AS IT IS ... and the "IT" Factor
A packed House of Independents welcomed the English band AS IT IS on February 9th, along with supporting acts: POINT NORTH, HOLD CLOSE, and SHARPTOOTH. It was an eclectic group of talented musicians, making the evening a unique concert experience for the predominantly young crowd. The energy at the venue was palpable and built consistently throughout all four performances, making it feel like the building was bursting at the seams by the end of the night.
The spark was lit right from the beginning by POINT NORTH, an alternative pop-punk band from Los Angeles, CA. It was obvious that this group is on a path to achieving great things. They owned the stage and the audience from the very beginning. Band Members Jon Lundin, Brady Szuhaj, Andy Hershey, Sage Weeber, and Timmy Rasmussen have created a distinctive sound that creatively blends very catchy pop tunes with driving punk undertones.
Picked up by record label, We Are Triumphant, POINT NORTH just released the EP Retrograde earlier in the week. It’s a follow up to their well-received 2018 album, A Light In A Dark Place. Although far from home, this band had many NJ fans in attendance that night. It was apparent the audience knew them well, as they held up lighters in unison for specific songs and jumped on stage to sing with the band when the chance presented itself.
In an interview with Toontrack, they stated, “We started in 2016 as a melodic pop punk band and have been evolving ever since.” It’s true; you can hear the maturation of sound and lyrics as you listen to the songs in their catalog. The other sign of maturation is their support of initiatives to create ADA accessible spaces within concert venues. It’s a problem that has gone unaddressed for too long and it’s refreshing to see this young band raise awareness of the issue.
In my opinion, POINT NORTH was one of the biggest highlights of the show that night in Asbury Park! They are a band to keep on your radar as I expect we will be seeing even bigger and better things from them in the near future.
Start right now by watching their video “Ghost In My Home” and streaming their music. Follow them on Instagram @pointnorthband and check out their cool merch.
Next up was the pop-punk band HOLD CLOSE from Springfield, MO. Although they are in the same genre, they provided a different pop punk perspective. As frontman Braxton Smilely stated, “We are definitely the most chill band of this tour.” Their sound still has that punk foundation and cool electronic vibe from the keyboard, but is more relaxed and soothing in nature overall. The emotional nature of their lyrics and message seems to drive the creation of their music.
Formed in 2016, HOLD CLOSE is made up of vocalist Braxton Smiley, guitarists Jessee Everett and Charlie Edel, bassist Devon Edwards, and drummer Marshall Martin. They knew each other in high school but played in different bands at that time; eventually getting together through the local scene. They complement each other well musically, balancing Smiley’s smooth vocals with mellow guitars, rich keyboard chords, and percussive techniques like rim clicks.
HOLD CLOSE put out two EP’s I Was Never Meant To Stay and I’ll Never Go Back in 2016 and 2017, respectively. As part of the Hopeless Records family, they recently released the full-length album Time on January 18, 2019. One of the jewels of the album is the single “Breath” which was inspired by a close friend of the band who passed away while they were writing the record.
Said Smiley, “We lost one of our really, really, good friends that we all grew up with to drug overdose right in the middle of writing the record. It was really tough, and it still is sometimes. A lot of the album essentially is about that; it’s about growth, love, sorrow, death, everything.”
"Breath" is a song that has a lot of potential for significant air time. Check out the video here. Follow HOLD CLOSE on Instagram @holdcloseofficial and check out their tour dates.
Time/ Cloud9/Absent To Reality/Who Will/Tropical Depression/Breath/Separation
To say that SHARPTOOTH exploded upon the stage next would be an understatement. The hardcore band from Baltimore, MD has to be one of the most dynamic groups I’ve ever seen. Energetic, intense, and passionate … SHARPTOOTH consists of Lauren Kashan (Vocals), Keth Higgins (Guitar), Lance Donati (Guitar), Phil Rasinski (Bass), and Conor Mac (Percussion). Their sound is a loud eruption of heavy grinding guitars with propulsive percussive fireworks all played by rockers who look and act as hardcore as they come.
Then enter Lauren Kashan. A petite, classically-trained singer whose screaming voice and lyrics are bigger and more bad-ass than those of any other hardcore singer today. Lauren connected with fans throughout the entire set, clasping their hands and singing directly to them. She spoke often between songs about heavy issues like sexual violence, gender identities, and the equality of all people. But she didn’t just mention them in one-off, rehearsed sentences. It seemed like her mission was to successfully communicate her message with the crowd, which is to be yourself and to never apologize for it.
In an interview with Already Heard, Lauren recently said, “It’s all about human connection and us sticking up for each other. And it’s scary sometimes, and it doesn’t feel good sometimes. There are days where I’ve gotten onstage and thought ‘I don’t wanna talk about being raped’. It’s a hard thing to talk about let alone in a room full of strangers, but sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet and think ‘there’s somebody in this room who can be helped by that’ and that outweighs my personal discomfort.”
In addition to opening for As It Is, SHARPTOOTH has also toured with Anti-Flag, Stray From The Path, The White Noise, Senses Fail, Cane Hill and performed on every date of the Vans Warped Tour in mid-2018. This hardcore group contains all of the ingredients necessary for a band to climb the ladder to success in this industry. Backed by Pure Noise Records and still promoting their well-received 2017 album Clever Girl, SHARPTOOTH sold their message of acceptance in an action-packed performance that ended with Lauren scaling the wall and jumping over the upper level railing for her exit.
Check out their “Clever Girl” Video and follow the band on Instagram @sharptoothmd.
Life On the Razor’s Edge/Blood On Your Hands/Pushing Forward/New song (no name)/Jesus Loves You/No Sanctuary/Left For Dead/Fuck You Donald Trump/ Clever Girl
AS IT IS
As It Is