The Expendables at the Winter Blackout 2015

While walking (to be honest it was more like running for my life) to the Stone Pony, the wind was so cold that both corners of my mouth felt fish-hooked back while liquid dripped from every orifice. My body actually went numb from being exposed for only 30 seconds. Winter Blackout Tour totally suited my current state of being; blacking out from the arctic freeze that swept through Asbury Park. But I knew these bands would resonate with feelings of summer.

At the door was a disclaimer was posted on the front door that this show was going to be recorded, which immediately hyped up every Travis Birkenstock and Tai Frasier on the way in. It was wall to wall people inside with a younger crowd.

Even before Katastro went on, bouncers discretely weaved in and out looking for those doing the sway dance (trying to stand while under the influence of a cocktail of different drugs and or alcohol). Katastro was the just the right amount of reggae, funk, and hip-hop. Their songs were addictive; the lyrics rolled out from the lead singer’s chest and floated along the melody. Their song premises were deep and real; using, depression, hitting bottom, love, finding happiness. I couldn’t get over their one song, “A Junkie and A Gentleman.” As he spit and looped the words at the end of the song, I got the chills and was in it with them as he moved across the stage reciting it: You lost it, your magic/It’s gone now and it’s tragic/You wrote off your family like a bad check, what happened?/All these things you can’t wash away/They’ll stick with you, and they’re here to stay/They’ll be with you to your last breath/And follow you to your casket. Katastro also did a fantastic funky rendition of Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk On The Wild Side.” It had the crowd dancing and singing along.

The Maryland natives, Ballyhoo!, came on shortly after with a boom of energy brought from their fast-paced pop-punk/reggae sound. It was explosive. The lead singer’s vocals are clear, suave, and prominent over the upstrokes and upbeat instrumentals. It almost reminded me of a reggae version of Panic at the Disco.

Ballyhoo!’s music was absolutely wild and fun. The crowd went insane for every song. They were crowd surfing all over the place and dancing. At one point, the lead singer took out his iPhone selfie stick and panned it out to capture the audience. With the last song, Cerveza, the crowd was up in a roar and bodies went flying towards the barricade.

And then it was time for the epic dudes themselves to tear up the stage. As The Expendables came on and struck their first chord, mosh pits opened up everywhere, GoPro cameras illuminated, and selfie sticks rose above the crowd. During their set, the guys did a super stellar mashup of a bunch of covers. They covered “Wiseman” by Slightly Stoopid, “Stoned Love” by Pepper, “Safe and Sound” by Rebelution, and “I’ve Got 5 On It” with the lead singer of Katastro.

Aside from music, The Expendables brought other entertainment to stimulate everyone. They introduced their friend Jay on stage to paint throughout the entirety of their set. I thought that was pretty interesting considering his painting atmosphere consisted of varied sounds ranging from chill, reggae vibes to some intense headbanging material.

The Expendables stand out from a lot of other bands in the reggae genre mainly because of their masterly metal-driven riffs. While they would be playing Take A Ticket, Starry Night, Anti-Social, and Sacrifice, Dave Mustaine and Randy Rhoads would inhabit their vessels and unleash some serious metal licks. Especially Anti-Social. That was a slew of songs in itself. It was thrash, metal, and reggae all at once. The pits were out of control! I would have never expected this at a reggae concert.

The Expendables closed out with an encore of Starry Night and Bowl for Two; both opposites in style but it was perfect. Bowl for Two was sung by every person in the crowd as the stoner anthem that was to send us off on the rest of our night’s journey.

Definitely check out The Expendables this summer on their upcoming tour with Slightly Stoopid and the Dirty Heads!

For more information on The Expendables check out their official website.

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