By Keeyahtay Lewis (DeadBoltPhotos.com
Last Tuesday was a crazy weather day in NJ. That night was supposed to be one of the most anticipated shows of the summer, Guster and Jack’s Mannequin. But that day, the rains poured down and the winds were kicking up. I drove down to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park not even knowing if there would still be a show but sometime around 5:00 the skies cleared up and the sun broke through.
I got to the Pony and inside in time to see the opening band from NY, Ra Ra Riot. RRR is a 6 piece that included a violin and cello. The were a straight up blast to see play live. The Pony was packed with kids who made it down early in time to dance with the band. Keyboards, string instruments, triple overlapping vocals, the energy was through the roof. I had a chance to talk to several of the members after, as well as the tour manager, and they were all super nice. They have a nice buzz building and even seeing them play once makes it easy to see why.
After Ra Ra Riot finished, everyone made their way outside to the outdoor area, or “Summer Stage.” The winds were still blowing a bit and the crew struggled to get everything set up and covered just in case the rain returned. Jack’s Mannequin took the stage earlier than planned, trying to beat the storm before it came back. Five seconds into the first song, the sun burst through behind singer Andrew McMahon and everyone broke into cheers and applause.
I would say that I used to be a casual fan of Jack’s Mannequin: I had their first album and I loved it, but I never went beyond that. Seeing them play though changed a lot for me. They really were amazing live. Andrew McMahon really is the focus of JM and he was fantastic to see live. He alternated between rocking out behind the piano to grabbing the microphone and running out to the edge of the stage. At other times he stood on the piano while the crowd sang along to every word. It was incredible.
The sky darkened a bit more after they left the stage but Guster was able to make it before it started raining again. Guster is fronted by two singer-guitar players and they trade vocals with ease. Boston bred and playing as a 3 piece for years, Guster has grown to include a fourth member. The band sounded incredibly tight and the new member absolutely added another incredible element.
Four songs into the set, someone shouted out “2 Points for Honesty” which is one of my favorite songs. You could tell it wasn’t something they planned to play. Singer Adam kinda stepped back, talked to the band, and came back to the microphone. He said that they had not planned to play it, but that “they were a professional band, they could play a song he wrote 12 years ago.” After a little time to remember, they played it and played it well.
The night ended up being pretty fantastic. The weather was always threatening to break again, but in the end it held off just long enough for 3 really talented bands to play some great music on the Jersey shore. As Jack’s Mannequin’s singer Andrew said: “For such a shitty day, it really turned into a beautiful night.”
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Photos by Keeyahtay Lewis (DeadBoltPhotos.com)
Ra Ra Riot