(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Most everybody that goes to The Saint in Asbury Park on a regular basis knows that Scott Stamper, the club's owner, is a huge fan of music from Austin, TX. Not only has he made an annual pilgrimage to Austin each year for the City's vaunted South by Southwest music festival, but he often encourages bands from the area to make a stop in Asbury Park when they can. On Tuesday, June 26, a pair of bands from Texas took him up on the offer and helped make for a very interesting Jersey Shore versus Austin night.
New Jersey kicked off the night with Moon Motel. Although the band had gone through a major lineup change this year, they sounded better than I think I've ever heard them -- mainly due to the beautiful, moaning saxophone play which accentuated the painful lyrics in a wonderful fashion and helped create and amazing atmosphere. I had never seen Moon Motel with the sax, but it's a truly brilliant move for them. At times, the sax play and somber lyrics reminded me of early tunes by The Waterboys, one of my all-time favorite acts.
One of the highlights of the set was when Deirdre Forrest of Beannacht joined them on stage to sing an unreleased song by Beannacht. "This is a cover song, but it was written by Deidre, so she's covering herself!" he said. This was a great pairing, they sounded perfect together. Deidre would later tell me that the song is called "Leaving Lullaby" and it might turn up on a future Beannacht release.
As I sat at the bar watching the band, I thought to myself that this was the type of night we're fortunate to have along the shore. When I travel around the country, I'm lucky to ever seen an act with music as beautiful as Moon Motel and here they are the opening act on a Tuesday... Go figure.
Shivery Shakes from Austin was up next. I simply loved this band. For some reason some of their tunes reminded me a bit of a more modern version of the Plimsouls. They had that blend of punk pop mixed with harmonies and a slight touch of sixties influence. The end result was a highly entertaining dose of radio friendly tunes from a very polished sounding band. What of the best things about seeing touring bands is seeing acts that have really honed their sound on the road. They even had some members of the audience dancing! That's a rarity these days... Ah, Tuesdays.
"Yeah, we're from Texas... And we'd like to get back to Texas so if anyone would like to buy a disc or a t-shirt or have a floor we could sleep on..." said the lead singer. This got me thinking… Wouldn't it be great to have a club with a spare room for traveling bands to crash in? Artists could play for merch money and get free room and board while heading out to their next gig.
For me, one of the best thing about Tuesday nights at The Saint for me is seeing traveling bands like this who couldn't bring enough to garner a weekend spot, but will simply blow you away. Tuesday nights also generally offer a mixture of counter programming -- morose, introspective singer-songwriters followed by out and out rockers -- it makes for fun nights for the music fan.
The third band of the night was the Accidental seabirds. This band has been gaining quite a following around the Jersey Shore area. The band has a very adventurous sound; at times they sound like prog rock band, other times like a jam band. It's a rather unique combination that plays off of intense vocals and frequent musical chord and progression changes within each tune.
"This is the best sounding room in town, I wanna hear you sing. These guys want to play all of the new stuff that doesn't have any harmonies" said the lead singer. They wound up playing several new songs despite his protest and the new songs sounded quite strong.
It's always nice when a band sounds different from everyone else in the scene and the Accidental Seabirds certainly fit that bill.
Bobby Jealousy closed out the night with a highly unique sound due to three different people taking turns at lead vocals. While multiple singers sometimes fails to create a distinctive sound, that wasn't the case here. If anything, the various singers simply added to the band's sound, offering different perspectives and taking advantage of each other's strengths. Some songs were pure indie rock, others were soulful odes to sixties rock. Most were not only memorable, but highly addictive. The band was a perfect close to a true Tuesday night grab bag of musical styles.
"It's a Tuesday night and this is like the best night we've had anywhere in the nation. You guys should be everywhere!" said Sabrina Ellis who was celebrating her 26th birthday on stage.
I've long said that Tuesdays were my favorite night to go out. Not only do you get to see great bands on the rise, but it helps the week go by. It's a good way to relax after two days of work; by Wednesday, the work week is half over; by Thursday, you can already see the weekend. Tuesday is the key for me and there's nothing better than the creative vibes offered on Tuesday nights at the Saint. Earlier in the summer, I the night featured a pair of gypsy rock and roll bands. Where else are you going to see something like that?
The night was a good example of why the Austin music scene is so interesting and why the Jersey Shore scene deserves more recognition. We went head to head with the "live music capital of the world" and more than held our own!
Check out the bands at:
Moon Motel -- https://www.facebook.com/moonmotel
Shivery Shakes -- http://www.reverbnation.com/shiveryshakes
Accidental Seabirds -- http://www.reverbnation.com/accidentalseabirds
Bobby Jealousy -- http://www.reverbnation.com/bobbyjealousy
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.