By JACQUELIN VOEGTLIN
On October, 25th, 2008 Michele Cocagna and family brought the rock back to Vineland, New Jersey. Hangar 84, concert venue and music studio, opened to a packed house, drawing fans from as far as Colorado and Iowa. This was a sure sign that Michele Cocagna, owner of Hangar 84, put together an excellent lineup. With acts like The Crosstown Rivalry, a fairly new, up and coming pop punk band, the old but beloved Moneen, Anthony Green, and headliner Saves the Day, she couldn’t go wrong.
On the front line, fans from 15 to 27 years old danced, moshed, and surfed the crowd showing their appreciation. There is a common misconception The backstage buzz was entertainingly positive. Band members from The Crosstown Rivalry and Saves the Day mingled behind the scenes raving about the new venue.
The weather was less than desirable that evening, but the line to enter ran around the building. One cold and wet fan said that this was his 47th time seeing Saves the Day. This separates Hangar 84 from any music venue Cumberland County currently has to offer. Lawrence Theckston, front man of The Crosstown Rivalry said, “I absolutely loved the venue, it is definitely the best thing Vineland has to offer and I would love to play there again. The staff was very accommodating.” Cocagna’s ability to bring such large acts to the corner of 6th and Elmer street has been no easy feat, but has paid off. Hangar 84 has what the Vineland coffee houses lack: sufficient space, and a design reminiscent of Philadelphia venues such as The Theatre of Living Arts and the Trocadero.
Space and design aside, the concert itself did not fall short of anyone’s expectations. While speaking of Anthony Green’s solo performance, Nick Seabock of Mauricetown, said “The fact that he is now doing his own thing, separate from Circa Survive is interesting and different. I love it!” Anthony Green’s name was on everyone’s lips that evening, and his performance more than satisfied his fans. Word spread quickly when Green arrived, and fans were utterly star struck as he set up to sound check. “Oh my God, Anthony Green’s here! I can’t believe he is just behind those doors. This is amazing!” These comments flew about the venue from inside the box office to the wet outdoors, where fans waited eagerly to enter.
Doors opened at 6:30 p.m., and the ecstatic crowd poured in. The once empty venue boomed with movement and noise. Some fans set up house directly in front of the stage, while others chose to stand and mingle with friends. The show began and Hangar 84 was packed with smiling and enthusiastic music lovers.
The first act to hit the perfectly set up stage was The Crosstown Rivalry, winners of the Battle of the Bands contest. Through this contest, they were selected to open the show for Saves the Day. Theckston said “It was an honor, almost surreal to open for Saves the Day. I mean, this is a band that we’ve been listening to for years; they got us into what we do now-performing.” They did a stellar job, and started the night off with a bang. According to the members of The Crosstown Rivalry, the crowd’s response was incredible and more than they’d expected. The fan’s energy ran high throughout Moneen’s performance as well; a pool of bodies bounced up and down, with arms flailing, and mouths wide open.
At 9 p.m., the much anticipated Saves the Day performance began and the fans were clearly stoked. The crowd shouted word for word, every lyric that Chris himself sang. The band revisited old tunes like “Tomorrow Too Late,” much to the crowd’s liking. The vibe was incredible as they rocked the stage, and they sounded just as they do on their studio recordings, which is a tough element to master for any musician.
Earlier that afternoon, Saves the Day’s sound check was anything but routine. The band ran through certain songs over and over again, ensuring they’d put on an incredible show. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Chris Conley, hit notes that even I, a female, can not hit! He pulled it off beautifully, as David Soloway, second vocalist and guitarist; bassist Manuel Carrero; and drummer Durijah Lang also perfected their expertise as musicians.
Saves the Day hails from Princeton, New Jersey and didn’t necessarily plan on becoming the band that they are today. For one year they were students at New York University, and in 1998 started a tiny side project, simply playing around campus. Soon after, they managed to draw a huge following and decided to take a year off from school. Suffice to say, they never looked back and have no regrets! Their new album, “Under the Boards,” is now in stores, and a few tracks can be listend to on their Myspace site: http://www.myspace.com/savestheday.
All in all, October 25th’s concert at Hangar 84 was an incredible success. The fans, musicians, and staff were thrilled that evening. Every band agreed wholeheartedly that the venue is an excellent addition to Vineland, New Jersey, and will reestablish the lost music scene. A huge point of interest for the performers that evening was the fact that Michele Cocagna allows each band to keep 100% of their profits from merchandise sales. Michele knows how rare this is but believes that “…it is the only way to treat your guests. My son is a musician and I know how the industry works, how hard it can be.” Booking and upcoming concert information can be found at www.hangar84.com and www.myspace.com/hangar84.
First published in The Grapevine.