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Modern Chemistry at Starland Ballroom: An Underdog Story

// Artists // December 23, 2016 // Cooper

Last Friday went like every other. I left my white collar, 9-5 gig in desperate need of some mid-2000s emo to cope with the fact that I’ve totally sold out. My 16-year-old self is definitely fucking pissed that I work in a cubicle all day talking about forecasts, market research, performance efficiency, and holy crap I’m boring myself just writing this.


I told Adam I was heading to see Taking Back Sunday and The Starting Line at Starland Ballroom. He, ever having his ear to the ground listening for the hooves of N.J. Indie bands, pointed out that the opener, Modern Chemistry, was a band he was a big fan of. Then, it became my job to get to the venue on time to see the opener.

“On time” is a phase that is quite foreign to us at NJ Racket. Let me paint a word picture…

A group of seven of us were headed to the show together and having a few drinks (shots) prior. Here I am, trying to herd half a dozen drunk yuppies into an Uber, early, so I could see the Indie opener. I stood a better chance of convincing the girls they didn’t look fat in their outfits, but I digress.

As you can expect after drinking and being in a car for more than fourteen minutes, we had to pull the Uber over a quarter mile from the venue for everyone to pile out and piss in the tall grass next to the road, including me, the one person worried about making it to the show on time.  Sorry, but I had to go. I’m soft as baby shit and that piss felt better than most orgasms I’ve had in the past six months. What am I supposed to be writing about?

Modern Chemistry – right.

We made it in time, and shit, am I glad a browned out after Modern Chemistry’s set. They’ve been playing this holiday show at Starland for a number of years and their experience showed through.

Joe Zorzi’s beautifully full and gritty vocals filled the packed venue while the rest of the band owned the Christmas-tree-decorated stage. The band took a venue with a few hundred people and made it feel like a New Brunswick basement with your closest friends on stage. Make no mistake, Modern Chemistry is meant to play the big shows. I’d like to be deep and knowledgeable about harmonies, melodies, but plain and simple: these guys rocked the fuck out. They engaged the crowd every bit as much as The Starting Line or Taking Back Sunday and delivered a sound true to who they are.

What really resonated with me was the honesty of their sound and the emotion that their set delivered. Going back afterwards and listening to their entire discography cover to cover in one sitting is a story enough to tell itself. I literally did that, and I’m doing it again now as I pen this journalistic masterpiece. What they deliver are lyrics and a sound that make you feel like you, the listener, are the reason they wrote the songs.

I’ve been discovering a bunch of local bands recently and I’m glad to add Modern Chemistry to that list. Check them out, if you haven’t already, and add them to yours too.

Written by Cooper

Cooper is the photographer most likely to be responsible for any pictures of laundry machines or random speakers that turn up in a show gallery. He claims he’s “calibrating the camera” but I know he’s just trying to be an artsy douche.