Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival Day 2
Day Two of Sea Hear Now was soon upon us and the weather was still delightful. The crowd seemed larger on Sunday which must have been due to the fact that the first bands of the day were locals. Brick + Mortar and Dave Hause & The Mermaid are true Asbury Park favorites. I geared myself up for another epic round of music (although a bit tired) and scrambled to the Sand Stage to start my day.
Brick + Mortar
So many people had told me up to this point that it was essential I see Brick + Mortar live. Well, I – along with the throngs of fans in attendance – was not disappointed. Brandon Asraf (Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Samples) and John Tacon (Drums, Vocals, Samples) gave a powerfully exciting performance that was both musically and visually appealing. Their eclectic sound is fueled by deep, meaningful lyrics drawn from difficult life experiences and a desire for positive change. Brandon made the crowd promise that if they cared about our environment that he wanted them to get into the music and do something about it. Their music is accented by visuals through Richie Brown who dances around the stage with props (such as a globe, large hands, etc.) to elevate the effectiveness of the show.
Brick + Mortar’s albums include Bangs, Dropped, Dropped Again, and Meta Meta Etc. They recently released a brand new single “Lies of Life” and told the Sea Hear Now crowd that they are “actively working on new music.” Brandon added, “We’re stoked so many people are here for our first show of the year.” Make sure to catch them when they return to Asbury Lanes on November 2nd!
Dave Hause & The Mermaid
Philly rockers Dave Hause & The Mermaid pounded the Surf Stage next with meaningful storyline lyrics backed by addictive melodies that you find yourself humming and singing to yourself throughout the day. Dave’s music sticks with you and for good reason. He sounds amazing whether you listen to his tunes on your own or see him live. Many musicians don’t have that ability.
Hause jokingly apologized to the crowd, “Hope you don’t hold it against us, but we’re from Philadelphia.” It didn’t seem to bother anyone, as – like I said before – the audience was plentiful for these first few sets. The band rocked out with a great selection of songs from his extensive catalog pulled from the albums: Kick (2019), Bury Me In Philly (2017), Devour (2013), Resolutions (2011). His most recent creation- Kick – is based upon the premise that life is a struggle and we all have to push back and persevere so that we can be successful and productive. That primary message really resonated with listeners who very raucously applauded after each song. Great set by a great band!
Asbury Park’s own Lowlight took the Park Stage a little later to a very supportive hometown crowd. The Indie-Rock band that classifies their contribution to the genre as “roadhouse chic” is a gathering of five fiercely talented musicians: Renee Maskin (vocals), Derril Sellers (guitar, strings) Colin Ryan (percussion) and Dana Sellers (keyboards), and Rey Rivera (bass). They wowed the crowd with psychedelic yet modern melodies supported by many layers of instrumentation, including but not limited to, synthesizers, guitar/strings, and a variety of percussion.
Formed in 2014 and winning the Asbury Music Award for Top Indie Folk Band only two years later, Lowlight has produced Where Do We Go From Here (2016), It’s Later Than You Think (2018), and their most recent Endless Bummer (2019). Favorites of their set that day were the songs “Locals Only” (specifically about Asbury Park) and “California Blue.” The main comments I heard from so many fans during and after Lowlight’s set was how much they loved Renee’s voice. Her smooth, rich tone affected the audience and my guess is that most fans made sure to download their music when they got home that night!
I couldn’t wait to see The Wrecks later that afternoon! I have been listening to their music for some time now and had not yet been able to connect with a live performance. A huge crowd formed at the Park Stage to hear them and you could instantly tell that they already have a dedicated fan base, which says a lot for a younger band. And I could see a genuine look of adoration in many of those fans’ faces.
The Wrecks consist of Nick Anderson (Vocals/Guitar), Aaron Kelley (Bass), Nick Schmidt (Guitar/Vocals), and Billy Nally (Drums). Their punk/rock/Indie sound is upbeat, fast-paced, energetic, and addicting! Listening to their tunes will automatically pump you up and get you moving! They pounded out crowd favorites “Turn It Up,” James Dean,” and “Favorite Liar,” along with a Jet’s cover “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” They then ended their set with their brand-new single “Freaking Out” for which the crowd went absolutely wild. It should definitely be on your playlist so please do as the band asks on Twitter: “Listen to our new single “Freaking Out” … we’re behind on our rent!” All kidding aside, you’ll be glad you did!
Forty years, seven albums, twenty million sold, and holding the title of “the world’s greatest party band” … The B-52’s grabbed the Surf Stage and gave an unbelievably fresh, energetic, and memorable performance! Unlike any other musical act in history, these seasoned rockers – who label their genre of music as “out of this world” – are interestingly from Athens, Georgia. Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Fred Schneider, and Keith Strickland (along with several other talented musicians) served up a healthy number of hits from their albums: The B-52’s (1979), Wild Planet (1980), Whammy! (1983), Bouncing off the Satellites (1986), Cosmic Thing (1989), Good Stuff (1992), and Funplex (2008).
Still rocking their colorfully extravagant costumes, these musicians further distinguish their musical style with call-and-response-style vocals, humorous sprechgesang (look it up!), and underground punk instrumentation. To the delight of every person at the festival, The B-52’s ended their set with the infamous songs “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster!” It was one of the greatest highlights of the entire weekend!
St Paul & The Broken Bones
Going to a St Paul & The Broken Bones performance is like going to church, and that is NOT a lame nod to the band’s name. Their soulful, R&B brand of rock music put the crowd under their spell and made anyone who’s never heard them before an instantaneous, devoted fan. After rocking the Stone Pony the night before, Paul Janeway (vocals), Browan Lollar (guitar), Jesse Phillips (bass), Kevin Leon (drums), Al Gamble (keys), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Amari Ansari (saxophone), and Chad Fisher (trombone) put on a show that gave us all chills despite the 83-degree summer day. Dressed in a blue sequined robe (and totally pulling it off), Janeway entertained with funky tunes like “Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like)” and then literally brought the crowd to its knees with “Grass Is Greener” (of which I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a direct link to so you can listen to it NOW!) The rich, layered music that backed his golden vocals made their sound even more impressive and riveting.
Formed in 2012 and hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, St Paul & The Broken Bones have released Greetings from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Half The City, Sea Of Noise, and their most recent Young Sick Camellia. This band is the REAL DEAL and I absolutely cannot wait to hear them perform again. My guess is that everyone in the crowd felt the exact same way following their performance!
Later on that evening, Sea.Hear.Now concert-goers were overcome by a tsunami! A Dropkick Murphys tsunami! The jam-packed crowd seemed to ebb and flow like the ocean to the heart-pounding Celtic-punk music that exploded on the Sand Stage. Al Barr, Tim Brennan, Ken Casey, Jeff DaRosa, Matt Kelly, and James Lynch started their set off with a smooth bagpipes solo which let us all know this set would be unlike anything else we’ve ever seen or heard. Dropkick Murphys are quite possibly one of the most passionate groups of performers I’ve ever seen. The kick-ass vocal back-and-forth between Casey and Barr, in and of itself, is enough to pull you in and hold you; but then there is the heavy, chest-pounding guitar and percussion that incessantly grabs you and takes you on a musical joy ride. This band is all about setting themselves apart from their contemporaries and delivering a trademark Irish/punk rock/hardcore sound that is absolutely captivating in its uniqueness.
Their setlist was substantial and pulled from many of the nine albums they’ve put out since 1998. “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” “Rose Tattoo,” “The State of Massachusetts,” and “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” were obvious favorites. Another highlight was when they played The Cars’ cover “Just What I Needed” which drove everyone crazy!
One of the most endearing qualities about Dropkick Murphys is their dedication to supporting American workers, union causes, healthcare workers, hospitals, war veterans, emergency response teams, and more! They’ve written music and created videos where proceeds go to specific causes and even sell specially made T-Shirts to raise money to help organizations in need. Dropkick Murphys’ message to fans (which they hope to spread from their platform) is one of the best I’ve ever heard. According to the band, “In addition to hopefully bringing people together for a good time, we hope to share some of our experiences and beliefs in working-class solidarity, friendship, loyalty and self- improvement as a means to bettering society (i.e. You can preach till you’re blue in the face but if you’re lying in the gutter no one’s gonna listen. If you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and live your life to the best of your ability you may set an example that others will follow.” That is powerful stuff!
Dave Matthews Band
I could think of no better way to end the second Sea.Hear.Now Festival than with the Dave Matthews Band. Virginia boys Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Jeff Coffin, Tim Reynolds, Rashawn Ross, Stefan Lessard, and Buddy Strong are the epitome of what this festival is about. These “cool cats” ooze a musical prowess that is pretty much unparalleled in the industry. These are six extremely talented musicians that play as one musical force and they absolutely blew the crowd away on Sunday evening.
Formed in 1991, DMB has racked up quite a large number of accomplishments that justify festival headliner status. Their 1994 debut album, Under the Table and Dreaming, brought the band worldwide fame and was eventually certified six times platinum. The band has sold more than 24 million tickets since its inception and a collective 38 million CDs and DVDs combined. Dave Matthews Band’s 2018 album, Come Tomorrow, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, making DMB the first band to have seven consecutive studio albums debut at the peak. The band won the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “So Much to Say”.
Their setlist that night was packed with huge hits including “What Would You Say,” “Funny The Way It Is,” “Come Tomorrow,” and “Don’t Drink The Water” (along with many more). They also performed innovative renditions of Prince’s “Sexy M.F,” Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” to the crowd’s overwhelming approval. A very unique aspect of DMB’s live shows is that it’s impossible to predict what songs they’ll play for each show. With such an extensive catalog of blockbuster hits, they have many choices when it comes to crafting their setlists and they always keep fans guessing. It’s a major draw to go to many of their live shows because you’ll always hear something different. Another interesting way the Dave Matthews Band interacts with their fans is they’ve always allowed them to tape shows for their personal use. It’s a practice that has created a highly interactive band-fan community that continues in spirit today.
One of the obvious perks of being a concert photographer is getting up close and personal while we take photos during the first three songs of a band’s set. It enables us to really see what makes musicians “click.” The thing that struck me about Dave Matthews was the ease with which the music just flowed out of him while performing. It seemed like he was looking directly into the eyes of his fans and connecting with them, yet the music was being channeled from another source. He exuded a mastery of the guitar and vocal abilities and was backed by incomparable talent.
They ended the night with two of their greatest accomplishments … “Crash Into Me” and “Ants Marching.” The Dave Matthews Band is in an exceptional category all their own and was the PERFECT choice for closing the 2nd Sea.Hea.Now Festival!