Archive for the ‘Sayreville, NJ’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] Explosions in the Sky

I saw Explosions in the Sky three years ago. It stands as one of the most memorable shows I’ve seen and I knew that I wanted to see them again whenever I had the chance.

I don’t know if the band doesn’t tour all that much or if they just didn’t come my way, but after three years, when I saw they were playing at the Starland Ballroom on their 20th Anniversary Tour (part 1), I got tickets right away.

It took about 20 minutes for EITS to come out on stage.  It was nice to not have those horrible red lights that flooded FACS.

Before they actually started, the lights were natural, so I made sure to snap a few pictures before the colored lights came onto the stage.

All five guys came out and guitarist Munaf Rayani (the only guy to talk) said they were Explosions in the Sky from Texas–looks like some of you know us.  That’s good.”  And until he said good night that was the only voice for 90 some minutes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 12, 2019] FACS

I saw Explosions in the Sky back in 2016 and the show blew me away.  I knew I’d be seeing them again some time.

For that show, the opening band was Disappears.

I really enjoyed Disappears and wound up buying their records.  For this show, the opening band was FACS.  I had never heard of FACS at all.  When I looked them up I discovered that FACS is (technically was)… three-fourths of Disappears!

According to the Chicago Tribune, Disappears:

broke up in 2016 with the departure of bassist Damon Carruesco, and holdovers [bassist] Brian Case, guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and drummer Noah Leger reinvented themselves as Facs, which explored a more abstract but no less fascinating – and sometimes downright spooky – sound.

Then Van Herik quit, and Facs had to regroup yet again, this time with Case switching back to guitar and newcomer Alianna Kalaba on bass, joining Leger in the rhythm section. There was only one catch: Kalaba had never played bass before. She was previously the drummer in We Ragazzi and the Dishes, but Leger already held that job in Facs.

“In Disappears, we had strict ideas about repetition and minimalism that are still ingrained in us,” Case says. “But with Facs, we took everything out of that comfort zone until we found something we liked and honed into it.

I didn’t really remember much of this going into this show.  I just remembered that they were probably going to be very cool.

And indeed they were.


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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Built to Spill

After the last time I saw Built to Spill (which was amazing), I felt like I didn’t really need to see them again.  The show was excellent and I was right in front of Doug–an amazing vantage point.

Then he announced he was touring the Keep It Like a Secret album.  This is the album that introduced me to the band 20 years earlier and it has some of my favorite songs on it.  So yes, of course I was going to go see that.  It turned out that the Philly show was on a night I was busy (but I did get a ticket just in case–turns out my plans changed but then Babymetal announced a show for that night so I sold my BtS ticket for and went to Babymetal instead).  But this show at Starland Ballroom was going to happen the night before my plans anyway, so I grabbed a ticket for this show.

I have mixed feeling about Starland.  If you get there late–and it’s a popular show–forget about it.  When we saw Death Cab for Cutie, we were lucky to get in the door.  So for BtS I left really early and got there really early and was about the 17th person in the building.  So I had my pick of where to stand.

Last time I saw BtS, I was right in front of Doug Marstch, like right on the stage.  It was incredible watching him from so close.  And yet, due to acoustics, I could barely hear him at all.  So I told myself that this time I would stand back and enjoy the whole experience.  But things got the best of me.  First off, there was a gate, so I wasn’t going to be right up against the stage.  But more importantly as I stood back in a sweet spot, I watch all these tall people push past me and I couldn’t help myself, I had to grab a railing spot.  So once again I was right in front of Doug and his massive amplifier.  I could hear the vocals a little bit better than last time, but again, it wasn’t the same as hearing the full band.  And, honestly I could barely hear the second guitarist.  So, I have really learned my lesson for next time.  But again, it was so cool seeing him work his magic up close that I’m willing to overlook some things.

But NEXT TIME, for sure I will stand back.

Oh and check out this cool poster for the tour.


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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] Prism Bitch

I hadn’t heard of Prism Bitch before this tour.  I looked them up and listened to their EPs on bandcamp and rather liked them.

They have great lyrics and a catchy punky style, including a song called “Tits Off” which I think they played but I’m not sure.  But mostly they have a lot of energy.

Before they went on, we could see their ankles and feet below the screen that was in front of the stage.  I was amused that they all seemed to be wearing different colors.  And indeed as the screen went up they were revealed to be all wearing matching Adidas tracksuits. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 12, 2019] And And And

When I saw the band that was opening for Built to Spill was called And And And, I knew it sounded familiar.  I knew it was from some work of fiction.  And then it finally came to me that it was from The Commitments. Roddy Doyle’s hilarious book that inspired the movie.

The band is mentioned here:

Jimmy Rabbitte: What do you call yourselves?
Derek: “And And And.”
Jimmy Rabbitte: “And And fuckin’ And?”
Derek: Well, Ray’s thinking of putting an exclamation mark after the second “and.” Says it’d look deadly on the posters.
Jimmy Rabbitte: Psshh…
Outspan Foster: You don’t like it? You think it should go at the end?
Jimmy Rabbitte: I think it should go up his arse.


I instantly loved this band from Portland who were so bold as to take this name (no exclamation points). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 10, 2019] Death Cab for Cutie

It’s not often that you get to see a band twice on the same tour–eight months apart.

When I saw that Death Cab for Cutie were playing Starland Ballroom, at first I thought I didn’t want to go because we had seen them a few months earlier (and amazing show at the tower Theatre in Upper Darby).  Then I looked at some set lists and I saw that they were mixing things up a bit.  It was still a tour for the new album, but they were changing placement of songs and adding different ones.

I also didn’t realize until we got there that they had changed their lights how (for this performance at least).  Last time their lights were very tall–two layers of lighting rigs with a giant video screen behind and above them. This time there was no video screen and only one bank of lights.  Smaller club lighting maybe?  The keyboardist Zac Rae was actually between two light poles so we could see him whenever he didn’t lean too far forward.

I had hoped we could move from where we were on the side because I’d remembered the lighting was so cool.  From where we were, the lighting rigs blocked some of the stage (but only a little) and while the lighting was cool, it was much more subdued than last time.

It turns out the setlist wasn’t radically different from last time either.  They played four different songs than last time (and one fewer because I think one of the newer songs had a lengthy jam tacked in the middle). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 10, 2019] Jenny Lewis

I somehow missed Rilo Kiley from the get go.  It’s not that I didn’t like them, i didn’t know them.  I may have heard a song or two, but otherwise nothing.

Same with Jenny Lewis solo.  I know a lot of people love her, but I just missed her completely.  I’ve heard a few of her songs from her last album and I rather liked them.  So I was pleased enough that she was opening for Death Cab for Cutie.

Obviously I had no idea that they had a connection to her.  (From the same region, on the same label, she sang on Ben Gibbard’s side project).  So this was a nice tour for them.

We arrived at Starland Ballroom to find a line wrapping around the parking lot.  So although we were early, we didn’t get into the building until about 5 minutes before she went on (and it wasn’t even sold out!).  It was packed though and trying to find a spot in the center was impossible.  So we wound up standing on the elevated platform off to the right.  Not the best location, but honestly if we were on the floor, it would have been really crowded and really hard to see. (more…)

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[CANCELLED: April 28, 2017] Forth Wanderers/Fire is Motion/Pinegrove

I saw Pinegrove at the First Unitarian Church in Philly.  I really enjoyed the band show.  And I was super excited to see them twice more for the end of the year–especially at Starland Ballroom.  In part because because one of my new favorite up and coming Jersey bands Fire is Motion were going to open for them.  But also because of this post about the show

hey! really excited to announce a special event we’ve been cookin up for a little while now. it’s a show on dec 29 at the starland ballroom in new jersey – kind of an end-of-year celebration of some of the things we love & believe in: live music, human equality, new jersey. we’re calling it:

the first annual celebration in & of our home state of new jersey & of live music from there too

our idea is to do this every year at various venues throughout the state, and for the shows to always feature NJ bands. this year, we’ve got the fantastic Forth Wanderers & Fire is Motion on the bill!

we’ll also be donating a significant portion of the proceeds from the night to a charity we believe in. now, in the ever-swirling (to put it gently) world we live in today, it seems crazy to have to pick the cause in september that will be most in need come december. so stay tuned for more info on where we’ll be donating. but rest assured that it will be in the promotion of equality & fairness towards all humans on our planet.

really can’t wait for this thing! pre-sale tickets are available now. we also have a special limited 11×17 screen printed version of the show poster that’s only available with the pre-sale!our own nick levine worked hard with us on the poster & we feel super excited about it. the rest of the tickets go on sale on friday at 10am eastern.

Wonder if the posters were shipped out already (I didn’t get one).

Then, out of the blue (at least to me), the band cancelled the tour.  This is now the third (and fourth) show this year that has been cancelled on me.  Oh well, I’m glad that problems like this come out and I hope that all involved get the help they need.  But because I’m selfish, I just wish that they would be revealed a few days after my show instead of before.

Official statement (more…)

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[CANCELLED: April 28, 2017] Saintseneca/Adult Mom/Pinegrove

I saw Pinegrove at the First Unitarian Church in Philly.  The venue was kind of fun, although I have basically decided that I will not ever go to another show there (despite THREE bands that I like playing there in coming months).  My takeaway from the venue is that if it’s at all crowded, it’s not worth going.

But I really enjoyed the Pinegrove show.  And I was super excited to see them twice more for the end of the year–tonight at Union Transfer and Starland Ballroom.  Kind of unreasonably excited, actually, especially the Starland show, because one of my new favorite up and coming Jersey bands Fire is Motion were going to open for them.

The openers were

Saintseneca, Adult Mom at Union Transfer

Forth Wanderers, Fire is Motion at Starland Ballroom

And then, out of the blue (at least to me), the band cancelled the tour.  This is now the third (and fourth) show this year that has been cancelled on me.  Oh well, I’m glad that problems like this come out and I hope that all involved get the help they need.  But because I’m selfish, I just wish that they would be revealed a few days after my show instead of before.

Official statement (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 11, 2017] Modest Mouse

I saw Modest Mouse at Starland Ballroom a couple of years ago.  And then I saw them outdoors at Steelstacks in Bethlehem, PA.

And in both instances, I found their fan base to be pretty obnoxious (for various reasons).  I really wanted to see them again (their lives shows are pretty great), so this time I was prepared for obnoxious fans, which made everything more palatable.

And now having seen them three times, I understand why they sell out all the time–their lives shows are amazing and the crowd is somewhat justified for being so obnoxious–it’s a wild and raucous time.

The band came out and set up–horns, violins, percussion–it’s a pretty large group up there. (more…)

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