In what was Speak Into My Good Eye’s (SIMGE) first musical showcase of the Summer season, a celebration kicking off the Bamboozle weekend, and subsequently my first assignment under the outlet’s banner, I found myself in an office unlike any I’ve frequented before.
Standing in what many assembling supporters proclaimed a “new and improved”Asbury Lanes and feeling moderately out of place with a growing sense of isolation taking hold as friends, family, and music scene denizens greeted one another, I was forced to remind myself that this is my element (a low-lit space adorned with spherical white Christmas lights and yellow Chinese lanterns; the incense was incessant), that the venue was in fact the place to be on this Thursday nigh…the lack of parking out front cemented that as fact.
Wearing stripes amongst a sea of plaid, I tentatively planted myself on the edge of the dance floor off kilter to the stage, not completely knowing what to expect.
What came at me was Asbury’s own Rock barrage of lively grooves and complementary Folk flare known as The Amboys. The audience actively jived with a camaraderie of sorts that commenced a series of group boot stomps, hand claps, and triplets of “heys!” on the band’s primary party starter “One Of Those Nights.”
Taking an observation post on the outskirts of a multicolor illuminated hula-hoop sock-hop outbreak, it was easy to appreciate The Amboys rustic and organic feel, made prominent by the use of C.M. Smith’s banjo plucking, which deployed dance inducing contagion into the congregation. The Amboys wished the crowd well before its “Last Song Of The Night” with an, “I hope you have a good one.”
Still easing into the environment, I was next met by Toms River’s Elevator Art, a collective of musicians who’s unconventional arrangements of hammered upon water cooler heads and clay percussion pieces, jazz flute, bongos, ukulele, and Hard-Rock artistry captivate.
Dual vocal parts by Daimon Santa Maria and Maureen McGowan lent a balance between hard and soft on such pieces as “Lesbian Father” and “Killing Time,” upon which the aforementioned Santa Maria channeled Muse’s Matt Bellamy.
The Brooklyn-based New York Rivals followed and exploded at the offset with a sound akin to The Strokes, but with a harder, grungier feel featuring an intense display of fret-work by one of the more talented axe wielders to emerge from the Jersey Shore, Erik Rudic, and his partner in rhythm Gianni Scalise, who used to lend his bass plucking skills to Boardwalk favorites Scott Liss & The Sixty-Six
The celebration raged forth and it was well past 12 a.m. when The Gay Blades made its triumphant return to the stage for the first time since February despite rumors of a split. Amidst sound check troubles the Trash-Pop duo improvised a crowd pleasing jingle in which front-man James Wells repeatedly spouted “Give us the old Lanes back.” The cool ballad-like jam slowly mounted to its climaxing verse where the vocalist affirmed “These are the truest words you’ve ever heard…” Many would agree.
“What’s up team, what’s up?” Westfield pondered allowed to his people, “Fuck Bamboozle, I’ll tell you where the action is.”
The Gay Blades were loud, playful, and dizzying, blurring artistic emotions by transforming pieces of beauty into something quipping, funky, or rockish…a stylistic trademark the pair has developed over the years.
“If you promise to buy our vinyl,” said Westfield en route to the pair’s 2011 single ‘Brit Daniels Stole My Girl,’ “I promise to never send you this next song. That’s an inside joke to whoever actually went out and paid for that shit.”
And that single, apparently, is not the duo’s latest piece of music as TGB unveiled “Little Fly,” a song that’s skeletal framework was first revealed at Rick Barry’s final installment of A Night In Progress last year at The Saint, and has since transformed into a fist tossing rage-tune.
The “new” was coupled with a pair of older, rarely performed, pieces plucked from the depths of the band’s catalogue in “Shake The Graves,” as requested by SIMGE founder Chris Rotolo, and “Cellphone Song” which prefaced and intimate moment between Westfield and the previously referenced Rotolo.
“We [Westfield and his percussive partner Puppy Mills] find it to be incredible whenever someone takes an interest in the shit we do,” admitted Westfield, “and this guy [Rotolo] has supported us for a long time. He’s done a lot for this scene and the music coming out of it, and the work should be recognized.”
For me, the night was a whirlwind of mind altering bewilderment, wily beats, and wicked rhythms. However, others in attendance would merely refer to it as typical Thursday in Asbury Park.
NOTE: Check out more photos from the evening by Kristen Driscoll here.