Last Friday, one story below the Earth, in the same basement, and on the same platform where such musical careers as Bouncing Souls, Pavement, The Gaslight Anthem, and Streetlight Manifesto were born, a musical exhibition dubbed Qualoween or the Qualmost Machina Show was held at New Brunswick’s own Rock N’ Roll breeding ground/preserve, The Court Tavern.
“Shit in your goddamn hand!!!” yelled members of the audience at Tango Machina’s front-man Paul Caffrey, after the band paid homage to the late G.G. Allin with a cover of the Manchester Mad-Man’s “Bite It You Scum.”
Tango Machina played a brutal set, and I mean that in the best way possible. This three man Rock outfit (Damion DeStefano on bass, Brian Winters wielding the sticks, and Caffrey on lead) plays loud, fast, drops an occasional atomic sludge bomb and has gotten tighter and smoother each time I’ve seen it perform.
I think Tango does better in more intimate venues such as The Court. Down in that basement the bands stand no more than two feet from the audience and this outfit in particular performs better when it’s in the “shit” with the riotous gathering of show goers. It seems to feed off that energy and interaction, and was at ease in that cramped environment. Tango’s projectile spewing of savage Rock N’ Roll and comical discourse amongst the band between takes acts as evidence.
This trio’s ability to leave an audience bruised and battered from tunes that have no regard for anyone’s well being, and have them laughing about it at song’s end is an amazing piece of showmanship and aided Tango Machina in winning over an audience that was slow to respond, but called for one more song by sets end.
Kid Is Qual was next to perform and it turned a mere rock show into Qualoween. Jon Sullivan played the role of King and we acted as his court, jumping and contorting with every squealing pluck of his distorted bass and robotized verbal commands.
Joined by his Knights Of Ole, Mike Bryant on second bass and Chris McClish on the throne, Kid Is Qual planted its Rock N’ Roll virus amongst us and the infection spread quickly transforming the audience into an army of sock hopping zombies.
One of taller patrons jumped so high his head pierced the ceiling tile and I feared for my life because it appeared the reverberating vibrations emitting from Qual’s amps would bring the rest of roof down on us…but we weren’t about to stop dancing, especially when TREW joined the band on stage.
TREW, a dude from Virginia that spits hot fire on the reg, joined Sullivan and company for three songs but received the most applause for his 300 m.p.h. lyrical downpour “Victory,” which you can hear right now.
Closing out this stacked lineup was Almost There and, much to the chagrin of those in attendance, played a set cut short by time.
The Pop-Punks managed six songs before the Court Tavern management shut the place down. However, I was able to get a damn decent skank in during Almost There’s “After All,” which is finding its way onto many a playlists of mine.
Almost There overcame a lot to put on one hell of a performance including time restraints (They didn’t get on until 1:30 a.m. and drummer Phill Serzan had work at 7:00) and cramped playing quarters that limited, but didn’t eliminate, Zach Sicherman and Ed Soles’ flying drop kick maneuvers.
Almost There ended the night with its patented cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” bringing the audience together for a sing along and Qualoween to a close. This was my first trip to The Court Tavern and I thank Tango Machina, Kid Is Qual, TREW, and Almost There for making it a memorable one.
And on a final note…Zach Sicherman receives the “Dude Of The Night” Award for not only dressing up as Quailman, but for getting the belt on his head do that loopy thing. Kudos to you sir.