Posted by: pop-break | November 28, 2011

Pop-Break Live: Hot Rod Circuit

jason kundrath reviews Hot Rod Circuit’s reunion tour stop at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J. …

Earlier this year, emo-rock pioneers Hot Rod Circuit surprised many fans when they announced an eight-date reunion tour, and when the band stopped at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., on Nov. 17, they commanded the sold-out crowd with the huge hooks, heavy guitars and relentless energy that made them a much-loved, and sorely-missed act.

Though the band officially broke up in 2007, the classic lineup featured on this tour -– singer/guitarist Andy Jackson, bassist/vocalist Jay Russell, guitarist Casey Prestwood, and drummer Mike Poorman — hasn’t played together since 2003. Fans of the band’s 2002 seminal album Sorry About Tomorrow were able to hear many of the band’s best songs in all of their glory performed by the original members. And while the set list featured many highlights from that album (opening with a ferocious version of “Now or Never”), the band treated its fans to material spanning their entire catalogue.

Casey Prestwood, Jason Russell, Andy Jackson, Mike Poorman.
Photo: Tim White

Sounding as powerful as ever before, Hot Rod Circuit blazed through super-charged renditions of songs from 2000’s If It’s Cool With You, It’s Cool With Me, including “Radio Song,” “Supersad,” and “Flight 89 (North American).” Jackson was aglow throughout the performance and thanked the adoring crowd several times for “being so awesome.” And the girl in the crowd who insisted on screaming for “Irish Car Bomb!” between every song (not so awesome, actually) eventually got her wish, as the band also played a couple of tunes from its 1999 debut If I Knew Now What I Knew Then.

Midway through the set, Jackson politely asked the crowd if they would mind if he and Prestwood could play a few songs on acoustic guitar. The crowd cheered in approval and were rewarded with a few intimate performances including a rousing take of “This is Not the Time or Place” from If It’s Cool.

Most surprisingly, however, was the band also played several songs from their two later albums –- 2004’s Reality’s Coming Through and 2007’s The Underground Is A Dying Breed. While Russell performed only on the former, Poorman didn’t perform on either album. But as Jackson explained in an interview he did for Pop-Break before the tour began, his bandmates insisted on playing all the material they liked, and not merely the songs they wrote and recorded. So the set also featured later-era Hot Rod gems such as “Inhabit” and “The Best You Ever Knew” from Reality and “Stateside” from Underground.

Although the band was selling a 7-inch record with a couple of excellent new tracks, it remains to be seen if this short reunion tour will lead to an officially-reunited and fully-energized Hot Rod Circuit in the future, with new albums and bigger tours on the horizon. What is clear, however, is this version of Hot Rod Circuit sounds positively electric, and if they do come back, the fans will be waiting.

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