“What you saw here tonight,” said Paul Caffrey, the front-man of Tango Machina “this was important. What’s happening in New Jersey, and the music scenes in Asbury Park and New Brunswick will prove to be very important in the near future. Bands that are performing here now are going to have a major impact on the world. It’s similar to what took place in the Northwest in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I’m not saying a band like Nirvana will come out of this, but something important will.”
I was standing within The Stone Pony, hallowed ground, surrounded by photos of phantom moments and shows preserved in time. A grizzled black and white Bruce Springsteen photo from a musical era past and I locked eyes for minutes. The mirage of a slam dancing ballet led by the Bouncing Souls on a cool Halloween evening materialized and played out before me. I could hear the first few notes of “Big Sleep” emitting from the red Tomas Kalnoky guitar that hung from the wall, the home town crowd erupting in cheers at the familiar sound of the intro.
Despite being engulfed by all this history, all I had seen, and all I had heard, it was Caffrey’s departing words that stuck with me. People in this state may not realize it but we are within the epicenter of a movement that has a serious shot at re-crafting the world of music as we know it. This reformation won’t come on the backs of shimmering studio produced girl and boy pop acts with pretty faces and no chops, but from the calloused hands of Indie and D.I.Y. artists that are proud to call New Jersey’s clubs, bars, and basements their homes.
I witnessed a handful of those aforementioned artists play the legendary Pony on Saturday night at the album release party of another band on the brink, Almost There.
The show was in celebration of the Asbury Park trio’s newest EP, Silver Lake. Almost There is a three headed Pop-Rocking beast. It infests the mind with a brand of Punk that sinks its hooks deep within the listener.
Ed Soles’ versatile fret work ranges from the likes of Ed D’Sa to Tom DeLonge, before Tom D tripped in the dessert and discovered the universe, spacey keyboards, and total bleakness.
Complimenting Soles on bass is lead vocalist Zach Sicherman. His voice is deeper and suaver than is accustomed to a Pop-Punk act, but that’s what makes it unique, and the harmonization he and Soles are able to perform is ear candy that adds to Almost There’s appeal.
Almost There has gone through a series of drummers but its latest stick wielding warlock, Phill Serzan, seems to have stuck. He’s got the build and the glasses of Cuomo but pounds with the power of Grohl. His maniacal attack upon the drum throne has allowed Almost There to become comparable to the Foo Fighters in the sense that the music is melodic but furious.
I’ve mentioned Grohl, Cuomo, and DeLonge and Almost There has definitely learned from these artist’s and their respective bands, by their own admittance.
“A lot of people will see our show,” said Sicherman to the audience, “and they’re like ‘Oh, you guys play covers.’ Hell yeah we play covers. These songs are the reason we play music. If it wasn’t for bands like Foo Fighters, and Weezer, and Sublime, I never would have gotten this bass.”
After opening its epic 25-song set with four out of five original tracks, including “I Cried Wolf,” the opening number off Silver Lake, Almost There played a collection of tracks riddled with covers such as “I Want You To Want Me,” “Santeria,” and “Say It Ain’t So,” which you can see below:
Another highlight of the evening was when the band invited local rapper Bert L’z upon the stage to spit a few verses during an extended chorus on the Almost There original, “A Fine Night To Overdose…” check it out below:
Almost There plays The Saint this Saturday night. Listen to “I Cried Wolf” below and go check out Almost There this weekend.
The band I really came to see was co-headliner turned opening act, due to some confusion, Tango Machina. If you’ve followed this blog you know I’ve written about these guys before in the past. I’ve compared them to Agent Orange and Fugazi and but the more I listen the more I hear a Queens of The Stone Age influence especially in the Tango’s single “The Combination Is Explosive.” Watch the band performing that track below:
This is not a flashy band. Caffrey offers no lengthy guitar solos nor does Brian Wintes feel the need to twirl his drum sticks in the air after a fill. And you won’t find Damion DeStefano creeping about stage like a bass plucking velocirpator on the hunt. However, what you will witness is minimalistic rock music at it’s best, a simplistic, yet strategic, assault on the senses, as can be heard in Tango Machina’s “Warning Sign:”
Tango Machina is a band capable of physically moving you. The music is hard and fast and reverberates up your spinal chord sending impulses to your brain that make you kick, punch, and spit. Stay tuned for this band’s upcoming EP. In the mean time…listen to the band’s single “The Combination Is Explosive.”
The highest compliment I can pay to The New Volume, a gang of Freehold, NJ rockers is that they brought The Stone Pony to a level of concentration unseen at any other point in the night. The various bar areas, including the one out back where Almost There, Tango Machina, and several other Pony Patrons had retreated too, emptied when these guys started making noise. The powerful waves exploding from the stage pulsated throughout the venue, breaking over tables, chairs, and patio furniture before receding back to the source, and dragging us with it.
Bassist Steven Von Stomp provides the driving Punk-Rock bass lines for The New Volume that pave the way for the luscious Hard-Rock rhythms thrown down by the band’s guitar maestro Erik.
Erik’s axe will be placed on a wall at The Stone Pony, rightfully enshrined beside those that came before him.
“Black Hole” performed by The New Volume
Shanbone provides the band with it’s paralyzing brute force. His unbridled energy is a marvel. Few can go that hard and that fast and for so long, but this beast amongst men didn’t want the show to end.
“We’ve got about 10 minutes left to play,” said Shanbone, “and I don’t plan on wasting a single second.”
This madman left every bit of energy he had upon the stage and sat on his drum throne a king in the eyes of those who witnessed it.
Brick, NJ’s Breathing Blue was the other act on the bill and “accessibility” best describes this music. The poppy and pristine vocals of Justin Sanford pierced through the atmosphere. The dueling guitar attack of Rob Bost and Matt Basilotto was calculated. However, maybe the most impressive aspect of this band is its rhythm section. Breathing Blue’s bassist Chris Dechert is a trail blazer churning out Hard-Rock bass lines that lead the band from start to finish. And the band’s latest drummer Tyler Moellman is a powerful addition on drums, his rolls are impressive.
Breathing Blue is playing in support of its new self-titled EP. You can listen to some of those songs on the band’s Myspace page.
Almost There Setlist:
- I Cried Wolf
- I Want You To Want Me (Cheap Trick)
- Breaking Point
- This Is Goodbye
- Medley – Bon Jovi, Bush, After All, Mario, Last Laugh
- Say It Aint So (Weezer)
- Turned To Stone
- Fine Night To Overdose (feat. Bert L’z)
- Date Rape (Sublime)
- Santeria (Sublime)
- Garbage Dump Or A Gold Mine
- Can I Take You Home
- Do You
- Those Magic Changes
- I Will Follow You Into The Dark (Death Cab For Cutie)
- My Hero (Foo Fighters)
- Undone (Weezer)
- Black Hole Sun -> Everlong (Soundgarden/Foo Fighters)
- Man Overboard (Blink-182)
- Welcome To Paradise (Green Day)
- Going Away To College (Blink-182)
- Smoke Two Joints (Sublime)
- Medly-Stairway To Heaven, Dammit, ?, ?