Skate & Surf 2015 day 1 pics & review (American Nightmare, Thrice, mewithoutYou, Defeater, Dropkick Murphys & more)
photos by Mimi Hong, words by Andrew Sacher
American Nightmare / mewithoutYou / crowd
Asbury Park's 2015 Skate & Surf Festival went down this past Saturday (8/16) and Sunday (8/17) with a handful of great bands both days. The festival takes place right on the oceanfront by the boardwalk, with the two main stages in the grassy Bradley Park (overlooked by Convention Hall), two smaller side stages on a fenced off section of Ocean Avenue, and an even smaller tent with bands too. It was super easy to move around and see at least a portion of everyone you wanted to. It wasn't one of those festivals where you spend time waiting around for a band to come on.
An early highlight for me on Saturday was the shapeshifting mewithoutYou, who have a new record coming. They played the recently-released "Red Cow" from that, as well as one other that hasn't been released yet. Plus we got a good sampling from the rest of their catalog -- the heavy ("January 1979," "Bullet to Binary"), the epic ("In A Sweater Poorly Knit"), the whimsical ("All Circles"), and more.
I then caught a bit of Nora and I would have seen American Nightmare after that, but my misjudgment of time and the festival's long food lines (they only had two vendors besides a stand in the alcohol tent with wings and nachos) caused me to only catch two songs. On the bright side, I caught their last-minute Saint Vitus show on Sunday night, which was the best thing I saw all weekend.
The best thing I saw at the actual festival though, was Thrice. It was their first NYC-area show since ending their three-year hiatus, and despite Dustin Kensrue saying on stage that he was rusty, they were anything but. They opened with the atmospheric sludge of "Firebreather," a song that in hindsight has more in common with Baroness or Torche than most of the artists considered similar to Thrice, and immediately you knew you were watching a seasoned, impossibly tight band. They thrashed around on stage in the most natural, un-choreographed way possible, and the level of musicianship each member has is really a remarkable thing to see.
After "Firebreather" came "The Arsonist" into "Stare at the Sun" into "All That's Left," and it pretty much seemed like this set was unstoppable. It wasn't perfect though. If you ask me, Thrice are at their best when they're at their heaviest, and their decision to follow "All That's Left" with five softer/slower songs (mostly from the latter half of their career), was kind of a lull in the set. (Personally, I would have taken more than just one song off The Illusion of Safety over that whole slower section.) Those complaints aside though, Thrice came back in strong with "The Artist in the Ambulance" into "Silhouette" (the heaviest song in the set next to "Firebreather") into "Deadbolt," the oldest song they played and still a monumental Thrice song after 13 years. Their full setlist is below.
Other highlights throughout the day included raspy punks Iron Chic, the grungy Superheaven, melodic hardcore bashers Defeater, metal/punk rippers Cancer Bats, and Celtic punk lifers Dropkick Murphys. Pictures of those bands, everyone mentioned above and more, continue below...
Thrice Setlist (via)
Stare at the Sun
All That's Left
Of Dust and Nations
Come All You Weary
The Artist in the Ambulance
The Earth Will Shake