Normally my policy with writing about shows that I cover is if a picture is worth a thousand words, I should just shut the hell up. I’m breaking that one this week with some comments (along with photos below) on the official re-opening of White Eagle Hall in Jersey City this past Friday, and sets from both Sunshine & the Rain and Rye Coalition.
As a music-loving resident of Hudson County, I have heard much talk about the work being put into White Eagle Hall and its opening as a performance venue in Jersey City. So when I had heard it was having its official opening last week I had to go check it out.
The first half of the evening featured a ribbon cutting ceremony by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and dance performances presented by the Jersey City Theater Center. Sadly the vagaries of the PATH prevented me from arriving in time for all but the very end of the dance performances.
When I entered though, I was quickly cheered by the great lighting on the dancers as they finished up. The room itself is also beautiful, complete with ornate skylights, uplighting, and a second level balcony.
I was surprised by the size of the place – White Eagle Hall tops out at an 800-standing capacity, and there are not many rooms like this in the area on this side of the river. As far as size and feel go, I would compare it to Bowery Ballroom. Or possibly a smaller Warsaw (unfortunately without the ladies selling pierogies).
Sunshine & the Rain took the stage to begin the musical portion of the evening. They put on a good set, but while watching the duo on that huge stage, my mind kept wandering to how a full-size band would utilize the space.
As if to immediately answer my question, Rye Coalition followed and proceeded to use the entire stage with authority for their entire set. Each guitarist and the singer constantly switched places, interacted with the crowd and, at one point, entered it. It was a really great set – not having been very knowledgeable of Rye Coalition prior to the show, I can say they have certainly won me over with that live show.
Also well worth mentioning is the downtime between the dance and music sets. As the evening went on and the crowd grew, I saw many familiar faces. I saw a lot of my friends from Jersey City local shows, from Hoboken and New York City, and even some of the Asbury Park crew. It was a great cross-section of the NJ/NY music scene and lent a welcoming communal feel to the night. Very appropriate for a Jersey City venue.
Jersey City gets a lot of press these days and, usually, it’s about “changes,” “rebirth,” or any number of PR buzz words. Most often as far as music is concerned one really just hears about venues closing (RIP Lamp Post, etc,) suffering noise complaints, or otherwise getting pushed ever farther out of their home area.
It was great to see White Eagle’s opening night kick off with a Jersey City band and such a friendly community atmosphere. I sincerely hope to see more of that in the future with many of the bands that call the greater Jersey City area home.
Sunshine & the Rain