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Review: Zumiez Couch Tour 2013 (w/ Awolnation & Ninjasonik) @ Pier 26


By: Terrance Pryor

What better way to spend a beautiful Tuesday afternoon than with some skateboarding and live music? The 2013 Zumiez Couch Tour made its way to Hudson River Park's Pier 26 and delivered some great skateboarding from the Neff skate team with DJ Chris Karns and Brooklyn's own Jasmine Solano spinning tunes all day. There was also the Best Foot Forward skate competition, which brought out everyone from 12 year olds to an impressive skater riding with a broken hand.

Ninjasonik and skate parks seem to go hand in hand. At last year's Afro Punk Festival, the Brooklyn hip-hop duo performed at the skate park instead of the main stage. This time around, they had the big stage all to themselves and a few of their friends. Along with DJ Akimoto, Ninjasonik, comprised of Telli Gramz and Reverend McFly, got the entire crowd fired up during their chaotic set. Telli held things down with his smooth stage swagger while Reverend McFly screamed in the mic on certain occasions and even managed to bust out the harmonica. The weatherman said it was gonna rain and he was correct; winds and some light rain made the free cap giveaways very difficult during "Turned Up". Telli told the youngsters in the crowd to cover their ears during "Bars", a song that pronounced their Brooklyn lifestyle with the infectious hook of "We hang in bars/we don’t do clubs/drink PBRs/and do drugs/no chains and studs/just tats and plugs".

Halfway through the set, Ninjasonik introduced fellow Brooklyn hip-hop group GoonBurg (which consists of Manolo Iceberg, 71ocho & Loyalty) and let them show the crowd what they're capable of. While it was courteous of Ninjasonik to give the group a chance to shine, their excessive use of profanity forced the sound guy to cut off their mics at one point. "Who is into punk music, New York City?", Telli said before going into a track filled with fast & pulsating drums that inflamed a monstrous mosh pit reaching both sides of the crowd. It was so nice, they had to play it twice as the mosh pit reopened for more carnage. Following their cover of  House of Pain's "Jump Around" was the track "Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant" with some laughable onstage banter between Telli & Reverend McFly. With two mics in hand, Telli bopped around during the final track "Daylight", a remix of the catchy Matt and Kim track of the same name, which very apropos for an event like the Zumiez Couch Tour.

Awolnation mastermind Aaron Bruno has been in the music game for quite some time fronting post-grunge act Home Town Hero and indie rock band Under The Influence of Giants over the years. Luckily, Red Bull Records got a hold of the Los Angeles frontman and Awolnation was born. Along with longtime friend and Home Town Hero/ U.T.I.O.G. guitarist Drew Stewart, Awolnation's debut album Megalithic Symphony dropped in 2011 bringing the triple platinum single "Sail" to the masses.

Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" came on to signal Awolnation's arrival and had the crowd swaying their hands from side to side. Kicking things off with "Guilty Filthy Soul", Awolnation kept those swaying hands visible before going into the song "People". "We came to have a dance party, ladies and gentleman. You can dance where you wanna dance, move how you wanna move as long as you're nice to your neighbor", Aaron said before playing "Not Your Fault". Obviously, the audience was ahead of him on that note. Aaron knew a thing or two about dancing as he moved his arms around & emitted enough "woos" in the mic to almost put Ric Flair to shame.

Keyboardist Kenny Carkeet stepped away from the keys for a bit during "Jump On My Shoulders" but managed to pull double duty for the following number "Kill Your Heroes". Aaron asked the crowd to put their arm around the person next to them before heading into "All I Need", a piano driven number which found the vocalist telling the crowd, "It feels good to love somebody today". The vocalist strapped on the guitar for the song "Some Kind of Joke", which was capped off with a crunchy breakdown.

When Kenny played the opening notes to "Sail", a salvo of approval rang from the crowd. Towards the end of the song, Aaron left the stage for a moment to let the rest of his band mates send it home with their eminent musicianship. The vocalist returned to the stage to end the set with "Burn It Down", a tune that managed to get some circle pits and hand claps going after Aaron stated, "Last chance to sweat". Well, the crowd was already sweaty from the blistering sun all day, but for them it was worth it to rock out to Awolnation.