Our Experience at Sea.Hear.Now. 2018
Growing up, I lived one town over from Asbury Park. I watched that beautiful town sink into the abyss. During the 1970s there were riots, buildings and houses burned to the ground. Eventually the National Guard was called in, and the town was off-limits for years. Still my friends and I in the summer continued to go to the 7th avenue beach in Asbury Park, and shows at The Stone Pony on occasion.
It hasn’t been until these recent years that Asbury Park has had a rebirth. This festival allowed me to see the once sunken town of my youth now filled with life. People enjoying the beautiful weather, huge crowds listening to music on the beach and boardwalk, the places I had loved as a kid. It was very inspiring and felt wonderful to see Asbury beautiful again.
I attended the festival with my family (minus Meghan of course, who is in Chile and she was greatly missed). I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it. The music played on three stages and you were free to sample each band. The highlights for me were:
Blondie—she performed all the favorites, much to the delight of the crowd.
Frank Turner—a pleasant surprise. His energy seem to match the day.
Ben Harper—he opened with a great cover of Springsteen's Atlantic City.
Incubus—flawless, entertaining the crowd with several covers including one by INXS.
Jack Johnson, the closing act was probably my favorite of the weekend. He appeared on stage shortly after he had gone for a surf at our local break and did not have time to go back to his hotel to shower off, but he joked halfway through his set that he didn’t mind being "salty". In a way, that moment categorized the entire weekend for me, spontaneity good times and great music. It felt like one long carefree "salty" summer day. And I will treasure those memories for years to come.
I thought the Sea Hear Now Music Festival was one of the most well run events I have ever attended. The line up had something for everyone. Local artists; Jack Johnson, a local favorite; Incubus, an often underrated band, and of course a surprise appearance by Bruuuuucce!!!!
The line up of artists is only a part of why this was such a great experience. The attention to detail was amazing. For starters, I loved that the wristband, which you register online before the event, get you not only entrance, but can be used to buy food/drink at the festival the whole weekend. It also had all your emergency contact info on it.
There were also free water stations, which came in handy more than once. The location of the festival made it easy to take break at a local restaurant, which was a nice option. And while the bands played, drones captured amazing footage along the beach. It all added up to a pleasurable experience.
My favorites on the weekend would have to be Blondie, Jack Johnson, Incubus and a band new to me Jack Turner and the Sleeping Souls. All the artists seemed to be enjoying the laid back feel of the crowd. Everyone was just relaxed and happy to be out on the beach listening to some great performances.
Above all this, though, my favorite part of the weekend would have to be sharing it with my entire family (except Meghan, currently living in Chile who me missed). Getting a group of 7-10 adults together for an event like this could be difficult but this crew pulled it together and made it awesome!
Woah boy If you think my reviews are an absolute mess you are going to loose your mind watching me try to piece together the events of the See Hear Now weekend spectacular. Lets try to keep some continuity and take it to the start:
I was coming off catching Alvvays and Snail Mail's show at Warsaw. I remember the morning being a little hazy but not totally awful. The awful part came later as Kevin (the baby) and I had to brave the beast that is NJ transit. For two long hours we quietly burned through our data plan and killed our phone batteries (this came back to haunt me later).
Bingo-bango we arrive home, and people are gearing up to get to the show. At this time it is now rounding on 5:00pm, getting close to when Blondie was going to play. The crew decided the best way to get there would be by splitting two Ubers. The ride was short, but when we arrived it kind of reminded me of the paratroops trying to find each other behind enemy lines. But we found each other after some chaotic calls and text messages.
My first instinct was to grab a drink, and I was confronted with a rather large line. By the time I got to the front Blondie was singing "Hanging On The Telephone".
Determined to never wait in line again, I went back when she finished to stock up on drinks for the entire day. That meant four cups of Jack Daniels and four tall boys of Pacifico. From here the events get a little hazy. Highlights come in and out though: standing in the sand taking pictures, seeing almost everyone I knew from high school, running into my friend Luke was particularly a nice treat. I remember playing corn hole with him and Kevin while Deer Tick was singing me some sweet tunes.
Next thing I remember was peeing in a hole I dug on the beach, and collecting hundreds of weird baja blankets people left behind because it was getting so darn cold on the beach.
Last thing I remember on that day was my dad confusing some Incubus lyrics, and then Incubus played “Pony” by Genuine haaaa.
Most of the day was spent recovering and watching some pretty horrible movies I found on the internet. One of the standouts was a flick called Jurassic Shark. Eventually we made our way back to the festival, finding the crowd was a little lighter this day which I liked.
Social Distortion played a darn fine show, even if they did squander their Bruce powers by making him sing songs that were in all honesty not crowd pleasers.
Thankfully, Jack Johnson ended the night with a set that transported me back to the first time I saw him back in my high school days.
All and all I would say this weekend was a hoot. If they ever do it again I would get tickets in a heart beat.
I got to be honest, the main reason I was excited about the festival (besides hanging out at the beach with the Maldjian crew) was to see Incubus. Sure it was fun to see Blondie, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and a surprise apparition by Bruce (special mention to the Front Bottoms, they were my favorite of all the bands that I discovered in the festival), but nothing came close to watching the Californian band again. And they didn’t disappoint.
I’ve come to realize that you can basically separate live acts in two categories : artists who tend to improvise such that their live acts are pretty different from their records (Red hots, Vulfpeck, Justics are my favs), and artists who pretty much play their songs as they appear on the records. The interesting thing is that most bands in the second category tend to be disappointing live, mostly because it’s difficult to reproduce the detail and precision of a studio recording, while playing a not-great-sounding-large room full of drunk and/or high people. Personally, I had the chance to witness a few exceptions: Kasabian, Blur, Bombay Bicycle Club... but nothing comes close to Incubus. They are the only band I’ve seen which plays pretty much exactly whats on their records, but somehow, it sounds incredibly better live. And it’s even more impressive considering the level of intricacies that their songs contain, from both a rhythmical and a harmonic point of view. Not only can they reproduce that live, but they also add an energy that is not as much present in the records. I’ve seen them 4 times now and they keep on being so good. The main reason behind that is that they’re incredibly tight as a band, which again is impressive considering how technically difficult their sounds are for pretty much all the different instruments. It’s amazing to see such a band working together and how that tightness allows all the intricacies to be heard, which ultimately greatly enhances the sound of the band. It also comes from the songwriting in itself, which is fairly minimalist, and therefore allows for all the details to be heared without being drowned out by additional unnecessary parts.
They’re so good live that they started mixing up famous songs in the bridge on some of their originals. How cool is that??? They start « Are you in? » and in the middle, start playing « Gin’n’juice »! Come on! And play the Pink Floyd « wish you were here » after their eponymous song! That’s great entertainment right here. Plus they played some of my favorites « Circles », « a crow left the murderer », « no fun », « love hurts ». And we were watching that on a nice evening on the beach in a pretty chilled crowd. Just the best.
I’m fairly biased because I’m a big fan obviously, but I’ve seen many bands that I really like being a bit disappointing live. So I truly think Incubus is one of the best live act out there, and people should go check them out. And if you don’t want to invest in a ticket , check out their songs. They have produced a long list of great material even after their big time in the early 2000’s (I particularly recommend the 2008 album « light grenades » and in it, the song « oil and water »).
Anyway, I’m finally done rambling about Incubus, go listen to them now !