Standstill/Viking Viking Viking/Prawn/Hands On The Stereo @ Maxwell’s

HOBOKEN, NJ—The energy level was through the roof at Maxwell’s on Feb. 26. That night marked not one, but two special occasions—the vinyl release of Prawn’s You Can Just Leave It All and the indefinite hiatus of the pop rock/hardcore quintet Hands On The Stereo. The five-piece played their first and last show of 2012 at the Hoboken venue in front of family and friends. Even though the band is going on a break, each of the members will be working on their own side project to keep the creative juices flowing.

Opening up the night was Standstill, a band who I unfortunately missed while shooting a Project Greenroom. However, from what I heard outside the venue, their sound is pretty tight. Viking Viking Viking was the following band. I’ll admit, their genre of music isn’t my particular cup of tea, but their enthusiasm for crowd involvement and overall performance was admirable. Out of their set, one song in particular, “Zombie,” stood out the most. The lyrics, which reference some of the most fashionable creatures in horror, along with the fact that the quintet incorporated part of Flo Rida’s “Low” into the song, really sold not only the tune to me, but the band itself. One of their final songs that I didn’t catch the name of started somewhat slow before aggressively revving up the tempo. During that number, members of Hands On The Stereo jumped on stage and assisted in making one of the final breakdowns of the band’s set awesome.

The night continued in full swing as Topshelf Records’ own, Prawn, began to set up. I’ve seen the five-piece perform a couple of times (okay, maybe more than a couple) and their sets never cease to catch me off guard with the passion that they put into their music. The band started off their set with “Nightmares,” a cut off of their 2009 release, False Institutions. By far, this has to be one of my favorite songs by the quintet. Their relatable lyrics and post rock instrumentals really set the band apart from the others on the bill. As a special treat for the evening, Prawn played a song off of their upcoming release, which had one of the slickest reprises I’ve heard in awhile. Their final song was the crowd favorite “Arctic Foxes.” The whole venue erupted and people were jumping on the stage. The veteran rockers also provided encouraging words for Hands On The Stereo as they embark on their hiatus.

There was no doubt who the showstoppers were that night—shortly after 10 p.m., Hands On The Stereo took the stage. The Bergen County natives slowed down the beginning of their single, “Into It, Over It,” before the crowd burst into song. The band’s set was a mix of tracks off of their debut, Hands On The Stereo EP and their most recent release, Teamwork Makes The Dream Work. The quintet also played their infamous cover of “Seventy Time 7” by none other than Brand New, as well as “You’ve Never Been To South Of The Border,” “Time Machine,” and “’Til Death Do Us Part.” At one point during their set, vocalist Chris Cunha reached behind one of the amps to pull out a painting of a topless woman, which was utterly destroyed by the end of their set. There was an abundance of crowd surfers riding the waves of the music at the show—one of which barely looked like they were 12. To close out their set, the band performed their anthemic “Can’t Stop Kids Like Us,” where more people bum rushed the stage as Cunha was hoisted into the air, attributing to the crowd surfers.

Overall, there was such a welcoming and warming vibe at Maxwell’s that night—it was certainly a sight to be seen or felt in this case.