Arts & Culture Community

Rent Party Wraps Up 8th Season with 3 Great Bands on June 9

Since October 2009, the local not-for-profit Rent Party has presented live music events, with the proceeds supporting hunger fighting initiatives in Maplewood and South Orange.

Rent Party cofounder Chris Dickson is the first to admit that, yes, Season 8 of SOMA’s “favorite live music series” was pretty darn special. “There were so many highlights,” said Dickson. “Besides welcoming Jesse Malin and Wanda Jackson to the Rent Party stage for the first times, we were delighted to bring The Feelies back. Season 8 also saw the celebration of our 100th show! So, yeah, it was a good year,” said Dickson.

Rent Party is a once a month live music event at The Woodland. The proceeds from these shows help fight hunger in Maplewood – South Orange. Rent Party supports three local food pantries. Rent Party also built and maintains a large community garden on the front lawn of the South Orange Elks that raises fresh produce for the pantries. Their BackPack Pals program provides a weekend’s worth of nutritious food to about 100 food-insecure kids in our schools.

Season 8 also saw the expansion of Rent Party’s contribution to the community. “This year we began funding lunch accounts in our schools, making sure that kids who are in-need are not turned away or embarrassed at lunchtime because of deficit in their account,” said Rent Party cofounder David Wagner. “This is an initiative that dovetails nicely with our BackPack Pal program and we’ve been able to donate more than $3, 000 so far,” added Wagner. “We were also able to make a donation to help kick-start the RUN Pantry at Rutgers – Newark.” Read more about that here.

Dickson is confident that Friday’s show is going to be a proper send-off for this season. “We’re very excited about Friday’s show. Three great bands that you don’t want to miss,” said Dickson.

Making their Rent Party debut, is The Vines of Hoboken. Originally formed in 1980, The Vines were heavily inspired by Let’s Active and R.E.M. along with classic 60s rock (The Beatles, The Byrds). They had Jangle Pop sound that reflected the quiet introspective of the late 1980s. The Vines became a part of the growing music scene in Hoboken and New York City.

Next up is a Rent Party repeat offender: Elk City. The New York Times said, “Elk City’s cool and elegant sound draws on 1980s “dream pop” and bits of 1960s folk-rock.” And The Village Voice added, “Renée LoBue’s voice is astounding! She has incredible range and sounds like a female Bowie engaged in a three-way with Hope Sandoval and Patti Smith.”

Closing the show is another Rent Party favorite, The Defending Champions. The Jersey Rock Review recently said of The Defending Champions, “”The Defending Champions are what is needed in popular music today. The band brings intriguing depth and stylish breadth to each and every one of its songs. Their latest album called “Of The Legend Convention” is a perfect example of the coolness that is The Defending Champions.”

The last Rent Party of Season 8 takes place this Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at The Woodland, 60 Woodland Road, Maplewood. Minimum donation $10.

Rent Party Pantry is a 501(c)(3). For more information and a schedule of shows, visit

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