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On October 26th, the scary, the undead, ghosts, ghouls, and countless goblins entered into Convention Hell to partake in a pre-Halloween party for the ages.  The legendary Convention Hall in Asbury Park was decked out with large spiders, skeletons and coffins, getting everyone in the Halloween spirit. The majority of attendees were in costume making it one hell of a scary concert.  

Taking on different legendary personas, local legends The Vansaders, Des & The Swagmatics, and Quincy Mumford opened the show for Connecticut's own - Kung Fu.  The Vansaders were first up and took the stage as British Rockers, The Clash. With their own rowdy punk rock style, they did quite a justice to "London Calling" as well as many of the band's classic hits. 

Des & The Swagmatics then joined in the party covering the legendary funk icon,  Rick James. Led by vocal powerhouse Deseree Spinks (dressed as Rick himself), The Swagmatics brought their own unique blend of funky rock and soul to all of Rick's biggest hits and really got everyone dancing with fan favorite, "SuperFreak"

Next up was Quincy Mumford as Prince. Quincy personified Prince to a tee, nailing the outfit, his moves, vocal style, as well as Prince's classic guitar shredding. Quincy (a NJ local), has been incorporating his own unique style of funk, soul, and R&B into his musical career and was the perfect vessel to rock out the late Prince's catalog of music for everyone to enjoy.  He played all the big hits, culminating the set with "Purple Rain" and finally ending with his funky rendition of "1999".  This one really got everyone moving, grooving, and shaking their booty's.

The headliners of Convention Hell was Kung Fu (who transformed into The Who for the evening's festivities).  Kung Fu formed in 2012, featuring Tim Palmieri (guitar & vocals), Robert Somerville (tenor sax & vocals), Beau Sasser (keyboards & vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar & vocals), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion).  The powerhouse quintet's live shows have been described by critics and fans alike as "lethal funk", "explosive", "jaw-dropping", and "musically mesmerizing".  The band blends together, rock, funk, jamtronica, and blues into this awe-inspiring experience you just have to go see. And for all those who were in attendance, we got to witness these guys taking on The Who's extensive catalog and it was simply amazing.

Kung Fu took the stage wearing cowboy hats as a tribute to country-rock legend Toby Keith (who randomly played with the band two nights before).  Kung Fu opened their set with a classic,  "I Can't Explain".  From that point forward, the band tackled The Who's big hits including "Pinball Wizard", "Drowned", "Baba O'Riley", "Eminent Front", "Who Are You" and ended the show with one of my favorites, "Won't Get Fooled Again".   Kung Fu wasn't messing around on Saturday night, channeling The Who's incendiary guitar solos, thunderous bass, rocking drums, and outstanding vocals for all to see.  For those who have followed The Who, they've always had an epic stage presence and were known for all kinds of onstage antics including destroying their instruments at the end of the show.  In classic Who style, guitarist Tim Palmieri and bassist Chris DeAngelis did exactly that, bashing their instruments into oblivion until eventually there was nothing left but pieces scattered across the  stage.  Upon conclusion of their final song (and instrument decimation), Kung Fu took one final bow before leaving the stage together.  The whole crowd was screaming and cheering for what turned out to be one epic performance.

Overall, Convention Hell was an major success. These regional acts came dressed to impress and gave homage to some of rocks biggest influences and legends. Their collective performances were incredible and cannot wait until next year's show.  I'm sure it will be even spookier and scarier than ever! 

Matthew Lang

Photojournalist - New Jersey

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