HomeMusicSea Hear Now 2022 Review: A Turning Point for the Beachfront Festival

Sea Hear Now 2022 Review: A Turning Point for the Beachfront Festival

Pop Break Live: Sea Hear Now 2022 — North Beach of Asbury Park, New Jersey — September 17-18, 2022

Photos: Al Mannarino | Words: Bill Bodkin

Sea Hear Now Festival has always been an Asbury Park-centric music festival at its very core.

We’ve proclaimed the past several years that this festival is an absolute destination for music lovers, and the 2022¬†festivall was absolutely no different. From bona fide Hall of Fame headliners Green Day and Stevie Nicks, to some of the best the local scene has to offer like Dentist, The Vansaders and Lost in Society — Sea Hear Now is a music lovers paradise.

This year, however, you felt a little bit of a different vibe, and in many ways it was a reflection of Asbury Park itself.

For years, the festival felt like the perfect merger of local Asbury Park culture and the mega-popular fest life. The art, the surfing, the local bands, and everyone being in this harmonious wavelength meshed wonderfully with corporate installations and mainstream headliners. Art and commerce worked in this really fantastic way — not unlike pre-pandemic Asbury.

This year, more than ever, Sea Hear Now seemed to move aways a bit from that art-centric and beach culture vibe and embrace more of that mainstream vibe. From a commercial perspective, it was easy to see that this new formula worked; there were definitely bigger crowds, longer lines and way more people in VIP and platinum areas than in years past. Crowds seemed to be there more for the hangs and festival environment. Fest-goers, more than ever, seemed to be there to camp out for headliners like Stevie Nicks, Green Day and Billy Strings rather than wander from stage-to-stage looking to find their next favorite act like in years past. The festival, at times, felt like the new Asbury Park. People coming to Asbury for the reputation, the fun, the party and not the unique things that made this city — even during its darkest days — this beautiful bastion of art, music and culture.

Yet, even with all the commercial installations and more frustrating than normal out-of-town attendees spilling their overpriced drinks, the heart of Asbury could still be heard in the lineup curated by Danny Clinch and Tim Donnelly. The soaring vocals of Jim James of My Morning Jacket piercing the night sky, The Little Mermen rock out to a pop punk version of a song from Encanto, bluegrass king Billy Strings — who was headlining The Saint less than 8 years ago — drawing an enormous crowd, IDLES calling for a safe “wall of death” as they laid into a bombastic set, and Boy George wowing a crowd with his cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” — all of this was Asbury Park to the core. It was weird, it was wild, it was eclectic and it was awesome.

Sea Hear Now will continue to evolve and it will continue to garner mainstream acts which will necessitate larger audiences, but this year proved that the people behind the festival will never let the fabric of what made this festival so cool to begin with — the music and culture of Asbury Park — ever be torn.

Check out the latest episode of the Socially Distanced Podcast where will Bill Bodkin, Al Mannarino & Ryan DeMarco discuss Sea Hear Now 2022.

Check out photos of Day 1 and Day — the bands, the crowds, the atmosphere and the installation from Al Mannarino (@almannarino)

Order of Photos:

  • ALY & AJ (1-4)
  • Audible’s Surf Shack Experience (5-7)
  • Danny DeVito/James Bradley Statue (8)
  • Boy George & Culture Club (9-11)
  • Billy Strings (12-15)
  • Backseat Lovers (16-18)
  • Surf Area (19)
  • Gary Clark Jr. (20-23)
  • Fletcher (24-29)
  • Wet Leg (30-36)
  • Hendricks Gin Installation (37)
  • Ocean Avenue Stompers (38)
  • IDLES (39-42)
  • Cage the Elephant (43-50)
  • Courtney Barnet (51-58)
  • Green Day (59-67)
Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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