Words & Photos by Diane DiMemmo

July 29, 2021

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Performing live after a year and a half of separation from your band mates is hard enough. Try doing it for the first time in front of a packed and pumped House of Independents crowd and it’s enough to rattle anyone’s nerves. Nevertheless, rock and roll dynamos - The Black Clouds - took the stage by storm on July 24th and gave a performance that satisfied every fan’s need for a night of pure, unadulterated, hard-core rock and roll.

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Dan Matthews (Vocals/Guitar), Dylan McLarnon (Bass/Vocals), Neil Hayes (Guitar), and Cory King (Drums/Vocals) showed no hesitation as they worked their way through a lively, sweaty set that included tunes from their albums: After All, Better Days, Wishing Well, and Dead Flowers. Although I must admit that I’m a new fan, I fell head over heels in love with the Black Clouds' signature sound … a delicious cocktail of Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Seether all wrapped up in their insane energy, passion, and technical chops.

The band wore their hearts on their sleeves in the way they shared their love and appreciation for their fans and the crowd responded in kind by fully participating in the show with singing, dancing and the most spirited– yet respectful – mosh pit I’ve ever seen! In the recent past, a few industry influencers have been quoted as saying that rock music is on a decline.

But what The Black Clouds did on Saturday night was shine a spotlight on a large community of fans that live for just this type of music … and who are devoted to seeing this band perform over and over again.

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The show was one of the most memorable and special things that I've been a part of in recent memory. We were all equal parts excited and nervous to play a big show after the pandemic restrictions lifted. After all is said and done, I'm really glad that we did it. The energy in the room was amazing. You could tell how happy everyone was to finally be together again with their friends for a rock show. Sunshine Spazz and Shadow Box played phenomenal sets. I witnessed the first mosh pit I've seen in over a year and a half. House of Independents were excellent hosts. I couldn't have imagined the night going any better and we all feel very lucky to have been a part of it.”  ~Dan Matthews

The Black Clouds Photo Gallery

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Shadow Box

Shadow Box took the stage and treated us to a fresh new take on progressive rock that I haven’t heard before. Their music brought me back to the heydey of YES with the characteristic changing tempos, sophisticated harmonies, and variety of instrumentation. Although it was the band’s first public performance since COVID stopped live music in its tracks, Shadow Box commandeered the stage with the music from their brand new album Flat Moon which is one every rock fan should download and add to their playlists.

Shadow Box Photo Gallery

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There’s just something about being at a Sunshine Spazz show that always leaves you wanting more. And I’m not the only one who feels that way. Go to any of their performances and you’ll notice the substantial contingent of dedicated fans who attend all their shows.

A mixture of surfy, grungy punk rock, Ryan Rutter (Vocals, Guitar), Michael Rutter (Bass), and Jamie Lawler (Drums)  jumped out of the starting gate with unparalleled energy and didn't let up until the last note of their set. The electrifying energy in the room was palpable - and visible  - with an animated mosh pit. If you ever see that Sunshine Spazz is playing an upcoming show, make it a point to go and you’ll be blown away by the talent of this powerful trio. When asked how he felt about performing again, Ryan exclaimed, “Oh, we back baby!”

Sunshine Spazz Photo Gallery

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Diane DiMemmo is an avid concert fanatic and former musician who snuck cameras into venues for years before entering the pit as a professional photographer. After her first visit to Asbury Park, she immediately fell in love with its music community and recognized the need for a Jersey Shore publication to highlight the accomplishments of local and national musicians through photos and press. Asbury Park Vibes has been her labor of love ever since, along with her Golden Retriever – Cooper – who you’ll often see walking Diane through the streets of Asbury.

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