Thanksgiving Eve turned out to be a fitting occasion to have a show featuring six of Northern Jersey’s acclaimed bands – Sunflower, LKFFCT, Whiner, Trü, Smock, and Shred Flintstone, gathering to celebrate Tyler Curtis’ birthday. Though some groups have been around longer than others (scene veterans LKFFCT, for instance, are somewhat of a collective “father figure” at this point), all of these musicians have been supporting each other for years, as well as the whole music scene of the greater Montclair area.
It’s pretty remarkable seeing so many local favorites that consistently help book and promote touring bands, fundraise for important causes with benefit shows, and release excellent records (which includes scores of other artists; too many to mention). But what’s even more impressive is how strong the overall sense of community spirit is: encouraging emerging artists, cheering on others for the umpteenth time, and meeting or catching up with members of the audience. The Meatlocker seems to foster even more solidarity, given that it so regularly holds memorable shows, it’s run by benevolent people, and it maintains a large base of dedicated attendants (although this synergy can be seen throughout numerous venues, in Morris and Union Counties and beyond).
Touring bands often avoid traveling during Thanksgiving week – people stay at home or return to old refuges to visit family and friends. So it seems particularly appropriate to throw a show at everyone’s favorite venue, featuring everyone’s favorite local bands, staying out until two in the morning celebrating the performers who have provided us with so much compassion and entertainment.
Many of the attendants at this show were familiar with all these bands; some had already seen them dozens of times. But still, they were excited to come together once again for another ritual. The fact that it was redundant didn’t make it any less important to the fans. It’s not often you see musicians advising people to avoid their own performances: but in order to encourage people to check out new talent and support touring musicians, Whiner guitarist Christian Castan was selflessly promoting two other events happening the same evening (Topaz Jones at Wellmont and H09909 at White Eagle Hall). He would have gone to one of them if he weren’t performing that night. “I think it’s really special that despite two other shows with popular touring acts going on, the NJ scene came together to support their friends and local acts,” Castan said. “All these bands consist of a greater group of friends that have really helped shape and strengthen this scene. And what better time than Thanksgiving, as a reminder of our togetherness.”
The level of mutual appreciation and synergy was noticeable. During LKFFCT’s rousing set, which featured numerous fans singing along as usual, co-frontman Max Rauch stepped aside a couple times to allow fellow punkster/cellist Jack Carino to yell into the microphone. Dan Barrechia (the Fred Flintstone of Shred Flintstone) also welcomed guest sing-alongs for their powerful, driving cover of Modest Mouse’s “Dramamine.” He even paid tribute to Tyler “Dead-Head” Curtis with an upbeat arrangement of Grateful Dead’s classic “Friend of the Devil.” John Cozz, temporary bassist of Shred Flintstone, ate a raw egg on stage for some reason, to much applause. Attendants came early and stayed late, headbanged and danced, mingled and jingled.
Whiner debuted a couple new songs, which combined brooding, 80’s-style post-punk grooves with soulful, new-wave glam rock. Their infectious pop hooks soared over waves of intricate, dynamic riffs, held together with energetic beats and driving bass lines. Trü provided a passionate performance of catchy, memorable melodies, touching vocal harmonies, and a hard-hitting rhythm section. The room seemed to warm up as Sunflower brought out their fun, upbeat tunes with lush instrumentation and inspirational refrains. Smock delivered relentless energy with their unique brand of heavy sludge, bluesy rock n’ roll, and psychedelic mayhem.
All of these groups have something in common: while they can be lumped into different genre categories, they all have a crossover appeal that attracts newcomers and transcends boundaries. You can tell these are all experienced songwriters that combine various influences and elements to form catchy earworms. Their passionate performances and unbridled creativity demonstrate a bright future for these artists, as well as everyone they continue to inspire.
Dougie Fresh is a true fan of New Jersey's underground, DIY scene as well as an adept writer.