• Diane DiMemmo

Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day at Stone Pony Summer Stage

The temperature at The Jersey Shore reached 100 degrees on August 6th, however the true sizzle came from another source that steamy evening. Halestorm, In This Moment, and show opener, New Years Day, blasted the Stone Pony Summer Stage in true hard core, heavy metal fashion. Fans of all ages amassed into one cohesive congregation that seemed to worship these bands for their commanding presence, musicianship, and message.

The Stone Pony, in and of itself, is an iconic venue with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and The Smithereens rocking the stage. But if you haven’t experienced The Stone Pony’s Summer Stage, you’re long overdue. Right outside the doors of the legendary club is a massive outdoor stage rivaling those of many outdoor festivals. Cool ocean breezes flow in from the Atlantic Ocean cooling concertgoers who ebb and flow around the many food, vendor and beverage stands. It’s like being at a mini festival right on the beach!

Embracing that festival-like atmosphere, Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day pounded out a four-hour show (collectively) that left us breathless and exhausted … yet wanting more. This sentiment could be heard from concertgoers exiting the venue who “never wanted it to end,” and “could listen for hours more.”

This trio of female-led hard rock bands is unlike any I’ve ever seen or heard. Backed by some of the most bad ass musicians (both in presence and musicianship) ... Lzzy Hale, Maria Brink, and Ashley (“Ash”) Costello fronted performances that mixed beauty, raw emotion, heavenly vocals, and heart-pounding rock. And all of it was built upon a unified message; one that was both empowering and thought-provoking. But we’ll get to that message in just a bit.

New Years Day

To start the evening, New Years Day stormed the stage and jumped right in with “Kill or Be Killed,” the first track of their 2015 album Malevolence. Ashley Costello provided warm, rich vocals atop driving guitar and bass lines, courtesy of Nikky Misery, Austin Ingerman, and Frankie Sil. Drummer Brian Sumwalt punctuated and pounded out deep rhythms accentuated by artful cymbal cadences.

The crowd became hooked early and pushed forward to connect with the well-established sound of this band. Their energizing setlist also included “Fucking Hostile” (Pantera cover), the brand-new original track “Disgust Me,” along with favorites “Scream,” “Epidemic,” and “Defame Me.” Hearing the intensity of these songs firsthand makes it easy to understand how this band has garnered so many adoring fans. Formed in Anaheim, California in 2015, New Years Day has five albums to their credit titled: My Dear, The Mechanical Heart, Victim to Villian, Malevolence, and Diary of a Creep.

As they neared the end of their set, Ash thanked the fans for coming out to support their band and listen to their music. She referenced the importance of embracing the power within you and being true to who you really are. This set the stage for the messages that were about to come from In This Moment and Halestorm.

In This Moment

The bright, golden sunlight that poured in through the rear of the stage was the perfect backdrop for the visually stunning stage show of In This Moment. Photographers were allowed to remain in the pit to photograph the entire show, which was a unique opportunity for us to be able to share the full production with you. I use the word production because this show was a phenomenal work of art. A band with a one-of-a-kind sound – a truly unique identity – who created a musical experience that was a feast for the ears, as well as the eyes.

Singer Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howarth formed In This Moment in 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Throughout the years there have been several changes to the band’s lineup, however the current combination of band members is a smooth, well-oiled machine. There is a chemistry between the musicians that cannot be faked. In addition to Brinks and Howarth, the band also consists of Travis Johnson (bass), Randy Weitzel (guitar), and drummer Kent Diimmel. The hardcore sound that emanated from this group was exciting, emotional, and inspiring all at the same time.

Maria Brink‘s vocal style is as unique as they come. Depending on the song, the lyrics can be presented with sensual speaking; melodic screaming; deep, rich tonalities; or light, delicate melodies. No matter what the channel though, her voice is exquisite. “Blood,” “River of Fire,” and “Adrenalize” started off their set and mesmerized the crowd from early on.

Each song is an entity in and of itself, and the band has designed striking visual representations of the lyrics and meanings. Brink went through nine costume changes throughout the night and was flanked by dancers who also had several costume changes. All band members wore masks at some point during the show, and their makeup and clothing added to the drama and effectiveness of each song. Some stage props included a pulpit, a church-like structure, colorful lighting, a black cauldron with billowing red smoke, white globes, a steam gun, and a tall cone cap with the word “whore” written on it.

“Roots,” “Monster Jam,” “Big Bad Wolf,” and Phil Collins cover “In the Air Tonight” were hearty songs that pushed the show forward. If looking for a common denominator within In This Moment’s music, I would say it’s the message behind the lyrics. Often, the early years in life deal many a harsh blow. Pushing through it and using it as energy to propel you out of the darkness is a thread in their music, as can be heard in some of the lyrics in “Roots:”