It was clearly a night of electric energy -- like sparking an old flame. Maybe it had to do with people returning to the New Jersey Shore, some for the first time since Superstorm Sandy brought her worst back in October.
Maybe it had to do with friends reconnecting, the ones who grew up in New Jersey’s storied underground music scene, which has produced so many life-affirming shows.
It’s possible it had to do with the Scandals, a hardworking Bayonne punk band about to play their biggest show ever -- their largest crowd by more than a thousand people.
Or perhaps was something about New Found Glory, the pop-punk band from Florida that recently did a tour on the 10-year anniversary of the ‘Sticks and Stones’ album that didn’t include a New Jersey stop, finally returning to play that landmark album in its entirety to their loyal Garden State fans.
Whatever it was, everyone in attendance at the conclusion of Red Bull Noise Complaint at the House of Blues felt the energy. This year, Noise Complaint had a special meaning for New Jersey. This project was aimed at highlighting the region’s rich underground musical heritage -- the classic shows, indie labels, and DIY venues that produced the likes of the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, Thursday, Midtown, the Gaslight Anthem, and so many more.
But it took on a new life when Superstorm Sandy trashed the state just a week before the Red Bull Noise Complaint Showcase at the Court Tavern. Like the will of so many NJ musicians, the show went on, with The Scandals (pictured below) being selected to open for New Found Glory at the final performance.
Sandy wasn’t content simply wreaking havoc on the Court show. She virtually destroyed the Starland Ballroom, forcing New Found Glory’s return in December to be moved to the House of Blues in Atlantic City on February 22. And the charity component of the project switched, directing $1 from every ticket sold to Stay Strong Jersey, a non-profit run by longtime members of the punk community. And after the storm, the cleanup, and the lives that were affected, the show was a much-needed catharsis.
For their part, the Scandals are more accustomed to basements and bowling alleys than a venue of this size. “Probably the funniest thing was all of the bands getting lost in the maze that is the House of Blues,” laughed frontman Jared Hart. “From the moment we loaded in, it was like we were inside a video game. If we wanted to get back to the van, we got lost. If we wanted to go downstairs to check on merch, we got lost. If we had to find the bathroom, we got lost. The best part was that along the way we kept running into members of the other bands getting lost in the opposite direction.”
They found their way to the stage though, ripping into their set. During crowd favorite ‘Avalanche,’ when Hart normally tosses his guitar to someone and jumps into the crowd with the mic, he had to remember there was a much greater leap than normal.
“The whole night was awesome,” Hart said. “All the bands were really nice guys and killed it. It was awesome being able to watch all those bands in one night.
“Everyone at Red Bull really put the energy into making it something special for us, the fans, and for Sandy victims. The New Found Glory guys seemed pretty happy to be there. They put a ton of energy into their live show, and in all the interviews they talked heavily about the effects of Sandy,” Hart added.
And by the end of the evening, $3,469 went to Stay Strong Jersey through a portion of ticket sales as well as T-shirts and poster proceeds.
“The show Friday night was a massive success,” said Dave Franklin, Stay Strong director and singer for long-running New Jersey hardcore band, Vision. “It was great to see all the bands and the fans get behind what we are doing. We had this awesome opportunity presented to us by Red Bull and we jumped in feet first. Everyone was stoked and the crowd ate up the Stay Strong Jersey merchandise knowing it was going to a great cause.”
Man Overboard (pictured above), of South Jersey, bought their energized brand of pop punk and injected some humor into the evening. Then it was on to the post-punk inspired Menzingers (black-and-white photo above), who played a well-received set heavy on material from ‘A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology.’ By the time they finished, the House of Blues was busting at the seams.
New Found Glory came out guns blazing. As promised, they ripped through every song of 2002’s ‘Sticks and Stones.’ Jordan Pundik leaped into the crowd for ‘Singled Out,’ ramping up to a raucous sing-along for ‘The Story So Far.’ There was even a point where Jordan’s New Jersey family took the spotlight and his cousin proposed to his girlfriend on stage. Lot of love in the house.
These guys simply love to play.
"When we first started out, we would literally call New Jersey our second home. New Found Glory has had some of our most memorable shows to date in New Jersey, and this show ranks right up there, as over 2,000 fans showed up to rock out with us and sing along to every word of every song!” said drummer Cyrus Bolooki.
“We were very proud to be part of the Red Bull Noise Complaint this year, not only because it was a way to raise awareness and to show respect to the New Jersey scene that has been so huge for us throughout our career, but on top of that, this year was even more special with money donated to local New Jersey charities that are supporting the rebuilding of the area after the devastation from Superstorm Sandy."
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