Monday, June 11, 2018

Northside, Night 2 w/ Shellshag, NO ICE, and Prima; Snail Mail w/ The RockNRoll Hi-Fives, 6/8-6/9/18

Snail Mail at Asbury Park Brewery

Weekend Wanderings


Last week was a pretty busy one. CoolMom left for a business trip to Europe on Sunday. We had the usual swim practices, swim meets, and family activities. CoolDaughter 2's softball team had a stretch of four games in four days as they made up all of the rain-outs from the season. On top of that, it was Northside Festival weekend; and there was the big Snail Mail show at Asbury Park Brewery on Saturday. Thanks to CoolDaughter 1, my very cool coolparents, and some scaled-back Northside plans, I was able to make everything work. It really is possible to have it all.

After the victory by CD2's Her-ricanes on Friday night, I headed up to Brooklyn again for a Northside show at Main Drag Music. This one featured Rose Blanshei of Prima, NO ICE, and our good friends Shellshag. I hadn't seen Shellshag in a very long time, and I was looking forward to catching up and catching their set.

Main Drag is a pretty great place for a show. It's a cavernous, old Brooklyn space with guitars hanging on the walls. The evening had a friendly, communal, non-bar vibe if that makes any sense. In addition to a cooler full of beers ($3 donation), the store also supplied a whole cooler full of flavored seltzers ($1 donation); so my night was made. (Note to bars / venues: Have more interesting non-alcoholic choices than just Red Bull, club soda, and Coke. I will totally overpay you for a La Croix or a Schweppes.)

Rose Blanshei kicked things off with a short solo set. There were a few technical difficulties with the looper, and Blanshei abandoned one song that was too new; but all the friends in the crowd were more than forgiving, laughing right along with her. The set was still mesmerizing. The combination of Blanshei's voice and guitar was haunting, and I'm going to be seeking out her work with Prima.

Rose Blanshei of Prima

NO ICE crowded the tiny stage with their seven members. The band combine power pop, classic, and indie rock into a sound that's always a raucous party. Jamie Frey and Gwynn Galitzer pour their rock and roll souls into every lyric; and, for the duration of NO ICE's set, Main Drag shrunk down to the size of a sweaty bar.


Shellshag closed things out, rattling off some of my favorites like "Resilient Bastard," "Flowers for Julie," and "Face to Face" over a set that -- as always -- went by too quickly. Shellhead and Jen embody everything beautiful and good that playing music can do for people; and, as they ended their set by dedicating "Carry On" to "Shellshag '18 Comeback" and a bright future, I felt my heart warming.


Another short, sweet taste of Northside '18; but -- I gotta say -- even though I only caught two shows, this was my most rewarding year.


The Her-ricanes played (and won) their final regular season game on Saturday morning to finish the season 4-2-2. We're waiting for info on the playoff seedings. The rest of the day was, mostly, pretty lazy followed by a huge family dinner for my cousin's 30th birthday. From there, I headed to Asbury Park Brewery for the sold-out show with Snail Mail and my other family, The RockNRoll Hi-Fives.

Snail Mail, the project headed up by 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan, released their debut LP, Lush, on Friday. I spent my drives to and from Brooklyn on Friday night listening to the album on repeat, and Jordan approaches the ups and downs of young love and desire with a maturity and confidence that are rare among those even decades her senior. That, and Jordan also happens to be an interesting and subtly brilliant guitarist with a singing voice that can move between youthful and timeworn over the course of a single song.

Taken together, all of that has positioned Jordan -- fairly or unfairly -- as an indie, guitar rock savior of sorts who's received extensive coverage from NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and lots of other places who talk very seriously about music. At the end of last week, Matador announced that Snail Mail and Car Seat Headrest would be opening for their label-mates, Interpol, at Madison Square Garden this coming February. We'd all be getting to see Snail Mail at Asbury Park Brewery. Just a few days before the show, The RockNRoll Hi-Fives snagged the opening slot.

Asbury Park Brewery has been doing great things in giving a home to shows that, most likely, would have passed by Asbury Park following 2015's closure of Asbury Lanes. This show had been sold out for weeks, and Asbury Park Brewery was paaaacked. I managed to squeeze up front for both sets; but I'd imagine, given the narrowness of the room and the lack of a stage, that anyone shorter than about 6'4" would have had trouble seeing anything if they weren't in the front row. All the bodies filling the space, though, did contribute to some of the best sound I've ever heard at the place.

The RockNRoll Hi-Fives won over the room with their 30-minute set. Saturday was a double-header day for the band as they made their way to Asbury straight from a set at the Metuchen Music and Arts Festival. The effects of touring and consistent playing showed in the band's delivery, and they took full advantage of the opportunity to show a mostly new group of fans what they could do.

The RockNRoll Hi-Fives
The RockNRoll Hi-Fives

Lindsey Jordan and Snail Mail came out right at 9pm, and turned in an hourlong set that validated all the hype for me. "Heat Wave," Jordan's solo take on "Anytime," the band's cover of Coldplay's "Speed of Sound," and the crowd sing-along with "Pristine" were all highlights. Single "Pristine" is just a great song, and the band's live rendition was flawless.

Snail Mail
Snail Mail

Lindsey Jordan and Snail Mail are more proof that there's still life left in guitar rock. It's coming from new voices, with new perspectives, making catchy, accessible music that doesn't rely on re-using old ideas or being "retro."

The future is bright.

Pics from the weekend are up in the Flickr galleries.

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