Thank you all to everyone who voted in the first and second rounds of this tournament and checking back for the “analysis.” The field is being whittled down but that doesn’t mean any of these bands are to be discarded. Follow the links to these group’s Web sites, listen to their music, and go see them live. Supporting local music is more important than can be expressed in a blog.
Anyway, happy voting and thanks for the support.
Third Round (23-26)
Bruce Springsteen 2,345 d. Streetlight Manifesto 1,936
“Here’s To Life,” “A Better Place, A Better Time,” “Everything Went Numb,” Streetlight Manifesto made this Legends Bracket Final closer than anyone, including this writer, thought possible by reaching into its back catalogue and pulling out all the classics.
Intertwined between every track from the Ska-Punk collective’s celebrated debut release, Everything Goes Numb, were selections from the band’s Keasby Nights redux, its sophomore release, Somewhere In The Between, and Tomas Kalnoky’s solo, acoustic, down-tempo cover of NOFX’s “Linoleum,” in an attempt to restore order. However, all hope of restoration was lost when Tohkay, the captain, was rejoined by his motley pirate crew on their ship of fools to perform “Down, Down, Down To Mephisto’s,” “Point/Keasby/Counterpoint,” and finally closing the show “Big Sleep.”
After that performance, the scales were tipped in Streetlight’s favor and it appeared the upset no one thought possible was playing out before the audience’s mystified eyes…however, Bruce Springsteen had yet to strike a string, and he would reveal that mass of voters were merely blinded by the lights.
Springsteen has some classic tracks too, and dipped down deep, to the very bottom of his storied well of songs, to grasp at those off his 1973 debut LP Greetings From Asbury Park. The Boss and The Band subdued the riotous mosh pits with arguably the best writing he’s ever done, including, “Growin’ Up,”Lost In The Flood,” “Mary Queen Of Arkansas,” and of course the track one, and his opening salvo of the evening, “Blinded By The Light.”
Springsteen and E Street Band would perform the classic record in its entirety, the rarest of feats, completed only one other time, on November 22, 2009 in Buffalo, NY…also known as the final date on what could prove to be Bruce and The Gang’s last major tour.
Bruce didn’t have to play any more music to win the Paramount Theatre audience over…but he did, to the tune of “Backstreets,” “Factory,” the raucous “Sherry Darling,” and a soothing acoustic rendition “Born To Run.” Yet again, Bruce proved he is The Boss of this town.
Beyond NJ Bracket:
April Smith & Co. 9,171 d. River City Extension 8,594
This pair of giant killers both fought treacherous terrains to play the Beyond NJ Bracket Final and, unfortunately, one of them was about to dismissed.
Fresh off a handful of acclaimed SXSW performances, River City Extension jumped out to an early lead by performing a set full of choices from the band’s 2010 breakthrough release, The Unmistakeable Man, including “Something Salty, Something Sweet,” “Today I Feel Like I’m Evolving,” and a booming, brass-filled, sing along of “Too Tired To Drink,” as its closing number.
April Smith & The Great Picture Show appealed to the audiences love of a different substance, one much less dangerous, and much less legal than alcohol. A certain smell, immortalized by Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1977, wafted above the capacity Asbury Lanes audience as the first ivory chords were tickled to the tune of “Terrible Things,” a track utilized by hit HBO television series Weeds.
Much like RCE’s case, April Smith & Company’s set was composed mostly of tracks from its 2010 breakthrough release Songs For a Sinking Ship, including such numbers as “Movie Loves A Screen,” “Colors,” and “Dixie Boy.” But, the victory was solidified when the collective performed crowd pleasing cover of, one of the few tolerable U2 tracks, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Almost There 18,457 d. Outside The Box 17,107
The Boardwalk Bracket championship was the most heated battle of the round of eight. Two young titans of Asbury Park clashed in grand fashion amongst a Wonder Bar audience that spilled out onto Ocean Avenue. Lance and Debbie had to open the patio doors to appease the masses that surrounded the venue.
35,564 votes were cast in this matchup that saw Outside The Box race out of the gates with an early lead when it was joined by Bruce Springsteen who was in the audience prior to his Finals match across the street. The Boss performed a one-off of “Kitty’s Back” with Outside The Box before disappearing out the back door.
Outside The Box finished its set with house shakers like “You And Me And Just Us For All,” “Furnace,” and “Suddenly Saturday.”
Not to be out done with the special guest star power, Almost There brought up Rome Ramirez (of Sublime With Rome) who was in the area to catch The Dirty Head’s show at The Stone Pony. Romost There performed “Santeria” and “Doin’ Time” before Rome headed for The Pony.
Almost There would go on to perform it staple rendition of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” as well a series of crows pleasing originals, like “Garbage Dump Or A Gold Mine,” “Turned To Stone,” and “After All,” and it was too much for Outside The Box to overcome.
Crowning a champion between these two acts was somewhat painful, but at the end of the night, these two acts solidified their statures as two of the best around.
Hub City Bracket:
Green Paper 1,736 d. The Sixty Six 957
At the start of this tournament some believed Green Paper was well too highly ranked and undeserving of a number one seed. Now the Popedelic four-piece is the champion of its bracket and headed to the round of four.
Green Paper tore through several crowd pleasers from its recently released debut full-length, Fire, including “April 27th 2004,” “Silver Linings,” and “The Waltz.”
However, it was when the group broke out new music from its upcoming sophomore release Water, that it truly impressed the voting body. The best song of the bunch, the one that transformed the mass of spectators into a turbulent sea of tripped-out dancing hooligans was “Rain.” This track will be huge when Water finally drops.
The Sixty Six put up a strong effort but with its mix of acoustic folk tunes and face melters. Newly acquired guitarist Eric Rudic has added a whole new element to the band’s music turning ragers like “Shotgun” and “Lloyd Braun” into full blown sonic napalm.
But, only one band could move on, and the voters were seeing green.
…Congratulations to the champions of the respective brackets, Bruce Springsteen, April Smith & Co., Almost There, and Green Paper. Again, I thank everyone for bearing with me and for taking an interest in this friendly competition.
-Chris Rotolo, Speak Into My Good Eye