Congratulations are in order for Hoboken, NJ venue Maxwell’s for being voted the 3rd best club in America by Rolling Stone magazine. It’s always great to see local spots get some recognition. Maxwell’s is far and away my favorite NJ venue and last Saturday’s show will go down as one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen this year.
Eric Goldberg of The Nico Blues has been keeping plenty busy these days with his solo side project All Sensory Void. Goldberg performs all of the instruments on his latest EP including the bass and drums, but for this performance he opted for a stripped-down approach. In the style of Justin Sane, Goldberg let his electric guitar do the talking. Heartfelt and sincere, the no-frills performance was a perfect intro for what was a fun night of loud, abusive live music. Highlights included “Too Little, Too Late,” one of my favorite tracks from Relax Man...You’re Actually Just Energy Condensed to a Slow Vibration and a cover of the Jane’s Addiction’s hit “Jane Says.”
I had seen Science once before a couple of weeks back when they played Clash Bar in Clifton, NJ with Reese Van Riper and morning… to name a few. That was a crazy night, but somehow Science upped the ante for their first Maxwell’s show, opening with a rousing rendition of “Leia To My Solo.” Originally an acoustic track it was vastly improved with the full band getting into the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love their studio work, but this is a band meant to be experienced in a live setting. Guitarists Evan Thomas and Alexander Paul kept the pace with their energetic riffing while the one-two punch of bassist Andy Longo and drummer Steve Steven Ryan are unparalleled. Tomasz Garnek is the band’s hidden ace, pulling double duty with guitars and keys and synths, which permeate most of their tracks. If any bands need a lesson on how to work a crowd, watch Science when they play “Maybe.” You’ll thank me later.
My knowledge of Bayonne, NJ is limited. All I really know is that Nada Surf, Pearl Jam and Mariah Carey all filmed music videos at the town’s high school so the town has some pop culture significance. Also representing Bayonne is the melodic hardcore band Gatherer with a solid set. On the surface they don’t sound too much different than similar acts like Touche Amore and the now-defunct Man On Fire. Christian Berrigan has a knack for passionate, heartfelt screaming that’s also coherent. I know, that sounds like a dumb thing to compliment a band on, but believe me there’s nothing worse than a hardcore band that just screams for the sake of screaming without the passion to back it up. Speaking of screaming, Christian has definitely has studied “Hardcore 101″ with the always-reliable shout-along vocals from members of the crowd and commanding stage presence.
I’m still trying to configure my face after it was melted clear off my skull last year when headliners Lionel Pryor performed a blistering set at Smacktone Studios in Woodland Park, NJ celebrating the inaugural release of Lamplighter Magazine. I don’t know why it took me so long to see them again, but I’m glad it happened at Maxwell’s. It was their first time playing the famed venue and I’m sure the sound guy will have to make a few repairs to the system as a result.
With the exception of the closing track “Goat Weed” off their debut Siam, the setlist was comprised primarily of new material off their brand spanking new album Azhdahak. Guitarist Zakk Gilbert’s mellow exterior makes shredding look almost effortless. It also provides a perfect counterbalance to bassist Andy Longo, who’s mannerisms are much more animated and exaggerated. It’s a wonder that drummer Mike Coviello doesn’t have to replace his kit after every show as his show, with the precise and brutal beatdowns it endured. Even with the intensity, his drumming is very tight. Some metal drummers overindulge with frantic fills and bludgeoning double bass, but this is far more calculated. There’s never a wasted beat.
Lionel Pryor have been searching for a vocalist for the longest time, but Saturday night reinforced my long-standing opinion that they don’t really need one–or do they? Andy Longo also serves as the bassist for Science, and in turn Alexander Paul provided vocals for the song “Dead Winter.” For a split second I thought I’d be witnessing a grizzly trainwreck. After all, how does one perform vocals for a song that doesn’t even have lyrics? I should’ve recorded video because that was one for the ages. With the tie now gone and an ever-abundant amount of chest hair, Alex ripped through the song like a demon-possessed Daryl Palumbo, belting out clean vocals and piercing screams with reckless abandon. I’m really hoping that at some point an official studio version will be recorded, or maybe even a side project? I’ll just throw that out there.