Two Fridays ago, N.J. Racket hosted a show at one of our favorite spots, Stosh’s in Fairlawn, New Jersey, with the help of our good friends Mint 400 Records. The show had a little bit of everything that has come to be expected since this venue has taken off as one of the best spots in North Jersey. Electric Sensei brought the weird, Ruby Bones rocked out, Guilty Giraffe cranked up the volume, Joy Cleaner made it dance, and John Cozz got really drunk. Like my grandmother used to always say, “Blame it on the alcohol.”
This Thursday Virginia’s “one man jam band” Keller Williams will take the stage at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, and joining him will be New Jersey locals The Bitter Chills. Still riding the wave of the release of their second album, Feel-Good Songs for Feel-Bad People, The Bitter Chills will be taking a big step forward in sharing the stage with an act like Williams on just one stop of his seven month national tour. Tickets are still available on Ticketfly, but you’d be best to act quickly because I’m not sure how much longer that will be the case.
Years ago, back around the time I was first just starting to scratch the surface of the local scene, I caught a random Friday night show at New Brunswick’s Court Tavern that included a young band called Monterey. Later that night I got caught up talking with the band’s drummer, Matt DeBenedetti and he invited my buddy and I to what would be the first real New Brunswick basement show I ever went to, at a place called the Bomb Shelter, where they were playing with other locals American Lions and The Blithedale Romance.
Thanksgiving Eve turned out to be a fitting occasion to have a show featuring six of Northern Jersey’s acclaimed bands – Sunflower, LKFFCT, Whiner, Trü, Smock, and Shred Flintstone, gathering to celebrate Tyler Curtis’ birthday. Though some groups have been around longer than others (scene veterans LKFFCT, for instance, are somewhat of a collective “father figure” at this point), all of these musicians have been supporting each other for years, as well as the whole music scene of the greater Montclair area.
Of course, every punk show is special. They get your blood pumping and make you feel alive in a way that’s both positive and creative but also a little bit rebellious and destructive. Of course, that’s why we all do this – to scratch an itch that most other things just fucking can’t. But, while of course, every punk show is special, some are still undeniably specialer. You’ve ready Animal Farm?
This past Thanksgiving weekend, Volume IV in New Brunswick hosted Brooklyn punk rock OG’s Shellshag playing a show with Cincinnati anti-folk singer/songwriter John Hays, State Champion Records’ Sweaty, featuring label co-owner King Mike, and newcomers Torpedoes in their second show ever. This show was one of the specialer ones.
There’s a ton of great music coming out of the New Jersey indie scene these days from a ton of talented artists, but there are certain intangible qualities beyond sheer talent which are responsible for a piece of music being able to truly resonate with people on a level that exists deeper than enjoyable listening. Such an album was given to us by Hodera and Take This to Heart Records in First Things First.
On November 3, Hodera celebrated the release with a show at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch along with Save Face, Secret Stuff, and Halogens. The venue was packed with an enthusiastic and attentive crowd. To have followed these guys’ work and to see them receive the feedback and support First Things First has brought them has been nothing short of remarkable.