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Because the ocean breeze fluttered the scarves and chains dangling from her microphone stand, Stevie Nicks gazed out over the immense crowd — some 30,000 robust, stretched a quarter-mile down the seaside, a imaginative and prescient of late-summer Jersey Shore serenity — and described the scene as solely she may: “a fairytale.”
The sprawling Sea Hear Now competition kicked off its fourth yr in Asbury Park Saturday, and as droves of followers flooded the sand north of historic Conference Corridor and close by Bradley Park, it was clear New Jersey’s largest homegrown rock and pop music competition has efficiently cultivated its personal mystique, environment (or model recognition, should you’re cynical) — a way of singularity and vacation spot no amount of cash can purchase.
Whereas I can not communicate to the pressure placed on town to help in policing and organizing such an occasion, from inside the competition partitions, Sea Hear Now once more appeared as a convincing victory for manufacturing firm C3 Presents, who placed on the fest — in addition to the a lot bigger Lollapalooza in Chicago and Austin Metropolis Limits in Austin — in partnership with Danny Clinch, the Toms River native rock photographer, greatest often known as Bruce Springsteen’s private image man.
Followers stood in line Saturday to purchase SHN merchandise, peruse Clinch’s Clear Gallery images pop-up and pose with the art-punk portraits organized on the seaside, of present and previous performers — Nicks, Billy Idol, Patti Smith and extra — in between journeys to the competition’s three phases, which collectively hosted 15 acts, headlined by Nicks, the competition’s first feminine bill-topper thus far.
With that, the gang was markedly completely different from previous years: Whereas Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews ushered within the crush of dudes (a distinction from “men,” after all), Stevie Nicks drew waves of girls in wide-brimmed hats and flowing attire, a welcome change-up.
The climate was once more beautiful — SHN has lucked out since its 2018 kickoff, no rainouts but — and in totality, day one in every of two was an thrilling return. Sunday continues with punk-rock icons Inexperienced Day headlining, however first, let’s break down the perfect moments for Saturday:
Sea Hear Now highlights: Saturday
Again to Stevie: “Is this the world of Bruce Springsteen?” Nicks requested early in her 90-minute efficiency, egging on the gang. Whereas The Boss didn’t seem, no shine was misplaced from Nicks’ emphatic set, which echoed brilliantly over the seaside expanse and past the waves painted inexperienced, pink and blue by filtered lights. Attend sufficient festivals and also you’ll study some artists’ voices simply don’t carry properly in such monstrous settings. However Nicks, 74, was in full command, unloading a mixture of solo classics and Fleetwood Mac staples, twirling in place and traipsing across the stage as her eight-piece band performed on.
The night time’s single-most affecting second got here, maybe unsurprisingly, throughout “Landslide,” which Nicks tearfully devoted to Tessa Fleetwood, Mick Fleetwood’s granddaughter and her goddaughter, was in attendance. The group belted alongside, many eyes equally dampened.
Extra explosive have been the crashing renditions of “Gold Dust Woman” (with flecks of golden mud swirling on the large display screen), and her synth-laden solo minimize “Stand Back.” And naturally, “Edge of Seventeen” ignited the viewers as soon as extra. Nicks sang “Free Fallin’” as a tribute to her shut pal Tom Petty, who died in 2017, with completely happy photos of Petty and Nicks on the display screen.
She additionally unloaded a pointy cowl of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” preceded by a humorous quip: “I hope you all like it, whatever, I love it.” I’ll take Stevie’s angle eight days every week.
And the set completed with a rousing tackle Led Zeppelin’s “Rock N’ Roll,” sending the viewers off on a excessive. It was a propulsive efficiency, noticeably extra high-octane than her solo tour I coated just a few years again, and certainly essentially the most memorable headlining set in Sea Hear Now’s younger historical past. Pure pleasure and energy.
Simply earlier than Nicks, New Jersey’s new pop icon Fletcher hit the second stage for a pulsing hometown efficiency, not removed from the place the singer grew up in Manasquan and Wall.
Fletcher, 28, has constructed an amazing world viewers round her confessional tales of heartache and luminous queer love, amassing greater than 1 billion streams on-line, and was driving a excessive Saturday, having simply launched her debut full-length album, “Girl of My Dreams” Friday, through legendary Capitol Data.
Whereas Fletcher was clearly flustered by some technical points on stage, and commented about how nervous she was, the set was largely seamless as she tore by way of her bumping, R&B-tinged fan favorites “All Love,” “If You’re Gonna Lie” and “Sex with My Ex.”
“I have dreamed of playing this festival,” Fletcher mentioned. “This is the coolest, weirdest, craziest thing I’ve ever done.”
A big crowd gathered as her hour-long set soldiered on, hooking the gang with covers of Billie Eilish’s banger “Happier Than Ever” and Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.” Her vocal energy tore by way of on “Feel” and her lustful new hit “Becky’s So Hot,” in addition to an unreleased music known as “The Jersey In Me,” for which she welcomed her household and mates on stage in a full-circle second for the native star. On the identical time, out on the Park Stage, My Morning Jacket delivered what I’m instructed was a terrific set, as properly (I can’t be in two locations directly, sadly).
Earlier on the principle stage, Austin blues-rock stalwart Gary Clark Jr. was a consummate professional, delivering the sweeping, guitar-heavy vibes because the solar set, grooving by way of his greatest solo hit “Bright Lights” and being joined on stage by Clinch on harmonica (Clinch’s Tangiers Blues Band was not booked this yr).
And within the early night, new wave legends Boy George and Tradition Membership put forth a fully dominant set on the principle stage, booming with their 11-piece band. George, in his carnation pink hat completely askew, was at middle stage, after all, holding court docket and grinning as the gang ate up the ‘80s staples “I’ll Tumble For Ya,” “Karma Chameleon” and a slow-burning rendition of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” George, 61, delivered a crisp and highly effective vocal efficiency, the band tore it up — a shrewd reserving.
“I love this, I feel like the sea is always calling to me,” George mentioned.
However the day’s most nice shock, and certainly many followers’ best discovery, was the afternoon park set from Celisse, a singer-songwriter and incendiary guitarist who’s performed with Mariah Carey, Graham Nash and Melissa Etheridge, and jammed beside Lizzo on “Saturday Night Live.” With a drummer and bassist, Celisse unloaded as a frontwoman, mixing components of rock, blues, R&B and jazz — and giving Clark a run for his cash because the day’s virtuosic shredder. Her cowl of Invoice Withers’ “Use Me” may’ve been well worth the worth of admission alone, as was her unique tune “Freedom,” carried out with super energy and verve.
Sea Hear Now continues Sunday with performances from Inexperienced Day, Cage the Elephant, The Head and the Heart, Courtney Barnett and extra.
Bobby Olivier could also be reached at email@example.com. Comply with him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Fb.
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