Walking along the boardwalk, I could faintly embody the presence of my teenage self about ten years back when Skate and Surf was last in Asbury Park. There’s nothing that fills you more with adrenaline and paints a glossy glow on your face like hearing this loud, amplified echo of music. Simultaneously, bouncing with every step, as you inch closer and closer to the entrance. As I reached the line, which wasn’t as long as I had expected, I saw the same kids from a decade ago…drenched in Hot Topic and wrapped up in Pacsun.
As compared to other summer festivals, the weather wasn’t a consistent brutal beating sun roasting your body on the black asphalt. Both days were breezy, cloudy, and a bit chilly. There was a bit of light rain but it wasn’t even enough to get the back of my shirt wet.
As I said, the line wasn’t as long as I expected and neither was the outcome. Although I didn’t mind the scarcity of kids, I thought there would be more of a crowd since it was in Asbury Park and there was a decent lineup. I overheard a girl claiming that last year’s festival, held at Six Flags, was about double the size.
Regardless of attendees, the bands played their hearts out. As for the bands playing on the smaller stages, there was quite an array of amazing up and coming bands. I noticed a reviving the spark of the emo/post-hardcore/screamo scene. This new “emo” scene included bands like Knuckle Puck, Citizen, and Light Years. It’s a more vocally-straight-forward (no whining and less singing), fast-paced-pop/punk version of emo. They’re comparable to the bigger bands in the genre like Modern Baseball, The Wonder Years, or Real Friends.
Bands there like The Moms and Tiny Moving Parts encompass this new “post-hardcore/screamo” revival sound. They are a bit grittier in terms of vocals (lots of rasp), and progressive in the sense that they have technical guitar parts with capos, finger picking, and hammer on’s. They are in the spectrum of more prominent bands like Title Fight, Balance and Composure, and Old Gray.
The crowds were younger (like the bands themselves) and they were crowdsurfing, reaching for the mic to sing, and knew all the lyrics to every song. It was awesome.
Tiny Moving Parts was like watching a boy read his most heart-felt haikus with his entire body. It was deep, completely lively, and raw. The Moms were similar, but rather they told their life stories about the good and bad times with their friends and teenage mischief in more of a structured verse form.
There were some bands at Skate and Surf that stuck out from rest. The Backyard Superheroes, hailing locally from Marlboro, NJ, were the only ska band there, which seemed to work in their advantage. Every person at the festival ran as fast as they could over at the first trumpet flutter that screamed throughout the entire festival. Sure enough, a circle pit emerged and grew to capacity.
In Circles was another band that was unlike anything that was there. They were this angsty, dirty, grunge that makes you just want to yell out, “FUCK,” as loud as you could. The trio’s biggest dynamic was their chick singer/guitarist. She was fierce, crude, and totally in it. They were a kick in the face mix of Dead Sara and Spinnerette. Definitely a band to check out.
There was also the wild punk band, Fucked Up, who were…pretty fucked up. At least the singer seemed a bit insane. The bald singer, who was a little on the heavier and hairier side, ripped his shirt off and began running around the crowd and wherever he could screaming in peoples’ faces. He spent very little time on stage, but it was still a blast to watch.
As for the bigger bands and headliners, they were just so good to see. It was like seeing your childhood best friend, which had been there through thick and thin, for the first time in years. Local natives, The Early November, rocked it out good playing ”I Want To Hear You Sad,“ “Ever So Sweet,” and “Decoration,” which made my heart melt and my toes curl.
Saosin hit the stage with original singer, Anthony Green. THAT was awesome. Prior to his set, I watched as he ran around with his two beautiful children and beautiful, once again-expecting, wife. As soon as he was mic-in-hand, it was like someone turned on a switch in his head. He was an untamed creature; shoving the entire mic in his mouth, making these “tisk, tisk” notions with his hands, jumping into the crowd, and leering out with this crazy look on his face.
As they played what I guess was to be their last song, Anthony extended himself into the sea of open, wanting hands never to return again. I overheard the security guards asking each other, “Should we go get him this time? I don’t think he’s planning on coming back.” The next night Green came out, yet again, to give an electrifying performance with his other band Circa Survive. Still acting out his strange stage rituals but not getting lost in the crowd this time.
Punk rockers, Alkaline Trio, also played. I noticed a lot of people more or less came out specifically to see them. During their set, the bride, groom, and other wedding attendees came flying backstage from the Berkley Hotel to watch their performance. One of the attendees told me, “I’m so pissed because I knew that Alkaline was playing at the same time as wedding. But when we came out I was so stoked. I go running on this boardwalk every morning to God Dammit’”
It somehow became the opposite of crashing a wedding…it was more like a wedding crashing? This wedding party came out for New Found Glory as well. They were dancing backstage, begging to be let up on stage as their wedding photographer attempted to smooth things over with the security guards. Eventually the bride and groom were brought up on stage. The guys from NFG played some metal music for the groom to mosh around and headbang to. They also beckoned him to stage dive into the audience…which he did.
Aside from the wedding crashing, NFG killed it. They were running around stage, completely animated. They played a good mix of all of their music ranging from their self-titled to their latest released album, Radiology. NFG also were thrilled to announce the progress of their new album being released by Hopeless Records.
After looking back at the festival, I was glad to have been taken up in nostalgia with the same songs that had such an impact on me, as well as witness the resurgence of a new, thriving music scene.