concert reviews

Rye Coalition at the Black Cat, Washington, DC, Sunday 27 September 2004

Most bands at the Black Cat are booked for the appropriate stage. But sometimes shows are poorly placed, whether an uncomfortably packed Backstage set or -- as with the Rye Coalition concert on Sunday night -- a sparsely attended Mainstage booking. Likening the intimate setting to that of the TV show "Inside the Actors Studio," singer Ralph Cuseglio joked, "After the show, you can ask us questions about our craft."

Despite the low attendance, the New Jersey quintet rocked its heart out. The furious guitar attack from Herb Wiley, Jon Gonnelli and bassist Justin Morey was egged on by drummer David Leto's rabid percussion, in a set of pure muscle-rock that would have suited an AC/DC-style stadium crowd just as well as the mid-size rock club. In addition to older tunes such as "The Higher the Hair the Closer to God" and a speedy version of "Hot Strikes," the group tried out some songs from a forthcoming Dave Grohl-produced album.

Although the group paused for Cuseglio to sip a shot of Chartreuse given to him by a fan, its relentless sonic assault stayed at full force for the hour-long set. While much of the band's energy was lost in the wide gap between the stage and the scattered audience, there was some good news: that extra space gave the crowd ample opportunity for some vigorous head-nodding, which was as close as anyone got to dancing.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 28 September 2004
.: Selected discography: Jersey Girls (Rye Coalition, 2003); On Top (Rye Coalition, 2002); The Lipstick Game (Rye Coalition, 1999); Hee Saw Dhuh Kaet (Rye Coalition, 2004).