The first-ever North Jersey Indie Rock Festival at Cathedral Hall in Jersey was a major accomplishment for NGHTCRWLRS and Sniffling Indie Kids’ Frank DeFranco, who, in conjunction with Neil Sabatino of Mint 400 Records, planned and organized the festival i decided that the time had come to organize an event showcasing the remarkable talent hidden in North Jersey. That’s the kind of ass kicking D.I.Y. attitude that N.J. Racket is proud to support.
I saw Randy, Mark, Boris, and Tim play for the first time over five years ago when they were playing together as part of another band, Killing the Messenger. I had no idea there was a show that night, but I was talking to the guys at the bar. They told me to check them out and promised they’d be good. Of course, all bands say they’re good, but for $5 I figured, whatever, they seem like cool guys.
They weren’t good. They were fucking unbelievable.
That was the first time I ever left a local show with my mind completely blown, my ears bleeding, and chasing the band out the door asking when their next show was. I’ve been following them consistently for the past five years.
Sometimes, I’ll go see a band and someone will ask, “What did they sound like?” and I’ll respond, “Well, they’re a folk band. They sound like other folk bands. They’re nearly indistinguishable from other folk bands.” That could not be further from the case with Young Legs, and that is why they were one of my favorites from The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival at Cathedral Hall.
I had heard C.R. & The Degenerates’ album, Salt of the Earth, prior to the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival, and I was really engaged by its raw energy and grit. There’s a definitive authenticity to their music and sound. It has an edge. Listening to that album, I got the impression that C.R. Gennone and his band of degenerates really don’t give a rat’s ass if I like them or not, but I really do. I really do, and I want them to think I’m cool.
Shane-Michael Vidaurri is an incredibly talented, multifaceted artist. Not only is he an accomplished graphic artist and a member of a couple bands, most notably The Ashes, but I was incredibly impressed with his solo performance at the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival. On the surface, Vidaurri’s act was pretty simple. He doesn’t go for attention grabbing moments, nor is his music overly energetic. The true beauty of his art is how well it stands on its own. It has a very plain and innate beauty to it that is easy to appreciate.
Ken de Poto was the first artist I saw at the North Jersey Indie Rock Fest at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City, and god damn was it a great way to get things kicked off! de Poto took the stage, and the heavily blues-inspired riffs came wailing out of his guitar. His music is dark and heavy and kinda crawls in a way that allows you to digest and contemplate the lyrics, which are delivered in such a deliberate way that many songwriters fail to truly achieve.