After a stint when the festival was alternately known as Bamboozle, Skate and Surf returned to its roots for two days at Asbury Park this year. A forecast that predicted thunderstorms and rain for most of the weekend thankfully didn’t come to fruition (except for a short while on Saturday night) as fans generally experienced a temperate couple of days. The fragrant, salty sea air wafted over from the boardwalk, a reminder of just how close the beach was.
“Asbury Park is hands-down one of my favorite places on this Earth,” Modern Baseball’s Ian Farmer said when I briefly caught the band backstage. The grounds were actually laid out around the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (where most of the bands were staying), which made for a fun bit of star watching as musicians came and went through the lobby.
A perfect middle ground between the hectic one-day affair of Warped Tour and the full-blown, three-day Riot Fest, Skate and Surf provided the best of both worlds over its two days. The crowd never suffocated and lines weren’t too long for food or Port-a-Potties. The structure of alternating performances between two sets of stages (GameLoud-World and East-West) helped to reduce the wait times, although this did make for some tough scheduling conflicts on Sunday evening.
And it also bears saying: Fans at pop-punk festivals always seem to really be there for the music. One of the main reasons I love Riot Fest so much is for its lack of pretension. Likewise, Skate and Surf wasn’t an event for posturing or going for the sake of being seen; it was an event for hearing some of pop-punk’s (and metal/emo/hardcore’s) most exciting, up-and-coming acts and veteran forefathers.
Dads had the misfortune of getting assigned a set time that overlapped with The Front Bottoms, arguably the biggest draw of the entire festival. (“We’re just gonna play a Front Bottoms CD and dance,” joked Ryan Azada, the band’s bassist, backstage.) And although the band have roots in New Jersey, they were hesitant to label (or rely on) this a homecoming show. In preparation for these potential obstacles, the trio inverted their set to perform their more well-known tracks from the start. Luck didn’t seem to be in Dads’ favor still, as the generator providing power to the stage gave out in the middle of their second song, “Shit Twins”. But the audience on hand provided all the amplification the band would need, belting out “You’ll say it’ll be just like the old days/ But it won’t be the fucking old days,” picking up right where drummer/vocalist John Bradley left off. Soon, power was restored and the band recovered with “Get to the Beach!” and “The Romantic Ocean”.