Words by Audra Tracy / Photos by Rod Snyder
The final day of this year’s Sea Hear Now Festival created even more unforgettable musical moments, in a city that already has a rich rock n’ roll history. Hosted in Asbury Park, the event is just steps away from famed concert venues The Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar, which conveniently hosted pre-parties and after-parties all weekend long.
Day 2 of the festival featured stellar performances by Green Day, Cage The Elephant, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Idles, Wet Leg, Cimafunk, and many more.
Check out Sunday’s highlights below…
Hailing from Havana, Afro-Cuban artist Cimafunk brought his nine-piece band to the Park Stage on Sunday, and had hips shaking in every direction. The artist’s 2021 release, El Alimento, features collaborations with Lupe Fiasco, CeeLo Green, and George Clinton, and was also featured in NPR’s Best Latin Music of 2021 – great on paper, and even more amazing on-stage.
Cimafunk and his ‘tribe’ radiated pure joy as they performed with an infectious energy that quickly spread through the crowd. He promised to play ‘funk for your body’ – and delivered the goods with true style and swagger. And anyone who tried to keep up with the band’s caliente Cuban moves definitely got their steps in for the day. If this band is giving dance lessons, sign us all up!
British indie rockers Wet Leg were a festival favorite on Sunday, drawing a huge crowd to the Park Stage for the band’s first-ever performance in New Jersey. Their very catchy debut album dropped earlier this year, and fans lined up early to experience the ‘Land of Leg’.
Some bands write emotional songs. Some bands write inspirational songs. Wet Leg writes songs that are quirky, snarky, and, most importantly, tons of fun. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers led the charge by opening their Sea Hear Now set with the radio hit ‘Wet Dream’, a tune with lyrics to make a girl (or guy) blush.
This was definitely the place to let your hair down and get weird, and the crowd was all for it. Another single, ‘Ur Mum’, followed soon after, and fans helped the band practice their ‘longest and loudest scream’, in gleeful unison. The upbeat set culminated with one of the biggest hits of the summer, the charming ear-worm ‘Chaise Longue’, which incited a full-on dance party that honored the band’s mantra: ‘‘good times, all the time.”
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Always a positive force in the music scene, Michael Franti was spreading the love all over Sea Hear Now, even making a quick appearance at the Transparent Gallery Pop-Up before his official set. Franti and Spearhead are all about making joyful and motivational music, and these soul rockers did exactly that during their afternoon show at the Surf Stage. Together they performed songs from their new album, Follow Your Heart, plus all the feel-good hits that were perfectly suited for a concert on the beach. One lucky fan was invited on-stage to sing along with ‘The Sound of Sunshine’, and later a group of kids jumped aboard the Surf Stage, joining in for a friendly version of ‘Say Hey (I Love You)’. The crowd was feeling just fine – dancing, singing, and smiling wide under the September sun.
There are many different kinds of ‘happy places’ at a music festival. Some might find solace in a smooth reggae riff, or the sweet crooning of a singer/songwriter. But others like to thrash around in a pit to the sounds of loud, unforgiving rock n’ roll. And that’s why Idles came all the way from Bristol – to shake things up a bit.
“Are you ready to collide?”, frontman Joe Talbot asked the eager crowd as he menacingly paced the Park Stage. Based on what happened next, the answer was a resounding ‘yes’. Fans were all-in, head-banging and cheering along with every atmospheric build-up and release. The band is currently on tour in support of their latest album, Crawler, and they performed a handful of new songs, including ‘Car Crash’, ‘The Beachland Ballroom’, and ‘The Wheel’. It was a cool contrast to a lot of artists on the bill, and a great way to pre-game the next rock show on the schedule…
Cage The Elephant
Brothers Matt Shultz (vocals) and Brad Shultz (guitar) of Cage The Elephant can really draw an audience. Ready to jump in and join the crowd at a moment’s notice, they have a reputation for wild and sweat-soaked festival performances, and Sea Hear Now was no exception. The alt-rockers from Bowling Green, Kentucky hit the Surf Stage on Sunday evening, and fans filled the beach in anticipation of something epic.
The set started with ‘Broken Boy’, and all eyes were on frontman Matt Shultz, who was decked out in a bucket hat, sunglasses, and a tight black bodysuit. Shultz spun and strutted up and down the stage’s runway as the band tore through a fifteen-song set that featured over a decade’s worth of radio hits. ‘Ready to Let Go’, ‘Mess Around’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’, and ‘Come A Little Closer’ all made appearances, with the crowd singing along at every turn.
‘Teeth’ closed the show, and found Shultz crowd-surfing his way from the stage to the soundboard. Cool, right? Yes, it was! But then, with a burst of energy and little regard to his own personal safety, the band’s fearless frontman scaled the scaffolding three stories high, wearing only spandex and a smile.
How many bands do you know that formed in 1987, and still have all its original members? How many of those bands are currently on the road, headlining major festivals like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, Sea Hear Now, and Firefly? You’ve got to give credit to Green Day, the East Bay, California rockers who have survived it all, and are still selling out stadiums worldwide.
Sunday’s headliner packed the beach, the boardwalk, and everywhere in between. It was the final show of Sea Hear Now 2022, and Green Day got right down to business, kicking off a lengthy twenty-one song set with ‘American Idiot’, followed by ‘Holiday’ and ‘Know Your Enemy’. The hits (and the fireworks) kept on coming, with 90’s classics including ‘Longview’, ‘Brain Stew’, and ‘When I Come Around’.
The cool thing about a Green Day show is, anyone can be a rockstar – for a few minutes, at least. At every show, the band invites a fan on-stage to play along, and on this night, a young man named Luke was hand-picked to jam on the tune, ‘Basketcase’. “You can keep the guitar”, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told Luke, with a laugh. ‘It’s all downhill from here!”
After a nearly two-hour set full of classics and covers, ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’ provided a fitting end to another successful Sea Hear Now. Fans shook the sand off their toes and made the march back to Ocean Ave, and only one question remained: Who do you think is playing next year?!
TheWaster.com | Asbury Park