Pop-Break Live: Jersey Shore Music Festival

JSMF

There’s no better way to celebrate Garden State music and art than the Jersey Shore Music Festival. The festival, which took place for the first time on Saturday July 20, hosted over 50 bands and 200 artists on the grounds of First Energy Park (home of the BlueClaws) in Lakewood, NJ. As a local music feen for many years, I was excited to head on out and join the celebration of the ever-growing, ever-changing, music and art scenes in a place that I’ve called home for so many years.

River City Extension
River City Extension

Though I didn’t stick around for the entire festival, I did manage to check out some fantastic bands and support some local vendors. Here are my thoughts on the acts I checked out on Saturday and the festival in general:

Band I Discovered: Echo Movement
Echo Movement have been a part of the NJ music scene for NINE years, so you can imagine how embarrassed I feel when I state that I’ve never heard of these guys up until this show. Even more shameful, the fact that I saw this set was by chance, as they were the band setting up on the Atlantic Stage when I first walked into the gates. I am a disgrace.

If you never heard of these guys before, I sincerely suggest you check them out ASAP. These guys will get you movin’ and groovin’ like nobody’s business! I know I was dancing like crazy, and it was only the beginning of the day for me!

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Band I Was Glad to Revisit: Brick and Mortar

Brick and Mortar have been on my radar for about four years now, and throughout all this time I don’t think I’ve seen them live once up until this very performance. How incredibly sad is that?!

Still, I’m glad to say that I was given the chance on Saturday. Not only did their set totally kick ass, but it was cool to rock out with both their new and longtime fan base. I loved every minute of this set and I totally wished they had more time to keep the music going!

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Most Fun: River City Extension
This was my third time seeing River City Extension and my third time coming away with a huge smile on my face. Though number 3 was not as epic as number 2 (a beautiful acoustic set along the water in Red Bank), it was generally everything I expected and love about this band.

The best part about this set was that River City Extension announced a new album in the works and gave us a preview of a few new songs. They were absolutely fantastic, as expected, though I’m hoping to hear more fast-paced, danceable tracks when the new album release draws near. I can’t wait to hear the new album and see them again(Maybe I will finally see all seven members together for #4?! We shall see!).

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Best Performance: The Front Bottoms
I’m not going to lie, The Front Bottoms were one of the main reasons why I wanted to attend the Jersey Shore Music Festival in the first place (Wasn’t this the case with everyone? Kidding). I’ve been a (super) fan of these guys for the last few years, and their live shows definitely do not disappoint. This performance in particular was my third time seeing them live and I must say, this one was by far my favorite.

The only thing I was really kind of disappointed in was that there was less Talon of The Hawk in this set. Not that I minded that there was a lot off their 2011 self-titled, but it would have been nice to get familiar with their newer songs in a live setting. Other than that, I had a blast singing along with Sella and the many fans squeezed amongst the very front of the stage.

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Festival Comments Overall: The festival was not bad at all for the first go around but there are definitely things the runners can improve on next year.

Photo by Jeff Crespi
Photo by Jeff Crespi

The acts themselves were fantastic choices, but there was a lot of organizational problems that were quite noticeable throughout the day. There were times (especially during River City Extension) where I heard other bands mixed in with the bands I was actually seeing, which for any fan is annoying and uncomfortable as anything. I understand that they wanted to include a lot of acts, but decreasing the amount of bands or spacing the stages differently is not necessarily a bad idea. I hope that because of the success of this festival, the runners might consider spanning this out over a number of days, like the Bamboozle, Skate and Surf, and Warped Tour, to make it easier for all the interested local acts to participate.

I also think that the food selection was poor, especially for those who are vegan or who have food allergies like myself. The entire day all I had was a smoothie, which made me really sick and even further dehydrated. I get that festival foods are required, but not having a plethora of options, especially when outside food and drinks are banned, is inconsiderate to many of the fans.

Other than that, it was a great day and I sincerely hope they are about to continue the fun next year at First Energy Park!