First off, I’ve been to many venues around this country from touring, but Saturday’s venue has to be the best venue yet. Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey is a very unique venue. So far it is the only venue I’ve been to where you can bowl while your favorite band plays in the middle. I played enough rounds with my friend that my fingers still hurt! A very unique experience. Also, the atmosphere and workers at Asbury Lanes have to be the nicest people I’ve met at a venue.
The show I attended at Asbury Lanes featured five ska bands. My main reasons for attending the show were for Obi Fernandez and Spring Heeled Jack, but all the bands played phenomenal despite people bowling. Even though it was a ska show, Obi Fernandez actually played an acoustic set with guitarist Alex Brumel. Despite his set being acoustic, Obi showed that he could still get the crowd dancing. Playing a mix of his solo material, Westbound Train songs, and a cover of The Ramones’ “KKK Took My Baby Away”, Obi may be new to the solo artist world but he plays as if he has been doing it for years. Afterwards, I talked to Obi about his solo material and Westbound Train, which I will only say some exciting things are coming with Westbound Train.
The headliner for the night was recently reunited Spring Heeled Jack. I’ve been a fan of this band for some time, but missed the boat when they were fully active. I was introduced to Spring Heeled Jack from the video compilation Punk Rawk Show Vol. 1 or 2. Could’ve been 3, I can’t remember. The song was “Jolene” and like many, I was hooked. I wasn’t prepared for how crazy Spring Heeled Jack would be live. My photos don’t do their live show justice. This band has an amazing stage presence. I haven’t seen a band move around the way they do since seeing the band Moneen live.
Since this was a smaller venue and there wasn’t a barricade up, I wasn’t able to move around as much up front. Guitarist and lead singer Ronnie Ragona has the most spontaneous stage presence I’ve ever seen. You never know what he is going to do next. Lead singer Mike Pellegrino was constantly moving around the limited available stage space, and pulled it off nicely. For a band that hasn’t been around in years, I never would’ve thought they left. They definitely know how to give the crowd a show. With only two albums out under their name, you are almost guaranteed to hear your favorite song. I can’t stress how tight they sounded through their entire set. At the end of their set, they came back on stage for an encore by playing “Jolene”. The song included Mike Pellegrino singing with the crowd in the pit and being poured a beer in his mouth by a fan.
I feel sorry for anyone that isn’t able to see Spring Heeled Jack. This is a band that is a must see live. I heard there is a new album in the works, but I can’t be sure. Hopefully, if there is a new album, maybe there will be a national tour. If so, I can’t wait to see them again.