The DEFY THE SUN Tour Brings Jam-Packed Night of Rock to Asbury Park!

By Diane DiMemmo

November 25, 2019

There’s one thing I have to say about last Thursday night at The House of Independents. Concert-goers most definitely got their money’s worth of amazing live rock music. The DEFY THE SUN TOUR brought co-headliners Blacktop Mojo and Otherwise to Asbury Park, supported by special guests Lullwater and Kirra. Blacktop Mojo and Otherwise are both promoting their recently-released albums: DEFY and UNDER THE SUN. For four full hours, the crowd experienced exemplary rock and roll performances that left us breathless, happy, and exhausted. Read on to hear about and see all that we experienced that night!

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Texas Southern-Rockers Blacktop Mojo are the perfect embodiment of what every rock band should be. They truly have that “mojo” - that magic rock-and-roll sound - that hooks music lovers and builds a dedicated fan following. Their blend of post-grunge, classic rock, and metal influences creates a progressive, innovative rock sound that also has strands of classic rock woven throughout. They are truly unique.

Matt James (Vocals), Ryan Kiefer (Lead Guitar), Chuck Wepfer (Guitar), Matt Curtis (Bass), and Nathan Gillis (Drums) formed the band in 2012 and have put out the albums I Am (2014), Burn The Ships (2017), and their just-released Under The Sun (2019). Burn The Ship’s single “Where The Wind Blows” reached #27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.

The guys exude an effortless vibe when they perform; like they were meant to play together and it’s the most natural thing in the world to them. Frontman James has this rich, deep voice that is soothing and exciting all at the same time. He phrases softer acoustic moments beautifully and then can switch gears to pound out hard rock lines to get the crowd going. Backing him up are searing, lyrical guitar solos that sit atop heavy, freight-train guitar and bass lines, all supported by exceptional drumming.

Blacktop Mojo had their fans in the palm of their hands and pumped out a hardline rock set that we will all remember for a long time. Make sure to follow these rock-and-roll standouts as they are destined to accomplish great things.


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Every concert photographer has a pool of favorite bands that we just have to see when their tour brings them close to home … no matter what. I call them my non-negotiable bands; I WILL be at their show when they pass through. Well, this was my first time ever hearing or seeing Otherwise ... and they are now one of my core (non-negotiable) bands. WOW.

Otherwise is Adrian Patrick (Lead Vocals), Ryan Patrick (Guitar/Vocals), and Brian Medeiros (Drums). Joined by Nick Bedrosian on bass, the Las Vegas quartet literally brought the House (of Independents) down!! Their energy and elation while performing live was infectious and they commandeered the full participation of the audience from the beginning to the end of their set. Just watch the video below courtesy of Megan Maloney to get a sense of the band’s enthusiasm that night.


Video Courtesy of Megan Maloney

Adrian was so engaging with both his spot-on vocals and his interaction with the crowd. He covered the stage to the edges and sang with his fans (encouraging their participation). Walking through the audience and hugging fans while singing, he even scaled one of the venue walls and walked the second floor’s railing while connecting with the crowd upstairs. Ryan, Brian and Nick powerfully supported the frontman with superior musicianship and backing vocals. The trio was locked in and tight and they pumped out kick-ass rock lines to the backdrop of high-speed percussion (and flying drumsticks)! The camaraderie and closeness between band members throughout the show made them all the more endearing.

Otherwise just released their fifth album DEFY last week and their single “Lifted” has already climbed the US Mainstream Rock Chart to #37. Adrian recently stated to Cryptic Rock: “Rock ‘n’ Roll was always meant to be dangerous. We grew up in the last era where nineties bands were Soul Rebels. They stood for something. They didn’t conform. Since the greatest risks yield the greatest return, why play it safe? [With Defy] we decided to swing for the fucking fences this time.“ In the past, singles “I Don’t Apologize (1,000 Pictures),” “Soldiers,” “Darker Side of the Moon,” and “Coming for the Throne” have all broken into the top 20 on the US Mainstream Rock and US Active Rock Charts.

Otherwise is a band that literally has every ingredient for mammoth success in the industry. Make them one of your non-negotiable bands and DO NOT miss their next New Jersey pass-through!!

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The main reason I went to the show on Thursday was for Lullwater. I saw them earlier this year when they opened for Sevendust and I was immediately hooked on their brand of rock-and-roll. It’s filled with catchy tunes and great melodies set to the backdrop of pure, hard, gut-punching rock. When you hear them for the first time, you immediately perk up and pay attention while thinking, “Now THIS is a band I need to follow.” They are THAT GOOD. And it’s not just my opinion. I heard fans saying the same thing after their set, both at this show and in February when they opened for Sevendust.

Lullwater is John Strickland (Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), Daniel Binnie (Lead Guitar), Roy 'Ray' Beatty (Bass & Vocal), and Joseph Wilson (Drums & Vocals). The Athens, GA group just released their new album Voodoo earlier this year. The group stays true to their potent, dynamic sound … you literally feel an assault of musicianship and technical proficiency from every one of them. Strickland’s vocals are rich, raspy and resonate deep inside you. Combined with the stellar guitar lines and percussion of Binnie, Beatty, and Wilson, this group is a powerhouse that commands admiration, respect … and a little bit of fan-crushing. 🤩

I highly recommend you give these guys some attention. Download Voodoo and my other favorites “Albatross” and “Oddline.” And after you listen, I bet I’ll see you at their next local live show because you – too – will have fallen in love with their sound.


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This was also my second time catching Kirra, as they also opened for Sevendust earlier this year. Hard rockers Gabriel Parson (Vocals), Daxton Page (Guitar), Ryne McNeill (Bass), and Zach Stafford (Drums) have this knack for pulling you into the world of their high-energy, all-consuming live show. I can’t put my finger on why, but there’s something super unique about Parson’s razor-sharp voice that just grabs you. It’s absolutely addicting. The back-and-forth singing techniques of Parson and McNeill add another layer to their compelling sound.

You will definitely want to check out the Oklahoma band’s brand-new single (released just last week) called “Caving In,” as well as the song “My Disease” which peaked at #25 on the Billboard Indicator Mainstream Rock Chart. Keep these guys on your radar and check out their tour schedule so you can catch them when they pass through our area the next time.


Asbury Park Vibes

ASBURY PARK VIBES is a media outlet dedicated to shining a light on the music scene at the Jersey Shore and throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S.! We strive to provide show reviews and photographs that capture the true essence and fan experience of each concert. Our coverage focuses keenly on the artists and venues in legendary Asbury Park, New Jersey, however you'll also catch us promoting events in PA and NY as well! There is nothing better than the dynamic energy and vibes you feel when you experience a concert at the Jersey Shore! We're sure we'll see you at a concert here very soon!

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