Renaissance Blvd. Crushes it at The Stone Pony!
Outstanding performances also by Exit Eleven and Kelli Bruno!
Asbury Park Vibes got to experience an amazing treat at the Stone Pony ... Renaissance Blvd! On January 10th 2020, this Philly native band headlined the legendary venue of Asbury Park, NJ. It was my first time seeing these guys and I was immediately blown away. They definitely have that WOW factor. More on that later.
Let’s talk about the opening performances of the night. Amazing sets by Jersey band Exit Eleven and solo artist Kelli Bruno. Both were great at anticipating what was to come!
Exit Eleven played some impressive original, alternative rock songs that are heavily 90’s and 00’s influenced. The group’s songs consisted of both acoustic and electric guitar elements which provided a nice dynamic range. On their Facebook, they described their songs as “relevant today but will still make you want to bust out that old, cozy flannel shirt. You know you still have one, so pop it on and give them a listen.” Reading that description especially made me smile because I was, in fact, wearing a ‘cozy flannel shirt’ at the venue! This is a band I’d definitely want to check out again!
The next opener was singer/songwriter from Cranford, NJ - Kelli Bruno! In addition to singing and playing guitar, she also had a harmonica, a foot trigger for percussive sounds, and a looper pedal to tie it all together. She was a one woman band and I loved every moment of it. It was evident that she was a natural talent and possessed great energy. That energy transferred over to her fans, who were already singing the night away with her covers and original music!!
Perfect openers for what was to come that night! Let’s talk about our new friends over at Renaissance Blvd. The group was originally formed in 2014 with 12+ members as part of a work project in order to boost morale for a digital marketing company. They told me “throughout the years, some downsizing, empty smelly bars & cafeterias, and a few lineup changes later, RB found its current, successful lineup by the year 2018.” The name was originally a placeholder until the band found a different name. It was picked because it was the street the company was based on. Over the years, it has taken on a new meaning. The name compliments many of the styles of covers and genres that the band performs. The band describes it as a “renaissance” of music all lined up in one spot, the “Blvd.”
Today, there are 7 members in the group. They are Natalie Hann and Mick Norman on vocals, Ray Delfing on vocals, harmonica, and mandolin, Greg Lynn on lead guitar, Alan Hammerschmidt on rhythm guitar, Patrick Rodgers on bass guitar, and Landon Jones on drums. Currently, they’re playing corporate fundraisers and backyard parties, to headlining The Trocadero in Philly, and now The Stone Pony. The powerful and energetic group covers classic rock, motown, modern pop, country, and more!
Finally, it was time for Renaissance Blvd to hit the stage. Fans from all over the Shore were greeted with a thunderous introduction track. It was the type of track that you KNEW something epic was going to happen. It was sorta like I was in another world and I was very happy to be there. I was definitely excited to see where this was going. BOOM, POW, KICK! It was go time, and before the audience knew it, the whole venue was lit up with strobing lights and an enormous sound. Everyone was immediately dancing and moving to the groove. I would’ve totally joined them if I didn’t have a ton of photography gear on me!
I love a good band that lets singers trade off each other. It adds more diversity to a group, which I personally have a strong liking for. It sounded like there were 3 bands in one performance! Natalie, Mick, and Ray all have impeccable range and talent. All singers excelled through their songs respectfully. Ray’s additional harmonica and mandolin layers added another pleasing dimension to the group. Alan’s rhythm guitar skills brought a fervent essence to the band’s sound. Greg was not only an outstanding guitar player, he was very interactive with me and loved squeezing in that powerful action shot! Patrick and Landon made for a strong rhythm section, complementing each other nicely. Patrick’s bass parts bolstered through the loudspeakers and backed up the rest of the band with precision. Landon has quite the drumming chops and never failed to miss time. The guy had people dancing to his beats for hours!
The whole night was a dance party... a rock and roll dance party! I had no idea I could be this excited about a cover band but Renaissance Blvd is doing just that. All members of the band were naturals at interacting with the audience. That’s what I like to see in a band! You could tell they were having so much fun up there and in return, the audience had a blast!
Renaissance Blvd is for all ages, going all the way from Ozzy Osbourne and Jimi Hendrix to Carrie Underwood and Imagine Dragons. I am excited to see what the fans are in store for this year. The band said that the fans can expect more fun and high energy shows, and finally merch! They also hinted at a possible EP with mostly covers and some originals. Speaking of that, I really hope this group starts writing original music soon because I can already tell it’d be a hit! I hope to see you at the next Renaissance Blvd show, you’ll have a great time... I know I’ll be there.
Setlist (all covers): Last Name / Pride & Joy / Fly Away / Purple Haze / Zombie / Feel Like Making Love / American Woman / Barracuda / Radioactive / Shallow / American Girl / Crazy Train / Dream On / Shut Up and Dance / Don’t Stop Believin’ / Superstition / Medley of Sweet Home Alabama, Werewolves of London, and All Summer Long
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