It started in January when, of all things, tickets to see Rush went on sale. I love Rush and if you do too, you should check out my review of their show in Newark on June 27 (click here), but I digress. There was the choice of seeing them on a Saturday in Newark, NJ or the following Monday at Madison Square Garden.
It's a bitch for me to do an NYC show on a week night. It would mean the last note of "Working Man" would play and I would get stuck for 15 minutes trying to get out of MSG and then trying to catch a cab to get to Grand Central to just miss the 11:50 train. That means hopping the 12:47am train and getting to Poughkeepsie around 3:00am and getting back to my place in Kingston at best around 3:30 to get up about 3 hours later for work.
Okay...decision was made, let's do Newark for Rush on Saturday, June 27.
It seemed an awesome plan until around April when Soul Asylum announce their tour with The Meat Puppets opening and it turns out the last date is going to be at The Chance in Poughkeepsie for the first time ever on, yeah...June 27. Crap!
Oh it get's worse...they are doing the PledgeMusic thing to raise money for their new album and for a c-note, you can get a pair of tix to any show, a download of the new album when it comes out, and a meet and greet with the band. So my sister, who is less Rush fan and major Soul Asylum fan got that package.
So on June 27, as I'm in a parking terrace drinking a beer about 30 minutes before walking across the street to see Rush, my sister calls regaling me with the tale of just hanging on Soul Asylum's tour bus with Dave Pirner, drinking some beers and then going outside to shoot off fireworks with him as he could not pass up the giant box of explosives on sale at Sam's Club as they road into town.
I heard the show was great too (I hope they make The Chance a regular stop each year).
And hell, Rush were awesome and hopefully I'd have the chance to see Soul Asylum before the year ended...
Fast forward to this past Thursday in Rahway, NJ at the Union County Performing Arts Center.
Evidently the Mayor of Rahway is a cool dude and puts on a few free outdoor shows on Thursday nights in the summer. On August 20 it was going to be Soul Asylum with BoDeans opening.
I cut out of work right at 4:30 and picked up my buddy Jimmy right off exit 16 on the Thruway. My sister and her husband were once again going and this time bringing my niece Abigail. It would be her second concert, the first being Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band five summers ago (review here). Pretty good starting track record for shows and I have a feeling now that she's hitting the double digits in age, the concerts will be coming at a much more fast and furious pace.
We figured we would get there right about 5:30 if the traffic wasn't too bad, but it was...due to the 5 fender benders we passed. Good lord Jersey drivers!
The sky wasn't looking great either. Weather channel said rain was supposed to hold off until later in the night, but we got a call from my sister when we were still about 40 minutes out that the show was being moved inside.
They let the folks in a few minutes before 7:00pm and we arrived a few minutes after that and walked to the front row where my sister had secured seats on the right side.
It was my first time here and it's a real nice theater. Large wide stage about four feet off the ground. The place has 1500 seats and I'd say at 7:15 or so...with the BoDeans scheduled to come on in 15 minutes, there were about 400 people there spread out except for the front center section which was pretty packed full.
Jimmy and I were starving and our choices were skittles being sold in the venue or the Mexican restaraunt across the street or the Chinese joint a block down. We also spotted a pizza place which was closed for some reason. Made no sense, but that's how Rahway does it.
Hit up the Mexican joint which only had three other tables filled and put our order in, letting them know we were in a bit of a hurry to get to the show. Mexican in general is usually really quick food to make, but our waitress came out 2 or 3 times to apologize for the wait as there were other orders in front of us and I dunno, maybe they make their tortilla shells from scratch to order. A half hour passes and the food comes out. My torta was pretty good, but Jimmy got 3 tacos. Each taco was TWO soft tortillas (nothing between them or anything - it's just for those huge fans of extra tortilla I guess) with a little seasoned ground beef in them. No lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa...oh but they did put two huge uncut scallions on his plate which maybe he was supposed to somehow chop up and mix in.
We got a text that the BoDeans hit the stage right around the time the food arrived.
We finished quick, learned our lesson to next time go down the block and get chinese and headed back across the street.
Stopped in the lobby for some beers (only $5 bucks for tall boys!! NICE!!!) and headed in.
The place had filled up quite a bit. We got back to our seats and sipped our brews and bobbed our heads to the BoDeans.
The BoDeans are one of those bands I've always heard of, but couldn't tell you the name of one of their songs. I figured it would be one of those bands where a few of their songs would have me going "OH! It's THIS Band." That was exactly the case.
From the setlist, it looks like we missed the first three tunes which were "Paradise", "Texas Ride Song" and "Dreams".
"Love Somebody" was on as we walked in, then the super catchy "Good Work."
The rest of the set was:
"Closer to Free" was the closer (which was the full on "OH! it's THAT Band!" moment for everyone who hadn't recognized them prior).
They had the Beatles' "Come Together" on the setlist as well right before "Closer to Free" but didn't play it.
They were good. Played an hour and I dug it. When the lights came on I turned around and saw the place had really filled in. Easily 1000 people there now, a lot of them obviously waiting for Soul Asylum.
Went to grab another tasty $5 beverage and oddly the beer guys had a copy of BoDeans setlist on their table which they had no want of and gave to me. Thanks beer guys!
9:00pm arrived and Soul Asylum hit the stage with "Somebody to Shove" off of their monster album "Grave Dancers Union" which of course kicks ass, but also showed some of the trade off of this show.
There were a good amount of die hards here as well as a bunch of local folks who probably come to every free show 'cause why not. Those casual fans, now that the show was indoors with seats, just wanted to sit in their seats and let their displeasure be known if anyone went to stand up to do some of that rockin' and basically shamed said rockers into sitting down for most of the show (until the encore when I guess everyone figured they could put up with two songs of being told to "sit down...you're blocking the view").
So I guess I was lucky, I was in the front row and could rock pretty good in my seat and if the show had stayed outside I probably still could have been pretty close, but I would not have been front row due to the time we arrived.
"Shut Down" off GDU's follow-up "Let Your Dim Light Shine" was next. It actually was a triple shot off this album, following up with the singles "Just Like Anyone" and "Misery".
Sticking with the theme of playing multiple songs off the same album came the evening's next pair of tracks from 2006's "The Silver Lining" with "Lately" and then "Watcha Need".
Now a triple whammy of the remaining hits off GDU with "Black Gold" into "Without a Trace" into "Runaway Train" (actually a lot of the crowd stood during this one without being scolded).
The band was in full on greatest radio hits mode tonight, but then they busted out something a little older with "Spinnin'" off 1990's "And the Horse They Rode In On"
This went right into the incredibly rockin "Gravity" of their last album, 2012's "Delayed Reaction"
Super quick encore break and by the time the boys came back out there was a line of fans standing against the stage for their return and their only dip into their 80's catalog with the title track off "Made to Be Broken".
The night ended with "April Fool"
Yep...only 13 songs played. Exactly an hour, but I guess that's the trade off when you go to a free show.
I've seen Soul Asylum about a dozen times and they are always good and that's what this show was - good. This was probably a great show for the casual fan with almost every hit packed into the first 45 minutes, but I got to say a bummer that only one song off their first five albums was played (but I'll be honest - the perfect Soul Asylum concert for me would be the dream that one day they decide to do all of "Hang Time", a perfect album and many fans' favorite). Also no cool cover tunes which they are known for (I believe they did the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale" at the Poughkeepsie show I talked about earlier and the last time I saw them (at Mohegan Sun) we got an awesome take on "Rhinestone Cowboy")
I see the next night they did 20 songs, but basically still the same lack of attention to the first decade's worth of work. Hopefully hope the next time they pass through the area they dig more of those old tunes out as they usually have in the past (and keep "Summer of Drugs" in the set...man that is a great cover they also did the following night).
But look at me, kind of pissing and moaning about a really good show where both bassist Winston Roye and Dave Pirner tossed my young niece guitar picks (and she got the damn setlist too!) and then talked with her after the show. Pretty damn good way to start that concert career! Rock on Soul Asylum! (and not to leave them out, lead guitarist Justin Sharbono and drumming legend Michael Bland were excellent as well we just didn't get any picks or sticks from them)
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