Contrary to popular belief, there was no skating or surfing at Skate And Surf Festival on May 18. For the first time in 8 years, the music festival was brought back in place of the failure that was last year’s Bamboozle Festival. In fact, Skate And Surf Festival pre-dates Bamboozle Festival, originating in 2002 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Originally, the festival was supposed to go on at Plaza Green at iPlay America in Freehold, New Jersey but was moved to Six Flags Great Adventure for the weekend by popular demand, although most attendees will agree that Six Flags is one of the worst venues for concerts.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not on Jersey’s side, casting the entire day with grey skies and light showers. Aside from the bad weather, Skate & Surf Festival was somewhat of an actual disaster for its first round. The setup alone for the event was an absolute mess. On one side, three stages are directly next to each other while the main stage — almost the same size as the others — stands a few feet away from another hidden stage.
Even though it seemed like everyone was here to defend pop punk, there were so many different types of music featured at the festival, including hip-hop/rap, alternative, ska, electro, indie rock and screamo. With the stages being so close to each other, there were a lot of mixed signals throughout the day: in between sets, it was almost impossible not to hear the next band over.
At the Aquarian Better stage, pop-punk bands like Mixtapes put on energized 30-minute sets before spectators got too soggy from the rain. (The bassist even performed without an actual bass for most of the gig, which was impressive.) The Ohio natives were the most interactive band by far, engaging the crowd in witty dialogue in-between all of Maura Weaver and Ryan Rockwell’s lighthearted male-female call and response sing-alongs.
The temperature cooled down, but the level of intensity only rose throughout the day. Tallhart swept everyone away on a current of indie rock, perfect for the gloomy weather that was rolling through the lot.
Aquarian Bigger stage had its name spot-on, as the crowds were larger due to the huge names playing on them. Fronting as a side project combining Frank Iero from My Chemical Romance and James Dewees from the Get Up Kids, Death Spells attracted several curious spectators. Of course, bands like Balance & Composure, and Into It. Over It. followed immediately after, but it felt like most of the excitement was built up for Transit, who delivered a spectacular set.
Hopping on over to the Ford Focus stage, artists like Hi-Rez brought all the hip-hop needed to put a spring in anyone’s wet step. Driicky Graham reminded us about the hottest trend of the year, snapbacks and tattoos, while Andrew W.K. brought the party towards the end of the day.
Meanwhile, on the Ford Fusion stage, Crown The Empire and For The Fallen Dreams created a more hardcore atmosphere, revving the crowd up from front to back. Their stage may have been smaller, but that just made them go harder.
The main stage, though, was all over the place in every sense of the phrase. Hopsin showed everyone what swag is all about, teaching the juvenile crowd about various issues, from pans in the kitchen to baby daddies. “They’re tryna get you swaggie,” rapped one of Hopsin’s crew members.
Streetlight Manifesto spiced up the night with flavorful ska punk tunes. Representing New Brunswick, NJ, the band had a solid amount of support present. They really got everyone moving and grooving again, dishing out a much-needed serving of positivity.
Lights graced the main stage super late, but she did her best to put on a captivating performance. Out of all the acts that performed all day, her voice surged the loudest and could be heard from just about anywhere. Lights was a force to be reckoned with, and wanted everyone to know it.
With the schedule going so off course, Mayday Parade eventually came on and figuratively set fire to the rain, making everyone forget that they were wet for a little while. It was almost more enjoyable to experience them that way, even when the rain began to pour harder.
As the headliner for last night’s show, all the attention was geared towards Fall Out Boy for the remainder of the night. For most, all that waiting had been worthwhile. Friends and enemies alike got chills when the reunited band performed 16 songs, and it wasn’t just because they were soaking and freezing through their clothes. Ending with Fall Out Boy was a smart choice — everyone in attendance left the park feeling satisfied.
Skate & Surf Festival’s first day had so much potential —it just needs to be properly planned and executed next time. Hopefully, there will be major improvements on Day 2 to prevent this entire festival from being a total wipe out. With an even stronger lineup, it can only get better.