Hanger 84 Vineland, NJ 4/18/2009

Review by Jay Rubin (Switch to

Last of 3 in a row for me. If Mike Bender submits a review, his perspective may be very different than mine based on the fact that he stood to the “left” of Rachel’s mike stand, where as I stood to the “right”….we both were flush up to the stage – good company at a good show.

So, anyone who is on face book has been barraged by the fact that I am concluding my “Arena” TRI-fecta with this show. I drove about 2 hours alone to see it and for the first time MapQuest actually got me where I needed to be without any issues. Hangar 84 is situated right in the middle of a town, and I was very pleasantly surprised that you could pull up and park in convenient free municipal parking right across the street. I arrived at about 6:10 PM and there were approximately 30-40 people on line in front of me. Wearing my old Todd Rundgren’s Utopia T-shirt (replica Another Live era) – I get a lot of comments and get to talk to a lot of people. Plenty of familiar faces from New Years Eve and NYC the nights before. Line started to move at about 6:30.

Hangar 84 is more like a warehouse space that a Bounce-U would be set up in rather than an old airplane hangar. Concession stand, then a big room with a stage on one end, bleachers on the other, and just space in between. No Alcoholic beverage for sale that I could see, which was fine by me after the last two nights and my pending ride home. I made my way right for the stage – Kasim side this time and I got to lean right up front. I figured, last show for me for a while and after the long ride and convincing family members that 3 in a row was absolutely necessary, I belonged right there. Low and Behold, Mr. Bender, my friend from shows past and face book was right there with me, along with his daughter and friends. Others from Toddstock I didn’t really know, then Jackie Ellis, Dave Mullins and a few others came to say hello.

There was an opening band, 4 young guys, not sure how to categorize what they played…..they did a cover of Lindsay Buckingham’s Holiday Road…They tried and weren’t unpleasant. It’s funny cause Mike leaned over and said they probably should have a drummer….then the lead singer introduced the band and the acoustic rhythm Guitar Player is usually the drummer. They played about 7 songs and probably should have stopped after 4.

Close to 8 I guess the place was filling up, I couldn’t tell how far back the standing folks went and what kind of gap there was between the folks pressed up against the stage and the folks sitting in the bleachers. I don’t think it was filled. The band came out and it sure sounded like a lot of people were there strictly based on the applause. Right off the bat, Todd was disappointed in the stage lighting:

“I’m playing in the dark” “It’s like playing with a sack over your head” which led to “yknow in Guantanamo bay they put a sack over your head and give you guitar hero and make you play until you die of frustration”……He was annoyed but making the best of it.

It was the standard set. It was the third night in a row for them as well without a night off, and judging by how tired I was, I was amazed that they could still blaze through it. Both Jessie and Todd had guitar problems, not sure what they were but Todd retired Foamy after the first 2 or 3 songs and used his Black Guitar ….I think it’s named “Blacky” for the rest of the night. The pre-Arena stuff sounded great as usual even with the lighting issues and the instrument issues……and Trapped again is the crowd favorite.

Real highlights from this show were definitely “Weakness” and “Bardo”. “Today” and “Manup” always great too but the other two were very very good. Jessie was the most energized during this show and he really got into the backing guitars in “Weakness” and his enthusiasm was contagious to the rest of the band. It’s just a great song. Todd’s solo in Bardo was the best I’ve seen in all the Arena shows I’ve been too (6). It was just one of his “totally on” moments.

Other Fun facts

1. After all these shows, Last night I finally got the rhythm down and think I actually “strike” when I’m supposed too. Hmmmm….maybe it has something to do with the “no alcohol for sale” aspect…..Nahhhhh.

2. There were two young children there, a little girl on someone’s shoulders and a slightly older boy close to the front of the stage. The band definitely paid a lot of attention to them and it made me want to bring my kids. Todd even cleaned up his T-Bagging story to say “nethers” instead of “balls”.

3. The crew and Kasim had something going on. I saw them daring Kasim to throw his tambourine across the stage during Pissin and he finally gave in. He kind of hit his target. Randy had to come around and pick it up. It was like my kids trying to get away with something behind my back, but it was Todd’s back they were behind.

The show ended with “Couldn’t I just tell you” as the first encore. The night before they did “Love of the common man” as a switch/treat which is a great song and always one of my favorites, but I think it just doesn’t fit in the encore portion as well as something with more of an edge. CITJY – not the heaviest is still a little more up beat. Someone who I won’t name kind of said the same thing to me on Friday and after seeing it last night, I definitely agree.

And finally, a smoking version of “Just one Victory”. But not just because of how they played it, because the crew decided to burn off whatever was left in the smoke machine during it. Smoke just poured on to the stage. Kasim starting making the “cut” sign with his hands but the smoke just kept coming. Soon you couldn’t see Prairie at all, then you could only see Todd and Jessie and the whole room was filling. During the “hold that line” verse Todd started to gag and choke and crack up laughing as he was totally engulfed.

So the show was not one of the perfect ones……still, having been through 3 in a row with these guys I can’t say how appreciative I am, how much I enjoyed this week/ weekend, how f’in tired I am, and how impressed at the stamina and just the fact that they can come out without a day off and play their butts off even in the dark while getting gassed. They are just continually delivering at a level that made me worship them when I was in my teens. This tour is every bit as good as those back in the day, the “swing to the right”, “Utopia Network”, “Nearly Human” …..It would be a lie if I compared it to Ra/Oops or Adventures – but otherwise as good as/if not better than anything he’s/they’ve done live. There are 3 or 4 show left. Get out there. Hope they come back in the summer.

Thanks for the treat Todd, Jessie, Rachel, Prairie and ….Kasim. Todd – it really brings it all back when you have Kasim there.

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4/18/2009 - Hangar 84 - Vineland, NJ

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