Dylan Wallace

Mom Jeans Surf the Jersey Shore

Music Scene Media
Mar 17, 2024
6 min read

Taking their LOUD EPIC EMO MUSIC tour through Sayreville, New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom, Mom Jeans arrived to a barrage of spray tans, stiff hair, and tank tops. Jarring if you don’t follow their Instagram, but it was part of their fan/band decided spirit week along their tour stops, with NJ being Jersey Shore (GTL) themed. This also meant the band, specifically bassist Sam Kless, would get waves of sunglasses, chains, and shirts thrown over them throughout the night, so much so that frontman Eric Butler would make fun of him for, “just collecting shit,” at this point. Bringing us into the night of fist-pumping and moshing would be the Los Angeles-based band, HUNNY.

I had first heard of HUNNY after hearing their hit song Halloween, a boppy indie-sounding jam with feel-good easy vocals, and there wasn’t a better way to start the night. Raising the energy immediately with JFK, I loved the vibe of their set from the beginning notes. The members were accompanied onstage by a zoo of stuffed animals, with Scooby-Doo and the Muppets’ Animal helping out on the drums, and a CRT TV playing looping anime throughout their set like subway surfers on long TikTok’s. In minutes, they took an entire ballroom and convincingly made it feel like the basement of a house show, bonding everyone in the crowd who would later get even closer by sending hordes of surfers over the barricades. I loved their performances of solo and Vowels (and the Importance of Being Me) respectively to close out their set.

Summer Salt would be taking the stage next, delivering a dreamy swaying sound that swept up the room. I always love watching their drummer, Eugene Chung, as his set sits in the front of the stage, giving a clear view of his performance between the beating of drums and the ringing of chimes. The four members have overflowing chemistry between them on stage, not going more than a song without walking into each other’s space, or out in front of the audience. I’d recommend their songs Sweet to Me and One Last Time, but I’d also be on the lookout for their new 7-track EP coming out this summer, a performance of the unreleased Poolside gave a fantastic first impression.

The night’s headliner, Mom Jeans, immediately commanded the energy of the room. The crowd was reaching over each other in waves before the lights could fully come on, and once they did, and their drummer, Austin Carango, smacked the first drum hit of What’s Up, the energy could not come down until they left the building.

New Jersey has a special love for the Midwest Emo genre. I attribute it to our pride in one of the biggest bands in the genre, The Front Bottoms, coming from our house in Northern Jersey, but we don’t mess around when it comes to whiny vocals about your girlfriend dumping you. Butler agrees, telling the crowd they were the “loudest anyone’s ever been…badass” after their performance of Death Cup, and no he definitely does not say that every night at every city, I know he meant it. And I mean it too! All the guys have a love for Jersey, seriously you can’t get Kless to stop talking about our bagels, but the love also comes from their 2022 album Sweet Tooth being written in New Jersey, which earned us a special dedicated performance of Hippo in the Water off of the album.

When I talk about the energy of the room, I don’t mean that the first three rows were crazy and the rest were standing still with phones above their heads, I mean they weren’t human. At some point, while I was leaving the photo pit to get back into the crowd, the crowd of orange leopard print-covered guidos morphed into an industrial conveyor belt of crowd surfers, machining out soldiers to send into the pit I had just escaped. You’d never expect it from the fanbase whose songs gave us lyrics like, “I’m still too skinny to hold all this weight on my own,” (Vape Nation), but I guess they found a way to hold the weight and toss it onto the person in front of them, again and again, for the entirety of the night.

Between songs, Butler also told the story of their first performance in Jersey, with the help of their guitarist Bart Thompson’s memory. The two recalled the six- or seven-year-old event, held in the bottom of someone’s house, more accurately, the emptied-out man cave of someone’s dad in Red Bank, NJ. If you were there, I’m beyond jealous and pissed at you, but that similar feeling was given with how energetic and physical the crowd was, opening circle pits at Kless’ command whenever he deemed necessary.

Their sound is really impressive live, and they know how to control the room, seeing Danger Can’t and Edward 40hands performed right in front of you is time-stopping. That emotion on stage carries on right through the crowd, yielding a full chorus chanting each word of each song right back in their faces. That was until Butler finally got his solo during the performance of an unreleased song from their unannounced upcoming album, and only cause the fans hadn’t yet learned it. It sounded up to par with the rest of their discography, stellar beat by Carango to get you moving with Butler’s great lyricism carrying you through. No introduction with a name I heard, so we’ll both be waiting to see what the rest of the album is like.

Maybe it’s the vulnerability of the music that melds the crowd together, but they just never let up. Seriously, the surfers stayed afloat until the encore. And that encore. If you don’t want spoilers get out of here now, but Scott Pilgrim v. My GPA is exactly what the tour is named after. LOUD EPIC EMO MUSIC. The song is very personal, vulnerable, and well…emo, which means every person in the room has their heart wrapped around it, myself included. Combine this with the closing of the night, a chorus made up of a chanting crowd of strangers, and Butler grabbing his trombone for its climax, yeah, I teared up. Every voice in the crowd got to join in one last expulsion of emotion before ending the night, cementing its place in all our brains for the rest of our overwhelming lives, and it was magic. Please go see them if you have the chance, I don’t want anyone missing that kind of fun, and with over half a tour left, I don’t want to hear any excuses.

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