked me why I was asking and I told her I was just having a really bad day and Ripe makes me happy. She said that she was also having a bad day. So, I created a Instagram DM group of all these people and we shared our favorite lyrics and that’s group immediately maxed out capacity and we were ready for expansion.
A friend from that original group, Olivia, has been to so many Ripe shows with and without me and has also become a Ripe tattoo artist. Three or four of her designs are now on other Ripe fans skin. People she has never met before. She also became best friends with another Ripe fan Alex, I should mention she lives in Ohio and Alex lives in Buffalo. The first time they got together was for a Lawrence show and they got “Hey Hello” tattooed on themselves. On this tour I think Olivia has traveled to six different shows in five different states. She’s flying in for the Boston show. Alex is also flying in for the Boston show, as am I. House of Blues is a Ripe pilgrimage.