Friday, October 2, 2015

Thank You, Asbury Lanes

I've been trying to write this quasi-eulogy for Asbury Lanes for some time. With the Lanes' last day before reconstruction prematurely pushed to October 4th, the urgency to put words into final form was pressing.

What makes this so difficult, is the Lanes has meant so much to me, and in many ways, it's hard to quantify why. What I've ultimately concluded, is it's a place that feels comforting, and as an extremely shy guy, comforting is paramount.

It's hard to unravel all the elements that makes something comforting, but for The Lanes, it's not the building, it's the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is one of deep soul. It’s not something that can be measured or quantified, but when something has soul, you know it. Every time I set foot in The Lanes, it’s a feeling of warmth and acceptance.

I was late to the party when it came to the Lanes. It wasn't until several years ago that I first walked through those double doors and into heaven. You see, prior to that moment, I almost exclusively went to New York and Philadelphia to see shows. In my naive mind, New Jersey was musically neglected. The truth I would soon learn, was New Jersey was just neglected by the mainstream alternative acts that I had primarily paid attention to; music in New Jersey was and has been bustling.

My first show at the Lanes was a revelation. While the crowd was lighter than I had anticipated, there was an energy, as a small group of fans danced along to Brooklyn's The So So Glos. The intimacy was unparalleled to almost any show I had seen prior. It was so intimate in fact, that The So So Glos actually called the parents of a few underage guys (Corrina, Corrina) and let them know they would give their sons a ride home after the show - in the middle of their set! When that show ended, it was a moment of euphoria and enlightenment; there was an incredible venue fifteen minutes from my house, and even if I didn't know that bands who were playing there, I had to come back quickly and often.

Every show since then has been spectacular, and I can say without any hesitation, I’ve never had an experience that was less than stellar at The Lanes. From the catharsis of Titus Andronicus, to the introspection of Waxahatchee, and to the party atmosphere of Honah Lee’s record release show, each performance holds a special place in my memory, and each show was elevated thanks to this legendary venue.

I could go on for days singing the praises of Asbury Lanes, but most of all, I just wanted to thank them for making my life better, and thank them for sharing great music with New Jersey. Here's to hoping that if/when they return, they come back stronger than ever.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Against Me! Show Review: September 4, 2015 at The Stone Pony

Can someone point me to the nearest punk card dispenser? It turns out mine has become null and void; because going to a three dollar first-come-first-serve show curated by Brooklyn Vegan and sponsored by Red Bull is reprehensible - at least according to a small minority. While I think the vast majority of the punk and local music community is wonderful, it’s the few who lob these rigid rules - similar to those sung on “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” - who make it frustrating. I get it, taking dirty money from the man is compromising your integrity. But, let’s be honest, aren’t most of us buying their products, or even working for these companies? For the few that strictly adhere to the anti-corporate ethos, more power to you, but if going to see one of punk’s finest play a three dollar show is uncouth, so be it, I’ll happily trade in my punk card.

Supporting Against Me! were New York punks, Big Eyes and New Jersey rapper, Cakes da Killa. Big Eyes delivered a succinct set, bringing to mind the large pop punk sounds of The Ramones. Following Big Eyes, Cakes da Killa provided ample entertainment; he was joined by two dancers on stage to support his poignant and funny brand of hip-hop. Cakes lobbed jokes to the crowd with an apparent ease, and The Stone Pony was entranced by both his personality and music. While on paper, a rapper wouldn’t seem like an appropriate opener for Against Me!, Cakes da Killa owned the stage, and had every eye on him.

Against Me! would take the stage shortly after ten o’clock, with a drum beat reminiscent of The Ramones’ “Teenage Lobotomy” leading them in; the band then kicked into Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ “True Trans Soul Rebel”. The packed Stone Pony immediately became an oven, with sweaty bodies dancing around the floor. In just a matter of minutes, my hair went from completely dry, to soaking wet.

Wasting no time, the band promptly rolled into Reinventing Axl Rose opener, “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”. The already rowdy crowd, in unison, cathartically shouted the song’s anthemic chorus, “And just like James, I’ll be drinking Irish tonight.” It’s moments like these that make shows so incredible. The music serves as a unifying bond, with complete strangers hugging, smiling, and passionately singing every song verbatim. I mean, how often can I scream at the top of my lungs, bouncing off of bodies, and it be completely acceptable, if not encouraged?

Back in June, when Against Me! last performed in New Jersey, the band wore huge smiles on their faces, this time around, they took on a more serious tone. While their demeanor was different, their performance remained top notch.

The band went through their set with minimal banter, touching on albums throughout their entire career, some of which included earlier material like Reinventing Axl Rose’s “Walking is Still Honest”, As the Eternal Cowboy’s “T.S.R.” and “You Look Like I Need a Drink”, and the acoustic “How Low” from Searching for a Former Clarity. “T.S.R” was particularly powerful, with it’s subdued opening that dramatically kicks into a rollicking breakneck punk section. The band toyed with the audience, waiting a few extra seconds before launching into the song’s speedier section, and when they did, the crowd exploded, with a large pit opening in the center of the floor; bodies violently careened off of one another as lead singer Laura Jane Grace nimbly made her way through the song.

Material of the past decade received ample love, including New Wave’s “White People for Peace” and “Trash Unreal”, White Crosses' Title Track and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”, and finally, a heavy dose of their most recent record including Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ “Fuckymylife666”, "Unconditional Love", “Black Me Out” and “Drinking With the Jocks”. Laura Jane Grace passionately delivered the fiery lyrics “Black Me Out”. Meanwhile, on "Unconditional Love", the crowd on cue, delivered the response to the chorus' call and response vocals.

After playing for a little over an hour, the band thanked the audience and headed off stage. They would return shortly thereafter to bring the show home by opening their encore with a cover of The Replacements' "Androgynous". I said it when I reviewed their Starland Ballroom show earlier this summer, and I'll say it again, I believe their version trumps them all.

To cap off the night, Against Me! closed their set with their biggest sing along, "Sink, Florida, Sink". As guitarist James Bowman sang the song’s patented “Whoa’s”, The Pony was deafening, with a procession of voices filling the venues thick damp air, and ultimately, putting a resounding bow on an incredible show.

In my life, I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten so much bang for my buck. Earlier that evening, I spent five dollars at an ATM just to get access to my money, so yeah, three dollars is quite a bargain to see the legendary Against Me!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Gay Blades and Honah Lee Show Review: August 7th, 2015 at Asbury Lanes

August 7th was a date that had been circled on my calendar for the past few weeks. Once it was announced Honah Lee would be joining The Gay Blades and GayGuy/StraightGuy for a performance at Asbury Lanes, I was overjoyed. Their record release show earlier this year stands as one of my favorite shows of 2015. Simply put, that show was fun.

Unfortunately, due to a work conflict, my brother, who’s also a big Honah Lee fan, was unable to attend. This forced me to call in my wife as my show buddy. With my brother frequently working nights, I think I’m going to need a new show pal. I enjoy long walks on the beach, listening to music and talking football. Any takers?

After my wife and I stuffed our faces with burgers from McCloone’s, we headed over to the Lanes to catch Honah Lee who went on stage shortly after nine. The attendance for their performance was thin, but their fanbase danced and sang along from the time they opened to the time they closed.

Lead singer Tim Hoh Jr., sporting shorts and Checkerboard Vans, was on fire, delivering his vocals with a visually apparent intensity, his eyes bulging as he spat out each lyric. Later in the night, The Gay Blades would jokingly take a jab at Hoh Jr. for wearing shorts on stage, but I’d like to stand in solidarity with Honah Lee - comfort over style.

The band rolled through a portion of their earlier work including, “Girls” and “I Hate My Job” while focusing primarily on 33 on 45 material. The fun, yet break-neck pace of the 33 on 45 songs shine in a live setting. While the bodies weren’t exactly crunched up near the stage this time around, their Weezer-esque danceable rhythms had people moving. The band closed their set on a high delivering the anthemic and infections, “Sobered, So Bored!” and followed it up with the swift and aptly titled, “Time Flies”. It’s also worth noting the band delivered a fantastic punked-up rendition of the classic “I’ll Be There”.

Having made a deal with my wife that I would take a walk with her on the boardwalk (I had to coerce her in to going to the show somehow), I sadly missed GayGuy/StraightGuy’s set. Having seen them several times before, I have no doubt they turned in a killer dirty blues set.

Our walk along the boardwalk turned out to be much more eventful than I had anticipated. I managed to catch some of Dentist’s set in the crammed Asbury Yacht Club, and also caught an impromptu acoustic set from the singer of Switchfoot, who had played The Stone Pony Summer Stage earlier that night. While I can’t say I’m familiar with their material, it was cool to see a relatively large act take to the boardwalk and play standing atop a bench. Switchfoot fans sang along in an almost hushed manner, sounding like a group of carolers,while curious hordes of onlookers joined the sea of bodies to see what all the commotion was about.

I made it back to The Lanes just in time to catch The Gay Blades around eleven o’clock. With my wife visibly fatigued (some people aren’t meant for the rigorous tolls of show life) I stood by the rear of The Lanes for a more relaxed view.

Despite merely being a trio on stage, the band was gargantuan in presence. Guitarist/singer Clark Westfield was highly animated, like a modern day Jello Biafra. He masterfully sang his lyrics with an unorthodox delivery which added a mass of flavor to their already disheveled songs - and I mean that as a compliment. Meanwhile, drummer Puppy Mills bounced in his seat as he pounded out each song in their set.

The band pulled out Savages’ “Rock N’ Roll (Part 1)” right from the get go; the raunchy chaos that song emits set the tone for the remainder of the night. Their highly energetic set was spectacular to both watch and hear. All in all, the band delivered after having been away for far too long.

There was a lot going on in Asbury this past Friday night, and if you happened to choose The Lanes over any other venue, you certainly weren’t disappointed.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson Show Review: July 29, 2015 at PNC Bank Arts Center

Despite it being 19 years ago, I still vividly remember what I did on my 10th birthday. On a sunny yet mild June day, my parents and friends joined me as I went to the record store to purchase The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I'm not quite sure why I remember it with such clarity, but I recall holding that album in my hands, with its rather large price tag, and feeling in some odd sense, mature. A sprawling double album with a title I didn't understand and beautiful artwork; purchasing it almost felt like a display to the world that I was hip and high-minded.

Beyond that moment, it's also an album that’s stuck with me through the years, through times of changing musical interests, Mellon Collie has always been my security blanket of sorts.

So, when The Pumpkins announced they’d be playing less than thirty minutes away at PNC Bank Arts Center, I was on board, and, as icing on the cake, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin would be re-joining the band.

The eternally peculiar Marilyn Manson opened the show around 7:30. The sweltering heat didn’t stop Manson from taking the stage in a leather jacket as he began his set with his new single, “Deep Six”. Throughout the performance, Manson had numerous wardrobe changes, along with a number of set design alterations, and the enormity of his nhilistic personality and stage presence played well to the large outdoor amphitheater. During a rendition of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, Manson took the stage in stilts as he slowly pounced around the stage.

By the time his rather lengthy performance concluded, I marveled at the amount of hit songs he’s had throughout his career. While I’ve never listened to a full Marilyn Manson album, I was familiar with the majority of the songs in his set, for instance, “Dope Show”, “Disposable Teens”, “Personal Jesus” and “The Beautiful People” were all performed.

While Manson is no doubt a polarizing figure, he at the very least deserves credit for making his show a spectacle - which is something that’s kind of needed for a crowd as large as the one at PNC.

The Smashing Pumpkins took the stage several minutes before 9:30 and came out swinging with performances of “Cherub Rock”, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, “Tonight, Tonight” and “Ava Adore”.

When The Pumpkins launched into "Tonight, Tonight" an avalanche of memories came rushing to my mind. It brought me back to those early days in my teenage years when the world around me made me feel like a zero (parents not included, they were and are wonderful.) I would lay in my bed staring out the window with “Tonight, Tonight” on repeat, fantasizing along with Corgan’s incredible lyrics of hopefulness, “the impossible is possible tonight”. Ah, the power of music. Now, with that tangent over, back to the show.

The onslaught of hits early in the set had the crowd going, but once Corgan announced the performance of a new track, there was an audible groan from the crowd. Corgan laughed it off and went straight into performances of two songs from Monuments to an Elegy.

The remainder of the set was a mix of deeper tracks, including a few from Machina/The Machines of God, “Mayonaise” and “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” as well as hits like “Disarm”, "Zero", "1979" and “Landslide”. The band sounded tight and Corgan’s voice to this day seemingly remains unchanged from the 90s.

Corgan appeared rather thorny throughout the night, with the majority of his banter revolving around insulting the crowd. That’s to be expected though, right? He made fun of the overuse of cellphones, and asked, “Was this what the alternative revolution was about?” Additionally, three people found it necessary to charge the stage during performances of “Disarm” and “1979”. Corgan appeared mildly amused the first time, but the next two pushed him over the edge, threatening that he’d hit the next person who takes the stage in the head with a guitar. The threat was duly noted by the crowd.

Corgan also appeared to be having issues with his guitar later in the set. He continuously thrusted the butt of his guitar into the ground, in what I can only assume was an effort to resolve some issue. Either that or is was for show, not quite sure.

After the band closed their set with an intense performance of “United States”, the lights came on, and I couldn’t help but be surprised. While I think encores should be more spontaneous, I traditionally expect one from a show of this nature. When I got home and looked at past setlists from the tour, I noticed essentially every show included an encore performance of “Today”. Seeing this made me feel a little cheated, and also had me wondering why the band chose not to give a performance of “Today” to the crowd at PNC. Was the crowd not worthy? Was Corgan legitimately having issues with his guitar? Who knows.

While both The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson put on fine shows, I felt slightly hollow when departing. Upon my brother asking me what I thought, all I could muster was, “It was pretty good.” Which for me, the king of musical hyperbole, is saying something. I think there were a lot of factors leading to the disappointment, but the largest of which, was the venue. Shows of this size traditionally don’t resonate with me as much as shows in smaller venues. It’s difficult for me to feel emotionally invested in a performance when I can barely see the musicians on stage. It makes me really appreciate small and unique venues such as The Lanes, The Saint and The Wonder Bar, where not only are they small and intimate, but they have personality - something PNC doesn’t have an ounce of.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beach Slang / Hurry / The Scandals Show Review: July 25, 2015 at Asbury Lanes

Leading up to this year’s Skate and Surf, I continuously stumbled upon articles touting Beach Slang as the band to see. Being the moron that I am - and believe me, I’m a big moron - I missed their set in an effort to appease my wife by walking Asbury’s boardwalk during their performance. However, last night at Asbury Lanes, I set to rectify my past sins, and caught Beach Slang, and hot damn, did they justify their praise.

New Jersey’s own The Scandals opened the show around seven o’clock. Their forward brand of punk rock, akin to the sounds of Against Me!, got things started right. Lead singer/guitarist Jared Hart’s raspy vocals filled the hot and damp air of Asbury Lanes. The band closed their set with the monstrous track, “Avalanche”. The song’s quick and crunchy pace paired with Hart’s shouty authoritative vocals were a fine way to put a stamp on their solid performance.

Philadelphia trio Hurry would follow shortly thereafter. The band’s light-hearted nature came across quickly as lead singer/guitarist Matt Scottoline came out on stage with a drinkable coconut in hand. The crowd was slow to react to Scottoline’s humor, but as the jokes continued to roll in throughout the night, more and more members of the audience laughed aloud with his genuinely funny self-deprecating humor. Their music reminded me of the bouncy power-pop of Weezer, and perhaps it was the coconut that was fueling these thoughts, but their sound also had a relaxed tempo reminiscent of beachy California rock. All in all, Hurry’s set was a fun and cheerful way to lead into headliner Beach Slang’s performance.

Before Beach Slang would take the stage, Hurry’s Scottoline revisited the microphone and clued Asbury Lanes in on a big surprise. Apparently, the Lanes had a surprise guest, and whenever a show in New Jersey has a surprise guest, only one name comes to mind. You got it, Mr. Springsteen. After a conference call between Hurry, Beach Slang, and The Boss, Springsteen had agreed to show up to last night’s performance. Scottoline lead the crowd in a oddly cadenced “Bruce Springsteen” chant, and the crowd wasn’t exactly biting. After several minutes of banter, it turned out it wasn’t Bruce who showed up, instead it was Bryce Springsteen. Scottoline relieved Bryce of his duties and told him to go home. The crowd appeared apathetic when the big reveal turned out to be a bust.

With a large crowd packed towards the stage, Beach Slang came out ready to fire. However, the energy had to be turned down as guitarist Ruben Gallego broke a string before the band was able to launch into their set. Unperturbed by the setback, lead singer/guitarist James Alex would go on to open their set with just his electric guitar and vocals. Then, for their second song, the band charged full force into “Filthy Luck”. With all the instruments pounding, the band flung around the stage with reckless abandon. Alex moved about the stage frantically, whipping his guitar around his body, nearly hitting everyone around him; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if fellow band mates have taken a few blows to the head from Alex’s guitar.

Despite a few hiccups along the way, including playing the wrong song several times, the band was on point as they ran through pre-released material, new material and even a Jawbreaker cover - a band which they appear to have derived great influence from. “American Girls and French Kisses” was huge with its anthemic closing, as was the catchy, “Punk or Lust”. The new material definitely had the conventional Beach Slang vibe, however, one of which sounded like Beach Slang on steroids with a quicker tempo than we traditionally hear from the band. The new songs definitely sounded promising.

The intensity from Beach Slang’s set was infectious. The band was absolutely towering last night, and the unbelievable amount of energy the band exuded was wildly entertaining to watch. Within minutes it became abundantly clear to me why Beach Slang is one of the most talked about bands in punk.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Bouncing Souls / Andrew Jackson Jihad / Screaming Females / Seaside Caves Show Review: July 17, 2015 at Starland Ballroom

Poster designed by Hellgate Industries
Friday night, at Starland Ballroom, The Bouncing Souls made their triumphant return to New Jersey to deliver a performance of their seminal album, How I Spent My Summer Vacation in its entirety along with a slew of new and old songs. Joining The Souls were a bevy of incredible talent including Andrew Jackson Jihad, fellow Hub City rockers, Screaming Females, and fellow Chunksaah Record label-mates, Seaside Caves.

Seaside Caves opened the show with their brand of brooding new-wave. With shades of red lights enveloping the stage, the band ran through their catalog and quickly captured the audience's attention. It wasn’t clear to me whether Seaside Caves had their own large contingent of fans, or whether they converted people not yet familiar with them, but by the end of their set, the audience was enthusiastically cheering after each gothic and dreamy number. The band sounded extremely tight, and judging by their performance, were a fantastic addition to the Chunksaah roster.

Screaming Females took the stage next. As always, the trio delivered an explosion of energy, wasting no time by opening with the monstrous yet catchy, “Sheep”. King Mike’s bass sounded extra crunchy in the mix, especially on Rose Mountain’s, “Empty Head”. Their set included a healthy mix of classics like Ugly’s “Leave it All Up to Me” and new Rose Mountain tracks like “Criminal Image” and the album’s title track. Lead singer and guitarist Marissa Paternoster was on fire belting out her massive howling vibratos along with thrashing solos behind Jarrett Dougherty’s tight drumming. Even as Marissa let out her visceral screams while away from the mic, her voice permeated through the venue. When they concluded their set that felt all too short, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Andrew Jackson Jihad - it was a tough act to follow.

To my surprise, Andrew Jackson Jihad (AJJ) not only managed to hold their own after Screaming Females left their massive shadow on the stage, but would go on to deliver a truly memorable performance. Having only had minor exposure to the band, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what I saw left me floored, and at one point, left me with goosebumps.

AJJ came out swinging with “Temple Grandin”, and the crowd immediately bought in as they sang along with Sean Bonnette’s unique folk-punk stylings reminiscent of an edgier version of The Mountain Goats. Pits opened and arms thrusted in the air with each passing song in the band’s set.

Concluding their performance was an absolutely stunning rendition of Knife Man closer, “Big Bird”. Bonnette dropped his guitar to sing the song’s introduction without any assistance from his fellow band-mates. When the band joined in on the action, they did so with an epic boom, thrusting the song’s anxiety filled lyrics with an enormous sense of desperation and catharsis. Bonnette threw himself around on stage before eventually strapping on his guitar to drive the song towards its magnificent finish. The performance was not only a highlight for the night, but one of the premier highlights of my concert-going life. The performance of “Big Bird”, for me, at the very least, was a culmination of everything that makes rock so incredible, as it can transcend mere entertainment, and become something which connects with the feelings and emotions that often become so internalized and for better or for worse, define who we are.

The show of course, was a celebration of The Bouncing Souls’ seminal record, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, and more importantly, a celebration of the band’s illustrious career. The moment the band kicked into “That Song”, Starland Ballroom erupted; before The Souls started, I was near the back of the floor, and within seconds I was corralled towards the barricade and then immediately pushed to the rear again. The excitement from the crowd was electric and contagious. The seasoned veterans performed their landmark album with a smile on their face, relishing in the moment as the hometown crowd danced along to each timeless song.

After running through How I Spent My Summer Vacation, The Souls took a brief intermission before visiting songs both old and new. They returned to the stage with a faithful rendition of The Ramones' playful bubblegum-punk track, "Do You Wanna Dance". Classics like "Hopeless Romantic", "Sing Along Forever", and "Kate is Great " sounded strong with the band performing on point and Greg Attontino sounding just like he did earlier in his career. "Lean on Sheena" received some minor alterations as Attontino put emphasis on various lines throughout the song making it sound both truthful to the studio version yet slightly unique.

Two new songs were thrown into the fray, and both of which fit naturally into their set. The new numbers had all of the stylings that define a great Souls track - being both uptempo and carrying just the right amount of hook.

The Souls' performance was a display of what has made this band stick for twenty-plus years. They've carried a faithful fan base and consistently deliver strong shows and stellar studio material.

With a stacked lineup, Starland Ballroom was the place to be. Each and every band hit it out of the park, from the gloomy Seaside Caves, to the raw and relentless, Screaming Females, to the emotionally charged, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and finally, the timeless Bouncing Souls. There wasn't a bland moment from the time music was projected from Starland's stage.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Joe Michelini Show Review: July 9, 2015 at Langosta Lounge

I have to imagine performing at a restaurant/lounge must be difficult for a musician; a portion of the crowd views the performance as nothing more than background music to accompany their conversations, meanwhile another subsection is deeply keyed in. Last night at Langosta Lounge, River City Extension frontman, Joe Michelini, cherished the opportunity to do what he loves, to perform music.

Michelini took the stage after an extremely strong performance from Accidental Seabirds’, Jesse Lee Herdman. He would go on to open with The Unmistakable Man’s, “Friends and Family”. Without the intricacies that River City Extension’s background band provides, Michelni’s words moved to the forefront. Despite his emotional vocal delivery on his studio work, last night’s acoustic performance shed an even greater light on these highly personal and frequently pained lyrics.

It’s also quite remarkable how well River City’s catalog holds up acoustically. For a band that implements such a great amount of detail in their work, when these songs are stripped down to their bare bones, a new life is given, and the songs feel both fresh and strong. Last night, as Michelini performed the dynamic “Today, I Feel Like I’m Evolving”, in the back of my mind I could hear the strings burst towards the song’s towering crescendo, but when Michelini stretched his voice without any additional instrumentation, I would be lying if I were to say I wasn’t moved.

Additional high-points from his performance came on two Deliverance tracks, “Ohio” and “I’m Not There”. The bustling “Ohio” maintained its energy, and the piano driven “I’m Not There” - which is quickly becoming a personal favorite - was stunning with the guitar taking place of the keys and the clearness of those melancholy existential lyrics resonating throughout Langosta.

Deeper into his set, we were introduced to a new song entitled, “Sour in the Rye”. The song, according to Michelini, is about drinking and masturbating, and is awfully reminiscent of Nirvana, perhaps something from their classic MTV Unplugged performance. The reception of the new track was extremely positive, and rightfully so; several onlookers requested the song to be played again and Michelini obliged, saying performing a song twice in a row was a first for him - he seemed quite pleased to do it again.

I absolutely love watching Michelini perform River City Extension’s catalog acoustically. While I would never trade it for the full band, these songs that I’ve listened to countless times become new, and emphasize areas that become hidden behind all of the band's instrumental complexities.