After an 8 year hiatus, this was Skate & Surf Fest’s second year back at asbury park. Set the scene as a small beach town revitalizing itself. To the right of the show, the boardwalk’s main arcade sat with it’s vendors inside, taking the space that hosted skate & surf in its early days. To the left you see the creepy smile of the Coney Island-inspired wonder bar man. Add in a (few hundred) fans ready to mosh, and the fact the festival was set up just outside the nicest hotel on the boardwalk and you have the recipe for a hardcore festival.
This was my first hardcore show and I jammed a lot in via the four stages with bands on constant rotation. Two big things I noticed about this festival; there weren’t any belligerently drunk people tripping over their hoola hoops, and the bands interacted with their fans on a whole new level. The atmosphere was perfect; it was warm, but not hot and crowded but you could always get close to the stage. Listening to the bands describe their music, the tenderness & love & acceptance they are trying to convey with the lyrics, would lead you to believe they might start singing a lullaby and then they get going and it’s anything but. The power behind a hardcore band is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
On the first day, I was excited to see Saosin, The Early November, and Midtown. Because all of these performers were at the end of the day, it gave me an opportunity to really wander from stage to stage listening to anyone who was playing. One of the best parts was that so many of the bands were from NY/NJ/PA, so for a lot of them this was a hometown performance. They knew people in the audience, or grew up learning how to skate down the street from where we were standing. Sirens & Sailors definitely got my attention. The lead vocalist, Kyle Bihrle, was down on his knees sharing the mic with a guy from the crowd for a good portion of their performance – that’s dedication to your fans right there.
When it was time for The Early November to go on, I made my way to the main stage. It was set up outside of this cool old hotel that had a patio and 3 giant glass doors overlooking the lot where the stage was set up. All three of the performances I wanted to see were awesome. Half-way through Early November’s performance all the girls around me whipped out their phones and starting squealing, when I turned to see what they were freaking out about I saw Anthony Green having his picture taken in front of the Obey mural (which i proceeded to freak out over and photograph as a Shepherd Fairey nerd.)
Not long after, Saosin took the stage and the same girls rushed to get as close as possible. As excited as those girls got about getting to touch Anthony Green’s handy/body/whatever, it was nothing compared to the excitement of the people who were there to see the Midtown reunion. It was one of three nights they were playing after their split 10 years ago, and the show was the best kind of nostalgic. In the breaks between songs you could hear people telling, “When I saw Midtown as a teenager…” stories, it made for a great day.
COMPLETE DAY 1 GALLERY
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