Where’s The Band? @ House of Independents

Well, it was a wet, windy 40 degree day here in Jersey. To be honest, it was gross enough that when the figurative bell tolled at 5 pm, I thought ‘ugh, am I really going to a concert tonight?’ Granted, concerts are always fun, but there was definitely that hardcore introvert moment of ‘All I really want in this weather is sweatpants, a cup of tea, a good book, and my cats.’

Still, ticket was bought and paid for, so I braved the elements. On the up side of that is, on such a crappy day, and a Tuesday no less, the parking fiasco known as Asbury Park was bound to not be as terrible as it is wont to be. I found a spot around the block from the venue without much delay at all, unlike my last few trips down.

Now, I was going to a brand new venue, so I was kind of looking forward to that in and of itself. I often think of Asbury Park as sort of the concert hub of New Jersey. You’ve got the Stone Pony, the Wonderbar, the Asbury Lanes (…if they reopen), the Saint (if it manages to keep it’s head above water)…

The new kid on the Block is House of Independents. I didn’t take a picture of the outside of the building because, I do believe I mentioned that it was wet, cold, and dark. Oh, did I not mention dark? Yeah. It was dark. Cold, dark, and wet. I don’t drink coffee, but I stopped at Wawa for one on the way down (the only coffee I’ve been able to palate to date is their french vanilla cappuccino, which barely even counts as coffee, really).

Well, I arrive juust before doors which are supposed to be at 6:30. Nope. They’ve apparently been pushed back to 7. Luckily, this ends up being closer to 6:45. There’s not really any line to speak of at the door because…yeah, obvious reasons. Crap weather + Tuesday night? Not a good omen for turnout.

So, you walk in, they check your ID and stamp your hand. Personally, I prefer wrist bands. I don’t know how the rest of you fare, but my hand is going to say ‘OK’ for at least 2 days of scrubbing. Inside, you’ve got an upper level bar with a few seats, a very small merch table area. (No kidding, if you want to buy stuff after the show, you’re going to be there a WHILE. Be prepared for that. There is not an item of merch in the world I would endure that crowd for.) Then, down below is the main standing area:

From the left corner of the stage.

All brick walls, overall a pretty nice space. I couldn’t help but notice the grossly mismatched lamps. That’s likely just me being weird.

That’s also probably me fixating on things because the show started late. Let me preface this by saying concerts always start late. I’ve very rarely been to one where the band came on when they were supposed to.

However, having said that…when you say the show is going to start at 7:30, and we pass 8 pm with no indication whatsoever of things getting rolling, there’s a problem.  At around 8:05 I ran out patience for analyzing the mismatched lamps and pulled my phone back out. I try not to once I’m inside, because I want to conserve as much battery as I can (since I charged my battery backup and then forgot it in the car) for photo taking and GPS, if needed. I don’t go down for concerts all that often, so I do generally use the GPS to get me out of the center of town and back onto the main drag. Anyway, at a bit after 8, I pulled out my phone. Played a round of solitaire. Still no signs, so I pulled up my ebook. I read an entire chapter, put it back away. STILL nothing.

I can’t tell you how late the show started, but I would say at least 45 minutes, potentially closer to an hour, which is kind of excessive.

But, the show did eventually start. I’ll prelude a bit here, and say I really have close to no idea who any of these artists are. At some point I got a notification that Dan Andriano (of Alkaline Trio) would be in Asbury Park in February, which happens to be the month I’m looking to suck up vacation days, so it seemed like a good enough thing to waste my day on. That, and the tickets were only $20. Assume parking and gas fees of around $10 total, and unless you buy merch, that’s definitely reasonable, so I decided to go in pretty blind. While I’d heard of the other associated acts, I don’t really know them. And to make sure I’m not just forgetting them, I completely checked my music collection when I got home, so I can say firmly that nope, I don’t know anything about the rest of the musicians.

That’s not any judgement against them or their type of music. At all. But, from what I gather, they’re predominantly considered “emo bands”, if I’m to believe the jokes they themselves cracked on stage, which is just a wee bit behind my generation, and while we all want to stay “relevant”, or whatever, there’s a lot of music in the world and it’s just plain hard to keep up.

Honestly, I still don’t really know the difference between pop-punk and emo (am I supposed to define it by how cranky the lyrics are, how heavily power chords are used…or…what? In our current music scene, the difference seems tenuous at best. Though, granted, if you were comparing [insert some older emo band here] to say, New Found Glory or Green Day, sure, the difference would likely be more obvious, in theory. Having said that, I often run into similar trouble distinguishing Hard Rock from some of the sub-genres of Metal, so take what I say on the matter with a grain of salt.)

I generally think of emo as pop-punk’s medicated younger sibling-less angry, more in touch with it’s feelings thanks to all that therapy, but basically part of the same family tree. They look a lot alike, they sound a lot alike, there’s a distinct family resemblance, but when you see them at the same party they pretend not to know each other and leave through separate exits so no one knows they came in the same car. I don’t know if that’s remotely accurate, but it’s how I imagine it inside my head.

Anyway! The lineup, as it were, in no particular order (and with any luck without any mis-spellings…) was:

Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio)

Chris Conley (Saves the Day)

Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids)

Anthony Raneri (Bayside)

Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit)

First observation: I had to be one of the oldest people in the room (not that you can tell to look at me. One day, I’ll look like a grown up, I swear.), based on aforementioned generational lag. Everyone there seemed to know almost every song by every one of the artists on stage which isn’t something I can say. Sure, I knew all the Alkaline Trio songs, but…I own the hoodie, so I would have to be the worst fan ever if I didn’t know at least most of them, right? Actually, my A3 hoodie is actually the only zip up hoodie I do own. (How many hoodies does one need, really? It has a hood, it has a zipper, it’s comfy as hell, and it’s black so matches everything, ergo, until I wear it into the ground, I have enough.)

But, I’m digressing.  I did like everything I heard, so I will, in theory, be looking up all of these bands later (but, we all know by now I’m a little ADD, so later is as likely to be ‘after a few hours of sleep’ or ‘when I remember in a few months’.) I will probably put it off a while, really, due to a desperate need to keep the purse strings fairly tight after my recent car fiasco + bass purchase + car insurance due soon + desperate need for a new couch, so it’s in my best interest not to tempt fate until at least half of that is dealt with. I’ve already bought the newest ‘The Men that will Not be Blamed for Nothing’ album out of this check, so that’s basically my music purchase limit for the next 2 weeks, which, under the circumstances, I have to be a bit more stringent about than I usually am. I’ll be revisiting this all though, once the dust settles.

On another note, this was my first ‘kind of fucked up’ concert. Everything started off well. I really enjoyed watching the guys kind of joke with and tease one another. It made for a really lively atmosphere.  Rather than one doing a solo set, then the next, then the next, they basically all got up on stage and took turns performing sometimes popping in on each other’s songs, until the finale when everyone (-1) got up for the finale.

From Left: Dan Andriano, Matt Pryor, Andy Jackson, Anthony Raneri

You’ll notice that Chris Conley is not in the photo above. That’s where we get to the ‘kind of fucked up’ part of the evening.  Somewhere around halfway through the set he slightly lost his shit, the band took a brief break, and then returned to the stage two or three at a time most of the rest of the night. Chris never did return to the stage.

From what I gather, someone was chatting through one of the other guys’ songs and that made him snap. Granted, that is pretty rude. No denying it. But, you’re also likely playing to at least a few drunks, which is something I guess as a musician you sort of have to develop a thick skin about.  Having said that, I admit ‘in the middle of a meltdown’ is probably not when one has their most logical thoughts, and as a result the rest of the night was basically a really well-organized improv.  I don’t really know how well-planned they had their set list before that point in the evening, or if they were just flying by the seat of their pants all along, but I do know at one point in the show a song was requested and the guy on stage said (very roughly paraphrased)”I’m saving that one. I don’t know how many more songs I’m playing. Things kind of went off the rails about half an hour ago.*glances off stage* How about a cover song? I’ll do a cover song.”

Now, they held it together like champs, mind. They really did. And honestly, I was right up against the stage, so I have no idea what was going on in that mid-back area of the audience that set off the fireworks, but I can say it’s the first show I’ve been to where I’ve seen someone go off the rails mid-set. So, I had a new experience, I suppose, if getting whacked in the face with a black tablecloth being used as a cape by a clearly slighty unhinged musician singing acapella with a drink in hand instead of a microphone counts as an experience. (And, I notice as I type that, it kind of sounds way more interesting than it actually was.)

It was a good show overall, in spite of everything (I’m so easy to please. lol.), though I do hope if I go down to House of Independents again, they don’t take such a long time getting things rolling. Almost an hour between the time the show is supposed to start and the time it actually starts is a bit more than my patience can handle.

(Full Album of Photos on the Facebook Page: here)

Until Next Time, not planning any more concerts until spring. Too much cold. Too much wet.

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