The 2016 festival season is in full swing – one can almost liken it to a sports season. Each lineup and setting are just grabbing for your attention and hard-earned dollars. This past weekend saw the return of Jack Antonoff‘s personally curated festival, Shadow of The City. Antonoff, who was born in Bergenfield, New Jersey, did not want his home state to get left out of the festival mix. A successful inaugural 2015 year warranted the return for something that the Garden State can call its own. Oh, the smell of the sand and ocean along the Asbury Park beach. For how beautiful a day it was, the Stone Pony outdoor stage was the perfect setting. While some festivals went for the grandiose spectacles and acquisitions , Shadow of The City felt right at home with a minimalist approach on a comfortable Saturday.
Given the recent shock wave of the Orlando tragedy, one of the main takeaways from the festival that it was all-encompassing – free of titles and judgement. The dunk booth in which Antonoff also partook in added all the donations to Orlando LGBTQ shelters. The Stone Pony was mostly populated by younger kids in their mid twenties – of all walks of life. Throughout the walls of Stone Pony’s summer stage, there were signs that discouraged any type of bigotry or hatred. As you rebuild, you look for the little microcosm of hope. Musical festivals serve as that blissful period where you can be free of worries for hours at a time.
The musical lineup consisted of some up and coming acts mixed in with some well established talent. London, England born Bishop Briggs was one of the early standouts of the day. Energetic and wielding a powerful voice, Briggs brought her own unique personification on soul with her biggest song thus far, “River”. Homegrown talent was front and center as well. frnkiero andthe cellabration brought the edgier, louder half of rock music while the reuniting Steel Train brought back their indie/folk rock flavor. Both bands were met with enthusiasm by fans and showed the diverse pool of different New Jersey born acts that have originated from the state itself.
As the sun set, the energy levels grew with Carly Rae Jepsen‘s performance. The 2015 release E•MO•TION saw Jepsen put her own spin on 80’s style pop music. There was not a moment where the crowd stood still as Jepsen went through songs like “Run Away With Me” and “I Really Like You”. “Look at that sun set, its kind of romantic,” Jepsen said to the crowd. This was the perfect lead in to the headlining set of The 1975.
If you’ve seen The 1975 live, you will be enamored by their stage presence and aesthetic. I like it when you sleep… which was released earlier this year has songs that lend kind to their stage setup complete with pink lighting and a silhouette of colors and buildings. Lead singer Matthew Healy shuffled across the state in an almost James Brown-like matter during the opening seconds of “Love Me”. We are aware of the hits of their 2013 self-titled album, but newer cuts like “Loving Someone” and “A Change of Heart” will also be concert favorites through the band’s rigorous touring schedule.
With the neighboring state of New York having upwards to five major festivals this year, its good to have one for the little guys. As many will anticipate it’s return next summer, one has to wonder what tricks it may have up it’s sleeve for next year.
Check out the full gallery over on Flickr