Sunday, May 3, 2009

Across The River-verse:
The Tasty Coco Café & Lounge featuring Kim Pingul Caldwell, NJ
Thursday April 30, 2009
Review by Freddy Rodriguez

I was invited to The Tasty Coco Café & Lounge on Thursday for a night of “tasty, sexy, and delicious fun” as promoted on Facebook but was saddened to discover that my imagination got the better of me and was actually attending a night of acoustic music. Putting my disappointment aside for a while, I sat down at this cozy and inviting Essex County bean brothel (not too far from Caldwell College) to scan the menu’s tasty offerings which featured the interesting ‘Al Pacino Cappuccino’ (HOOHAH!). After fumbling through my wallet, I settled for the less expensive and the safe bet that is root beer.

The coffee house itself, on a stretch of Bloomfield Ave that screamed "Weekend Hangout", was attractive with its red and green hues, its wood floors and fancy tables, sugary sweet dessert menu, and comfy couches which made for a ridiculously great looking sit. As I sipped on my rooty beverage early in the evening, I was re-introduced to K-ROCK circa 2004. The first performer of the night, Jason Frankel, did a fine job but seemed to be fixated on playing commercial radio hits. A few songs on his set included Stone Temple Pilots “Big Empty”, Foo Fighters’ “Hero/Everlong” and a modest cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together”. His set was capped off with a random outburst on the mic: “I should write a song about anorexics because that’s where it’s at!” I believe the issue here was doing an acoustic set when one is obviously a ‘rocker’. Also disappointing was the tried and true act of a musician who just completed his/her set and leaves during the next performer’s set; an incorrigible & unforgivable act that continues to take place in shows throughout the land. Perhaps some legislation can be introduced to address this blatant violation of the musician’s code (if there is one).

Brandishing a guitar she says is “three times too big” for her (it really is a sight to see…), Kim Pingul took the stage afterwards. For someone who is not big into acoustic sets, I was pleased with Pingul’s. Her voice was beautiful, clear, and strong – an interesting contrast to the diminutive figure before me and her over-sized Takamine guitar. I appreciated the sense of humor and her take on relationships in her music, as her music subject deals with boys, being socially awkward, the search for true love, and the lack of “having game” (here here). Such evidence could be found on the song Socially Awkward (“These stories don’t mean anything unless you have someone to tell them to”) and Last Call. There is a slight “country-mixed-with-soul” tinge to her voice, and I really wish I could associate her voice with a popular artist, but the “He/She sounds like so-and-so” argument is a weakness I need to work on. Feel free to listen for yourself and offer your observations. My personal highlight of the evening was hearing Kim cover Metallica’s Unforgiven II which normally would seem completely out of place to the average audience, but, despite the annoying title (C’mon, do songs need sequels?) fit just fine with the rest of her set. It was a sweeter, warmer version of the Hetfield-written offering and was a favorite of mine that night (I am admittedly partial to metal and punk rock covers). Also enjoyable was the comedic Pingul/Chris Quiogue (her collaborator/ guitarist/friend) effort “March to the Beat of My Own Drum (a.k.a. the “What What” song)”, again showing the lighter side of Pingul’s singing/songwriting. The only knock on the evening was that the focus on performance seemed to wane as the evening drew to an end. However, being that the evening was a more intimate and casual gathering amongst friends, wandering customers and Tasty Coco employees (… or is it baristas?), it is easy to let her slide on this matter… just this one time. A genuine vocal talent, I hope to see and hear more of Kim in the future. Check her out!

In a nutshell, the desserts looked tasty, the venue provided a sexy atmosphere, and delicious fun was had at the Tasty Coco Thursday…. HOOHAH!

For more info and to hear her demo recordings, visit


Freddy Rodriguez said...

if it hasnt been done already, i should copyright "Bean Brothel".... featuring "Burlesque Coffee Brews" and Lusty Latte's.... yeah, there's a milliond dollar idea.

Stephanie Nikolopoulos said...

i was just about to say i love the "bean brothel" phrase!! you totally should open that cafe. i'd go there.

also, i didn't know this was kim's show. very cool. please tell her i say hi!!