Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Story and photos by Deb Draisin

As an East Coast music fan – especially one of punk and metal – you always know that, despite the fact that great bands hail from your neck of the woods, the West Coast is always going to school you when it comes to killer lineups for gigs, especially during festival season.

The Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas (now on its 17th year) has long been the envy of those of us along the Atlantic who have simply been unable to coordinate either the funds or the time off in order to attend. However, all of that changed last year, when the organizers finally brought a leg of the tour to the Jersey Shore.

This past June, Asbury Park hosted the event at the Stone Pony Summer Stage for the second time – sadly, too late to take advantage of the iconic Asbury Lanes right next door (which has shuttered its doors for an indefinite period of renovation under new ownership.) Jersey Beat was lucky enough to score an invite, however, and this year’s lineup was an absolute banger:

From the deck of the gorgeous Watermark Cocktail Bar, my travel companion and I enjoyed light delicacies such as soy skewers and cracker crust pizza as we took in the dulcet tones of The Vansaders, Ravagers and The Templars.

I had first caught Crazy And The Brains at the teeny, tiny Asbury Yacht Club (which is more like a dive bar slash fast food restaurant). It doesn’t even have a real stage - more like a slightly elevated platform - and frontman Chris Urban threw himself bodily into the tiny crowd so many times that we wound up holding his mic stand up for him. So, when my friend pleaded with me to sit through just one more bottle of wine in the blistering heat, I acquiesced, knowing that the Summer Stage might actually restrict them – at least physically. They sounded fucking incredible though. Folks who were dining up there with us actually stopped what they were doing to rock out with them, which was pretty impressive for a bunch of grizzled punks at 3:30 in the afternoon. They are absolutely worth checking out, they’re fun as hell.


I made sure that we were braceleted and ready to go by PUP’s set, however, as I have just recently gotten into that band and was super excited to see them play. They CRUSHED IT. For an early set headlined by an Asbury favorite (The Specials), PUP’s crowd was extremely lively. Folks were yelling and cheering in between every song. PUP has picked up an impressive amount of buzz this year, and it may be worth your time to watch these Canadian boys make good.

On a beer break, we ran into a crew that I know containing one of The Explosion’s most enthusiastic supporters, who were nice enough to let me photograph them from the pit before they went absolutely apeshit with the band.

The Explosion

The Explosion are one of the more beloved bands in Dirty Jersey because their shows are always super high energy. Every song feels like a firecracker going off continuously for two to five minutes, and every break is a breath-catcher. They never disappoint, and their sing-alongs (particularly “Here I Am” and “No Revolution”) seem to shake the earth to the core. The band is technically broken up, but Asbury Park, in particular, has a way of convincing bands who have thrown in the towel to reunite at their doorstep. This is the second time that I’ve seen The Explosion do this, and it’s always worth seeing. Founding member Matt Hock maintains a social media presence to help promote his other fine works of music and art, so throw him some love, vintage punk fans!

Dillinger Four

Next up were a long-time favorite live band of mine, Dillinger Four. I first caught these guys back opening up for NOFX in 2008. They were the highlight of the day, by far. D4 have both songwriting and stage presence on lock. I’ve seen them attract even the most disinterested of folks to surge forward toward the barricade, where every member spends time getting up close and personal with the crowd. The band hasn’t released an album in almost ten years, although they were reportedly hard at work on some new jams last year – perhaps they’re still percolating (one can only hope!) No matter, they’re a huge draw every time, and this punk right here practically gave herself whiplash fucking shit up during their set. “Civil War” forever!

Before The Specials closed out the evening, the surprise of my life burst onto the scene in a sea of silver spangled glory: Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires. With a hippie vibe and a James Brown-esque aesthetic, these dudes blew me the fuck away. I LOVE shit like this: horns, coordinated dance moves, frenetic shouts, fucking flowers for the crowd, rant about equality. Sadly, my travel companion was at the end of her rope with the heat and needed a breather, so I was unable to get a shot of the band playing their set, but boy, did they play the shit out of it nonetheless. The dudes are seasoned, the album is recent, and the band have only been together for six years, but they blow a lot of their newer, hungrier counterparts away. I have got to find these guys again the next time they’re in town (which I’m pretty sure is Brooklyn’s OctFest). Do yourself a favor and follow suit, you won’t be sorry.

The headlining Specials were a dance party for punks, essentially – and no Jersey punk out there fails to cite them as a huge influence. Together forty years and counting, this staunchly anti-racist ska outfit can nail balls to the wall like no one’s business, and the timing couldn’t be riper. With a bruising sixteen-song setlist, staccato handclapping and an ever-in-motion, ninety-person stage show, this band was worth every drop of the wait. I feel honored that I got to see them do their thing in person, and apologize profusely for the lack of footage (it was impossible to even get near the stage once we tried.)

Day Two saw us cooling ourselves (and our hangovers) over some boardwalk Mexican fare at Cubacan, but we popped out for a walk and some ice cream, accompanied by the soothing sounds of the ocean and The New Darkbuster, Bigwig, Posers and Hot Blood. My travel companion elected to grab a bit more beach as I headed in for one of the sets that I was most excited for: The Pietasters. I politely hung back to leave space for the Leftover Crack fans to get their best shots off n ext, but had an amazing time, albeit sans photos. The Pietasters were a blast! Their unique blend of ska and soul, not to mention their unusually stable lineup since 1990, lends them a light, yet musically complex aesthetic onstage. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen this many beery bro dudes shaking their money makers.

Leftover Crack are exciting, and very talented, for sure, and I positively adored Choking Victim, but their crowds are not really my scene, so I chose their set to wine it up, take a whiz, and locate my wayward traveling companion. I could hear them though, and they were definitely killing it. Jerseyians adore these guys, and have them out every chance that they get. They have the most awesome political opinions out there, and one of the darkest sounds. Their fans are some of the most loyal folks out in punk.


I made sure I hit the stage again for New Jersey’s own Lifetime, whom I have been waiting a very long time to see live again. Their show in 2009, opening for The Bouncing Souls along with None More Black, was life-changing. I have never had a better time watching an opener play (second only Black Train Jack’s unprecedented reunion opening for the same band, that same year.) Lifetime’s onstage energy was exactly as I remembered it. I was already hoarse by the end of it. “Hello Bastards” is one of the finest punk albums out there to date, and it’s a fucking honor and a privilege to see its authors do their thing in person. It didn’t seem possible for the energy to get any more electric on that pavement.


The Buzzcocks were next, and man, has it been an effort and a half to catch these guys live! The first couple of times they came to town, I was otherwise engaged. The next, I came down with some shitty bug the night before (I was devastated.) So, when I heard that they were hopping onto this tour, I was beyond stoked. They were a really fucking good time. Seasoned, loaded with scream-along hits, funny, engaging – fuck, they were just the best. To catch these British icons in such an intimate setting, obviously having the time of their lives, and film it, was just mind-blowing. I am so grateful to the festival’s organizers, and to Jersey Beat, for making this possible. Dream come true.


Closing out the event was one of my favorite bands of all time, NOFX. Their shows seriously never get old, and, despite all of the jokes made at their own expense, only improve with time. They have some of the easiest, most hilarious stage banter of any band out there, and their obvious affection for one another radiates out to the crowd. Every song that they play is a stomper, and every one-liner receives a raucous response from the crowd, like a punk Rocky Horror viewing. “Bottles to the Ground” took what was left of my voice. As long as this band keeps coming to town, I will always grab a ticket.

I would have loved to attend, and be able to report back, on the after-parties and such, but unfortunately work schedules made that completely impossible. Here’s to next year, though – I’ll start my planning early. is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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Music Fanzine - Jersey Beat