NJ Music Scene Offers Artists Plenty of Opportunities

Being noticed in the local music scene is not easy, but while many musicians have a difficult time emerging into the local scene, it is a place where every successful band begins. The New Jersey scene is home to several accomplished musicians such as the Gaslight Anthem, Saves the Day and of course Bruce Springsteen.

Today, Killer Waves, an upcoming underground punk act from “the middle of New Jersey,” has made a legacy. Joe Manginelli, bass player and vocalist of Killer Waves, has organized music festivals, recorded and distributed original music and created a record label, Life At Sea Records.

Whether it is your friend’s basement or your family’s reunion, every gig benefits your band. Maginelli encourages bands to “play as many shows as possible. It’ll rarely ever hurt you as a musician.” Especially for bands seeking attention in the local scene, exposure is necessary to gain an audience and following. It is how every band becomes popular. New musicians might want to jump on tour or find a contract early on in their careers. It is great to be ambitious, but both of those goals fly over a simpler, more practical start.

The DIY venue in Asbury Park resembles an apartment without furniture, because, well, it is. Unfortunately, since the band’s performance, the venue has closed.

Manginelli recommends the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, a recent venue Killer Waves performed. “It’s an old favorite of mine, back when I first started playing music when I was a teenager. They book acts of all size. You can be a band that just started and you can still play on the same stage where Nirvana and The Bouncing Souls once played.”

He also recommends the Brighton Bar in Long Branch to new artists. “That's another place with a really cool atmosphere where all sorts of bands come through,” Manginelli said.

Other New Jersey venues include the Saint and Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, Dingbatz in Clifton, Mexicali Live in Teaneck, the Meatlocker and Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, Mill Hill Saloon in Trenton and the Northern Soul in Hoboken.

Manginelli has organized several line-ups for shows, including most recently, Life at Sea Festival. Often, especially at festival and other daylong showcases, other bands help each other out with equipment. Plus, it is always refreshing to see familiar faces. These relationships have the potential to last for years.

Manginelli adds, “In the end, that’s really what it’s all about … even if your band breaks up. I’ve been through a few bands so far and yeah, it’s not fun when they end, but you just have to keep playing, no matter what.”