Asbury Lanes certainly sounds like a bowling alley, doesn’t it? Well, it is a bowling alley, but it is also so much more than that. In the past few years Asbury Lanes has also emerged as a major national venue in the underground music scene.
Attending a show at the Lanes is a unique experience, especially when one visits for the first time. The center lanes are replaced with a stage while artists set up their merch stands right near the front door. The cooks fire up the grill that offers a surprisingly wide variety of food and the bartenders prepare for the 21+ crowd to head their way as soon as the doors open. In a matter of hours, the Lanes becomes something entirely different than its original purpose.
I first attended a Lanes show last year to see Into it Over it’s headlining tour. Due to how intimately close the stage is to the audience, it’s not uncommon to find your favorite artists hanging around the venue as if they were another face in the crowd. I had the chance to meet Evan (Into it Over it) outside the venue before his show went on. We talked about the area (Evan being a New Jersey native) and other things like that year’s then-upcoming Skate and Surf Festival. I even got to show him the tattoo on my arm of Into it Over it’s first album cover and he showed me that he had the same tattoo on his wrist. It was a really awesome experience getting to connect with my favorite artist like that.
The show began with fantastic performances from support acts like A Great Big Pile of Leaves and The World is a Beautiful Place. During these acts, I started exploring other areas of the lanes and realized how using a bowling alley for shows provides a really great venue dynamic. The kitchen and the bar were both in the back of the venue and largely separated from the rest of the place. I ordered a classic New Jersey pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich and bought a couple beers without any crowd interference. The Lanes allows both rabid fans and casual listeners the space they need to do their thing.
Due to the Lanes small size, I also had the chance to fight my way to the front of the crowd when Into it Over it took the stage to close out the night. I remember Evan placed the power strip for his pedal board down in front of the monitors, looked at me, and said “Guard this with your life”. Safe to say, I complied.
The show ended following Into it Over it’s set. Everyone piled out to the small parking lot outside the venue and went back to their respective lives. Certainly, I can say that attending the show at the Lanes was the best musical experience of my life. Due to me splitting time in various parts of the state, I’m not always around the Asbury Park area to catch a show. Next time I’m in the area, I’m definitely going to stop back there and catch another show.