Words and Photos by Pat Gilrane
Asbury Park, NJ – The Interrupters paid a visit to the Jersey shore on March 15, 2019, playing to a sizable crowd of ska/punk fans at the iconic Convention Hall Asbury Park. Also, on the night’s ticket Masked Intruder and the UK based Indie artist Rat Boy.
Every once in a while, a group of musicians come together and do something truly special and unique; something that seems so natural and genuine that you have to take notice. For me, The Interrupters are that band. As a band the Interrupters have a rather impressive list of accomplishments, including touring with some of the biggest names in the business, like Green Day and Rancid, as well as appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show, performing their hit single “She’s Kerosene” off the bands third studio album Fight the Good Fight. The Interrupters are, Aimee Interrupter on lead vocals, Kevin Bivona on guitar and backing vocals, Justin Bivona on bass and backing vocals, Jesse Bivona on drums and backing vocals and special guest Billy Kottage (Reel Big Fish) on keys, trombone, and backing vocals. The Interrupters are a Hellcat Records recording artist.
My first experience with The Interrupters goes back to 2015 when they provided support to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Philadelphia. As their short set ended, you could see a look of surprise come over the crowd who couldn’t get enough of the bands, high energy ska beat! Fast forward to 2016; The Interrupters are back on the East Coast playing a gig at The Brighton Bar. The band played a solid set of music for the capacity crowd but in true Jersey, fashion, the night ended with a fight, pepper spray, the crowd in the street and cops. The band persevered, finishing strong with Aimee and bandmates playing the last song via wireless from the sidewalk outside, all in all, a great night! Since that time, I’ve seen this band grow and mature as an artist to the point that I honestly feel they currently represent the face of the ska/punk music scene as we know it.
The Interrupters took the stage opening with “A Friend Like Me,” creating a welcoming and enthusiastic environment that embodies Interrupters shows. The Interrupters write songs of togetherness, friendship and loyalty and are a refreshing change from the constant political drum beat prevalent in the punk scene today. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good banging political punk tune but really enjoy the change up to a more positive and inspirational delivery.
In between songs Kevin & Aimee greeted their fans in Asbury Park, commenting on the size of the crowd. Originally scheduled (and sold out) at the Stone Pony, the show was moved to Convention Hall due to ongoing construction at the Pony. The extra capacity of Convention Hall allowed for extra ticket sales, the size of the crowd far exceeding the capacity of the Stone Pony.
The set continued with “By My Side,” Aimee jumping off the stage to be with her awe-struck fans on the barrier, clearly captivated by her welcoming demeanor, big smile, hugs, and handshakes. The Interrupters seem to share a real bond with their fans both young and older, and you can’t help but feel the infinite goodwill, camaraderie, and admiration flowing freely between the fans and this band.
So, while The Interrupters set was full of energy, great vibes, and great music, there were a few stand out moments for me. The first, watching Aimee connect with her young fans on the barrier, you could clearly see the excitement on their faces as they sang along, cheered and hugged each other. Second, a few of my fav tunes including “She Got Arrested,” New Sound,” On a Turntable” and the standout Operation Ivy cover “Sound System.” Third, the crowd who sang, danced and made The Interrupters feel at home here at the Jersey shore.
As the set was winding down, Kevin approached the microphone giving his idea on what would be a perfect encore. He envisioned the band leaving the stage with the crowd on their feet screaming, the band retreating to their dressing room. With the crowd chanting wildly, the band would return to the stage as Tommy Lee (Motley Crew) seated behind a grand piano was lowered from the ceiling to the backdrop of smoke, explosions, and confetti, very vivid.
Keven began the intro to Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home,” the band and crowd joining in for few spirited rounds of the chorus as Kevin announced, “Welcome to the encore!” The Interrupters finished their set with “Got Each Other,” “She’s Kerosene,” and “A Friend Like Me” (intro) leading into “Family,” the crowd singing along to every song. A brilliant show by The Interrupters.
Don’t let Masked Intruder’s appearance fool you; this is a seriously good punk outfit that’s always a crowd favorite. Known for wearing different colored ski masks on stage, Masked Intruder maintains a level of secrecy when it comes to their true identity. Known for their fast-paced style and high energy stage shows Masked Intruder is a truly unique band. Rumor has it that the band was formed by Blue and Green intruder while serving hard time together; I don’t know about all that, but they do have a cop (Officer Bradford) onstage to keep shit from getting shady. Masked Intruder is Blue, Green, Red and Yellow Intruder, however for the 2019 tour season Yellow is out (Incarcerated), and Purple is in. Masked Intruder is a Pure Noise Records recording artist whose latest album Masked Intruder III dropped this March.
Under Officer Bradford’s careful watch Masked Intruder started their set with “The Most Beautiful Girl” off the bands 2014 album M.I., waking up the crowd at Convention Hall. Blue Intruder took a wide stance at the mic while banging out power chords as Green Intruder worked on his high kicks and air time. It didn’t take long for Officer Bradford to deliver the hype, jumping from the stage into the crowd stirring things up in the pit. IMHO Officer Bradford is unmatched as a hype guy, the only other coming close being Ben Carr from the Bosstones.
Masked Intruder continued their set which was dominated by their past work going all the way back to their debut (self-named) album in 2012 and points in between. I think the band made a smart decision on the setlist choices, clearly giving fans a chance to absorb their new music a bit before going full-on live, playing only the lead single off the new album “No Case.” Masked Intruder was found guilty as charged for delivering a great set in Asbury Park New Jersey.
Getting things started tonight was the U.K. based ska/punk foursome Rat Boy, fronted by creative force Jordan Cardy his bandmates are Liam on bass and backing vocals, Harry on guitar and backing vocals and Noah on drums. Rat Boy plays a diverse style of music combining elements of the Clash, Run DMC, Green Day and the Beastie Boys, delivering a funky high energy alternative sound with punk elements. Rat Boy is a Hellcat Records recording artist whose latest album Internationally Unknown dropped this past January and was produced by Tim Armstrong.
Rat Boy started their set with “Chip on My Shoulder” off their new album, a song that truly showcases the band’s unique sound, combining rap with an almost vintage sounding instrumental backing that I found very interesting, in a good way. It only took a few songs for Rat Boy to get the attention of the early crowd who clearly were enjoying the set. It’s not easy for an artist to really push their creative boundaries, it takes guts to let your creative flair hang out, but Rat Boy’s music has a bold, refreshing approach that demands attention.
Unfortunately, Rat Boy played a short set for the crowd in Asbury Park who really connected with the funky rap/punk delivery, and stage presence the band delivered. What I really appreciated about Rat Boys music was the genre-bending creativity that clearly showed a desire to be different and interesting, a refreshing change from cookie cutter music.
In closing I’d like to thank The Interrupters, Masked Intruder and Rat Boy for the night of great music and the staff at Asbury Park Convention Hall for being consummate professional as always!