Live Concert Review: Black Panda PR Presents: Project Pandamonium featuring Anna Rose, The Mosers, and The Racer
September 22, 2015
Things have been incredibly busy in the JOVM world over the past couple of months as I’ve covered the Northside Festival, New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival, Summerstage, a bunch of shows across town and the CMJ Music Marathon just a few weeks ago. And as you can imagine, I’m still catching up on a ton of my live music coverage, which you’ll be seeing continuously for some time throughout the rest of the year.
Last month, music publicity firm, Black Panda PR hosted two showcases featuring the artists on their roster at Piano’s, and the second showcase featured a rather diverse collection of artists including Anna Rose, who you should be familiar with if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past three years or so; The Mosers, an Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock quartet; and The Racer, an upstate New York-based indie rock quintet among others.
As always, taking public transportation in this town can sometimes be unpredictable. You can leave your apartment 25 minutes early to somehow wind up 37 minutes late after your train gets stuck in a tunnel because of “train traffic ahead,” a police investigation or a sick passenger. And sometimes you can leave your apartment 10 minute late and be only a couple of minutes late for your appointment/date/show/whatever it was. In this case, I left my apartment in Corona about 75 minutes or so before the first set, to wind up arriving about 20 minutes within the night’s first set, Anna Rose, who I’ve written about quite a bit over the years. Her set was comprised of new, unreleased material that echoed the tone and feel of her sophomore effort, Behold A Pale Horse – forceful, tough, bluesy but underneath that the material reveals vulnerability and wisdom that can come from hard-fought wisdom and experience. Catching her was by far, the highlight of the night.
(Photo Caption: Anna Rose performing at Piano’s last month.)
Comprised of Mike Pellegrino, Dave Ryan, Rick Szpakowski, and Mike Kulper, The Mosers are an Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock quartet, whose sound is probably best described as anthemic party rock. The sort of rock sound that would largely appeal to suburban kids, who came to the city and want to chug beer and shout along like a bunch of idiots. It appealed to most of the Piano’s crowd but it didn’t do much for me – mainly because I know nothing about growing up in the suburbs and on another level I found their set and their stage antics to be annoying. Perhaps the most troubling was a misguided cover of The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star” that completely missed the mark because it missed the awe and fear of what this new-fangled thing actually meant and reduced one of my favorite 80s tunes to a karaoke sing-a-long nostalgia.
(Photo Caption: The Mosers performing at Piano’s last month.)
Tracing their origins to when founding members Pete Marotta (vocals) and Mike Esserman (guitar) stumbled onto a rooftop concert on MTV that inspired them to start a band before they even knew how to play instruments, The Racer, which also features Steve Kondracki (guitar), Eric Sosler (bass) and Mike Perri (drums) have a sound that draws heavily from Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, Minus the Bear, Kings of Leon, Bloc Party, Pearl Jam and others; they specialize in a sound that’s meant to be difficult to pigeonhole but for some reason my initial thoughts were “Damn, they really sound quite a bit like Coldplay.” In other words, it’s anthemic, arena rock that’s both radio friendly and yet seems to be missing some soul and some heart.
(Photo Caption: The Racer performing at Piano’s last month.)
Sadly, as much as I wanted to like all of the acts, who got on the Piano’s stage, it was a frustrating and disappointing night of live music with a couple of bands that somehow made me feel old and curmudgeonly in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time.