Getting Uglie in Saratoga, The Bumpin Uglies Return to Putnam Place -By: Jetta Intelisano
Written by Staff on May 24, 2022
Anyone who knows me knows me knows I am a huge fan of the band Bumpin Uglies. The thing most people probably don’t know is why. Long before Bumpin Uglies played at Putnam Place, I was indoctrinated to the Uglies and “Uglies Nation” quite by accident. I entered a Facebook contest to see a local favorite, Victory Soul Orchestra at The Hollow in Albany, NY. My wife and I were excited to win the tickets and headed to the show, we later found that Bumpin Uglies were headlining the show and we were like, who?
Right away I was very intrigued by their gritty East Coast, Ska, Punk, Reggae vibe, but what really drew me in was the emotionally charged, and in your face lyrics by front-man Brandon Hardesty. No matter who you are or where you are from, you can find something in his stories told in song that is relatable. The other aspect that drew me in was the fans, their loyalty and support not only for the band, but of fellow fans was truly refreshing. This group is known as Uglies Nation. They have a fan group on Facebook that grows by the day and I was able to spend some time with them that first show at The Hollow. At the end of the evening, we noticed a group of friends trying to shoe-horn their friend into a car, with little success. My wife Kate and I decided to help them and met our future fellow Uglies in the process. We all were laughing so hard at their friend’s expense, who needless to say made a few “Bad Decisions” that night, this being one of the anthem songs of the Uglies Nation and we hold this statement as a badge of honor.
Fast forward a couple of years to the pandemic and many shows later, my wife was facing death from her illness in NYC at Mt. Sanai hospital. I had reached out to Brandon Hardesty, a/k/a B-Hard, to see if he would give a shout out to Kate during the live-stream he does every Tuesday night from the band’s YouTube channel and FB page, he immediately agreed, and dedicated a beautiful song named “End” right before her surgery. Kate was beaming when he called out her name. This solidified our loyalty and love for this band. Since then, Kate and I have been to many shows when she was feeling well enough to go out, we will even be spending our nine-year wedding anniversary with the Uglies at Reggae Rise Up in their home state of Maryland this July.
I felt it was important to let the readers know this aspect of BU, and the fans to really understand the strong connections we have with the band. On May 20th BU came back to one of my favorite local venues, Putnam Place. Upon the announcement of the show, I bought VIP tickets, which included a meet-n-greet with the band, photo session, and a private acoustic set with Brandon before the show. Kate, unlike myself, never really got to meet the band and I thought it would be special since it was her first Uglies show since her life-saving surgery. Brandon and fellow band-mates Dave Wolf (Wolfie) their bass master, T.J. Haslett on percussion, Ethan Lee Lichtenberger on the Keys and trombone, and Will Lopez on the saxophone welcomed us with open arms. After a little time, Brandon did a camp-fire-session on the patio of the Putnam with his acoustic guitar. Joe Iacovelli (Owner of Bangbox Percussion and affectionately known as BangBox Joe) sat in for a few songs playing the cajon drum his company makes. We were privy to some unreleased songs as well as B-Hard taking some fan requests. I asked for one of my favorites “When I Die” which is one of his folky songs about coming into fatherhood. We wrapped up the VIP session with tons of group and individual pictures with the band and a group photo with all the Uglies Nation members who showed up.
After working through the room, talking with some friends and catching up with some fellow Uglies I had never met in person, it was show time! Kate and I secured a spot on the rail as the band came out playing a crowd favorite, Grass is Greener off of the 2015 EP “Freakout Hell Bus”. The boys pumped out their larger-than-life set, whether at a festival, a large venue or a small bar they bring the fire. Following up other crowd favorites such as Radio from “Beast from the East” , Self-Loathing, Radio, Wild Girls, Instead, and many others. The crowd was pumped and dancing their asses off. Throughout the set Brandon would stop to really engage the crowd with his words of encouragement and sentiment that we will make it through, no matter what. This led to a song that many of us use to see past the bullshit of our problems and worries and see the positive side of life. “Optimism in F#” and the reassuring message is a favorite when you are down and out. It is an amazing acoustic song also off the 2018 album, Beast from the East, an album I always suggest to people for those hearing them for the first time. With lighters and cell phone lights illuminating the entire crowd, and with a few tears in the eye, everyone sang back the words to the band. They roused the crowd and then played, what many consider to be the anthem of Uglies Nation, “Bad Decisions” a kick-ass party song that most can relate to when you’ve had a bit too much liquor and excess, this writer included..lol. At the end of the show the band mixed with the crowd, we all stayed a while to reminisce with each other and talk about how excited we will be to see one another at the next show.
I have never had a bad experience with this crowd or band, so if you see them on a marquis and are like who the hell are the Bumpin Uglies? They are The Beasts from the East and are not a band you want to sleep on. You will experience an entire array of emotion, a sense of community, and a sense that no matter what life throws at you, we will get through it. As the BU song “All in Stride” tells us, “The splinter is the cost of the wood”. Those moments of joy would not be as sweet if we didn’t ever experience the difficult times.
Thank you to Bumpin Uglies, Uglies Nation, and all the staff at Putnam Place for an amazing time.