A few weeks ago, Frank DeFranco approached me with the opportunity to co-promote a show with his label, Sniffling Indie Kids (SIK), and I couldn’t jump on it fast enough. Not only because the idea of hosting a show sounded cool as shit and was an idea that had been kicked around N.J. Racket HQ for some time, but because I was ecstatic to have the chance to collaborate with a group like SIK, who have made such a big splash in the local community. Max Rauch summed it up pretty well in our interview: “Honest tunes delivered by a label that passionately cares about what it brings to NJ.” Together, we put together a pretty stacked lineup (no point in being modest), featuring LKFFCT, Rosey Bengal, NGHTCRWLRS, and ManDancing; and with the help of another one of our favorites, Mint 400 Records, we locked down Stosh’s as the venue.
ManDancing kicked off the night with a killer set. They played a smaller band set, consisting of Stephen Kelly on vocals and guitar, Ben Petty on lead guitar, and Tom DeVinko on drums, but even down two bandmates, these guys were not missing any energy at all. I find everything this band does so incredibly entertaining, from the raw, angsty lyrics, to DeVinko wailing away on the drum set, to Stephen and Ben bickering over a pretzel between songs. No gimmicks, no theatrics, no bullshit, just one of the most genuine performances you can hope to see.
Our co-sponsor and guest of honor, birthday boy Frank DeFranco took the stage next with his band, NGHTCRWLRS. This is a band I try to make a point to see as often as possible, but I still find myself blown away every goddamn time. Each of the band members brings such a unique element to the band’s sound, and they are collectively so talented that they are able to blend them together flawlessly. There may not be a better pairing anywhere than the shredding dissonance from DeFranco’s guitar and the pure anger in so much of Brian Goglia’s vocals.
The next band was a serious mood changer (and might’ve saved Stosh’s from being torn down from the near-capacity crowd that filled the bar that night), as we shifted from the aggression of ManDancing and NGHTCRWLRS to Rosey Bengal’s bluesy, Americana serenade. Evan Luberger’s got a voice for hopping freight trains and an acoustic guitar for panhandling, nurtured in the beautiful countryside of Sparta, New Jersey.
LKFFCT closed out the night with a raucous set that made Stosh’s feel like the Meatlocker. Everyone pushed up so close to the band, I was getting drunk off the beer on Max’s breath. The crowd was jumping around. The band was jumping around. Brian Legentil said fuck the stage and came out into the crowd, swinging his bass around and getting bounced back and forth while everyone chanted, “More soup! More soup!” LKFFCT is the type of band that can really take you for a ride. They’ve got pop-punk jams like “Howlin Alarm,” a chorus I was singing all week in anticipation. Then there’s more chill stoner tunes like “I Like U (A Lot),” which sounds a lot like my spirit animal. And then they finished the set with noisy thrasher “Milk The Cow,” a Got Milk? commercial having a bad acid trip accompanied by a funky bassline.
Now, I have a small secret to let all of you in on. Some of you probably have your suspicions already. The truth is I’m not a journalist, and I’m not a musician. Yes, I did play trumpet in high school, but I wasn’t good at it. Point is, I really don’t have any authority to be doing this, other than one day I drunkenly decided that I was gonna. But I like to think that, even if the talent and vocabulary aren’t there, the hard work, passion, and admiration of everything happening in the scene right still comes through. For that I’d quickly just like to thank everyone who has supported us, given us a vote of confidence, and encouraged us to going, because without you, we might not have. Of course, a huge thank you to all the bands that came out to play: ManDancing, NGHTCRWLRS, Rosey Bengal, and LKFFCT (special shout out to Max Rauch for playing two sets), thank you to Sniffling Indie Kids and Mint 400 for everything you did to put the night together, thank you to Stosh’s for providing us with a great space and reasonably priced beer, and last, but not least, thank you to everyone who came out just for the hell of coming out and enjoying some great bands. We are very much looking forward to doing this again with you all real soon.
And a very special thank you to Meredith for these photos and so many others.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.