The long celebrated and loved, RYE COALITION ripped apart the stage (with music) and the souls of each fan in the audience on the evening of May 5 @ Jersey City’s own, White Eagle Hall (WEH) (which was celebrating its 1 year anniversary as a premier Jersey City live event hall). And in this wholly deserved musical chaos, Rye Coalition was joined by fellow bands: Long Neck (Tiny Engines), Will Wood & The Tapeworms, and RocknRoll HiFives (Little Dickman Records).
RYE COALITION was one of two bands who were the first to be booked for WEH’s inaugural concert event.
The hours were filled with music to take advantage of your salivary glands, and to cater to all of those senses, sometimes, un-touched or under-stimulated. And the night started off on the right foot, with a band that is arguably a ‘darling’ of the Jersey City music scene: Long Neck. The band is a native Jersey City born and grown dynamo of an indie-pop-rock band. And as many of their fans know, they didn’t disappoint. The leader of the band is Lily Mastrodimos who plays the guitar and is the head voice for the band. Her magnetism, as an entertainer was apparent to us at CHF, when we first heard their album ‘Will This Do’ back in December of 2017. The album dropped the month after, and was (correctly) hailed as an achievement to be reckoned with.
And on this night, Lily and the gang, righteously, drove the soft and the hard, with their characteristic gumption for power chords and passion. The crowd agreed. And with the kind of ‘home-town’ support due a band as talented as Long Neck, it was quite a start to a great evening.
“Her hooks, including the one on Will This Do? lead single “Mine/Yours” (premiering above), often take the form of something akin to a marching band stomp or a rapturous barroom chant. Centered around Mastrodimos’ deeply affecting voice, “Mine/Yours” is an affirmation of individuality in the face of coupling, a compromise between holding on to what you need while navigating what someone else wants.” – Stereogum stated.
We’d stated in our own review: “Lily’s vocals is just very relatable and warm. Just reminds us of our sisters (if we had any) who’d tell you what’s what about life, relationships, and the other sex. The tough parts, the sad parts, the demanding parts, the lovable parts – all described in a digestible and understandable portions. We then smile, take the stories and put it into our file cabinets in our brains for a rainy day.”
The fun was just beginning, and this is where the hyper-cute band named RocknRoll HiFives came on the stage. The band is made up family members: Eilee, Evren, Gloree, and papa, Joe. The ultra energetic quartet took to the stage like a small hurricane made up of honey and sweets, then preceded quickly to win the crowd with their infectious enthusiasm. Having come off of their tour from Japan, the family seemed to have been dipped in pure sugar canes because Joe Centano’s (as usual) guitar work (and foot work) was on frenetic pace, Eilee and her Teramin were working over-time to keep the music mysterious, Evren was on par and in sync with papa Joe’s antics; all while Gloree (mama) on the bass, kept the kind of motherly basics to a cement strong core. Eilee, who had turned 16 this year, popped and crackled at each song, duplicating it for the Jersey City crowd to enjoy and absorb. The gang was thoroughly enjoying the evening, and demonstrated their knack for entertainment.
Next up was the irrepressible Will Wood & The Tape Worms. What can we say about this band, that hasn’t been already said. Will Wood is an entertainer. He is a ham. And like the rainbows that takes you to that pot-o-gold at the end of it, Will Wood & The Tapeworms is the quintessential good time. Wood is an outrageous (and outrageously talented) musician; who can make any night fun for all to experience. With sparkling flats, and a drawn ‘cyclops’ eye in the middle of his forehead, he wasn’t kidding around. The music is eclectic, performance oriented, psychotic, where seen live, feels like multiple colored Pokemon Pokeballs are spewing from the mouth of Woods, saturating every part and joint of your listening eccentricities. This satiates successfully, the quiet pangs of distrust for such mysterious songs. But quickly, you figure out, why you will love listening and witnessing such an act just like WW & TTW.
After the monsoon that was called Will Woods & The Tapeworms had gotten off the stage, the main feature was being prepped. The stage became dark again, to the delight of what was expected to come. The anticipation for this band’s presence was delectable and was apparent like a coronary pumping heart-attack of excitement. And lead by the glorious, Ralph Cuseglio (another Jersey City’s own) RYE COALITION wasn’t about to take any names this night.
As the band was set to start, we saw Cuseglio (with whisky bottle in hand) signal the lights to be set. The darkness was settled, and the crowds cramped up to the front edge of the White Eagle Hall stage.
The band quickly amped up to a psychotic pace as the riffs from the guitars of Jon Gonelli and Herb Wiley set the pace for an up-in-your-face actuations in sonic temperance. Wiley was already into it, with multiple stage edge visits, visiting and saying hello to the faces of their fans. Ralph Cuseglio, as he always does, punched the silence to maximum volume by throttling his rock-gears into overdrive; writhing and growling into his mic with the same kind of fervor we’d seen before.
Upon start, the stage was a mass of wet and drinks, just like your mom told you how rock n roll stages should always be. The welcomed scent of beer and whiskey quickly enveloped the hall, and heck – we loved it. As Cuseglio and Wiley set the tone, and ever dependable cohorts, Justin Morey and drummer Dave Leto, set the rhythmic atmosphere for the long haul; collectively inducing the crowd with massive hysteria becoming of such deserved ‘chaos’.
The Gern Blandsten Records represented band, began to heave and convulse to a collective thrust as the night hour rolled on. Their set consisted of 12 songs including hits: ‘Pussy Footin’ (2006, Curses), ‘Communication Breakdance’ (2003, Jersey Girls EP), ‘ZZ Topless’ (2002), One Daughter Hotter Than One Thousand Suns’ (2002, On Top), and ‘Honky Please!’ (2002, On Top). With the growling hitting a crescendo through the vocals of Cuseglio, the night was filled with noxious lyrics, porn-star like enthusiasm, and all-but-knocked-out sensibilities.
The assault on the fans’ music loving brains was at full impact near midnight.
To many, Rye Coalition is their ‘baby’. Through the years, the band has come to be known as an integral part of Jersey City’s rock/punk scene. Rye Coalition is seen by the fans, to be a pioneering driver of what and how the home grown music scene started and developed. Their signing with a major record label was seen as the local scene coming to its own.
The band started from the basement of childhood best friends and had a singular focus: to have fun and play awesome music.
To us at CHF, it’s just a delight to see live shows. But just because we’re from the area, we’re really proud to have a band like Rye Coalition still be relevant and exciting to listen to, after all the seasons.
And we think that’s a direct one-to-one correlation to their dedication to their initial edict.
It’s still true today and it surely was this night.
In 2017, the 13,353 square feet music and entertainment facility was completed with the latest audio optimizing technologies. With an approximate 400 seat / 800 standing capacity, White Eagle Hall (WEH) has quickly become a welcomed fixture in the Jersey City entertainment scene.
WEH is presented under the Jersey City Theatre Center’s (JCTC) programming initiatives. JCTC is a non-profit with the mission of managing visual and performing arts programming at White Eagle Hall and Merseles Studios.