The Ergs! / Hunchback - live in Asbury Park (Cover Artwork)

The Ergs! / Hunchback

live in Asbury Park (2008)

live show

Before the tears were shed on this fittingly rainy Saturday night, a band not breaking up, Lemuria, opened up the show. The doors were at 10:00 P.M., and bad time management / a rainy Garden State Parkway led me to getting to the show at 11:30 P.M. Luckily (or maybe, unluckily), Lemuria got a flat tire on the way to the show and started their first song precisely as I walked in. Lemuria is a band I've always been meaning to check out and I never have, but their live show lead me straight to their MySpace when I got home. They sounded very full for a three-piece, and had the energy of a band playing a headlining show. I had a lot of fun during their set, though to be honest I spent a good portion of it drinking (hey, it's the last Ergs! show!).

Next up was Hunchback, and I'm sure to lose punk rock points here as well but I've never gotten into them. Not to say I didn't have a good time. I've seen them a few times before, and they always put on a great show, and this was the most urgent and exciting I've seen. A good third of the crowd knew all the words and were going crazy in the sizable pit on the dance floor. With their intensity and passion it's a really hard act to follow, kind of like going on after World/Inferno. I know Hunchback and the Ergs! are good friends, but I think the final showness (not a word) for Hunchback felt a little anti-climactic, not having their own show for the occasion.

At what couldn't have been before 1:30 A.M., the Ergs! came on stage, "First Song, Side One" started, and oh yeah, it began. During the next track, "A Very Special Song for a Very Special Lady Part II," bassist Joe Erg usually made a speech. That night he touched upon how the last memory of something is usually the most everlasting one, so it damn well better be that best Ergs! show in history. Also, that they need to thwart the streak of "lasts" usually sucking, like the Seinfeld finale.

As you can imagine, this was a particularly sweaty and cramped affair with brothers in arms screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs. I definitely saw some tears; it verged on looking like a movie. Ergs! standards like "Introducing Morrissey," "Pray for Rain," and "Extra Medium" wrecked a lot of vocal chords, made drinks fly in the air and bruised the majority of the capacity crowd. Members of the Measure [SA] and the Dopamines were drunkenly bopping around as well. I know a reviewer shouldn't say this, but some things are impossible to put in words, it being one of the best shows of my life, the bearded camaraderie on the bowling lanes and the fact that there was 100% joy in the air with no evidence of sadness. Hopefully something is done with the video footage taken.

In the middle of the show it started to really soak in that this may be the last time we hear these songs live again, and something came over me that I had to join the myriad of crowd surfers and stage divers in the front and crowd surf during "Aja" -- something I hate when people do; I apologize to everyone. But that much, I'm skinny. Apparently the original incarnation of the band was a four-piece, and their original drummer came out to play "If You Don't" and "Steven A. Hinckley..." for us. Aw!

As they went into "Upstairs/Downstairs," Mikey said it would be their last song EVER, but I figured there would be an encore. A few minutes later it became apparent there wouldn't be, as stage annihilation occurred during most of the 30-minute "Upstairs/Downstairs" we were treated to. Other members of bands came on stage to plug in and play and audience members were flopping onto stage hitting/destroying drums and what not. At one point, I fell on stage, and someone slammed a floor tom with a slit open bottom head through my head and proceeded to play it on my head (that's a lot of heads!). A friend put Mikey on his shoulders while others held up drums and cymbals for him to play. Amazingly, the crowd still chanted "Upstairs downstairs, upstairs downstairs" for most of the 30 minutes as a "Ren & Stimpy" montage played on the screen behind them. Incredible.

Still being high from the show, it hasn't sunk in yet that was their last show. Being from Jersey, I'm used to seeing them every three of four months. Probably when January hits and they're steering clear of us in the new year we'll absorb their absence. Farewell, one of America's best bands. I'm happy I hugged all three of you during the course of the show. When's the reunion tour?

Set list:

  1. First Song, Side One
  2. A Very Special Song for a Very Special Lady Part II
  3. Kind of Like Smitten
  4. Extra Medium
  5. Bike Shoppe
  6. Introducing Morrissey
  7. Ben Kweller
  8. 1,000 Letters
  9. Anthem for a New Amanda
  10. Most Violent Rap Group
  11. Pray for Rain
  12. Saturday Nite Crap-o-Rama
  13. If You Don't
  14. Steven A. Hinckley Has the Following Items: A) Devo Energy Dome, 2) Devo Radiation Suit, C) Devo New Traditionalist Pomp
  15. Every Romance Language
  16. It's Like I Say Y'know
  17. Stinking of Whiskey Blues
  18. Piltdown Man
  19. Running, Jumping, Standing Still
  20. Fluorescent Stars
  21. Aja
  22. Fin
  23. Books About Miles Davis
  24. Rod Argent
  25. Everything Falls Apart (And More)
  26. Upstairs/Downstairs