Asbury Park September 9, 2012. The Stone Pony Summer Stage
Review by Angela Blasi
As the summer tapers to a close The Offspring settle into a night of rock n’ roll to light up our own historic Asbury Park. Being a Sunday show, doors opened at 5pm with a special indoor performance by Old Bridge Twp locals, The Stolen. A pop punk quintet just getting their feet wet, they were surprisingly easy to listen to. Still a little awkward on stage with a fan base composed of primarily family and friends, they proved confident, appreciative and best of all, catchy. You can give them a listen here.
First up on the summer stage we have Dead Sara, the Los Angeles based, female-fronted quartet catching fire as they tour in support of their self titled, debut album. Though they were only given 30 minutes on stage, vocalist Emily Armstrong, bassist Chris Null, lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley, and drummer Sean Friday made every minute count. Stepping to their respectful places with a quiet, seamless presence, they broke the silence with the steady groove of Medley’s distorted guitar on “Whispers & Ashes.” After a pleasant introduction, the rock got underway with “Test on my Patience.” There is one thing I have to tell you about singer Emily Armstrong- she does not merely sing. Instead, she opens her mouth and lets the music pour out with unabashed passion. A voice that has been unparalleled in recent time, or at least in the twenty something years I’ve listened, she is the physical embodiment of the thumping bass drum and the richness of bass guitar. Music has been devoid of stellar vocalists who understand the instrumentation of the voice for far too long. I loved “Lemon Scent” – matching vocal melody to the squealing allure of Medley’s instrument, yet gravely growls in all the right places.
I had the opportunity to interview Dead Sara and learn more about their music. From their love of the road to the creative process, Dead Sara is all about doing what feels right in order to create pure rock n’ roll as they see fit; casting off the music industry machine in their early trials and distributing their music via their own label to maintaining complete creative control over their art. I hope they realize how much faith they have restored in rock n’ roll fans as they spread their refreshingly raw sound across the nation. Ironically enough their fame is almost accidental, as a radio disc jockey discovered the hit single “Weatherman” and simply started playing the powerhouse of a song out of enjoyment. A fitting beginning for a band that exudes humble passion, displaying modesty and compelling honesty in personality and musicianship. When I asked Armstrong where exactly a voice like that comes from, she simply looked me in the eye, laughed a little and replied, “I wish I knew.” But please, do not underestimate the rhythm section of this band. Songs like “Weatherman” are accented poignantly with rolling snare and punchy bass lines that resonate inside your chest. Behind a screaming front woman is a mess of arms, hair and sticks thrashing away like a rock God. Interestingly enough, Dead Sara only took form into the current line up a few short years ago, as Medley and Armstrong went through a few drummers and bassists before recruiting Friday and Null. It seems to have been a wise decision, as the group explains their creative process as a natural, flowing entity conceived in the meddling of the studio and fostered by the eagerness and excitement of finding a riff and expanding on it.
Though quiet on stage, backstage finds them relaxed and mellow, more like a group of old friends than rock stars who seemed very nonchalant about the being interviewed endlessly thing. Fresh off of Van’s Warped Tour (where they had to cancel the last leg of the tour due to Medley’s fractured ribs) and bouncing around the U.S., fans can catch them on the bill for ShipRocked 2012 along with heavy hitters Godsmack and Korn. Keep an eye on this band; before you know it they’ll be headlining major tours and selling out venues. I wish them well in their endeavors and hope they find rising fame kind.
Second to the stage representing the alternative genre with their energetic, bouncy vibe and electrified music was Neon Trees. Personally, I was only familiar with their radio singles, “Animal” and “Everybody Talks.” However, I was impressed with the vocal clarity, as lead singer Tyler Glenn is just as clean and crisp as he appears on studio recordings, often bending his voice into interesting pitches while adding colorful tones. Neon Trees offered a slightly longer set, featuring an electric light display that matched their fun sound. I was pleasantly surprised as the band played as tight as a drum and executed it with flawless presentation. Glenn also offered witty banter between songs, keeping the crowd entertained on multiple fronts. Something of a contrast to the grit of the previous set, the audience slipped into the bouncing tunes with ease. They even launched into a cover of “State Trooper.” And what is a summer show in Asbury Park without Bruce Springsteen? Overall, the band that has been called an evolutionary step in the glam rock scene proves this is no misnomer.
Which leads us to our main event, The Offspring. Having been a fan since childhood, this was my first time seeing the group live. Let me preface by first saying I have heard for many years that Dexter Holland cannot hit certain recorded notes live. That being said, I took this as an opportunity to see for myself.
Regardless of that, they played an amazing 19 song set complete with two encores. The Offspring opened with “Hurting As One,” a track off their latest album Days Go By. Though the new album clearly had its place in their set list, performing the current single “Days Go By” early in the night, they also played every song I wanted to hear. When the bass line to “Bad Habit” kicked in, older fans in the crowd began to cheer. Singing along, loud and proud, the group paused just before launching into a cadre of swear words energetically backed by Noodles distorted guitar. Another highlight was the slow piano introduction of “Gone Away.” As it crept to a head, Dead Sara’s own Emily Armstrong took to the stage once more to join Dexter on the chorus, adding an even more haunting effect to the overall emotion of the song. As for the vocals mentioned earlier, I am sad to report that the rumors were true. During one moment of the night when the main vocals fell out of rhythm for a brief second, I was able to hear a pre-recorded audio track played underneath. I was a little disappointed when I realized Dexter was either shortening the length of, or unable to hold out, all the characteristic long phrases heard so often on their records. However I am a forgiving fan, dismissing his vocal shortcomings and simply singing even louder, because after all they still put on one hell of a show. The music rocked, the energy was buzzing and the crowd was an eclectic bunch of punk rockers and rock n’ rollers (that could have used a lesson in proper moshing/skanking).
Honestly, this is probably the most fun I’ve had at a concert in a long time. I was thoroughly engaged and entertained from start to finish and highly recommend catching this specific line up before the last date of the tour. You won’t regret it, even if it takes a road trip.
Secret Music’s video for “Ghost in the Graveyard” April 9, 2012
This catchy synth/guitar song from Secret Music has a flaming video portraying a break from monotony by running into fire. Ted Batchelor, the stuntman in the video, is the Guinness World Record Holder for Longest Body Burn; he leaves his wife and mundane, suburban lifestyle behind to ‘awaken the voice of his soul’ by running through the desert and lighting himself on fire.
The track was produced by Passion Pit’s Ayad Al Adhamy and is off the band’s self-titled debut, which dropped March 6th on Black Bell Records/Warner Music’s ILG. Secret Music will be touring with Middle Class Rut and Beware of Darkness starting on April 21st, see dates below.
Secret Music Spring 2012 Tour:
w/Middle Class Rut and Beware of Darkness
Don’t Forget, Flogging Molly This Saturday in Atlantic City! February 18, 2011
Flogging Molly’s 7th Annual Green 17 Tour comes to New Jersey this Saturday in Atlantic City at House of Blues. Opening acts include Moneybrother and The Drowning Man. House of Blues is located at 801 Boardwalk Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Enjoy the weekend, enjoy the show!
Flogging Molly’s 7th Annual Green 17 Tour Has Started, Let The Count Down To St. Patrick’s Day Begin! February 9, 2011
CLICK HERE FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD OF FLOGGING MOLLY’S NEW SINGLE “DON’T SHUT EM DOWN”
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
Yes! We can hardly contain ourselves either! Flogging Molly’s 7th Annual Green 17 Tour is now making its way across the US and shortly to the east coast! With the tour off to a fresh start, NVMP is looking forward to the dates at House of Blues in Atlantic City, NJ on 2/19 and Terminal 5 in New York, NY on 3/2. The Green 17 Tour started in 2004 as a count down to St. Patrick’s Day with a performance celebration in each city leading up to the holiday. Which city is your city? Check out the cities and venues of the tour below.
If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, I hope you’re blessed with the luck of the Irish, because these tickets won’t be available for long. To buy your tickets now and for more information, visit www.floggingmolly.com.
BLACK TAXI VS. DEADBEAT DARLING January 18, 2011
Black Taxi and Deadbeat Darling are two of New York City’s strongest drawing bands, and found immediate success at the Bowery Ballroom by selling out their first two performances at the venue. They’ll return to play the Bowery Ballroom for a third time, in front of what is already approaching a sold-out crowd.
Check out Bill Mayo’s promotional video for the show:
Black Taxi recently crossed the country with their high-energy dance rock act, bringing the show as far west as LA’s Viper Room and hitting major cities in the Southwest and Midwest. With the release of a brand new music video for “Shoeshine,” the opening track on their album “Things of that Nature,” and a busy tour schedule, BLACK TAXI is hitting the ground running in 2011.
Deadbeat Darling made their debut UK appearance in 2010, and followed the tour with a successful run at CMJ where they were named one of the top 28 acts by BlackBook Magazine. Their showcase schedule included a sold-out show at The Studio at Webster Hall. Over the past six months they’ve introduced a variety of new songs, many of which will be included on their forthcoming album. The new material channels influences that are fresh to the Deadbeat Darling sound.
CMJ MADNESS!! October 20, 2010
Just a note that CMJ has come to town and NVMP is there! Stay tuned for tons of new bands to check out! Do your homework and discover some new music while this crazy music circus is in town.
Recoil: A *Selected* Interview October 6, 2010
Earlier this year, the musical world received a surprising but welcome return to touring from former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder, better known under his current moniker of Recoil, in support of his latest album release Selected. Thanks to the success of the tour in early 2010, Recoil has fortunately decided to return to the road for a full-on fall tour, with assurances of a grander interactive experience in tow. In the midst of tour preparations, Alan took the time to answer a few questions for NVMP’s Mark about his latest release and the updated tour.
NVMP: In past interviews, you made it known that touring with Recoil was unlikely because of your disdain for touring coupled with your assertion that Recoil is essentially a studio project. After 15 years of studio work, what inspired you to take Recoil on the road?
AW: There were a number of reasons – with all the new and old remixes at our disposal, the fact that it is 25 years since Recoil began, and also the fact that these days it is cost effective to use film. For me, this was always a ‘must’ for any live performance of Recoil. And with the advent of cheaper, portable HD cameras as well as affordable editing software, to make films has suddenly become viable. I have been collaborating with four different directors for this project using a central server where we could all upload (and feedback on) our work-in-progress. Without a band or vocalists, this provides the main visual focus.
NVMP: Your video updates have indicated that public reaction to your tour in Europe has been extremely well, with numerous sold-out shows. How has the response been on the US leg of the tour?
AW: Just as good I’m pleased to say, although touring the US requires a lot more preparation, promotion and logistical work. It is a very tough market generally due, it seems, to Ticketmaster surcharges putting people off buying. Promoters are less willing to take risks as a result and it is not so usual to get hotel and travel costs covered either (as we might in Europe and South America). It is also tougher for us having to procure expensive work visas (a nightmare to organize) and all the other extra costs of traveling in such a huge country. Luckily, we seem to be doing ok and expect good turn outs everywhere but, despite that, we’ll probably actually lose money on this leg.
NVMP: With a multitude of opening acts and guest DJs, promoted after parties, (Conjure One, Sarah Blackwood from Client, Mute legends Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones, Martin Gore, a double bill with Gary Numan), how did the artist selection for the Selected events come about?
AW: It just evolves as ideas come to mind – sometimes people are suggested to me, or they might happen to be on the road themselves playing nearby (as with Gary Numan), or they might have an affiliation with a place or town (Dan & Gareth in Berlin for example), they might have had some connection to Recoil or DM in the past (Nitzer Ebb, Martin Gore), or they might be something I just happened to hear and enjoy (like Architect). I definitely wanted each event to be unique in some way, which is why we have tried to set up after-show parties, situations where local artists can display their work (such as photographer Cosmin Bumbutz in Bucharest) or even perform after the show.
NVMP: Can you tell us a bit about your live equipment set up and its purpose over the course of your performance?
AW: Paul and I work closely together in the studio although we come from very different angles musically. I turn to him for unusual effects and lateral thinking. We have just extended what we do into the live setting. Initially, we used ‘Ableton Live’, then imported our new work into Apple’s ‘Logic Pro’ to arrange further, and finally back into Ableton to run at the shows, along with live effects, launch pads to trigger them and some external filtering using modular synths.
NVMP: The visuals for your previous tour’s set featured surreal, often nightmarish mini-films, stills and animations. How did you develop the concept for your sets and whom did you enlist to help bring your vision to life? What kind of visuals can we expect to see on this the latest tour?
AW: The way I work with most collaborators is to allow them a free reign. I enlisted the different filmmakers – all loyal supporters who have also become friends – because I believe they are not only talented but always enthusiastic about the prospect of supplying visuals, using my music as inspiration. The way we worked was that I would send them the music files and they would ‘respond’ back with the footage they had in mind to accompany it. I would then offer my views – in the role of ‘executive director’ if you will – and by the end of the process, something usually got created that was powerful and flowed naturally with the music. The filmmakers are Igor Dvorsky from Slovakia, Dmitry Semenov from Russia and Steve Fabian from Hungary. I’ve also used some footage from a film by Argentinean director Marcelo Schwartz. As for what you can expect on this upcoming tour, it’s not quite the same as on the last. You’ll have to come along and find out…:-)
NVMP: With your live show featuring such a unique multimedia experience, are there any plans to do some sort of CD/DVD multi-media release of the tour?
AW: It’s already happened! The special edition box set for ‘Selected’ contained an audio CD of the source music we present (excluding live fx) along with a DVD of the film elements.
NVMP: The album that the tour is promoting, Selected, is not merely a “Best Of“, but rather a handpicked audio experience that helps emphasize the eclectic musical styles of artists. Why did you select these specific tracks to feature? Why release the album in different versions?
AW: When I realised there weren’t any restrictions or stipulations with the content, the collection idea started to appeal and I kind of knew it would be possible to create an album with continuity, atmosphere and pacing. And I obviously wanted to feature most of the vocalists who have been involved over the years.
Even though there were a few interesting discoveries (or re-discoveries) along the way, my inclination that it would mainly consist of material from the last three Recoil albums proved correct after I attempted to fit in older material, and noticed that there had been a significant sound change around the time of ‘Unsound Methods’. I put this down to a couple of things: a) I had much more time to concentrate on the project after I left DM, and b) I had by then, under my belt, the experience of making ‘Songs of Faith & Devotion’ with Flood, where we had experimented much more deeply with looped performance.
The project evolved from what was initially a low budget, designed-for-retail ‘best of’ into something much more – a complete retrospective multi-format package with higher art values. Over the time spent discussing the release, the climate was almost changing in front of our eyes and it became clear that making different formats available is not only desirable to both artist and consumer, it is also viable financially. And then the idea of the tour capped everything off.
NVMP: As a sonic perfectionist, you are known for taking your time with albums and tweaking them until they achieve the highest sound quality possible. How long did it take you to compile and mix Selected? The audio aspects of the live show?
AW: It is true that I am a perfectionist. I am never fully satisfied with anything – which is sometimes restricting in that everything takes forever to complete but ultimately, it is that which drives me to always try and improve and produce better music. It took a long time to put the whole package together because of all the other elements that one has to consider these days surrounding any release. Putting the music together for the live event took many weeks. Again, due to film considerations, it became quite a complicated process, but also an exciting and enjoyable one.
NVMP: In news updates for your shows, you make it clear that you will be doing meet and greets at the shows. Why?
AW: Why not? I haven’t been out there since 1994 and I get a lot of requests from fans to sign their items and so on. Plus I’ve always thought it’s important to communicate with the people who have supported me over the years and enabled me to live the life I have enjoyed. Through this kind of communication, I have forged many friendships and collaborations (just take the four filmmakers as a great example of that. Each has talent and each has come to me offering their services because they enjoy what I do. That’s very flattering and also very helpful). I like to give something back if I can.
NVMP: What type of drinks help enhance the performing live experience?
AW: I usually go for a couple of beers onstage, and some nice wine afterwards to relax a bit. Then we see if the night develops…
NVMP: How important would you say ‘word of mouth’ has been in your career, especially recently?
AW: Word of mouth via social networking has been very important for the last 10-15 years I’d say. It’s particularly useful for artists who don’t enjoy the luxury of major corporation backing, with large amounts of cash being poured into TV ads and so on. I have cultivated a whole network of pro-active supporters who host unofficial websites, run Facebook pages, blogs, forums etc.
NVMP: What can your fans look forward to next from Recoil?
AW: I’m planning to get back into the studio next year if I can fix my very ill studio computer and get to writing some new Recoil music. I may show up at one or two events next year but nothing is firmly planned yet.
NVMP: And finally, what is your definition of a “Poser”?
AW: One who is insecure and puts on an act to mask that insecurity.
***MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST @ HIGHLINE BALLROOM NYC – RECOIL FT. ALAN WILDER. ALSO ON THE BILL- ARCHITECT, CONJURE ONE (RHYS FULBER FROM FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY) AFTER THE SHOW, DEPECHE MODE NY PRESENTS THE OFFICIAL RECOIL AFTERPARTY!!!***