Sea.Hear.Now Festival Returns to Asbury Park (PREVIEW)

Some festivals have all the luck, and Sea.Hear.Now taking place this weekend (September 20th – 21st) on the Asbury Park (NJ) beach might have the best luck of all. This second-year festival organized by rock photographer and Asbury Park resident Danny Clinch, emerged from the womb fully formed 1n 2018 and hasn’t missed a beat in 2019. So what is it that this festival has that makes other festivals green with envy? … well, everything for a start.

  • Location, location, location – The festival takes place in Asbury Park with two of three stages on the beach (the third is on lush grass). The forecast currently shows both days to be 80 degrees and sunny (very fortunate for late September). In fact, the setting is so idyllic that you can glance to your right or left (depending on which beach stage you are on) and take in the surfing competition that is part of the festival. The exploding Asbury Park music scene doesn’t hurt either.
  • Talent – Sea.Hear.Now has taken an interesting approach to booking the bands to play the festival. They are unapologetically focused on rock, but they build in some musical diversity by mixing bands that fall into three general categories:
    1. Older, established bands including Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Bad Religion, Blind Melon, the B-52s, Steel Pulse, the Dropkick Murphys and the Dave Matthews Band;
    2. Younger, established acts including the Lumineers, Cat Power, Donavon Frankenreiter, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Dispatch;
    3. But, what saves it from being a nostalgia-fest are the dynamic new artists who seem to be blowing up right on schedule for Sea.Hear.Now including: *Black Pumas, *Fantastic Negrito, Sharon Van Etten, Low Cut Connie, The Struts, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, *Ripe, The Wrecks, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and *The Marcus King Band (who has moved from playing Rockwood Music Hall to headlining at the Beacon in a matter of months).  (* = do not miss)
  • Organization – Sea.Hear.Now has the feel of a mature festival. The stages, sound and lighting are done professionally. There is a workable and well-thought-out, alternating schedule with minimal conflicts so one can see every band performing with minimal effort. The festival has all the modern festival amenities one can expect (RFID bracelets, rentable lockers, a festival phone app, charging stations, and many others). This is probably due to its partnership with C3 Presents, a production company that puts on Austin City Limits, Voodoo, and several Lollapaloozas around the globe. 

All of these factors combined with several, thoughtful art installations (including a Danny Clinch gallery complete with a small pop-up stage and original art for sale by some of the performers) helped this second-year festival sell out in just a few days and makes Asbury Park the place to be this weekend. 

See you there!

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