One of the youngest and yet most accomplished bands in the New Jersey DIY scene for the past several years has been Teenage Halloween, originally from Asbury Park. On October 20, the band released the highly anticipated Eternal Roast on Get Better Records and Fistolo Records. It was the band’s first formal release since 2015’s It Was Weird, But It Worked. Teenage Halloween celebrated the EP release with a show at New Brunswick’s Mt. Moon with good friends Fire is Motion, Ghost Camp, and Spowder.
The show was originally scheduled to be at In the West, where the EP was recorded by Phil Connor before being mastered by Nicholas Bolton of HOLY TAPES! Sonic Mastering. But, as happens from time to time with DIY venues, unforeseen issues caused a change of plans and the dudes of Mt. Moon were cool enough to host last minute.
Fire is Motion got the party started with a chill and melodic set by Adrian Amador and Avery Salerno and were followed by the more upbeat Ghost Camp, who asked the crowd to “be cognizant of your surroundings, but still go ape shit,” which they did. Mt. Moon was packed full of people Friday night, most of them in Halloween costumes in celebration of the Teenage Halloween release – or actual Halloween… I’m not entirely sure.
There’s a lot to take away from a Teenage Halloween show, but the primary take-away has to be how much fun the show is. Luke Hendricks and the crew bring an infectious energy to their performances that creates an air of positivity that is unparalleled by any other live show experience. Hendricks brings an unbelievable amount of passion with their sense of freedom in creative expression and appears to truly be at home performing on stage.
Eternal Roast, of course, captures this essence and conveys it throughout the six track EP. Teenage Halloween’s music borders ska-punk in their reliance on horns and a danceable beat. Eternal Roast wastes no time putting this on display with the first track, “Jerk,” which kicks in heavy with the trumpet and trombone. “Moving Song” continues the trend of high-energy, skanking tunes, but also ups the stakes with vulnerable lyrics sung with all the throaty, guttural passion Hendriks has become known for. The EP’s first single, “666!” is a headbanger that brings the EP back around to a close and provides a summation of the whole with that final breakdown. Hendriks screaming, the horns are blaring, Danni May is ripping the keys, and Brian DeSeno is pounding away on the drums. It’s that final burst of energy that ensures Teenage Halloween leaves nothing on the stage.
Teenage Halloween is all about a positive and inclusive vibe with their music and their shows. The lyrics speak of pain and insecurities free of judgement and also speak of the differences between us to provide comfort to those that feel like outcasts. There’s wisdom and heart in this music that extends far beyond these kids’ years and they should be proud of that.
If you’ve been slacking for the past few weeks and haven’t listened to Eternal Roast yet, you can (and should) do so on their Bandcamp, where, conveniently, you can (and should) also purchase a cassette.
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.