Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Rod Snyder
Sunday at Sea Hear Now 2023 attracted thousands of fans to Ocean Ave in Asbury Park, and for good reason. Day 2 had a stacked bill, including Foo Fighters, Weezer, The Beach Boys, The Breeders, Stephen Sanchez, Easy Star All-Stars, Alexander Simone and Whodat?, and Sunflower Bean.
Once again, attendees had their pick of activities to fill the breezy September day. Inside the festival gates, you could practice yoga in the morning, watch a surfing competition in the afternoon, explore the lovely local art of the ‘Stoke Henge’ installation at sunset, and enjoy an evening cocktail at one of the many lounges stationed throughout the event.
Oh, and you could see a ton of cool bands, too.
Check out the highlights from Sunday, September 17 below…
Under idyllic blue skies at the Surf Stage, New York trio Sunflower Bean treated the early birds of Sea Hear Now to some indie rock gems. Holding down one of the first time-slots of the day, the band performed songs from their latest album, Headful of Sugar, which was ranked #41 on Rolling Stone’s ‘100 Best Albums of 2022’. Highlights of the set included the popular tune, ‘Who Put You Up To This?’, and ‘Serial Killer’, which came with a caveat. ‘While we’re playing it, imagine that I’m Sting’, lead vocalist/bassist Julia Cumming quipped. It was just the jump-start needed to fuel a full day of music ahead.
Dub Side of the Park Stage
At Sea Hear Now, dancing to some reggae in the sunshine should definitely be on the agenda. Another New York act, Easy Star All Stars, did the honors, bringing their eight-piece collective to the Park Stage on Sunday. Gathering together fans of reggae, classic rock, dub and indie rock, the set featured clever reggae interpretations of songs by David Bowie (‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Starman’), Pink Floyd (‘Time’, ‘Money’), The Beatles (‘With A Little Help From My Friends’), and even Michael Jackson (‘Billie Jean’). The band is currently on the road promoting their latest release, Ziggy Stardub: A Reggae Reimagining of David’ Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and will continue to tour through autumn.
Ladies Love Stephen Sanchez
Sea Hear Now enjoyed a Sunday serenade at the Park Stage, care of Stephen Sanchez, the young crooner with an old soul and a heart full of love songs. From the time he sang the first note, fans were already head over heels, fully swooning for the man of the hour.
Sanchez’s set was peppered with tunes from his debut full-length album, Angel Face, like ‘Something About Her’ and ‘Evangeline’. While the singer/songwriter plays mostly ballads, the more upbeat moments found the troubadour strutting the stage, and channeling some of Chuck Berry’s signature moves. With an amazing voice and a charismatic stage presence, it was easy to see why Sanchez continues to be a star on the rise.
The Beach Boys were destined to play Sea Hear Now sooner or later, and like a match made in tropical heaven, ‘America’s Band’ crashed the Surf Stage on Sunday afternoon. One of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, the set featured co-founding Beach Boy Mike Love, along with longtime member Bruce Johnston, plus special guest/timeless heartthrob John Stamos, who was looking sharp as ever in a white suit and sunglasses.
While boats bobbed in the distance, and surfers caught waves along the North Beach, the Southern California natives squeezed an impressive 21 songs into their hour-long set.
‘Surfin U.S.A.’, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, ‘409’, ‘I Get Around’, ‘God Only Knows’, ‘California Girls’, ‘Help Me Rhonda’ , ‘Kokomo’, and ‘Good Vibrations’ provided the perfect soundtrack for a splendid day on the shore.
All Along The Undertow
Rivers Cuomo is living his best life. For someone who used to be so reserved on-stage, the Weezer singer/songwriter/guitarist has officially embraced life as a frontman. While the massive crowd belted out the chorus to the 90’s anthem, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ at the Surf Stage on Sunday, Cuomo took it all in, proclaiming, ‘This is lit AF!’
Together Weezer played all their beloved hits from the past few decades, including ‘My Name is Jonas’, ‘Beverly Hills’, ‘The Good Life’, ‘Undone (The Sweater Song)’, and ‘All My Favorite Songs’. It was only fitting that they slid ‘Surfwax America’ into the seaside set before the band closed out their joyous performance with the ultimate ‘geek rock’ tune, ‘Buddy Holly’.
Last Splash On The Shore
Gen X got their fix at the Sand Stage on Sunday evening, as 90’s alt rockers The Breeders brought fans back to the era when MTV was still cool. Reunited for the 30th anniversary of Last Splash, the band played the iconic 1993 album in its entirety. The second track on Last Splash, and The Breeders’ biggest commercial hit, ‘Cannonball’ played like a beacon for the festival’s lost souls, luring them towards the sweet, sentimental sounds of classic grunge. Bathed in purple and orange spotlights, twin sisters Kim Deal and Kelley Deal kept the crowd entertained, promising ‘it’s gonna get weird’ – and delivering.
How To Headline a Music Festival
Sunday night, Foo Fighters schooled Sea Hear Now on exactly how to close out an epic event on the Jersey shore. Despite a brief bit of rain, a horde of fans camped out on the beach to catch the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees in action.
Frontman Dave Grohl held the Surf Stage in the palm of his hand, leading his band through a two-hour set that featured all the greatest hits, starting with a double-dose of head-bangers, ‘All My Life’ and ‘The Pretender’. The band’s new touring drummer, Josh Freese, made his presence known early on, proving his rightful place onstage with a barrage of intensity and a whole lot of heart.
Later in the set, ‘Aurora’ was dedicated to the late Taylor Hawkins, the band’s longtime drummer who tragically passed away in 2022. “We like to play it every night for him”, Grohl said of his fallen bandmate and friend. ‘This is definitely Taylor’s vibe, by the way…’, he added, as he basked in the beautiful beachfront scene.
The closing combination of ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘Best of You’, and ‘Everlong’ sent the audience reeling, screaming along to every word as they bid farewell to a wonderful weekend at Sea Hear Now. Foo Fighters definitely brought the energy, engaged the crowd, gave their fans 110% – and did it all with a smile. Potential 2024 headliners, take note: this is how it’s done.
Thank you Sea Hear Now 2023!
TheWaster.com | New Jersey