There was something electric in the air the evening of Friday, Feb. 18. Maybe it was from all the snow that has kept us inside for weeks on end, or maybe it was from all the people that don’t normally go out being somehow convinced to go to happy hour — but more realistically it’s because Snug Harbor had a legendary lineup of local bands that evening. Ramona Lane, Kingston Kane and Crimson Crush drew in the biggest Snug’s crowd since COVID-19 hit, and had their fans moshing and bar seats bouncing from the minute they took the stage until the minute they left.
For both Crimson Crush and Ramona Lane, the concert was historic for personal reasons. For Crimson Crush, the evening represented the last gig that they were going to play with their former lead guitarist, Matt Florio, who is leaving to focus on his solo career. “As much as we don’t want him to leave because of how talented and amazing he is,” says the band’s lead singer, Gabbi Bush. “I’m happy that he is doing something for himself. We still all get along really well, and, yeah, it’s going to be a little different without him since we’ve all been together for almost a year now, but I don’t think it’s going to impact us in a negative way. I feel like we’re all just going to keep playing the same way we know how.”
And boy, do they know how to play. Kingston Kane got the crowd warmed up, but Crimson Crush, taking the stage in all red vinyl and sequins, shredding Black Sabbath, had them sweating. “They’re the youngest, multiple-time-gig band in New Paltz, so they’re going to bring more energy and more people automatically,” says Crimson Crush’s social media manager, Jay Ausiello. “They’re the rookies; everybody loves rookies.”
They were definitely playing with the big kids that night. Both Ramona Lane and Kingston Kane have released original music on Spotify, something we, as avid fans, are still patiently waiting on from our beloved Crimson rookies.
However, with a set list consisting only of sing-along rock songs with driving baselines and face-melting guitar solos, like Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” Crimson Crush had the entire house chanting their name, not to mention their army of fans dancing so hard they were falling on stage. At Snug’s, where the crowd on any given evening ranges from young college students to townies who’ve been drinking there since they were in school, it’s difficult to find a sound that appeals to everyone’s taste, but Crimson Crush does a beautiful job blending punky, combustible and aesthetic energy with a still-original execution of that classic rock sound — perfect for the eclectic, quirky tribe that habituates on the patio out back each night.
We should expect their sound to change a bit in the coming months, as new lead guitarist, John Roy, steps up to the front lines from rhythm guitar and shows their rock-solid fanbase what he can do. His originals, which can range from soft melodies on the mandolin to stadium-size rock anthems, have already snuck their way into their set list from last semester’s gigs, but the band is aiming to provide even more content and sounds that speaks to John and their individuality. “I’ve never been lead guitar in a band before, so I think I’m ready for it. We’re definitely heading in a different direction. Writing music is gonna be a much bigger priority and for covers we’re thinking things more on the punky, hard-rock side,” said Roy. “It’s almost like we’re starting fresh so I’m excited for new possibilities. This band still has a ton of power left in it and I think we still have a lot more to give.”
For Kingston Kane, a similar emotional phenomenon as Crimson Crush took place. A post made on their Instagram four days ago reads, “It is in great sadness we must announce that our brothers in arms, Garlique DuPlantis and Johnny Lu will be departing from Kingston Kane to focus on other musical projects. It has been a tremendous privilege to share the stage with them, and we wish nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”
Johnny Lu, the former drummer of Kingston Kane, is a local legend, playing in many other bands including Screaming Meemies, Monarch and Madame Gazelle. His intensity and rhythm are certainly going to be missed by Kingston Kane, but he’s not going far; Monarch has been going out of town for gigs (for cooler venues, of course), with their next one being on March 18 in Highland Mills.
Kingston Kane has also announced that they will be taking a short hiatus while they try to find new members. The aforementioned Instagram post also reads: “If you or someone you know wants to shred with the Kings of Kane, our DMS are always open. Rock never sleeps!” That, it certainly does not.