Drowning Pool At Starland Ballroom, NJ

On March 21, 2015 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ there was a special show. Why you ask? It was a night to remember a drumming legend. It was one day prior that AJ Pero of Adrenaline Mob and Twisted Sister passed in his sleep of a heart attack while on the Drowning Pool tour, which celebrates the thirteenth anniversary of their platinum selling debut album Sinner in 2014. Everyone said AJ would have wanted the show to go on. The rockers rolled out and commenced with the show.


The Opening locals bands were pretty cool. First on stage was Common Wealth a band from Toms River, NJ. These guys are unique with their painted faces, it fits the band’s persona. They were fun, loud, and heavy. Christian Carson’s voice carried through the whole venue making sure the people in the parking lot heard him too! Band members Charlie Wealth (bass), Vinny Black (guitar), Giovanni St. James (guitar) and Joe Capasso (drums) were all in sync, and ready to bring down the house.  This is a band to look out for, because they will get you thrashing around and your adrenaline pumping. 


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Next up Raftree a band from Union, NJ.  Kenneth-lead vocals and band members Charly, Andy and Ed were having a good ol’ time up on that stage rocking out. They brought grit and energy with their heavy rock sound. The first three songs of their set were “Missing”, “Over and Over”, and “Room”. All three songs had the crowd moving and grooving right along with the band. Looking forward to the next Raftree show. 


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Scottish Widows were heavy rock n roll with a touch of a country influence.  These fellas were rearing to go with so much energy and connecting with the crowd. Al Russo on bass was smiling and happy to be performing on stage with his fellow band mates. The rest of the band members  Eric, Mikey and Carl were delivering heavy sounds and enticing the crowd. It was obvious the Staten Island natives were having a blast. Towards the end of their set they paid tribute to AJ Pero, and performed  “Drive Me Crazy” in his memory.


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New York City’s Brand of Julez brought the noise to Starland Ballroom with  intense and fierce heavy riffs. This three man band delivered music that had the fans jumping, and yelling for more. Brothers Julez and Brandon Zamora team up with drummer Chris Nichols and play music that has soul with a heavy metal influence. They welcomed long time friend Lance Barnewold as a guest on stage to play second guitar. The last song of their set “Monkey” left the crowd banging their heads with horns raised high up in the air. The South Bronx natives definitely left their mark in The Garden State with many new fans.
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First to perform of the National Acts was Full Devil Jacket from Jackson, Tennessee. They originally formed as a band in 2000, shortly after dissolved due to personal issues and thankfully reformed in 2013.  Valley of Bones is their first album since 2000. Independently releasing the album digitally in 2014. The Line up is Josh Brown lead vocals and fellow band mates featuring original drummer Keith Foster, along with long-time friends, Moose Douglass on bass, Zach Broderick-guitar and Paul Varnick on guitar.  They hit the stage with “Wanna Be Martyr” Josh’s vocals were on point with the screams and chorus. The fans were singing along and happy to see Full Devil Jacket once again performing. Brown talked to the crowd introducing the tracks and the band paid tribute to AJ Pero. In his memory they performed “Where Did You Go?” Their new song “Valley of Bones” had the fans moving around and wanting more. Full Devil Jacket closed the show with “Green Iron Fist”, Broderick jumped in the crowd playing his guitar and the fans were loving it.
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Next to the stage was Drowning Pool from Texas. Originally they were to close out the show, but they gave the spot to Adrenaline Mob in honor of AJ Pero.  Drowing Pool knows the pain of loosing a band member, when they lost their lead vocalist Dave Williams in 2002. C.J. Pierce (guitar), Stevie Benton (Bass) and Mike Luce (drums) had been working hard and still rocking after their loss. They  found a new vocalist who is very talented Jason Moreno. The band was full of energy and in honoring AJ Pero they were all wearing Adrenaline Mob Tshirts. Songs from past albums were performed as well as Sinner tunes “Sermon” “Reminded” , “Pity” and “Tear Away”. People were into hearing the old Drowing Pool tunes, bringing back memories of the early 2000’s of Alternative Metal. Drowning Pool brought a killer show loaded with enthusiasm. As the show was ending they broke into an oldie but a goodie, “Bodies”. The crowd went nuts and a mosh pit was formed. Can’t wait for a new album very soon. 
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 The spotlight was now on Adrenaline Mob as they honored their fallen brother AJ.  The band formed four years ago, and in 2013 AJ Pero came on board. Some of the other original members such as Mike Portnoy moved onto other projects. AJ fit right in with the already accomplished group of musicians, being a veteran musician himself.The first song of the set was “Mob Is Back” they had former Breaking Benjamin drummer Chad Szeliga behind the drums filling in for the first half of the set. Other songs performed  were “Let It Go”, “Get it through the night”, and “Dearly Departed” The band members kept it together and performed with their hearts, feeling fully inspired. Russell Allen talking to the crowd introduced a song called “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniel’s Band. Such a great country song performed, but changed up to have a hard rock edge.
The fans were dancing along to the tune and really getting into it.Towards the end of the night, the band members paid tribute to AJ Pero by going into an acoustic version of “All on the Line”. It was a very emotional song felt by all. AMOB had AJ’s photo up on stage for all to see and there were lights shining down on the drums. AJ was definitely there in spirit with everyone.Before going into the song Russell Allen expressed what a great guy AJ was and how he cared for people. He was a hard worker, and never forgot the people that helped him throughout his career.
Only about six songs in and Adrenaline Mob had so many more surprises for the fans. They invited original drummer Mike Portnoy to join them on stage.Together they performed  the following songs  “Psychosane”, “Indifferent”, “Hit The Wall”, “Feel the Adrenaline”, and “Undaunted” They were amazing and you could feel the good vibes circling the room. It gets better, then Type O Negative’s former drummer Johnny Kelly took on the drums for Adrenaline Mob and closing out the set they covered Black Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules” fans were cheering for more.Everyone thinking that was it, Adrenaline Mob came back on stage with Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, on guitar and together they performed “You Can’t Stop Rock n Roll” It definitely was a night to remember.  AJ  Pero’s memory will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and most of all the fans. Long Live Rock n Roll!

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Anjanette McGrath
Anjanette McGrath
Anjanette is a photographer residing in New Jersey. Anjanette studied art at New Jersey City University earning a Bachelor's of Art degree with a concentration in photography and is a certified art teacher. Her work has been published and shown in galleries. Anjanette loves photographing the New York City indie music scene, as well as photographing national bands that tour in the tri state area. She is and always will be a city girl at heart. She also photographs events, parties, people, and documents the world around her. When Anjanette is not photographing the music world, she is busy raising her four beautiful children and taking their photos too! A health coach, athletic runner, and a practicing Yogi keep her grounded. Check out www.anjanettephotos.com, Anjanette Photos on Facebook and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. You can find her health coach page on Facebook at Flygirl Fit Food LLC