Jaded Past homepage:www.jadedpast.com
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TRIXTER homepage: http://www.trixterrocks.com/
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It’s been a LOOONG time since we’ve talked about our old friends in TRIXTER here at rockeyez.com but Saturday April 12 at the Stanhope House in Stanhope, New Jersey would mark their first appearance (of what we hope to be many more) in the area for 2014. Sharing the stage with another one of Jersey’s finest JADED PAST, this promised to be a night to remember… and it certainly was for more reasons than one both good AND bad.
So let’s start with “the bad”…
I should have known simply by the slogan of a venue which bills itself as “the Last Great American Roadhouse” because in essence… it certainly was! The only thing truly missing was “chicken-wire” in front of the stage! But seriously, it wasn’t a “horrible” venue when I think about some of the sleazy dives I have been to in my lifetime but for an event of this magnitude, the cramped set up of the main concert area and the fact that the stage area was literally only about 15, maybe 20 feet long and elevated only about a foot (if that) off the floor made the entire experience very uncomfortable and unenjoyable.
It didn’t start off bad, mind you. We arrived just moments before JADED PAST would hit the stage. At that time, people were still hanging out in the bar areas, sitting at their tables and the small floor area in front of the stage itself was still pretty open. We squeezed our way in through the tight seating area aligned with tables and support beams finding a quiet little corner just before the thin hallway leading to the bathrooms and kitchen area where Mark (Balogh) and I would park ourselves for the rest of the evening while Brian (Rademacher) continued on to the floor area where he could shoot the show. And even as JADED PAST hit the stage and launched into their set opener “Legs Up,” the floor area remained pretty open leaving both Mark and I to thinking, “ok… this is manageable.” But we had NO idea what was yet to come.
Anyway, as far as JADED PAST goes, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say that I knew all that much about this band coming into the night, however, what I was familiar with was lead vocalist/ guitarist George Becker’s former band WICKED SIN who were a popular local act with that west coast glam/ sleaze rock sound… back in the day… and a sound I was never a huge fan of so I expected this to be pretty much the same, but it wasn’t! Even though Becker’s voice still maintains hints of that old vibe (ala singers like Steve “Sex” Summers (PRETTY BOY FLOYD)), it combines perfectly with the rich rhythm section of bassist Mark Mayer and drummer Paul Francis Bergen along with the impressive lead guitar work of Dave Bandinelli (whose physical appearance reminds me of that of BOWLING FOR SOUPS’s guitarist Chris Burney only with a shorter goatee and about 150lbs lighter!) to produce a thick, edgy hard-rock sound with touches of a melodic rock flair. Even when they reached into their archives to perform WICKED SIN’s “Lonely Heart,” it just wasn’t the same which is a GOOD thing. With their more modern, mature and straight-forward hard-rock sound and image, JADED PAST is definitely a band I will be keeping my eye on.
From their debut CD available right from their website www.jadedpast.com or CDBaby, the band performed four tracks including the fan-favorite and video “Hurt,” two of my favorites; the electric-acoustic driven “One Step Closer” and EASILY JADED PAST’s best recording to date, the catchy, melodic “Taken” and the high-energy “Living On The Edge.” In addition, the set included covers of THE BEATLES’ “Ticket To Ride” and one of the best renditions of the ROLLING STONES classic “Gimmie Shelter” I have ever heard where Bandinelli just went OFF lifting the crowd to its feet for the first time and bringing their set to a triumphant end. Really enjoyed these guys and look forward to hearing more in the future.
So as the JADED PAST set drew to a close, the “tiny” floor area began to fill in more and more AND MORE which (under normal circumstances) would be a good thing to see such a turn out and support for the bands. However, as I mentioned, the stage was only elevated about a foot so unless you forced yourself up to within 3 feet of the stage OR were at minimum 6’5” tall, by the time TRIXTER had to be forcibly escorted through the now shoulder-to-shoulder packed crowd, the ONLY thing you could see of Steve (Brown) or PJ (Farley) for the rest of the night were from just about their eye-balls up! With an occasional glimpse of lead vocalist Pete Loran’s head from time to time when he would stand on a milk crate on the front of the stage and ANY hope of seeing drummer Mark “Gus” Scott disappeared the second he sat down behind his kit! It was so ridiculous, in fact, that Mark and I were laughing just thinking about what would happen if Steve tried one of his signature jumps! His head would have gone right through the ceiling for Christ’s sake and the truly sad thing is that’s NOT even an exaggeration!
So I guess you could say, yeah… we saw TRIXTER that night but didn’t really SEE TRIXTER, well, except for Brian who, being a “trooper,” stuck it out in the midst of the hot, sweaty crowd in order to get some of these amazing shots you are seeing. But as for me and Mark, FUCK THAT SHIT! Our days of forcing ourselves into a smelly, hot, sweaty sardine-can floor area where the crowd is so tightly packed your arms are virtually glued to your side all night cutting off just about any hint of circulation ARE OVER! As I said, I have been to some sleazy, dingy, holes-in-the-wall in my life but at the VERY least, you could see the band! With a stage that low to the ground, The Stanhope House is certainly not a venue you would ever want to see a performer of this magnitude at as it makes the whole experience unenjoyable and disappointing.
The ONLY redeeming aspect of the evening was the performance itself because TRIXTER was definitely ON performing one of their best sounding shows I have ever heard.
Steve Brown was simply ON FIRE as his fingers danced across the fret board spitting out guitar solos, fills and improvs all night long with the vivacity of a true, seasoned elite guitarist electrifying the songs both old and new. And the rest of the band caught on pretty quick starting right from the top with vocalist Pete Loran who was simply in perfect voice. No, he may not have attempted all of the super-high notes he once delivered back in the day but the ones he did hit were dead-on and his more mature vocal style especially shined on tracks like “Road of a Thousand Dreams,” “Line of Fire” and “Tattoos and Misery” from their latest release “New Audio Machine.” And as the set continued on, you could almost literally feel Farley and Scott pushing the envelope further and further building the tempo and almost challenging the rest of the band to keep up while delivering a performance this writer has not heard in years.
I truly enjoyed the set list as well as TRIXTER changed it up a little bit from the sets we have become familiar with over the past few years. Sure, they played all the old favorites like “Heart Of Steel,” “Bad Girl,” their signature ballad “Surrender,” One In A Million” and “Play Rough” but in addition they included such gems as “On The Road Again,” their set opener “My Machine” also from “New Audio Machine” and a VERY cool addition in “Ride The Whip.” Then finally rounding off the evening was a high-octane rush starting with a killer version of “Rockin’ Horse” followed by an extended version of their first hit “Give It To Me Good” and finally (AND to my surprise) a very cool rendition of the BEASTIE BOYS’ “Fight For Your Right (To Party)” where they not only invited some family and friends up on stage to join them but ALL switched instruments as well starting with PJ jumping behind the kit, Pete taking over on lead guitar, Steve slapping along on the bass and none other than Mark “Gus” Scott leading the charge on vocals! What an awesome, AWESOME surprise… the likes of which hasn’t been seen from these guys since probably around 1995! Sure wish I could have actually SEEN IT!!!
What a TREMENDOUS set… but still, no “Coolest Thing” which I STILL maintain is THE best song this band has ever recorded and should EASILY be treated as TRIXTER’s mantra! I honestly don’t know if these guys realize just what a brilliant, BRILLIANT arrangement it is and despite all the success they have had with their other songs, “Coolest Thing” NEEDS to be heard! Oh well, guess I’ll just file it away on my TRIXTER “bucket List.”
So was the trip worth it? After a performance like that I would have to say a commanding YES! But as far as the venue goes, it would take a PINK FLOYD reunion to EVER get me to go out of my way to go up there again. God I miss Dexter’s or even the old days of Studio One or Club Bene… but there’s still MEXICALI’s! Come on guys… let’s do this again in a REAL venue REAL soon! Till next time…