Saturday, March 7, 2015

River City Extension Kicked Off Their Tour at Asbury Lanes with Air Traffic Controller and The Creeptones, 3/6/15 (PHOTOS)

Leaving Home

What was, we hope, the last big blast of winter forced the cancelation of Night 1 of River City Extension's two-night tour kickoff at Asbury Lanes. All tickets were honored on Night 2; and that, coupled with just the general pent up frustration and cabin fever of Winter 2015, ensured a packed out Asbury Lanes would see the Toms River band off on their headlining tour. What the capacity crowd got was a 26-song marathon (I'm sure there was another .2 of a song in there somewhere) lasting over two hours and delivered via one of the biggest productions for a show at Asbury Lanes that I've ever seen. The six-piece band brought their own light show, fog machines, a crew of videographers, and Deliverance producer Pat Noon, who engineered a live recording of the entire event from backstage.

River City Extension's Toms River paisanos, The Creeptones, kicked things off with their psychedelic alternative pop. They had several fans in the audience, and I saw a few people approach the band members later in the evening and announce themselves as converts.

Air Traffic Controller are main support for the rest of the tour. The Boston band -- who know a thing or two about Winter 2015 themselves -- combine Americana and electronics into a sound reminiscent of bands like Of Monsters And Men. On several songs, the voices of Dave Munro and Casey Sullivan intertwined nicely as the band achieved a sound even fuller than you'd expect from the five members on stage. Several ATC fans turned out and shouted requests from the front row.

The Lanes had packed out nicely by the time River City Extension took the stage. The band kicked things off with a re-arranged version of "Glastonbury," including an intro that seemed to play off of that pent up winter frustration I mentioned earlier really well. From there, the two-hour set hit on old favorites as well as tracks from Deliverance.

Several of the older tracks received re-workings. "Something Salty, Something Sweet" and "Welcome to Pittsburgh" got jazzier treatments. "Mexico" became kind of a surf-rock song. All of the new arrangements brought the songs into line with some of the sounds on Deliverance and reflected River City Extension's evolution as a band with different personnel and maybe even a different approach to making music.

Throughout the set, keyboardist Patrick O'Brien and guitarist John Muccino jumped wildly as they played. Meghan Yost's violin lent that hint of Americana to most of the songs, even as River City Extension's sound is taking new turns.

As the set wound down, frontman Joe Michelini asked the crowd, "Hey, Asbury, are you ready for spring or what?" An explosion. The people are ready for it, and the band was bringing them an indoor version amid the flashing lights and fog machines of a rock show. For their one-song encore, River City Extension dedicated a version of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" to their former drummer, Steve Tambone, who passed away late last year just as the band were readying their push for the new album.

After the show, a sweat-soaked Joe Michelini greeted fans, hugged family and friends, signed posters. "Congratulations on the record," I said. "Great show. Have a great tour."

"This is all just the beginning," he said to me. It's true. The tour is just starting. Deliverance comes out on Tuesday. River City Extension have a long spring and summer ahead of them as they tour and do press for the record. They set out on a high, though. The band fueled up on the energy and warmth they shared with a hometown crowd one cold night during the last throes of a rough Jersey Shore winter.

Ballad of Oregon
Something's Gotta Give
Something Salty, Something Sweet
South for the Winter
Man of Conviction
Indian Summer
Welcome to Pittsburgh
If You Need Me Back in Brooklyn
If I Still Own a Bible
I Wouldn't Worry
Deliverance, Pt. 2
Down, Down, Down
Point of Surrender
Holy Cross
White Blackmail
Vox Populi
Nautical Sabbatical
Our New Intelligence
Today, I Feel Like I'm Evolving
I'm Not There
Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum cover)

Here are some photo highlights. The rest are in the Flickr galleries.

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