Haven’t you heard there’s a flu epidemic? Hasn’t your mother told you? Mine has—several times. She even insisted I get a flu shot, and so have a dozen other people. This sort of fear mongering, an ever growing trend in America, almost kept me home on a Saturday. After all, I had shown symptoms of a developing illness, something that could easily become the flu overnight. So the last thing I wanted to be around was people—filthy, germ-ridden, flu-giving people.
Turning 25 five months ago took the usual toll the quarter-century of life takes on a person. They convince themselves of their impending old age and vulnerability to life, in general. Fortunately, a childhood friend’s guilt trip and an obligation to return money my girlfriend owed a friend forced me to suck it up. A shower, some push-ups, and a hot cup of tea got me feeling less like a heavy lump of shit and more like someone ready to face the risk of the flu in the name of a good time.
And who would’ve thought that out of all the places, a borderline dive/modern-day roadhouse would yield one of the best show-going experiences I’ve ever had. The night kicked off with Asbury Park’s own hard-rock foursome, Empire Escorts. Frankly, all I could picture was car chases. You know, jumping cars through explosions and landing clean.
The second act was a band I had been hearing about and meaning to see for quite some time. From just outside Pottsville, PA, Crobot is the living embodiment of what rock music should be. Their music is as lively as the members themselves and you can’t help but get sucked in by the enormity of presence. The same childhood friend who guilt-tripped me into coming made me understand his obsession, and I can say proudly that I may have developed a similar affliction after just one night bearing witness to Crobot.
But they weren’t even the best part and they killed it. Only Living Boy, a staple of Warren County, New Jersey, played what was perhaps the best set I’ve ever seen by them. Empire Escorts and Crobot killed it, but Only Living Boy genocided it. Between covers better than the originals and their own soulfully original tunes I couldn’t have asked for any better of a set. I’ve said this before, but I will go on the record now of saying Only Living Boy is the Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 21st Century.
At the forefront is Joe Cirotti, one of the most talented guitarists/frontmen I’ve seen. His playing is entirely his own, and he imparts what he feels as he hits each chord on the audience: a sense of total bliss. But like the Hendrix Experience, the rhythm section comprised of Trevor Newcomb on drums and Eric Curley on bass provides a total sense of completeness that might get overlooked by some but is truly appreciated by the die-hards who understand Only Living Boy is a holy trinity of blues-inspired hard rock.
Only Living Boy is guaranteed good time, no matter what your musical preference is, and that is a rarity in this world. In fact, I would go as far to say that the Northeast’s United States’ best kept secret is its music. Sure, you get the Brooklyn stuff, but Brooklyn doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the northeast has to offer. For that you gotta step outside the city limits and go to the places you would never think to go like Bar 46 in Independence, NJ. After all, that’s where this perfectly constructed night of music took place, and for only five bucks.