Sea.Hear.Now Wildly Successful in Second Year

The B-52s at Sea.Hear.Now / Photos by Sachyn Mital

Though my biggest complaint was about the number of people attending, Sea.Hear.Now was a superb festival experience.

The second annual Sea.Hear.Now took place in Asbury Park in late September. Set atop and against the New Jersey town's beach and boardwalk, this location proved to be a beautiful spot for a festival that promised great musical performances and included the unique element of surf competitions with access to great food options both inside and outside the fest.

I have a couple of criticisms to level though. My first complaint, whatever brand of alcoholic seltzer the festival offered was pretty terrible (it included fake sugar!). The second issue was maybe a little more specific to my situation (as a photographer), though I heard it echoed outside the photographers. There were simply too many people at the fest (or not a clear enough walkway on the beach, it was an unwelcome slog exiting the photo pit). The 35,000 people at the fest felt more daunting than the 90,000 at Outside Lands.

Sea.Hear.Now was co-founded by renowned music photographer Danny Clinch and Tim Donnelly, both natives of the Jersey shore. Coming at the tail-end of the summer, though on an unseasonably warm weekend, with tourist season winding down, the fest gives businesses on the shore another boost benefiting the community. It certainly helped that daily repeat entry was permitted on festival days, which allowed one to dine more comfortably at a restaurant if so desired.

The musical acts booked for the fest included some safe headliners Dave Matthews Band and the Lumineers, classic rock acts like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the B-52's, and newer thrills like St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Black Pumas, Marcus King Band, Jade Bird, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Low Cut Connie. An exciting late addition to the lineup was Mike McCready and Kate Neckel's Infinite Color & Sound. I only spent a few hours at the fest on each of Saturday and Sunday as I was absorbed in enjoying the whole weekend, which included watching some surfing, traipsing the boardwalk, and catching an aftershow.

The surf element of the fest was particularly interesting because, as a photographer, I like to go beyond music and events on terra firma. While I couldn't get as close to the water as I would have liked, I felt calmed watching the surfers wait for the waves and pass along the surface. IF there was actually a competition, I was not aware of such. Some photos from the live performances are in the first gallery -- notably, St. Paul and the Broken Bones who put on a great live show.

Meanwhile, St. Paul and the Broken Bones were also part of the Saturday night after-party at the Stone Pony along with Tangiers Blues Band with special guest Mike McCready. Following a set from each of those acts, members of each returned for a collaborative set. Additional performers including Wes Schultz of the Lumineers and Luke Spiller of the Struts and a couple of local friends, like Nicole Atkins and Renee Maskin, participated in a sing-along friendly covers set. Songs included the Beatles' "Hey Jude", The Sopranos theme song, Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" and of course, Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" (The Boss's presence loomed large over the fest even though he didn't drop-in this year). Images from the after-show are in the bottom gallery.

Sea.Hear.Now will return to Asbury Park on September 19th and 20th, 2020.






The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".


Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".


The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.


July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.


With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.


Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.


MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.


Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.


Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.


John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."


'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.


It's a Helluva of a World in Alain Corneau's 'Série Noire'

Alain Corneau's Série Noire is like a documentary of squalid desperation, albeit a slightly heightened and sardonic one.


The 15 Best Americana Albums of 2015

From the old guard reaffirming its status to upstarts asserting their prowess, personal tales voiced by true artists connected on an emotional level in the best Americana music of 2015.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.