The Stone Pony Asbury Park Reviews
Back in the Saddle Dec 30, 2014
Despite legendary status, we are fortunate the Stone Pony is still around. History repeats itself, and when the Stone Pony first opened for business in 1973, it was within a former restaurant that went out of business five years earlier. The venue proved successful, noted for hosting vintage “Jersey Shore” bands including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Although the Boss remained true to his roots and played the Stone Pony frequently (including surprise performances), it should be pointed out he didn’t start here. His first popular album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” was released before the Stone Pony opened its doors.
Regardless, promotion gained from hosting acts on the rise created a legacy, though the going was still rough. The Stone Pony closed briefly in the early 1990’s (due to lawsuits involving drunk driving) and again at the end of the same decade. It actually opened and closed several times over the next couple years, ultimately rescued by fans and musicians who funded major renovations. Armed with the latest in sound and lighting equipment and adorned with walls of rock’n roll memorabilia, the Stone Pony re-opened Memorial Day, 2000 and has been going strong ever since.
This felt like visiting a shrine, and a lovely one at that. There is definitely a grunge factor and it really is a glorified big bar at the end of the day. The top shelf electronics, walls dripping with autographed guitars and playbills, and great acts all contribute to a worthy legacy, however. I can tell you they are not sitting on the laurels. The place was packed for Television (who put on a truly phenomenal, memorable performance!), but effective management prevented the crowd from presenting the usual problems. There are three bars spaced out so service was speedy the whole night (two of the bars are quite large and all well-staffed). Security staffing was quite beefy (in number and size) and constantly circulating to ensure nobody got out of hand.
Despite state-of-the-art lighting, the roadies managed to black the stage out for abut thirty seconds immediately after Television began performing. Tom Verlaine, the brilliant guitarist and elder statesman of the group, humorously commented immediately afterwards that he would appreciate it if they didn’t touch the controls any more – and they didn’t! So a rather bland light show, though Tom graciously thanked the crew and apologized for being stern when they returned for an encore.
A remarkable venue preserving musical heritage and splendidly serving up top notch performances. Make your pilgrimage soon!
Part of the Home for the Holidays travel blog
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