In October of last year, Red Bull: Noise Complaint put out the call to all bands worldwide -- apply and compete to play a real New Brunswick basement show -- and hundreds of bands answered. Four bands were chosen to play the initial event, and it was Lancaster, PA’s We Were Skeletons who won over the judging panel, earning themselves the opening slot at the holiday show in the Starland Ballroom.
Tickets for the show sold out far in advance, which was expected since this annual event has turned into a hotly anticipated New Year’s tradition. This year’s installment included psych-punk favorites Acid Tiger and beardly pop-punkers Four Year Strong. But We Were Skeletons were the real story of the night.
I was in my school cafeteria eating some chicken wings, and Keith from Red Bull called me and said, ‘I just want to tell you congratulations.’ I didn’t imagine it would happen.
“It’s really surreal,” notes bassist/vocalist Rafael Diaz. “I remember I was in my school cafeteria eating some chicken wings, and Keith from Red Bull called me and said, ‘I just want to tell you congratulations.’ I didn’t imagine it would happen.”
We Were Skeletons pierced the anticipation of the evening with their cacophonic rhythms and throat-raking screams. Diaz and guitarist Justin Pallas faced each other, taking turns spilling their guts and gnashing their fingers against the steel of their guitars, as drummer Matt Nissley pounded and rolled through each song into the next.
And while it may have been a much larger and much different kind of performance experience for We Were Skeletons, the band adapted easily, winning over the curious Jersey crowd.
We Were Skeletons Members
- Justin Pallas Guitar/Vocals
- Rafael Díaz Bass/Vocals
- Matt Nissley Drums
Brooklyn’s Acid Tiger took the stage next, snaking and bellowing through their set of riff-heavy psychedelic punk, followed up by Four Year Strong, whose shout-along choruses and hook-heavy pop punk filled the air at Starland Ballroom with a brighter, lighter mood than the bands that preceded them.Finally it was time for the evening’s hosts to take the stage, the band Thursday. As a special holiday gift to their fans, Thursday’s set was based around a complete performance of their groundbreaking and definitive 2001 release Full Collapse.
Released nearly ten years ago, Full Collapse was considered a game-changing record for rock music -- and today’s music fans see that prophecy fulfilled, with Thursday now existing as a prime influence for countless bands the world over. Revisiting the songs that serve as the foundation of the band’s longevity and success was a special treat for fans, and no doubt for the band as well.
It’s a sentiment that speaks to anyone driven by a passion for making music. “This was definitely different than any show we’d ever played,” remarked We Were Skeletons guitarist/vocalist Justin Pallas, commenting on the scale of Red Bull: Noise Complaint when compared to the bands’ generally smaller experiences up until this point. “But it just reaffirmed for me that I want to play as hard as I can for any crowd.”
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