If Day One didn’t prove that Sea.Hear.Now fest was a clear success for the city of Asbury Park, then Day Two solidified it with some amazing sets and particular special moments that fans won’t forget for a long time.
After the local acts of Deal Casino and Parlor Mob rocked the town they are all too familiar with, Nicole Atkins took the stage. The Neptune born crooner artist impressed the crowd with her renditions of newer songs like “Goodnight Rhonda Lee” and “A Night of Serious Drinking.” It was a great way to get the day off to a hot start as fans began to pile in for the later acts.
Lettuce brought the funk in a way most acts couldn’t at Sea.Hear.Now. The Boston crew had people dancing with sand in their feet. After them came the Philadelphia by way of Scranton band, the Menzingers. This punk act had a great following and kicked off the start of the punk acts running Day Two. Although not from the area, the Menzingers have a lot of references to the music town in their music. Songs like “Lookers” and “Your Wild Years” make references to Asbury’s great venues The Stone Pony and The Wonder Bar. Fans loved this in the set and some were even slam dancing in the sand, bare feet and all. The group played songs off their new album After The Party as well as classics from On The Impossible Past. Not only was their music on display, but guitarist and singer Tom May’s photography was on display at the festival’s art gallery.
After that the alternative, borderline blues act Kaleo took the stage. After breaking into the mainstream with track “Way Down We Go” Kaleo has garnered the attention of a lot of indie fans alike. A lot of people at the festival were excited about the Kaleo set and it lived up to expectations. Not only did their hit strike an exciting chord with fans but other tracks like “I Can’t Go On Without You” showcased that Kaleo is more than a one-hit wonder.
Following Kaleo came another hometown hero group across the sand. The Front Bottoms from Fueled By Ramen have come a long way from playing at Russo Music up the street. Lead singer, Brian Sella mentioned the weather during the set, and yes, this may have been the best thing Sea.Hear.Now, a beach themed festival, had going for it. It was an early fall day feel with mid-‘60s-and-up temperatures and clear skies. The Front Bottoms played some of their older tracks that fans love like “Father,” “The Beers” and “Flashlight,” but also newer tracks such as “Vacation Town” which were probably written about Asbury Park.
Over at the park stage, G Love & Special Sauce played their blend of alternative, blues and even hip-hop to a dedicated fan base. This band fit the bill perfectly with a stoner vibe that went well with their famous tracks like “Baby’s Got Sauce” and “Cold Beverage” but also to covers like Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
Milky Chance is another up and coming alternative act that broke into the mainstream with an absolute megahit–the track “Stolen Dance” which has over 400 million plays on Youtube. The group blends acoustic guitar with sort of a dance style drum pad in their tracks creating their own unique sound. They played tracks like “Cocoon” which have also gotten some radio play as a follow up to “Stolen Dance.”
Twin Peaks was kind of in a no-win situation as we’ll see later, but they still had a solid crowd as the nighttime arrived. They were probably the biggest group to play the park stage all weekend, which was nothing to scoff at. After a year of helping Finn Wolfhard and Calpurnia record their new EP, Twin Peaks hyped up their performance at Sea.Hear.Now a lot here and it didn’t disappoint.
What hurt Twin Peaks, though, was Social Distortion. Around 6 o’clock that day, listeners starting chirping around about a rumor. Whispers ran through the crowd that a guest may be appearing later in the night and it was during this set that this possibility might occur. This happens a lot in Asbury Park though. People chirp that Bruce Springsteen is just going to show up all the time, and after being fooled one too many times, there were plenty of skeptics that night.
Social Distortion started their set and played their punk, California sound to the east coast crowd. Politically charged songs like “Machine Gun Blues” fit the bill of punk rock and new songs like “Over You” were a pleasant surprise. After their “last song” Social Distortion walked off stage and the hope of a special appearance seemingly disappeared. However, an encore was in sight, and with that encore came the boss himself. If this festival wasn’t a critical success yet, this solidified it. This single-handedly might bring Sea.Hear.Now back again next year. Bruce joined Social Distortion to play songs like “Bad Luck,” “Misery Loves Company” and their hit cover “Ring of Fire.” This stole the show for the day and fans won’t forget this night for a long time.
The night closed with Jack Johnson and although following that would be tough, nobody epitomized this bill of artists more than Jack Johnson. The acoustic Hawaiian with his good vibes and surfer aesthetic fit like a glove as the headliner. He played classics like “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” and “Banana Pancakes” and even a Sublime cover in “Badfish.” After finishing his set with “Breakdown,” the festival was over and fans were left satisfied without a question.
The vibe of the weekend was entirely positive on all fronts. The music, the scenery, the surfing, the food, even the art lived up to the hype. The staff that put on this festival should be proud of what they accomplished and they really brought the music festival back to Asbury Park, hopefully for good.