Rocks Off Concert Cruises take place each summer aboard two boats, Half Moon and The Temptress; Half Moon docks on the East River at 23rd Street (just north of Stuyvesant Cove Park), while The Temptress docks on the Hudson River at 41st Street. Both head south, going under such bridges as Brooklyn (Half Moon) and George Washington (The Temptress), before circling around the Statue of Liberty and heading back. The trips take approximately three hours.
The larger Temptress has two levels, with the stage and open-air deck on the first level. The second level is actually more of a balcony, encircling the stage floor and overlooking the stage. The stage floor and open-air deck on the smaller Half Moon is located on the second level; indoor is really just the top of the boat with a sophisticated tent/tarp above it; the windows are clear plastic that can be rolled up and down. Both boats have two levels, with a bar, buffet, bathrooms, and tables on the bottom level, along with two staircases on either end. For both, the stage is really just a portion of the indoor floor of that level, with the performers on the same level as the crowd. While the crowd is capable of creating a semi-circle around the band, giving more viewpoints, the lines of sight behind that initial circumference of people are poor (especially on The Temptress, as either end of the semi-circle is beneath the low ceiling). The sound system isn’t as bad as you might think, but the equipment is limited (and the bands usually share amps and central portions of their drum kits). While there is some queasy shaking aboard the boat when in port, it lessens the farther it goes out, to where is it relatively minor for most of the actual trip (apart from the occasional large wave). The view of New York is also quite impressive, headlined by The Statue of Liberty (which usually first appears in between the opener and headliner), and, thanks to the darker skies upon returning, the return trip sees a different, nighttime lights New York City.
As befits a souped-up ‘booze cruise’, the acts that play Rocks Off Concert Cruises are much more in the straight-up rock ‘n’ roll vein, and the excursions from that tend towards the more upbeat, like ska, pop-punk, and dance-soul (it also features a number of tribute bands). It’s definitely not a hipster-type place – the cheapest beers are Bud and Bud Light, not Pabst Blue Ribbon. Thanks to being such an unusual venue, the Concert Cruises bat above their weight in all manners – the real bands are bigger than the capacity of the boat, but the ticket and drink prices are higher (though a wide range of drinks are available). It can create quite an intimate feel with the bands, as the musicians are just standing around on the boat when not playing or preparing, and at the same level as the crowd when performing, with the stage floor crowd also not that thick, because many people are on the boat just for the cruise. However, it can also be a tight fit with poor lines of sight and a crowd that can spill over into the band, if not held back by security. Not a ‘must see’, but certainly an interesting experience (especially the first time) and a unique way to see a band.
Capacity: 200 (Half Moon); 500 (The Temptress)
East River @ 23rd Street (Half Moon); Hudson River @ 41st Street (The Temptress)
4 & 6 trains to 23rd St. – walk 7 blocks east to the river (Half Moon)
N & % trains to 23rd St. – walk 8 blocks east to the river (Half Moon)
A, C, E, N, Q, R, S, 1, 2, 3, 7 & 9 trains to 42nd Street/Port Authority – walk 5 blocks west to the river, turn left (The Temptress)
-Apollo Sunshine, August 5th, 2008 (The Temptress) – photos
Electric Six – “I Buy the Drugs”, New York, NY, 8/14/08
Electric Six – “Dance Pattern”, New York, NY, 8/14/08
Fastball – “Out of My Head”, New York, NY, 5/31/08
Fastball – “You’re an Ocean”, New York, NY, 5/31/08
Fastball – “Fire Escape”, New York, NY, 5/31/08