Pearl Jam salutes Asbury Park and Springsteen at Sea.Hear.Now Fest
The beach in Asbury Park, NJ may have seemed at first glance an unlikely venue to host Pearl Jam’s first concert in over three years, but it turned out to be a very suitable venue on the weekend of the September 18 at the third annual Sea .Hear.Now festival on the Jersey Shore. “We have the moon lighting up the ocean,” marveled Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam at the start of the band’s headlining set. “The ocean goes on forever and it looks like the crowds too.”
Pearl Jam probably wouldn’t have been on the beach in the first place if it weren’t for the roles played by a number of Jerseyers over the group’s 30-year career. Vedder has been a Bruce Springsteen fanatic since he was a teenager, and the two artists have forged a very close personal and professional bond since the early 2000s. Pearl Jam has an equally deep relationship with Sea.Hear. Now partners Danny Clinch and Tim Donnelly, themselves Jersey natives, who quickly bonded with the band around music and surfing after they first met on a Lollapalooza tour in 1992, some 70 miles from Stanhope. . .
Hailing famous rock photographer Clinch before joining Pearl Jam on harmonica for “Red Mosquito,” Vedder admitted that Clinch had been trying to get the band members to visit Asbury Park for years before finally taking the plunge: “He said, we’ve got surfing, we’ve got good people, we’ve got a boardwalk, we’ve got pinball machines, we’ve got everything a human could want. We thought, we’ll get there! Make it happen! And then we never got here. Thirty years working with this guy, and all the while he’s actually the Prince of Asbury.
And although Springsteen didn’t make a long appearance on stage with Pearl Jam, Vedder covered his 2000 song “My City of Ruins,” which was written about the deterioration of Asbury Park in the late 20th century. The song took on new meaning in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but 20 years later it now embodies the cultural rejuvenation of the Asbury Park area that Sea.Hear.Now aims to highlight. “The song was appropriate because of what happened in Asbury Park and how it came back from its ashes, with the help of artists, musicians and the lesbian and gay community,” Clinch said. . Variety. “For Eddie, recognizing that and wanting to cover one of Bruce’s songs was really emotional.”
Jarod, son of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, said he was “in tears” after the performance. “It was such a magical night knowing that we are not out of the woods yet, but we are back to normal a bit,” he said.
Vedder further nodded at Springsteen’s outsized legacy in the region as he reflected on the boss’s November 2020 arrest on drunk driving charges for taking two shots of tequila with a couple. local in a state park. “Of course you get him a glass of tequila, and of course Bruce is going to say yes, because he loves fucking tequila.” And he kinda likes to tell stories, ”Vedder said. “I just think that instead of a subpoena to appear in court, I think he should have gotten a police escort to get home. I just think that’s the way it should be done in Jersey. You should make an exception. Or not. In fact, have your partner take the bike home, put Bruce in the back, and bring him home. You can go to Bruce’s and I bet [that] along the way, he would tell you a pretty good story.
Vedder’s love for the Garden State didn’t just extend to Springsteen and Clinch. He also paid tribute to Patti Smith, from New Brunswick, saying he hoped he could “maybe” be her when he grew up. Earlier during the filming of Smith, she recalled visiting Asbury Park dog beach and seeing another ‘big kid’ playing in the water, who turned out to be Vedder. She also referred to the legendary Asbury Park club, the Stone Pony, as her late mother’s favorite place to watch it perform.
The 2020 edition of Sea.Hear.Now was dropped due to the pandemic, but an overwhelming majority of fans kept their tickets and returned to the event this year. Indeed, the festival drew over 30,000 fans to Asbury Park over the weekend for performances by the Avett Brothers, Lord Huron, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Idol and more. At least one band besides Pearl Jam had the courage to cover Springsteen, while Moon Taxi bravely tried out “Dancing in the Dark” during a Sunday afternoon set.
Surfers such as Sam Hammer, Cassidy McClain and Rob Kelly showed their skills in the ocean alongside the main surf scene, while Clinch focused on visual art and photography via a pop-up edition. up of the festival at his local Transparent Clinch gallery, which hosted artwork and performances by Vedder, Mike McCready and Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Smith, Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers, Billy Morrison of Billy Idol’s band, Trevor Terndrup of Moon Taxi, Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks, Liz Cooper, Briston Maroney, Hirie and James Black and James Heardman of Jackson Pines. A portion of the proceeds from sales in the gallery will go to the Save the Bay and Surfrider Foundation charities.
“I’m relatively new to visual art, so the fact that there’s one of my paintings in this gallery really doesn’t make sense to me,” Maroney said. Variety, adding that after more than a year of confinement, playing a festival of this size was particularly important. The Tennessee native said playing in the seaside town, “which looks like a Wes Anderson movie set,” was special because “everyone was there to have a good time. We could be coming home in two. weeks and never perform on a stage this size again, so it really puts into perspective how special it is for everyone.
Grouplove performed stripped in the Transparent Clinch tent on Sunday ahead of their own festival which takes place later today. “We literally got out of the van and went up on stage,” says band member Hannah Hooper, who contributed two paintings to the pop-up. “I love when art can be combined with music.”
Elsewhere, the Town’s Timber Walls project featured an art installation by Porkchop and murals by Holly Suzanne Rader and Bradley Hoffer. Works by local artists Jay Alders, Emily Arenberg, George Bates, John Glenn, Lucia Holm, Melissa Hood, Ronnie Jackson, Ron Liberti, Shane McClatchey, Ave McClendon, Moana Art, Max Mueller, Fiona Mullen, Neil O’Brien, Holly Suzanne Rader, Rob Santello and Scott Szegeski were also on display on the festival grounds.
Asbury Park’s deep musical roots were once again in the foreground during a post-Pearl Jam Saturday jam session with Clinch and the Tangiers Blues Band at Stone Pony. Several young artists from Sea.Hear.Now showed off impressive chops while making guest appearances, including guitarist / vocalist Ron Artis II, Remember Jones and members of Goose. As the hour stretched past 1 a.m., Patti Smith Band guitarist Lenny Kaye led the band through a sizzling version of “Gloria”, recalling that he had been there from New York in 1969 and had randomly seen the pre-famous Springteen Child group perform a 10-minute version of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch”.
Sea.Hear.Now is produced by Clinch, Donnelly and HM Wollman in partnership with Tim Sweetwood and C3 Presents (photo below).