ASBURY PARK, NJ—The night was warm in Asbury Park, and music was blaring through the streets. Asbury Lanes has always been one of my favorite venues, and with recent renovations, including the sound, stage and bar, every element is flowing quite well together. Dozens of people were in attendance to celebrate one thing and one thing only: music. More specifically, the music of Hackettstown natives Only Living Boy and the release of their new EP, Cool Collected Headcase. I saw many familiar faces in the house along with a solid roster of opening acts. I knew from the moment I smelt that first cigarette on the steps of the venue that April 27 was going to be a wild, thrilling, and monumental night. If you haven’t seen this band live, you need to make some changes ASAP.

Empire Escorts, one of Brick’s proud prospects, hit the stage around nine, playing new tracks and really getting the audience pumped up. Many people in the crowd were talking about one of their latest released tracks, “Without A Voice,” stating how much their sound has evolved. They seem to get better with each performance, and their new material is really setting their landmark on the New Jersey map and beyond. And of course, it always helps when the guitar player in the opening band is wearing the main act’s t-shirt (just saying). They were followed up by Ruby The Hatchet, who are a little further away from this area, but a dominant force of talent, especially in the lead vocals. Female singers always melt my heart, but they really grabbed the crowd by the neck and had their backs against the wall. The bar was clear once they hit the stage, for everyone wanted to see what this band was all about. After a bathroom break and a few shots, Only Living Boy hit the stage.

OLB have such a strong, full sound for a three-piece that honestly could bring people in off the street, and I am sure it did. Their new EP is so heavy that it almost puts them in a new category of rock. I cannot define their exact sound except that it’s natural, raw, gut-wrenching and original. I have always loved their work and when talking to their drummer, Trevor, he informed me that that bitch Superstorm Sandy had put a halt on the release. In fact, he even told me that they had planned on making a metal record this time around, more of a “stoner metal,” if you will, and who knows, this may still be in the works. However, the final product is living proof that things can get better with age. They switched up their setlist, played a ton of new material and, of course, incorporated some fan favorites like “Lonely Puppy Blues.” You could really see the energy in the crowd for fans who hadn’t heard any of the new material yet, especially when they belted out the force that is the title-track, “Cool Collected Headcase.” A friend I was with said to me, “They are saving rock and roll, the three of them.” I thought about that statement long and hard, for it’s an incredibly bold one that many may argue. However, I must say, I back it 100 percent. They truly are saving the sound, one show at a time.

The boys finished up the night around midnight, to be followed by another closing band who I unfortunately didn’t get to see because my head nearly fell off from banging it so hard during Only Living Boy’s set. Their new EP is available to the public now, and I cannot stress enough how strong it is; it is a must-add to your collection. I think it’s safe to say that they left an imprint in Asbury Lanes that night, one that the venue cannot repair. Kudos to you guys, bands, fans, and the venue; thanks for throwing one hell of a party.

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