The Starland Ballroom is one of those venues that’s taken on an almost mystical significance in the New Jersey musical landscape. So many bands have played the stage, and a host of bands have filmed videos and live shows there. The Starland is consistently a top-selling venue, drawing a wide range of performers from national acts to local bands, and everything in between.
The Starland is slightly off the beaten track, directly next door to an auto junkyard. The building is somewhat unassuming and utilitarian, with a large parking lot. It’s hard to reconcile the idea of a popular venue with the plain exterior.
Inside was a completely different story. The Starland has a great space, with an excellent sound system and acoustics. The stage is large and roomy, and there was plenty of seating to either side for those who didn’t want to chance the pit. Security was respectful and polite, while managing to keep their eyes open for crowd surfers and potential trouble.
Overall, it’s clear that the Starland deserves its reputation for being a great venue because it’s an amazing place to catch live music.
Annie Girl and the Flight
Annie Girl and the Flight are a band out of California, fronted by the extremely talented Annie Girl. Their music encompasses a spectrum of sounds, from dreamy, almost hypnotic folk-influenced punk to loud and raucous alternative rock ‘n’ roll. The unifying thread throughout their music is the sheer brilliance that shines through.
Annie Girl and the Flight put on a great set and it was a pleasure to watch them live. Annie tore things up on the guitar, and the rest of her band followed suit, playing songs off their recently released EP Bodies. In spite of being a young band, Annie Girl and the Flight have a tremendous amount of raw talent backed by dedication to their craft, a rare combination that you don’t see often in a world of Auto-Tune and IHeartRadio.
As always, I enjoy watching bands that clearly love performing on stage, and Annie Girl and the Flight is another one of those acts. They clearly have fun playing together, which translates into a great show, drawing the audience in with their passion for the music. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more from Annie Girl and the Flight in the future.
Annie Girl and the Flight are Annie Girl (guitar, vocals), Josh Pollock (guitar, FX), Lauren Barth (bass), and Nick Ott (drums). They recently released Bodies, which is available at their website and at digital music retailers. Check them out for something different and surprising.
frnkiero andthe cellabration
I’ve been fortunate enough to see frnkiero andthe cellabration several times since the debut of Stomachaches in August 2014. I’ve even seen them play in New Jersey before (at Fords and Asbury Park), but there was something about playing for what amounts to a hometown crowd that just changed everything.
Frank and the Cellabration are usually very engaged during their sets, enjoying themselves, the music and playing together, responding to the positive energy of the crowd and putting 110% into their performance. At the Starland Ballroom, though, they somehow put even more into the show, playing to the friends and family they knew were watching them. There was so much happiness and joy on their faces as they burned through their set of songs, performing with their usual high level of technical precision. The energy was absolutely infectious and the crowd reflected it right back to the band.
The show was a couple of songs short of a headlining set, and for the last song, Frank brought out some of his family to help him perform Joyriding, to the utter delight of the crowd. It was a great way to close out the set.
I’ve never seen anything like this, and it was an amazing experience. It was not only the best frnkiero andthe cellabration show I’ve ever seen, but it ranks as the best show I’ve ever seen, period.
Frank Iero (guitar, vocals) has hijacked Evan Nestor (guitar), Rob Hughes (bass), and Matt Olsen (drums) to play in the Cellabration. They are currently finishing up a short tour with Against Me! and are playing sporadically throughout the summer.
I’d missed Against Me! the last time they came through my part of NY and now, after having seen them live, I really regret that, because they are incredible live. They roared right into their set, starting off with “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” and playing songs from not only their most recent album, but earlier releases as well.
Against Me! are an experienced band, extremely proficient musically, and that allows them the freedom to concentrate on their performance. They’re very dynamic, bouncing across the stage, screaming into the microphones, encouraging the audience to sing along. Even Atom Willard, behind his kit, managed to convey a sense of movement.
I love the narrative of a band as chosen family and Against Me! exemplifies that. There’s a closeness, a camaraderie that draws the band together. They play off each other, daring each other with smiles and laughter to play harder, better, more. So much said with body language and facial expressions, and it was a pleasure to watch them perform.
Against Me! is a great band, and their musicality not only survives but thrives on translation to the stage. This is most definitely a band worth seeing live.
Against Me! is Laura Jane Grace (vocals, guitar), James Bowman (guitar, vocals), Inge Johansson (bass, vocals), and Atom Willard (drums). They are currently on tour sporadically throughout the summer, playing in support of Transgender Dysphoria Blues.
I remember when Frank Iero and Laura Jane Grace first reached out to each other publicly on Twitter, and the rampant excitement in my circle of friends at the idea of frnkiero andthe cellabration and Against Me! touring together. Unsurprisingly, the show surpassed every one of my expectations. Great venue, great musicians, and an unforgettable night!
by cardiac_in_overdrive (@cardiac_ovrdrv)