Skip to content

The Milwaukees, Small AM, Ben Trovato, and The Mellowtraumatics at Maxwell’s: 2/21/09 Hoboken, NJ

February 24, 2009

The Mellowtraumatics at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

The Melody Bar. The Court Tavern. Plum Street Pub. My college years were filled with late nights and local rock. The Court Tavern was my favorite place in town, but I probably spent the most time watching bands at The Budapest Cocktail Lounge. At the end of school, my husband-to-be Jonathan Andrew played in a band called The Angry Monsters. The Monsters played with all the great bands in town and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time immersed in New Brunswick rock.

Members of a few of these bands had a reunion show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ on Saturday night.

First up was the female-fronted quartet The Mellowtraumatics, a late-90s band which boasted two future Jersey rock powerhouses. Front-chick and rock vixen Christina Alessi would go on to greater success with Hoboken-based combo Hey Tiger, who self-released the successful debut September and subsequently opened for Bon Jovi at Giants Stadium (which I photographed – woo hoo!). After the break-up of The Mellowtraumatics, guitarist and riffmaster Pete Marceau went on to join Hero Pattern and prove to be the missing piece this promising band needed in order to take the next step – a number of well-received indie releases and a handful of get-in-the-van tours across the country. The reunited-for-one-night-only band closed their set of funky and atmospheric tunes with their classic “Stalker”, much to the delight of the Mellowtraumaniacs in attendance.

Christina Alessi at the Mellowtraumatics reunion in Hoboken NJ

The Mellowtraumatics at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Christina Alessi at the Mellowtraumatics reunion in Hoboken NJ

The second act of the night were Manalapan natives Ben Trovato, who formed in high school in the late 1990s aand hadn’t performed together for nearly a decade. On Saturday night, they were back to their old tricks- frequent tempo chances, spastic riffing, and heart-on-their-sleeves high school poetry. The band is fronted by the multi-talented Val Emmich, who is once again releasing music independently after Slow Down Kid, his major-label debut on Sony Records in 2004. Emmich can also be seen on the small screen on shows such as Ugly Betty, 30 Rock, and Cashmere Mafia. Ben’s set was the truest time capsule of the night; hearing them brought me back to late nights at the Budapest Lounge, when they played with such New Brunswick luminaries as The Angry Monsters, The Rosemary Pure, and frequent guests from DC, Anne Summers.


Val Emmich at the Ben Trovato reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Val Emmich at the Ben Trovato reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Third out of the gate was the band who organized the event, Small AM. Formed in Sparta, NJ in the late 1990s under the name Wisemaster Joshu, the band evolved from a jangly, rootsy quintet into a double-guitar rock powerhouse, taking equal doses from international supergroup Radiohead and local legends Prosolar Mechanics. After several years gigging on the local scene, Small AM released their self-titled full-length debut in 2002 on local label Childlike Records. Reuniting for the first time in 5+ years were vocalist/guitarists Jim Fitzgerald and Damien Musto, bassist Jim Lovegrove, and drummer Ralph Capasso. Opening the set with standout “Heather”, the band tore through the majority of their self-titled album, including a bruising rendition of “Anyway”, a few unreleased numbers from a never-completed follow up, and an outstanding new song entitled “The Starting Line”. They ended with the perennial set-closer “Perfect Day”, repeating the signature closing riff until band and crowd alike were sated.

Small AM reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Small AM reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Small AM reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Small AM reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

Small AM reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ

Jonathan Andrew: Small AM Superfan

Closing the night was the reunited original lineup of Jersey mainstays The Milwaukees. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of their classic breakthrough record Missile Command, Milwaukee-in-Chief Dylan Clark was joined by the original rhythm section of bassist Dave “Posty” Post and drummer Scott Pohlman. The band tore through songs from their early period with the energy and passion for which they’ve been known throughout the local scene for the last decade plus.

Set List

The Milwaukees reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

The Milwaukees reunion at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ

By Sarah & Jonathan Andrew

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sheeda permalink
    November 9, 2009 9:11 am

    Hey Sarah,

    I’d love to get permission from you to put up the photos that you took of Val Emmich in this event on my Val Emmich fan site. You will be fully credited, of course. Please let me know. 🙂


    • February 2, 2010 8:56 pm

      Hi Sheeda,

      You may post the credited photos on your site. Thanks for asking!

      – Sarah

  2. February 2, 2010 8:53 pm

    Hi Sarah, I just came across this article you wrote. This reunion show sounds like big fun, even though I guess it took place almost a year ago now! Really appreciate all your kind words about the Budapest and the New Brunswick scene of that era, in which I played a part. all the best to you and Jon! -Mike Doktorski


  1. Sarah K. Andrew: 2009- A Year in Photos « Rock and Racehorses: The Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: