School’s In For Summer: A Full Day of Rock

I caught most of the Duo set on the steps of the Asbury Lanes bowling alley, a spot with a good view, great sound and a splash of shade situated right outside the venue in which I spent all my time when not glued to the main stage. At the opposite end, the front of the grounds featured performances from the School of Rock kids throughout the day, young rockers tearing through all kinds of covers by The Beatles, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa and hundreds of classic artists. But I spent much of my time around this here section:


At the conclusion of the Duo’s hot set we made our way inside the bowling alley for Sam Champion, a Pavement-esque indie band we previewed in our pre-Bonnaroo coverage. Let me just say this about the foursome: Pitchfork and Stereogum and all kinds of indie blogs are extremely quick to heap fistfuls of praise on bands that don’t even remotely deserve the hype (I’m lookin’ at you, Spoon). But these guys, this band, they should be on everyone’s list. Jamband fans, indie kids, self-cutters, everyone, Sam Champion’s a band that earns the accolades. Lyrically, musically, I’m not exactly sure what they’re missing.


I’d never heard of Northern State, and now I’m wondering, who’s fucking fault is that? How has nobody informed me there’s a group of three hilarious Long Island chicks with a three-piece backing band out there that combines the dope rhymes of the Beastie Boys, the spunk and energy of the Spice Girls and the impeccable dry wit of SNL’s Delicious Dish sketch? I’m not sure their Sucka Mothafucka song was entirely appropriate for a festival with, ya know, kids everywhere, but I guess Ween would eventually dethrone them in that category. A brilliant booking, this band absolutely made my day with a blowout hip hop performance. Seriously, go see these guys somewhere. Flawless.

Photo by the Lovely PLS

The School of Rock All-Stars played on the main stage at about the same time, and I caught as many of the rotating acts as I could. One after the next, these temporary ensembles representing the best of the best came on stage, and each group made it a mission to outdo the preceding band. Most of these kids have a little bit of work to do, but that’s to be expected — they’re teenagers. Still, most of them have insane chops, and the stage presence that each performer exuded was strictly top-drawer.

This one chick lead singer had so much going for her that I just pictured how unbelievably proud her father must be…until he realizes that every single guy in the crowd was doing math in their heads and calling up Jersey state laws on their Interweb-enabled cell phones. She’s not pictured, ya pervs.

Photo by SuperDee

The kid below blew everyone away. Possibly the youngest performer in the main stage rotation, he goes by King Diamond Cobra and sports the full facemask of paint like King Diamond himself. In a span of an hour he belted out two songs and played saxophone with Steely Dan on My Old School. And this kid’s got stones: He sang Push Th’ Little Daisies (well!) right before Ween came out to headline.

Photo by SuperDee

My original plan was to write a 2,000-word review ripping the kids to shreds, just letting them have it with the full ire of my anonymous moniker. But even though the joke would hold, I just can’t glow enough about the level of musicianship some of these kids already possess. I have seen the future, and it is bright.

Photo by the Lovely PLS

I mean, seriously, a double-necked guitar? Get right outta town. Awesome.

Photo by SuperDee

Former Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter joined the kids for three songs at the end of their set for Bodhisattva, My Old School and a couple other tunes. I’ve got nothing really to add, other than the fact that those are two of my favorite songs, and I got to see them played live by Baxter and some kickass prodigies. Silly good.

The School of Rock gave way to Ween, which played a two-hour set to a more familiar crowd of cruds after the previous weekend’s Bonnaroo audience. From the opening notes of She Wanted Us To Leave, Ween had the crowd whipped into an all-out frenzy. Men were hooting and hollering, women were yelling “Touch my tooter” — it was mayhem on the street in front of the stage. Ween came to rock, and they left a trail of sore eardrums after their 30-song masterpiece.

Photo by the Lovely PLS

I loved the idea of kids scattered all throughout the crowd listening to the band’s repertoire — Bananas & Blow specifically made me laugh out loud, but The HIV Song made me double over. That image aside, Ween sounded tight as could be, and Mickey’s solos really impressed the hell out of me. And for a band “that doesn’t jam, brahhh,” these guys extended Voodoo Lady out to places I never thought it’d go. I’m an admitted Ween newb, but a show like that could win anyone over in a hurry. You can read the full setlist here and download the show from etree.

Photo by SuperDee

Double Duty Dave Dreiwitz wins our Hero of the Day Award: The bassist followed up two hours of Ween’s hard rock with a quick break and two more hours of Zeppelin. Bustle In Your Hedgerow took the stage just before midnight in one of the coolest venues I’ve ever been inside. We’ve talked about Bustle — The Duo, Dreiwitz and Scott Metzger — quite a bit around these parts, so I’ll let the pictures and dark videos do the talking, but needless to say they ripped through some fo Zeppelin’s finest work like it was child’s play.


Sure they’re a glorified cover band, but these guys need to do either a whistlestop tour or an old-school barnstorming. Everyone needs to see this show at least once before they die. They even added Russo’s voice to the begging of Over the Hills. That’s gotta be a big selling point.

Photo by the Lovely PLS

Yeah, it was dark in there, but here’s a little clip of the madness:


People are bowling, these guys are rocking, the crowd is jumping. If that’s not worth the price of admission, you’re a lunatic. And I mean that:


Alright, here’s one more shot of the late evening activity:


We saw this painted on a building on our way from Brookyn through Staten Island on the way to the festival. Just thought I’d include it as a PSA here:

Photo by SuperDee

Bustle ended, we headed back to the hotel, danced for a while in the hotel’s thriving gay bar and eventually watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. And if it gets any better than a day like that, I’ve yet to experience it.

Photo by SuperDee

If Asbury’ll have us, I’m reserving the same room in the same same-sex hotel for next year right now. School’s been blown to pieces.

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