Garden State Radio is not only a band not-to-be-missed, it’s a concert experience not-to-be-missed. They play all the top hits and have the best lights in the business. They describe their show as the ultimate experience in sight and sound, an audio visual event like no other. They transform a venue’s atmosphere. Having seen a few GSR shows myself, this is an accurate description. This Friday and Saturday night at the Wobbly Barn they will blow the roof off and light it up, too!
GSR has been around for a number of years but really got cooking two years ago when Bobby August joined the band. They rotated their lineup before that, trying to find the right mix of people. This lineup is really good and everyone plays so well together. Besides August who plays bass, synths and sings lead, you have Kelly Caruso a former American Idol contestant on percussion and lead vocals, Nick Navarro on guitar and lead vocals and Ryan Kelly on drums and electronic mayhem. Some bands only have one lead singer, they have three!
I have seen Bobby August perform in Killington many times since 1996 at the Wobbly when he played in the Wallbangers Band. (That is still one of my favorite bands to ever play in Killington.) He followed that successful band with another, Lifespeed. While playing with them he joined Radio Nashville, which was GSR’s country band. He got to know GSR and really liked their work ethic and the way they played. He saw their potential and knew it was his time to make the move so he jumped ship.
“The chemistry was just there right away,” says August. “The band is doing great and it’s going on to be the most successful band of my career, which is crazy. I never expected it at this time. I thought the cover scene was over with but we’re proving it otherwise through a lot of hard work and cool ideas and it’s doing really well.”
Bobby August has been playing the bass since he was 17. He’s played in some original bands and was even signed to a record label back in the day but has since mostly done the cover scene. He enjoys a variety of music from Michael Jackson to the Muse.
“I respect all kinds of music and I like all different genres of music. I also like Avicii and Skrillex because what they do is an art form. So much goes into creating a song,” he said. When August first saw Gene Simmons spitting fire and blood he thought to himself, “Wow I want to do that.” Kiss was the first concert he saw and he always wanted to do a theatrical band, a band that has visuals. After Kiss, he started digging Guns ‘n’ Roses and Queen.
“At the end of the day I always like the bands that have a show that goes along with the song,” he said. The Wallbangers did a Kiss tribute at the end of their shows that was phenomenal and GSR is bringing it back but going to make it even better which I can’t wait to see.
The light show came about because Ryan Kelly always wanted to do a big one and August had wanted to do one with Lifespeed. “We decided when we got this lineup together that we wanted to go big or go home.” They’re not going home any time soon. They set out to be the band that when you walk into the club you feel like you’re in an arena size show.
I saw them perform at the Wobbly in January and during one of the songs they donned these electronic green masks with lasers and really blew me away. It was futuristic and reminded me of a high tech performance I saw on America’s Got Talent. Very impressive.
GSR plays about 200 shows a year and is now starting to write some originals to add to their vast list of covers.
“Kelly is a fireball on stage, she’s got some great energy, is a great singer and is so positive and then you have Nick who’s a monster guitar player but can also rap. No matter how busy the band is, everybody really cares and puts in the time to make it really great,” said August. “I’m so proud of the product. It’s the hardest working four people I’ve ever worked with. We don’t ever mail it in. If there’s ten people there we’re playing as if there’s ten thousand. We always want to put on a good show and we mix it up nightly. You’ll never hear the same song order from night to night. What you hear on Friday night at the Wobbly, you’re going to hear a lot of different stuff on Saturday. You can come see us twice and hear 25 different songs.”
August loves to sing and says he still does it because, “I love the interaction with people and the reaction you get from them, the give and take thing. I guess just like any performer gets but it always comes down to the people for me. We kind of let people forget about what’s going on with themselves and just making sure that they have a great time.”
By Dave Hoffenberg