Skate & Surf 2015 day 2 pics & review (Gaslight Anthem, Hot Rod Circuit, Front Bottoms, Cloud Nothings, Pianos BTT, more)
photos by Mimi Hong, words by Andrew Sacher
The Gaslight Anthem / The Front Bottoms / Cloud Nothings
After a successful day 1, the 2015 Skate & Surf Festival held its second and final day at the Asbury Park oceanfront on Sunday (5/17). While most of the exciting stuff on Saturday started later on (for me at least -- maybe Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! have fans?), Sunday kicked off in a big way with Modern Baseball taking the opening slot on the main stage (the Gameloud Stage). I had been wondering how a band who's risen as quickly as them could be put so early on the main stage, rather than getting a mid-day or evening slot on a side stage, but once Modern Baseball came on I knew the answer. Their crowd probably wouldn't fit anywhere else. The park was filled with fans who came early to see them, and it wasn't just people there to check out the hype. A majority of the crowd knew every single word.
As great a turnout as Modern Baseball had though, the band who had their crowd going off more than anyone -- even more than headliners The Gaslight Anthem -- hit that same stage a few hours later: The Front Bottoms. They're actually kinda likeminded to Modern Baseball (both bands reminded me of The Weakerthans at first) with their knacks for nasally vocals, super specific lyrics, and music with the drive of punk but cleaner guitars. It's kind of amazing to see stuff like this catch on too. Both bands have pretty indie/DIY approaches, and on a festival which still gets called a "pop punk festival," they're not exactly your typical fare. More importantly though, both bands are a hell of a lot of fun.
Over on the smaller stages, Sunday had a lot of good stuff too. There was Beach Slang, who were on the small East Stage mid-day, but played like they were headlining the festival. Not that it was a surprise. They may only have nine songs out so far, but they've been putting on shows like they're the biggest band in the world since the beginning. We of course got all those usual favorites, as well as "Ride the Wild Haze" (heard earlier this year in Brooklyn) and another new one, both presumably off their upcoming debut LP on Polyvinyl.
Unfortunately, Beach Slang's set was disrupted by a power outage due to a faulty generator which affected the adjacent East and West Stages a few more times throughout the day before they got a new generator hours later. More than one of those times was during the band who immediately followed Beach Slang, Hot Rod Circuit.
Beach Slang and Hot Rod Circuit getting some air
Hot Rod Circuit were back with their Sorry About Tomorrow/If It's Cool With You, It's Cool With Me lineup for this show and their Connecticut show a day earlier (which were their first shows since 2011 and reportedly the only two they're doing), and their set leaned most heavily on that era. They kicked off with the ripping "Radiation Suit," and you really couldn't have asked for a better opener. It's the one where their punk energy and pop hooks come together the strongest, and taking that one right into the fist-pumping "At Nature's Mercy" had the crowd amped enough to sing an entire verse a capella after the power cut out for the first time. The band picked the song back up once the power came back, but it very quickly went out again, at which point Andy Jackson got out his acoustic guitar and played "Camo," the acoustic bonus track on The Underground Is A Dying Breed. It was hard to totally make it out with all the other sounds of the festival -- including Cloud Nothings' set on the World Stage (which I unfortunately missed due to it overlapping with HRC, but we did get pictures of both) -- but a cooler experience than having us just wait around.
Once they came back, we got a few more favorites including "Stateside," "Now Or Never," "Irish Car Bomb" and "The Power of Vitamins." And even though the flow of the set was interrupted, when HRC were on, they were on. Casey Prestwood's lead guitar was flawless, which was even more amazing considering he was either jumping around or rolling on the floor for most of the set. And really the whole band sounded fantastic on every song. It's a bummer they aren't playing more shows.
A couple slots later on that stage was Small Brown Bike, another veteran band who had been silent since 2011, and who played that same CT show with Hot Rod the night earlier. Their 7:05 set was completely delayed until a new generator was brought in, not starting until closer to 8 PM. Delays aside though, when SBB got up there, they sounded great. We got stuff from all four of their albums -- "The Cannons and Tanks"," See You In Hell," "Tragically Ending," "Onward and Overboard" and plenty more. And while you did kinda get the vibe that they would've gone over better in a small venue (I was hoping their set would've looked a little more like it did at Cake Shop in 2010), SBB still gave it their all.
Pianos Become the Teeth
Other highlights that day included the grungy, headbanging Manchester Orchestra, reunited post-hardcore band Poison the Well, headlining home state heroes The Gaslight Anthem, singer/songwriter Kevin Devine and his rocking band (Kevin also joined The Front Bottoms on stage for "Twin Size Mattress"), and a highly intense set from Pianos Become the Teeth. One of the best times I've ever seen them.
Day 1 pictures HERE. Day 2 pictures continue below...
Hot Rod Circuit
From Autumn to Ashes
More From Autumn to Ashes pics, videos, and setlist HERE.
Poison the Well
The Front Bottoms
The Gaslight Anthem
Pianos Become the Teeth