Words by Al Mannarino, Photos by Jesse Murch and Keeyahtay Lewis
After reading Nick’s live tweets and hearing about his triumphant day at Skate & Surf, I was very excited to pull into the parking lot and start my music filled day. I picked up my wristband and headed into the festival. Before I was able to see any of the opening bands, I met up with Jake Mcelfresh, also known as Front Porch Step. I interviewed the poetic storyteller before his set on The Loud Stage. He performed the previous day as well and he was excited to be playing his first outdoor festival.
Jake and I parted ways after the interview and I made my way to the Main Stage to catch to get a good spot to see We Came As Romans. I ended up getting there just as the first band to take the stage, The New Royalty, was finishing their set. My only regret from Skate & Surf was not seeing their entire set. The indie pop/punk band from Central Jersey completely took me by surprise. They were fun, electrifying, and reminded me of Tonight Alive or an early version of Paramore.
Last year I bought tickets to see We Came As Romans in Philadelphia, but unfortunately I had to work and couldn’t make the show. When I heard that they were going to play at Skate & Surf I found my opportunity to see them again, and they did not disappoint. After a slight delay, they finally took the stage opening with their fast paced and scream filled anthem “Tracing Back Our Roots.” David Stephens hard hitting vocals woke the crowd up and started a mosh pit in the middle of the crowd. It wasn’t until they went into the next song, “Ghosts,” that singer Kyle Pavone took the stage and really got the party started. They performed one more song before playing an excellent cover of “Glad You Came” by The Wanted that was first featured on Pop Goes Pop Volume Five. They would go on to perform two more songs before their set was cut off two songs early. The festival was on a set schedule and since it took so long to get stage set, the set was unfortunately cut.
I left The World Stage and made way over to The Loud Stage where Front Porch Step had just started his set. Mcelfresh’s real life experiences are the subject for each of his poetic and heartfelt songs. Each song he performed was about tragedy, betrayal, and lost love. He poured his heart and soul into each one of his songs and the crowd couldn’t help, but stand silent and in awe of his raw emotional set. Reminiscent of one of his idols, Chris Carrabba, Front Porch Step is bringing back the heart broken singer/songwriter to the punk rock scene.
Before his last song, Front Porch Step recommended his crowd to move over to the stage next to watch the band Light Years. The fans took his advice and migrated over to the next stage. If you are a fan of bands such as The Wonder Years or Citizen, it would be wise to check out the four piece band from Cleveland, Ohio.
I stood for a few songs before heading back to The World Stage to see Hidden in Plain View. There was a huge crowd for the newly reunited New Jersey band containing an even larger mosh pit. The crowd was ecstatic to see the return of Hidden in Plain view, which had just reunited last year after seven years apart. I watched as the band played some of their hits before heading back to The Loud Stage to catch the incredibly weird, but nonetheless entertaining band, Fucked Up.
When I say Fucked Up is weird, I mean their name speaks for themselves. Lead singer Damian Abraham (also known as Mr. Damian) began his set shirtless and decided that singing on a stage wasn’t enough to get the crowd going. So he decides to go into the crowd and sing in the faces of his fans. While the band played on stage, the sweaty and shirtless Mr. Damian screamed into his microphone as he moved throughout the crowd. Now I have been to shows where the lead singer would go into the crowd for a few minutes and I have seen other shows where lead singers walked through arenas while singing, but for the life of me I never thought I would see a shirtless man scream singing while migrating around an entire crowd. It was a fascinating change of pace to say the least.
The last band I saw before leaving for another concert were Back Yard Superheroes. I have never heard of this band before and was intrigued by not only their sound, but the massive audience that they had acquired. What first made me decided to check them out was overhearing them play a cover of “Rock Show” by blink 182. I walked over to where they were playing and instantly became a fan. With all of the emo, punk, pop, and screamo bands, it was a breath of fresh air to hear some ska music. Back Yard Superheroes are also from Central Jersey and contain seven members including trumpet, sax, and trombone players. They were as fun as their name suggests. They didn’t just play their set; they got the crowd involved and played fantastic covers such as ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ by The Beastie Boys. They were a great ending to an awesome day at Skate & Surf. I wasn’t unable to stay for the headlining acts, but all the bands I did see were pretty impressive.