The Stone Pony ‘showcase’ a great mix of area bands

Live Review

Free the Witness. Photo by Jeff Crespi.

By Jeff Crespi, Rock At Night New Jersey

Live Review: Oddly Casual, Free the Witness, Cigarette Youth, and Return to Reason at the Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ-January 29, 2023

Cigarette Youth. Photo by Jeff Crespi.

Showcase shows and battle of the band shows have been given a bad rap over the years as bands and music fans feel they are nothing but a money grab for the venues. I have been involved with many of them in many different venues put on by many different promotors. My take on them as a fan of music is that they bring out some very amazing talent that is just trying to get their name out there and I am okay with that. These shows have given me a lot of different musical tastes to enjoy. I’ve been very fortunate to always have an open mind when it comes to music so I could appreciate all kinds. As a photographer the visuals of a lot of these bands are incredible so it’s like a dream come true when musically and visually, they come together. They are usually long days or nights of typically 8 to 10 bands playing shorter than normal sets.


Return to Reason. Photo by Jeff Crespi.

attle of the band shows are mostly for prize packs or a chance to be part of an upcoming festival. Showcase shows are usually for a chance to play on some upcoming bigger shows for that venue. Are these shows for everyone, absolutely not but they are a great way to see what your made of. I’m a true believer in showing something to get something. So, I have no problem investing time and some money to prove your worth. It is a financial gain for the promoters and venues–yes–but as long as those promoters give you what’s promised then it’s worth the risk. I’ve noticed that the bands that always play basements and very small places with very few people are in attendance are the ones who bash these types of shows. In reality it’s because they can’t get many people out to their shows.

Please enjoy some photos I have recently taken at some Sunday showcase shows at The Stone Pony. Keep in mind that this is a legendary venue where the biggest names in the world have played and still do.
Bands featured:
Oddly Casual
Free the Witness
Cigarette Youth
Return to Reason


Jeff Crespi

Forest Live Festival – UK

Forest Live Festival – UK