Words by Nick Hodgins
Photo of Geoff Rickly by Dani Fresh

The Van’s Acoustic Basement Tour made a stop at the Wonderbar in Asbury Park this past weekend before heading over to Boston to wrap up the 23 day excursion. The tour featured Geoff Rickly, Vinnie Caruana, A Loss for Words, Koji, and Brian Marquis.

Entering its 19th year, The Van’s Warped Tour is constantly growing and finding new ways to present music at the festival. After the breakup of his band Therefore I Am, Brian Marquis approached tour founder Kevin Lyman in 2011 with the idea for an acoustic stage. The Acoustic Basement made its debut this past summer before branching off into a standalone tour along the east coast.

“I think people really connected with the stage on Warped because it offered a raw and honest performance experience. There were no amps or band to hide behind – it was just the artist and their song, their story,” Marquis is quoted saying on the tours page.

Marquis took the stage first Friday night. A complete 180 from Therefore I Am, Marquis shows off a calmer attitude and demonstrates just how well he can handle the acoustic side. With a six song set, the tour founder spent the least amount of time on stage before passing the spotlight off to his fellow tour mates, but not before first reminding the audience to “tip your bartenders.”

Following Marquis was Koji. Koji has worked as an artist and activist for years and brings a message along with his music. “I sing because words like peace, love and harmony aren’t said enough from where I’m standing,” he preached to the audience mid-set. Koji has a raw, earnest style and was a solid addition to the night’s performances.

After an initial listen, A Loss for Words may not seem they type to take it down a notch from their upbeat pop-punk selves, but fit in surprisingly well in an unplugged setting. The band has two full length albums out and last year demonstrated their range with the release of an acoustic EP titled Returning to Webster Lake.

Vinnie Caruana, formerly of pop-punk band The Movielife and currently lead singer for I Am the Avalanche, has also just put out an acoustic solo EP titled City by the Sea. The upbeat instrumentals and throaty vocals make Caruana perfect for a tour like this.

Geoff Rickly is best known as the frontman for post-hardcore band Thursday. Rickly was giving his music away on the tour, telling the crowd, “I’m honestly just sick of selling music, so I just want to make music and give it to you.” He suggested donating the money instead to hurricane relief or supporting the other artists on the tour. These days the Jersey local can be found singing mellower, self-reflective tunes, while still making sure to include a few Thursday classics.

The Van’s Warped Tour, Acoustic Basement included, will be heading cross country for yet another summer. The tour will make stops in the tri-state area this July, tickets and dates can be found on the official Van’s Warped Tour page.


TheWaster.com | Asbury Park