FM Jersey City with Brother Moses, ManDancing, The Vaughns, and Fiscal Cliff, 2/22/19
Words and Pictures by Rose Lamela
Last year I had the opportunity to go to the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City. It was eventful, as I got to see many bands for the first time that I heard about from CoolDad. It was a great introduction to some of Jersey's finest. The one band that caught all of my music loving attention was The Vaughns. I remember just being a little tired that night and waiting for them to finish setting up. When they started to play, I turned around and looked at Mr. Jack Silbert, AKA "Hoboken Jack" and said, "Holy shit!! These guys are awesome!!" (Don't hold me responsible for the accuracy of that quote.) He looked as impressed as I was, and this guy goes to more shows than anyone I've ever known. It was an official stamp of approval.
After that experience, I made sure The Vaughns were on my radar. Coincidentally, Matt Chrystal had an interview lined up with them which appeared on this site last week, and I had plans to see them at FM in Jersey City. The Vaughns are from Springfield, NJ which is very close to where I grew up. I had a feeling, too, that one of their songs drops a line about my favorite coffee shop in Union, NJ. It became personal.
FM was a venue I knew the treads of my boots needed some love at. Going to Jersey City on a Friday night, which is officially my favorite music city, put me in the right mood for a live show. I packed the fully charged cameras into the new bag I got for SXSW, and broke it in.
It was a four band night. Fiscal Cliff opened up, and gave us a little bit of a pop/blues-infused set. They were excited to be at their home base and had quite of few supporters in the audience. Fans threw out song requests and sang along. I especially liked the song "The Ballad of Mice and Men."
ManDancing rolled in after The Vaughns with some of their angsty raw rock. Some of their stuff was pretty soul baring, and they shared that with the crowd with no restriction. There were times the lead singer, Stephen Kelley, reminded me of Conor Oberst from the band Bright Eyes. He hits you in the gut with his lyrics and sometimes his mic screaming stabbed you right in your emotional boundaries.
Brother Moses headlined the night and were pretty damn amazing. They got the crowd to move up to the stage as they had been acting a little timid for most of the night. By the end of the set, Brother Moses had opened and walked forward into a great night for music. I absolutely fell in love with the song "Sandwich Bags," I love the lyric, "Life is measured out in sandwich bags."
Now we need to get back to The Vaughns. They were the second band in the lineup, and they put on what I like to call "soulful distortion." Anna Lies's vocals have a bluesy, soul vibe to them; but the loud guitar likes to interrupt her flow bringing something truly powerful to their songs. They also have a presence on stage that makes you want to get back to being in a rock band. They make me debate my life choices on whether I should have bought a Fender instead of a Nikon. The Vaughns played a few new songs that I can't wait for them to release. They also played one of my favorites, "Santa Cruz." The fact that they did not play "Roses" now gives me my necessary excuse to see them again.
I'm just warming up this year as I have a feeling that my already unhealthy infatuation with music will hit a new level. There is nothing like having a new band to fall in love with on a weekly basis. I can probably get that Fender and still keep the camera bag.