Heather, Mike, Kev, Jon and I all piled into Heather's tiny VW and made our way up to the bustling metropolis of Sayreville NJ for this show. We got there way early and got some sub par pizza, and got back to the show to get in as doors were opening at 7. From 7 to 8 we hung out in the bar and saw some friends. Adam and Jessi got there just before the first band started and fun and drinks were had.
Having just seen Static Radio NJ a few weeks ago, I wasn't overly interested in seeing them tonight, and once I heard the sound in that room, I didn't change my mind. At one point I asked Kev and Adam if they had a guitarist, because all we could hear from our vantage point in the bar was bass and bass drum.
Next, the Lawrence Arms hit the stage for their 940th show, or so they claim. As expected, Brendan was visibly drunk, and his on stage ramblings were even more ridiculous. They were sloppy and vocals were pretty off in spots, but I still really enjoyed them. You have to be prepared for that when you see the Arms. Their set was heavy on Oh, Calcutta, but they mixed in a few older songs. Lately I've been on a big Oh, Calcutta kick anyway, so I can't complain.
After a quick break, Hot Water Music appeared just before ten. They went right into "A Flight and a Crash," which is a great opener, even if the album of the same name is probably my least favorite Hot Water record. The set, especially at the beginning, was a bit heavy on newer songs, but they also worked in plenty of old favorites like "Better Sense," "Manual," "220 Years," "Rooftops," etc. They played 24 songs total (see set list below), including a four song encore after ending their set with "Turnstiles." The only major downside to the set was a stoppage that came in the middle of one song ("Swinger,' I think, but I could be wrong) when a fight broke out. As soon as that was resolved, they launched right back into the bridge and kept going.
Seeing Hot Water Music again after not having seen them in about six years was unbelievable. I go to see the Draft often, and I've seen Chuck acoustic, but neither really do it for me the way Hot Water Music does. It wasn't just like seeing the Draft plus Chuck. Everyone together was a totally different band. The energy level was higher and they seemed to be having a lot more fun than the last time I saw the Draft. By the end of it, everyone in the crowd and the band was soaked in sweat, and that's the way it should be at a Hot Water Music show. It's strange that a band can play a less than perfect set list, but the whole set can manage to be perfect in my opinion. If I never get to see Hot Water again (who knows?!), I'll be content with the last words that I heard them sing are on my chest. Live your heart and never follow.