Sea.Hear.Now Gave Asbury Park Lots Of Extra Music Treats A Drop In By Bruce Springsteen and Other Collaborations Highlight Day 2
ASBURY PARK, NJ- Day two of the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now. Festival was about to get under way making me wonder how it could possibly compare to day one, but as the day progressed rumor of a special guest spread across the festival grounds creating a sense of anticipation.
The line-up for day two included Deal Casino, The Parlor Mob, The Original Whalers, Nicole Atkins, Rayland Baxter, Lettuce, Langhorn Slim and the Lost at Last Band, The Menzingers, Kaleo, G. Love & The Special Sauce,The Front Bottoms, Milky Chance, Social Distortion, Twin Peaks and headliner Jack Johnson . Also on tap, pro surfing and local art work.
The Original Wailers took the stage and immediately asked if weed was legal in New Jersey, the question seeming moot by the amount of bud fired up, but hey, it’s a Wailer’s gig! With the smell of ganja in the air, The Origial Wailers transformed the beach into a Jamaican reggae dance party playing iconic songs like “I Shot the Sheriff “ and “Three Little Birds”, bringing the crowd to life.
The Original Wailers are Al Anderson on guitar, Chet Samuel on vocals and guitar, Omar Lopez on bass Pappa Nyarkoh on drums and Noel Aiken on keyboards. The Wailers were a great addition to the festival, bringing the typical up-tempo reggae beats and laid-back attitude to the beach in Asbury Park and played well with the overall surf, music art theme.
Local singer songwriter Nicole Atkins returned home to Asbury Park on Sunday, much to the delight of her fans. Atkins who was born in Neptune NJ, relocated to North Carolina soon after graduating High School to pursue her education and music. Influenced by 50’s crooner style music as well as psychedelia Atkins possesses a style all to herself.
Atkins and her band mates took the stage wearing identical black shirts with the word “Goodnight” across the chest, promoting their latest album “Goodnight Ronda Lee”. Atkins, as an artist, reached deep inside herself in a very personal way when crafting her latest album. The reference to Ronda Lee is really a reference to herself, with the album representing her overcoming alcohol and other personal issues, Atkins clearly showing a vulnerability and strength through song.
Nicole had a joyful reunion with her Asbury Park fans who clearly missed this talented singer songwriter. Atkins’ performance was moving, with her dreamy but slightly raspy vocals complimented by her band’s tight playing. She played a nice mixture of songs including the title track from her new album “Goodnight Ronda Lee” and “A Night of Serious Drinking“ leaving her fans wishing for more.
Tom May of the Menzingers burst onto the stage, running straight to the microphone screaming, “What the fuck is going on Asbury Park?” with the band launching raucously into the title track of their latest studio album “After the Party. It was game on.
The Menzingers are no strangers to Asbury Park. Having a much-deserved fantastic reputation for banging live shows, this band is very popular here. The Menzingers are Tom May on guitar and vocals, Greg Barnett on guitar and vocals, Eric Keen on bass and Joe Godino on drums.
Menzinger shows are an electric environment fueled by the bands classic punk style. Taking no prisoners, they’re a security guy’s nightmare of crowd surfers, stage divers and insane mosh pits. This is the kind of environment a Menzingers gig deserves, and as I look back at the crowd, I saw fists in the air and was overcome by the deafening sound of the crowd screaming the words of every song.
The Menzingers covered a lot of ground during their set including “Your Wild Years,” “Tellin Lies,” “House on Fire,” and the crowd fave “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”. When their set was over, fans left sweaty, tired and bruised up, with more than a few needing a few Advil’s.
Kaleo- the Icelandic rock band known for its soulful sound- graced the sands of Asbury Park on Sunday, bringing a high energy set. Kaleo, truly walks the lines of its genre, at times being a full-blown rock outfit, and at other times having a mellow folky vibe.
Kaleo has only been a band since 2012 but has accomplished quite a lot in a short amount of time, including a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance in 2017. Let’s not forget that their album A/B has sold almost one million records globally.
Kaleo opened up with “All the Pretty Girls” off the bands standout album A/B, a song of sadness, compassion and hope with an almost eerie acoustically driven spiritual delivery, that had a reflective / silencing kind of effect on the crowd. I found Kaleo to be an incredibly stylistically diverse band, going from song to song having a completely different sound, from the bluesy guitar work and vocals of “Broken Bones” to the rocking beats and driving guitars of “Hot Blood” and “No Good” this band is truly special.
G Love and The Special Sauce could be considered a local band in these parts. Formed was formed in 1993 in Boston but calls Philadelphia its home. G. Love’s music is self-described as sloppy, laid back and bluesy with a bit of R&B thrown into the mix for good measure, but all of Asbury Park was digging his vibe. The “Special Sauce” includes “G Love” Dutton on guitar and vocals, Jeff “The Houseman” Clemens on drums and Jim “Jimmy Jazz” Prescott on upright bass.
G Love’s set started with a cover of “Gone Up Country” by Canned Heat, a 1920’s blues tune considered a rural hippie anthem of sorts. It has a toe tapping tempo dominated by the distinct upright bass lines of Jim Prescott that the crowd couldn’t resist moving too. G. Love and The Special Sauce are a basic recipe of warm bass lines, tight drum beats and sweet vocals; not to complex or complicated, just fun.
Love played a mix of classic jams, older, newer and covers tunes, really connecting with the large crowd, including “Astronaut,” Baby’s Got Sauce” and a cover of Paul Simons “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” that had the crowd singing along. G. Love delivered a great set of bluesy, soulful music, and I for one couldn’t get enough of Jimmy Jazz on the upright bass.
Mike Ness walked out onto the stage, standing silent for a moment, taking in the massive crowd on the beach, bandmates Jonny (2 bags) Wickersham on guitar, Brent Harding on bass and Dave Hidalgo on drums taking their positions. Without much banter, Mike Ness strapped on his signature Gibson Les Paul guitar, adorned with a single pink rose and dove right into the band’s classic “Reach for The Sky” lighting off the crowd.
Social Distortion comes from the old school of punk rock, originally formed in 1978 this band is as legit as it can get, Ness’ gruff vocals and bandmates hard driving punk power chords driving the crowd center stage to form a sizable mosh pit. Ness drew cheers from the crowd announcing that the band would be releasing a new album in the near future. The bands last album Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes dropped in 2011.
Social Distortion continued working through their blazing set of standout songs, almost like a greatest hits playlist when Mike Ness approached the microphone, and in casual conversation mentioned he ran into an old friend while taking a stroll on the boardwalk. The crowd began to stir when Mike asked, “Do you know who I’m talking about?”
The crowd erupted, screaming, “Bruuucceeee!”
Bruce Springsteen casually walked out onto the stage joining Social Distortion. To say that the crowd was beyond ecstatic would be an extreme understatement. You can imagine the excitement. Bruce is royalty in these parts as a pioneer in Jersey music scene. Bruce and Social Distortion would go on to play three songs together, “Bad Luck,” Misery Loves Company” and “Ring of fire” creating a memory that will truly live forever! Social Distortion played a total of twelve songs during their blazing set, and was truly the best Social D set I’ve ever seen.
Keeping with the surf and music theme of Sea.Hear.Now, Jack Johnson was a perfect fit. His music instantaneously took the crowd to a place of warm ocean breezes and palm trees. Johnson took the stage, the crowd responding to the chill Hawaiian style vibe and jazzy undertones of “If I Had Eyes” off the Sleep through The Static album. Jack Johnson’s music is a mixture of jazz, blues and reggae executed to perfection by bandmates Adam Topal on drums, Merlo Podlweski on bass and Zach Gill on keys.
Johnson, who hails from Oahu, Hawaii plays sweet melodic island inspired music that had the crowd standing arm in arm, singing out loud and swept away by Jack’s lyrical prowess and slack guitar work. In a very touching and intimate moment Johnson- who clearly is a romantic type- gained cheers from the crowd when he said the next song would be a love song for his wife.
Johnson’s set continued with a few surprises including collaborations with G.Love and The special Sauce, Milky Chance, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as well as covers of Social D’s / Johnny Cash “Ball and Chain”, Steve Millers “The Joker” and “Badfish” by Sublime. Jack Johnson played a total of twenty songs during his set, attracting a huge crowd eager to soak up the warm Island vibes.
In closing the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now. 2018 Festival was a monumental event for New Jersey and most of all Asbury Park, and I would like to congratulate C3 Presents for managing the most professionally run event I’ve attended. All event representatives were totally professional and just plain nice people who made the long days an absolute pleasure. I would also like to give a shout out to all the first responders who looked out for us while we had a nice time, including all local, County and State Police, Sheriffs and EMS personnel.
Asbury Park New Jersey has sure come a long way, and the significance and success of Sea.Hear.Now clearly cements what we all know, and that is that music truly has saved Asbury Park.