“In Summer 2019 we had a talk with one of our favorite local bars Pet Shop and decided it would be a great home for this first of it’s kind show that we titled Indie Binge,” said organizer Neil Sabatino of Indie Binge and owner of record label, Mint 400. “We could have even more bands on multiple floors in a smaller place, all while keeping it a daytime thing that was free. We were able to invite a bunch of people we had been working with and the writers and bloggers who have been supporting us along to participate.”
And surely that did come to pass.
On November 9th, 2019, the first Indie Binge – the evolution and replacement to The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival – brought 33 bands, playing on 3 stages, inside the venue that digs indie and digs the people who dig indie music even more. Pet Shop has been an staple in the recent years ever since its opening, and catapulted into the scene, adding another solid attitude and flavor that the downtown area always craved.
With special guests like Gene Baker of Band Nightmares interviewing bands the whole day, the festivities rocked as friend of Mint 400, Pyrrhic Victory Recordings, 3143 Management, Sniffling Indie Kids, Neon Peach Records and more, lent their bands and came together to bring the northern Jersey special-something to the crowds who appreciate such rockin’ charm.
“It’s like everyone you could possibly want to meet to get a start in the North Jersey indie rock scene all hanging out in one place,” added Neil. “For the bands it’s all of our friends playing under one roof.”
The free event gathered together fans of all stripes and made sweet-freakin’ musical goodness, to celebrate and rock away the rest of 2019. Together.
“It’s a bunch of bands that are amazing, like the kinds of bands you would normally see in a bigger venue. This is a cool event at one of Jersey Cities best bars…. [with] bands of all ages and…for fans of all ages.”
The former, NORTH JERSEY INDIE ROCK FESTIVAL’s maiden 2016 event took place at Cathedral Hall, formerly St. Bridget’s Church, a converted ornate Roman Catholic monastery. The show featured bands Ancient Babies, the Bitter Chills, the Clydes, C.R. and the Degenerates, dollys, Ken De Poto, and Fairmont, among others. The 2017 show saw the addition of other NJ indie labels including Bar/None Records, Killing Horse Records and Little Dickman Records, more bands and variety of sponsors.
The NJIRF’s 2018 season saw the festival’s last exposure under the ‘NJIRF’ vision. The biggest show of the three seasons, it combined the efforts of Sniffling Indie Kids, Mint 400, Little Dickman Records, Mint 400 Records, Rhyme & Reason Records, Sniffling Indie Kids and State Champion Records in combination. Bands included were Black Wail, the Components, Dentist, Exmaid, Glazer, Glenn Morrow’s Cry for Help, Guilty Giraffe, LKFFCT, Professor Caveman, the Royal Arctic Institute, Tony Saxon, Secretary Legs, Shithead’s Rainbow, Smock, Ultra Major, the Vaughns, and Yawn Mower. In 2018, The NJIRF found a home at Jersey City’s largest music entertainment venue, White Eagle Hall.
This year, the vibe of that north Jersey indie vibe was a different animal, and for the better.
Energy was way up, as the smaller and more intimate venue made sure the return to the roots of what Neil intended for the festival, in the first place. The camaraderie and celebration are two pillars that makes what his record label had come to represent.
In midst Jersey City’s Veteran’s Day Parade celebrations, the festival that could, brought all of the fans and would be fans, to gawk and drink and make merry. The sounds of raucous indie rock, simmered by the acoustics stage in the corner, parried nicely with the even more intimate downstairs PS Wine Bar basement offering.
As folks both knowledgeable and yet-to-be, came in through the doors, the friendly atmosphere of the Pet Shop staff to the aura that has garnered praise from the locals, brought simple pleasures to minds an hearts to lovers of music and indie.
One gentleman noted in a conversation said that “I’m ol’ school…I’m into Led Zepplin, Van Halen, Motley Crue…” But as he hammered on to his likes and dislikes, his smile with a open appreciation towards the new, didn’t strike him as odd.
“This band is good. Unlike the first few,” as he gestured a bit feverishly towards the ether above his head. “The kids don’t know what real music is. But all the bands are cool and this feels good!”
The vibe in turn came up to be a festival for all generations. Indie Binge has nicely reduced the essence, of what events like this should be, to the core competencies and made it even more fun to attend, listen, appreciate, smile, laugh, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with the hard work of bands in the area.
It’s a keeper, indeed.
Congrats to all who participated and helped put together the festival.
Let’s look forward to the next edition.
BANDS THAT PARTICIPATED
Pioneer The Eel @pioneertheeel
Well Wisher @wellwishernj
Blue Vervain @bluevervainnj
Quality Living @qualitylivingband
Ruby Bones @rubybonesband
The 65’s @the65s
The mercury Brothers @TheMercuryBrothers
The Extensions @theextensionsband
Scary Hours @scaryhoursnj
Elijah Wolf @elijahwolfnyc
Nicholas Maratta & Jeff Mckeoin
Ryan Levasseur Of the Minus Scale @ryanwellfleet
Bug Martin @bugmartinband
Jerry Lardieri Of The Brixton Riot
The Racer @theracermusic
The Components @thecomponentsband
The Furies @furiesrock
Honey Wild @HoneyWildBand
The Prids @theprids
Guilty Giraffe @GuiltyGiraffe
John Cozz & The Rippers @johncozzmusic
The Ellis Wilkinson Band @theelliswilkinsonband
The Clydes @TheClydesMusic
* Gene Balker (Band Nightmares)