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.”
The stage at Stosh’s is notoriously small, although I did once see Quality Living play there and they’re a 17-piece band. Still, it was fun to see Electric Sensei squeeze up there with five people, a couple keyboards, and a didgeridoo – because indigenous Australian musical instruments are pretty friggin punk rock. Sensei is the type of band I love to watch people watch for the first time. I’ve talked a lot before about how Spencer Daniele is one of the most intimidating and captivating frontman in the scene with his long blonde hair, fur coat, heavy vocal distortion, and of course the trademark didgeridoo. Then the band breaks out “Aphrodite,” flaunting their esoteric flair.
After Sensei’s large setup, the theme for the night became three-piece lineups with Ruby Bones, Guilty Giraffe, and Joy Cleaner following. But although all the bands shared nearly identical lineups, stylistically they could not have been more diverse. Ruby Bones is a straight up rock band with a more traditional style. Their sound live is incredibly clean and precise which brings to light just how technically proficient and tight they are as a band , something that isn’t always as strongly evident on studio recordings.
Guilty Giraffes is one of the youngest bands on Mint 400 Records, founded by the duo of Mat McGinnis and Felipe Reis. Their earlier material was known for being very hard rocking and their live performances had a reputation for being super fucking loud, but Guilty Giraffes has shown an impressive amount of growth for such young artists in developing some more mellow material for their upcoming release to accompany their traditional, head banging tracks.
I’ve written before about how great of a band Joy Cleaner is and about how brilliant of an album Total Hell was, but it’s something that can’t be discussed enough. What makes their music so great is their ability to create such a great affect out of such a minimalist approach. Joy Cleaner isn’t particularly flashy in any one way. Joey DeGroot doesn’t rip wild solos, the music isn’t fast, loud, mosh-inspiring chaos. Where a band like Electric Sensei has a really weird and esoteric vibe with a blasting didgeridoo, Joy Cleaner is very accessible and eclectic, making them a fun, easy listen. And while both bands excel at what they do, the juxtaposition of styles and musical philosophies, really between all five of the bands, was personally one of the most enjoyable aspects of this show.
It’s funny to note that for the weeks leading up to this show, John Cozz, of John Cozz and the Squirts, had been complaining about headlining the gig, which was something Neil and I had barely discussed in booking the show. Still, for weeks I got texts from Cozz asking “Why isn’t Joy Cleaner last? They’re a way cooler band than me. I never play last, I always play first,” etc., for weeks. So when Cozz took the stage to close out the night and immediately began playing “Enter Sandman,” because of course he did, the first thing out of his mouth was “Sorry I’m so drunk already, I usually don’t play this late.” Regardless, Cozz and the Squirts played a really fun set that was a perfect ending to a great night. The Squirts even featured Shred Flintstone’s Dan Barrecchia on lead guitar as a special treat which really added a new level to what is consistently always a high energy and fun-filled performance.
As always, thank you so much to everyone that came to hang out with us that night. We appreciate your support so much and hope you enjoyed the show as much as we did. I’m sure we’ll be doing it again real soon.
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.