September 1, 2015 Buckcherry Rock & Roll Starland Ballroom Sayerville, NJ 8-28-15 w/ Saint Asonia, Saving Abel, Red Sun Rising, & Machine Elves
Those who say Rock-n-Roll is dead have obviously never had the pleasure of seeing Buckcherry live. With seven albums under their belt, and extensive touring, including a performance at the 1999 Woodstock, Buckcherry has become of one of modern Hard Rock’s heroes. From their roots in California, Buckcherry is comprised of Lead Vocalist Josh Todd, Lead/Rhythm Guitarist Keith Nelson, Guitarist Stevie D., Drummer Xavier Muriel, and Bassist Kelly LeMieux. They have been on the Hard Rock scene for over twenty years, and do not plan to stop anytime soon. Especially now that they have released their seventh studio album, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and have their own label, F-Bomb Records.
In conjunction with the promotion for the new material, the band was set to perform some dates in July into August, but sadly Todd was recommended by doctors to give his voice a rest. Picking right back up in no time, they came to Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey on Friday August 28th with a mass of fans coming out to have a good time with their old friends. Featuring a lengthy, all-star supporting cast for the evening, local band Machine Elves came before Ohio-based Red Sun Rising, Mississippi natives Saving Abel, and Canadian/American supergroup Saint Asonia.
First act up was Machine Elves hailing from Brooklyn, New York and comprised of Singer Joey Calveri, Guitarists Eric Yip and Frank Fasano, Bassist Howie Blatz, and Drummer Tomy Tuma. Knowing how to pump up a crowd for what was yet to come, Calveri was full of gyrating dance moves to get an exciting reaction from most of the female crowd. From their Muse-like sound to their energy on stage, Machine Elves was a great kick off. Promoting their sophomore album, The Unbelievable Destruction of the Egomaniac, they performed several songs including “Unplugged” which was anything but, with a fast-paced drum, heavy bass, and intricate guitar riffs. Be sure to check them out.
After the usual dismantle and set up, the next band on was Red Sun Rising from Akron, Ohio. Made up of Mike Protich (lead vocals), Ryan Williams and Tyler Valendza (guitars), Ricky Miller (bass/backup vocals), and Pat Gerasia (drums), these guys came to put on a show. Having already graced stages with acts like Seether, this band is one of the hottest in Hard Rock right now. Also promoting new material, the band is signed to Razor & Tie and recently released the diverse record Polyester Zeal. Performing several tracks from the record, the most memorable were “Push,” “Amnesia,” single “Other Side,” and “Imitation,” which had a strong message about being true to oneself because ‘imitation is suicide.’ Their stage presence was felt throughout the entire audience, as Protich climbed over to the grate getting closer to the crowd, as well jump on top of amps to get the crowd involved with the singing. Be sure to check out their exceptional new album and check them on tour with Pop Evil in September, solo in October, and with Godsmack in November.
The next band was the veterans Saving Abel. Having been around since 2004 and still making solid Hard Rock, the band consist of Vocalist Scotty Austin, Lead Guitarist/Backup Vocalist Jason Null, Rhythm Guitarist Scott Bartlett, Bassist Eric Taylor, and Drummer Steven Pulley. Hailing from Corinth, Mississippi and creating a Grunge/Hard Rock sound they call their own, Saving Abel have several albums under their belt already, some hit singles, and recently released their newest album in 2014, Blood Stained Revolution. While Austin has been rocking stages with the band since 2013, the new record solidified his place in the heart of fans and now they continue their road warrior ways.
Coming out with a load of energy, the band owned the stage and the crowd went wild for it. The most exciting part was when Austin jumped over the photo pit and latched onto the fans as they sang along. Only performing five songs, including “The Sex is Good” and “Addicted,” left the crowd yearning for more from the well-known band. Those who missed this performance, do not worry, Saving Abel will remain on the road with Buckcherry through most of September while sprinkling some headlining dates they most certainly deserve.
Saint Asonia took the stage next, and with an air about them that went along with the big names front-lining the band. With twenty-five combined Top Ten Rock singles from their previous bands, the Canadian/American band consists of former Three Days Grace lead singer Adam Gontier, Staind’s lead guitarist Mike Mushok, former Finger Eleven drummer Richard Beddoe, and former Eye Empire bassist Corey Lowery. A force to be reckoned with, their debut album prove they are more than just names everyone knows, they are a band that mesh for some killer Hard Rock. While many have been talking about the band, the biggest buzz came when they finally hit the road for a tour starting August 14th and now it was Starland Ballroom’s chance to experience Saint Asonia.
Playing their big single, “Better Place,” that charted at number five on the mainstream Rock chart in the U.S., had most of the crowd screaming along to the lyrics. They held the audiences attention like a moth to a flame with their energetic performance as they played other songs like “Fairy Tale” where Gontier showed he is still one of the most unique vocalists in Hard Rock. They also mixed in several covers from Three Days Grace’s “Animal I’ve Become” to Staind’s “Mud Shovel” amidst other great newbie’s like “Blow Me Open” and “King of Nothing.”
As they were nearing the end of their set, Gontier joked about how many assumed they would not play covers from their old bands, well they did, and in electrifying fashion. With that said, the crowd got louder as he spoke and the rest of the band started to play the memorable chords that started Three Days Grace’s “I Hate Everything About You.” Singing the track with the same conviction he did over a decade ago, another surprise came right after with Staind’s “For You.” Having everyone screaming at the top their lungs, Saint Asonia finished up their set with another cut off their new album entitled “Let Me Live My Life.” After the set completed, it was easy to see the crowd did not want to say good night, but were also hyped up for what they knew was about to come. It was a weird combination that totally made sense in the moment. The band is now out on the road through Halloween where they will wrap up a string of dates in Canada. Believe in Saint Asonia, this band is ready to rise to the top where they belong.
It was finally time for Buckcherry to take the stage and the excitement began to build in the audience. No stranger to Starland Ballroom, the band has played the venue many times over and it was safe to say their New Jersey faithful were happy to see them return. As the music cut from the speakers, the large advertisement screen rolled up, the crowd went absolutely mental, and Buckcherry had arrived.
Walking out onto the stage in Glam Rock attire was Nelson, LeMieux, along with Muriel behind the kit. Todd himself came out with sunglasses on and in a simple black button-up shirt, although his pants were quite the sight, not only with how tight they were, but with patches of silver, stitched in stars, and lace up, instead of a zipper. Coming to put on a show with his Mick Jagger-esque dance moves, they kicked off their set with 1999 single “Lit Up.” Following up with firecracker “Rescue Me,” they then went into new song “Bring It On Back” which kept the crowd jumping and had the band inspired. Going into another lively track in the danceable “Next 2 You,” all the ladies were grooving on the floor before Todd and company slowed it down for some of their most beautiful ballads in “Everything” and “Sorry.”
As they moved forward, Todd progressively got down to his usual no shirt, completely tattooed torso look, and that was when he really started to get into his performance like only he can. Another notable torso baring member was Stevie D. who fed on the energy of the crowd to give a stellar performance. Going in to play a healthy mix of new songs like the crowd igniting “Tight Pants,” “The Madness,” and “The Feeling Never Dies,” were shuffled around 2013’s “Gluttony” as well as 2014’s “Somebody Fucked With Me.” Ending their show with one of their biggest hits, “Crazy Bitch,” the room was cheering them on, hoping, and deep down knowing, there would be an encore. The encore consisted of their ‘kindly’ reworded Icona Pop song, ‘”Fuck It” and the party-like “Too Drunk…,” that had all screaming in appreciation.
It seems Buckcherry was just what the doctor ordered, literally. With that said, Todd and Buckcherry were nothing less than spectacular, and this was an epic way to start a weekend for those who came out to check out the show. Get a dose of real Rock-n-Roll and get out to see this show as it resumes on September 9th at the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina.