By Chris Rotolo, The Creator
James Wells and Quinn English are far from a conventional pair of musicians. Evidence in support, the Big Apple and/or Garden State-based duo that composes the The Gay Blades created its own musical classification, Trash-Pop, dons stage pseudonyms and personas such as Clark Westfield (Wells) and Puppy Mills (English), may or may not practice voodoo, and on Friday evening, transformed a vinyl release party for its 2007 debut full-length, Ghosts, into a variety show in the name of Valentines Day at The Stone Pony…
In short, a conventional review of this performance will not do. It would be impossible to accurately capture what took place on the Asbury boardwalk that evening in a series of paragraphs, so hear are some facts.
The Gay Blades are not breaking up: Rumors were fluctuating throughout the evening that the pair would be making a mutual split at the conclusion of this showcase, as The Gay Blades have no shows scheduled in the near future, Wells has been spending much of his spare time performing solo, as well as auditioning for the role of John Lennon in broadway plays, and managing the Philadelphia Indie-Rock collective Cold Fronts, while English has been pounding out beats for the Red Bank-based Plus Plus Minus of late. However, it has been confirmed by the stick wielder that a breakup is not in the band’s future and, in fact, the pair plans to use the downtime to write new tunes.
Wells may not be capable of performing elongated freestyle monologues, but Westfield is…and he did: Prior to ripping into “Robots Can Fuck Your Shit Up,” Westfield spewed a lengthy piece too intricate, too detailed, too strange, with too many tangents and varied subject matter to have been rehearsed. The front-man’s stream of consciousness tale about debauched interracial relations in the Pony bathroom, Puppy Mills on a pegasus, his love at first viewing for a nubian princess and bat tender at a Secaucus, NJ train station lounge, and other various characters and situations acted as the comical underbelly that is the usual at a Gay Blades outing.
The duo led its patrons in off the cuff singalong of Cher’s “Believe”…that prompted one show goer to croon the opening verses amongst a silent, confused, yet overtly elated congregation forcing Westfield to pose the question “You know the words?” and follow up with “You’re either really old or really lonely,” drawing a barrage of laughter from the assemblage and said unsuspecting show goer.
The Gay Blades turned The Stone Pony’s concrete dwellings into a slow-dance floor: “Is there a disco ball in here or this some sort of god forsaken hell hole?” asked Westfield of The Pony brass who, unfortunately, proceeded to deny his request for said shimmering spherical ceiling piece. However, that didn’t keep the charismatic front-man from calling for a mass imagination session. “I want you to picture yourself at your 8th grad dance. Guys grab your girls, girls grab your guys, and if you came alone grab the body next to you, it don’t matter, because girls with girls is sexy.” The comical prelude fronted the Savagesdeep cut “Every Night Is Like A Revival.”
Mike Abiuso is an honorary Gay Blade for life: Abiuso (The Venetia Fair, Kiss Kiss, The Mayor), who played keys on the duo’s 2010 sophomore release, Savages, as well as toured on the record with the band, was in the audience on Friday and was named an honorary Gay Blade for life by Westfield when the electric ivory tickler and multi-instrumentalist was called upon stage to sing backing vocals with the members of Cold Fronts on the lead single from that collection “Try To Understand.” The moment of collaboration and vocal accompaniment from the audience was apparently too grandiose for Westfield who was compelled to jump down into the audience and dance from one end of the mass of music lovers to the other.
Cold Fronts…are heading down to SXSW next month and hope to have the outfit’s debut EP completed in time for that trip. The Trash-Pop collective, who share similar song writing sensibilities with The Strokes, are laying down their tunes at the same studio, Transporterraum, Julian Casablancas and company recorded Is This It and Room Is On Fire…stay tuned for details on that and a return to the Boardwalk in the near future.
Anjelia Pelay…owns a look, the choreography, and a show made for stages larger than what Asbury Park has to offer, and unfortunately, what its music enthusiasts did not appear to be interested in. Although performing a captivating set of Pop tunes, I fear the Toms River songstress, and her cast of backup vocalists, that including Emily Grove, dancers, stringed instrumentalists, and percussionists, was lost on the assemblage of Rock N’ Roll seeking hooligans, causing one female patron to remark “I enjoyed her tunes, it definitely a good show, but I don’t think this is the right atmosphere for it.” A fair assessment of an artistic display that if placed upon another bill, would have quaked the Boardwalk planks.