Residuum – Quick Takes | Quick Pix | Stuff I Didn’t Finish | #2 My Summer of Back Surgery, Rehab, and Donald Trump PART ONE

by • October 1, 2017



My Summer of Back Surgery, Physical Rehabilitation and Donald Trump


It ain’t easy these days is it?

It has been a while since I’ve posted an article. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become more sedentary, although it is more likely that I have fallen so far behind in my writing and posting that I just don’t where to start.  But start we must, if only because we then get a chance to finish.

I had extensive back surgery, and I have watched an immeasurable amount of cable news. While recovering from surgery I had the opportunity to explore the use of painkillers, and let me offer that cable news, while taking painkillers, is a surreal experience.

Pre-surgery, I was not a big fan of the Trump administration, and post-surgery it became impossible to know if the news was so bizarre because I was high as a kite, or our country was being led by a self-aggrandizing narcissist hell bent on starting wars with his “rocket man” while alienating every one of the United States’ old allies.

So, if you live in Guam, or possibly California, don’t look up, because what’s coming down sounds really bad.

Now, I did miss many of the shows I wanted to see either because I was laid out flat having titanium screws sunk into my spine, or because the news is so depressing that I had some trouble feeling motivated enough to be motivated.

But here is an overview of the shows I did see, photograph and enjoy.  Some of these entries may have been affected by my intake of painkillers, others may be truncated because I had to sit down and wait for all the new parts in my spine to settle back in place.

Let’s start with:

Crobot, The Saint, Asbury Park New Jersey.

The Saint is perhaps the coolest place on earth. With Asbury Lanes closed to corporate reconstruction, The Saint is now the go-to place to see a great show at a small venue.  And although it is a small venue, they get some great national acts to come through. If you like being so close to a band you can get hit with flying beads of sweat, then The Saint is the place to be.

Crobot is a through and through rock and roll band. Steeped in the tradition of ‘Merican rock and roll and reminiscent of the Black Crowes and Gov’t Mule, Crobot PUTS ON A SHOW. They are loud, sweaty, hairy, and in desperate need of a shower. Along with such credibility, is a tight instrumental section of bass, guitar and drums, mixed together with a swizzle stick they probably got as a Christmas gift from the devil himself. The singer wears impossibly tight jeans and seems more than proud to show the complete package.

Add a sprinkle of psychedelics, a touch of Hendrix, a bit of Santana, two cups of the Woodstock concert, a trip south of the Mason Dixon line, and, Rage Against the Machine, and you have the Crobots.  This is a band and a performance not to be missed.”


Have some photographs.

Streetlight Manifesto, Starland Ballroom, Sayreville New Jersey

It is impossible to be depressed during a Streetlight Manifesto concert, even if a review of the lyrics shows the words to be truly depressing on their own.  Never has a band offered up such a tight horn section with the concept that ‘Life Sucks and Then You Die’ – alone, all alone, desperately alone. Not “Bartleby the Scrivener” alone, but more like a death akin to Ivan Ilyich. But what do Melville and Tolstoy know about rocking-out?

The audience knows all the words and the crowd pogos and crowd surfs like a single-minded beast comprised of a multitude of hands and feet.

Have some photographs.

New Sound Brass, Starland Ballroom, Sayreville New Jersey
I do 
need to point out that a band named, New Sound Brass opened for Streetlight. They brought a spirited funk, R&B / Afro-Cuban slant to an audience who seemed to truly enjoy the new band. They are a band to watch out for, they will bring the funk, the musicianship and the instrumental chops, you just need to bring your dancing shoes. (Do people really have dancing shoes? Just bring sneakers, that should be good enough!)

Have some photographs.

The 2017 Xponential Festival, Camden Waterfront, BB&T Pavilion, Wiggins Park, Camden, New Jersey

First – Camden may be next to Philadelphia, but it isn’t Philadelphia. Okay, the Xponential Festival was sponsored by WXPN, a very cool radio station out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Truth be told, I think New Jersey would be happy to give Camden to Pennsylvania, but that is a whole different political problem.”

The Xponential Festival is broken into two parts, a festival which takes place outside of the BB&T Pavilion, and then a separate ticketed set of concerts inside of the BB&T Pavilion. Rain did blur which venue had which band, but if you had tickets to the inside and outside shows, then you were treated to some great music.

In total, there were a good number of bands playing the Xponential Festival:

Pinegrove, Arkells, Brownout, Angel Olsen, Offa Rex, Hop Along, Conor Oberst, Wilco

Cliff Hillis, The Dove & The Wolf, Xenia Rubinos, Foxygen, The Suffers, Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Rhiannon Giddens, Strand Of Oaks, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, The Suffers, Chicano Batman, SPOON, Amos Lee Feat. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

No Good Sister
Hardwork Movement
Sweet Spirit
Adia Victoria
David Bromberg Quintet
Joseph, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Dream Syndicate, The Record Company, Davy Knowles, Drive-By Truckers

That would have been quite a three-day event, but I couldn’t go on Saturday, but I did go on Friday and part of Sunday.  Here are my mini-reviews of who I did see.

Pinegrove – Love this band.  They do a little better in smaller indoor venues where the crowd is more intimate. An early Friday afternoon slot makes it difficult to get the right crowd, and the band looked like they had all just woke up from a late night, but Pinegrove always puts on a good show. This band just keeps getting bigger, so hop on before they become so big that someone complains that they sold out – the music is still pure and spot on lyrics tug at our collective heartstrings.

Angel Olsen
Haunting, and emotional, with a set of hooks that pierce you in the soft underbelly of the emotions you didn’t know you had. A wonderful surprise for me, as I had never heard of her. Their live show has a slower boiling feeling with just the right amount of distorted guitar and reverb on the vocal. Brooding overtones of love and hurt good enough to make me take out my earplugs.

Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst has made a career out of killing himself just before he actually performs each song, but he always rallies and recovers with just enough energy to tell you why he was going to kill himself. Enjoyable enough, but to me, always a bit of downer.

Wilco, among my most favorite bands of all time, also sometimes seems like they are in need of an intervention, but this night Tweedy seemed upbeat if not just downright cheerful. A spot on killer show which went right up to the moment before they had to shut the electric to the stage. They rock, rolled, solo-ed, sang, and played with an unexpected extra amount of zest. This was as good as it gets.

Adia Victoria
Adia Victoria was kind enough to sit for an interview, the audio or which you will find below. Adia Victoria brought the funk and soul and the brooding sense that you’d better not break her heart, ever. Silky smooth voice that has just the right amount of Billie Holiday vocal fry necessary to sound authentic. Add in the Edith Piaf inspired French lyrics and you have a sublime mix of emotion and restraint.

Have some photographs.

The Surge, The Cabin, Howell, New Jersey

I had hoped to see Echo & the Bunnymen and The Violent Femmes, but I couldn’t get a pass to the show, so instead I went to see a friend’s cover band, The Surge.

Every town in every state of this country has a few bars that offer cover bands on the weekends. I would like to point out, it is easy to become jaded by the number of these bands and the music that they play. But, I stand in opposition to such snobbery.  The members of The Surge put on a great show.  They covered some wonderfully danceable songs from the 70’s and 80’s and the crowd got up and boogied the night away. There is nothing wrong with a cover band rocking out to the music they love while the local divorcees shake their collective asses, as some peacock leers nearby in an effort to find a little loving on a long and lonely night.

The bar pie was delicious and the band was loud. There was no cover and parking was free. My wife chatted with the wives of the band and all had an extraordinarily fun time.  

Have some photographs.

BUSH, The Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park New Jersey

Speaking of cover bands, if a band tours, even with a new record, but most people are waiting for their older hits, do they still make a sound in the woods?  Why not?

BUSH is a top selling, rock with a beer in your hand, touring act and blew out the cork from the bottle. Sound, lights, crowd sing-along, hopping in the audience, encores, and every possible anthem from the 90’s – I couldn’t ask for more. Lots of reminiscing by the audience as they told their children about how much they loved BUSH. BUSH earned the accolades both with the music they played and the spirit in which they offered the turning back of the clock. I still have no idea what “Glycerine” is about, but it had a cool video, and everyone sang along.

Have some photographs .

Let us break here –

More tomorrow, or perhaps the day after I suppose…

Scene and Herd by Doug “Igoto” Dresher 

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