This past Saturday, I went down to Asbury Park to catch a show featuring dollys (returning from their tour), Vasudeva, Toy Cars (also back from their tour), and the North American. Now, at N.J. Racket, we love dollys and Toy Cars, but to be fair, we’ve already written about them a bunch recently, from the Sleeping Patterns album review to the EP release show in New Brunswick and the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival in Jersey City. So, to keep this website from appearing to be solely dedicated to these guys, we are only going to be talking about The North American and Vasudeva. Sorry guys, but you need to share our attention.
The show was the first ever held in the new Asbury Park Music Foundation space, adjacent to the Lakehouse Music Academy and Recording Studio. Asbury’s been known as a hot spot going back forever, but as any of the locals will tell you (right before they yell “Benny Go Home!”), the area is changing and becoming gentrified, so it’s a relief to see the music and arts scene growing and adapting to that change, hopefully preserving its place for many more years.
The North Americans were the first to take the stage and lead into their set with sound bites from what I’m guessing were old horror movies. They might not have been horror movies, but either way, combined with the guitars playing dissonant tones and the dark lighting, it was pretty fucking creepy. The effect was definitely achieved. The whole set felt like a nightmare, and I mean that in a good way. The music drifted along slowly and darkly; the lyrics were haunting and painful. There were sporadic periods of high energy, screaming, and shredding, which only made you feel more anxious standing in the audience. The North Americans are a band that could provide the soundtrack if CBS ever decided to remake The Twilight Zone (again), and everyone would probably be like, “Hey, that show fucking sucked, but at least the soundtrack was pretty sick.” (They just need to let those classic movies and shows die, ya know? Try something original for once. Sorry, I digress.) Anyway, The North Americans sure as hell are original and have such a unique and effective sound. They’re an especially great band to see around Halloween. Beware Vampire Rats.
Next up was a great set from Toy Cars, but we knew that would be the case already and I promised not to get into it again, so moving along to Vasudeva. Holy shit, can these guys rip. Their album Life in Cycles is a must listen. Like, right now. Turn off whatever else you have on, follow the link I just gave you, and listen to this album. I admit, I’m normally not a fan of instrumental sets. A lot of the time they don’t hold my attention, but that couldn’t have been further from the case with Vasudeva. They were absolutely thrilling, with technically complex music that was still able to get your pulse going. I came very close to raising my hands above my head, but I don’t do that. Not my thing. But they made me think about it. Honestly, I caught myself doing it without thinking, but I got a grip before I allowed myself to have too much fun.
The entire set had so much raw power. The sound was concussive, bouncing off the brick walls of the tiny room. I could feel my inner ear hairs falling over and dying, but each and every one was a necessary sacrifice to be able to experience the show they put on. I don’t know where they got the stamina to play through the entire set. I was exhausted just watching and listening. All three of them were full throttle, ripping through tunes, giving 110%, and just a whole bunch of other clichés. By now, you should already be a few tracks into that album I told you to listen to, and you should know for yourself. If you’re not, then I don’t know how else to drive it into your skull. Stop wasting both of our time.
Dollys closed out the show, and of course, they were amazing as always. I’ll speak for all of New Jersey and say that we are thrilled to have them back from their tour. Everyone should also mark their calendars for December 18, for what I’m calling the N.J. Racket Wet Dream Show, and the rest of the world is calling Champagne Jam at Webster Hall, which will be featuring dollys and several other local N.J. artists, such as The Front Bottoms, Screaming Females, Hodera, Brick + Mortar, and 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.