Local musicians provided a generous dose of Jersey style rock and roll to attendees of the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now Festival that was recently held in Asbury Park.
Boasting a two-day event headlined by music giants Jack Johnson and Incubus, the festival that was co-produced by photographer Danny Clinch drew more than 20,000 people to the Asbury Park boardwalk and featured several hometown acts.
On Sept. 29 and 30, more than 25 artists – including Blondie, Social Distortion, Frank Turner, Kaleo and a surprise performance by Bruce Springsteen – contributed to the massive success the first year music, art and surfing festival oversaw.
Of the local acts who performed – including Asbury Park rockers Deal Casino, and The Battery Electric – the New Jersey natives blessed the nautical festival with the grace of shore town jams.
Deal Casino, who performed on the Park Stage in Bradley Park, played a 30-minute set on the second day of the festival. The performance offered by the band was astonishingly reminiscent of an Arctic Monkeys meets Radiohead style of sound.
Frontman Joe Parella agreed. The band’s sound is not easily comparable to just one other band.
“We’ll start a song in some way, maybe with a riff or whatever it is,” Parella said. “Once everyone gets together and starts playing their instruments as a team and as a band, that is when it becomes whatever that particular sound is … (Our sound) is definitely based off of what we listen to. At the same time, this is our attempt at trying to do the best thing we are capable of doing. When you write a song, you just want to do what is best for that song.”
‘French Blonde,’ the third track performed by Deal Casino on Sept. 30, was easily the band’s funkiest tune from their half hour set. The song’s introduction features a strategic, steady rhythm – the intermittent plucking of bass chords – repeatedly passing through blunt, sultry vocals into a chorus that is sung at a faster pace.
Underneath the bass riff is a game changing drone synthesizer that gives the track its distinctive edge. ‘French Blonde’ will appear on Deal Casino’s upcoming project ‘LLC’ that is scheduled for a November release.
The band recently debuted a black and white visual for the track that features frontman Parella getting up close and personal with the camera. Several frames of the video are comparable to the music video for ‘Atomic Man,’ Portugal The Man.
Deal Casino, who said they have been releasing individual tracks from ‘LLC’ since August, said it was humble experience playing a show down the street from their home.
“Having a C3 festival come to our town is kind of crazy,” Chris Donofrio, Deal Casino drummer, said. “This park we just played in, I take my dog for a run through here every day. It’s cool to just have this stage magically appear and know this will all be gone tomorrow.”
The quartet finished off their set with “Father’s Day,” a track that exists in a realm separate from ‘French Blonde.’ The final tune ended Deal Casino’s performance at the Asbury Park festival on a mellow note.
“You take a quiet heartfelt song and play it last at the 1 p.m. slot in bright daylight and take it to the heartfelt level was a risky move,” one member said.
Deal Casino will kick off a nationwide tour in Portland, Oregon this November.
The Battery Electric, whose three members also reside in Asbury Park, opened the festival on Sept. 29 on the Sand Stage with a high-energy performance. Their set was accompanied by live drone footage of waves crashing in the Atlantic Ocean.
When asked to recall the venues The Battery Electric performed at when the band was in its early years, the trio recalled playing one of their first shows in 2012 at Asbury Lanes, 209 4th Avenue.
Six years later, the band has now performed in a festival that is in the same playing field as Lollapalooza, Chicago and Austin City Limits Music Festival, Texas.
“This was a great experience. We had a good crowd. We saw some familiar faces and some new faces – This festival is awesome,” bassist Alex Rosen said.
“I’m pretty sure this was the first time I was on the beach. I live five blocks away,” vocalist Ron Santee laughed.
Guitarist Brent Bergholm said the band wrote 10 songs in two hours the first time the trio got together for a jam session in 2012. Santee said the songs that were written during the first couple of the times the band got together debuted on the band’s freshman LP in 2013.
The band’s upcoming album ‘Going Wild’ will be released by New Jersey based label Gruesome Twosome Records, Bergholm said. The “garage rock” vinyl album is slated for a December release date, he said.
“I think this is the most cohesive album,” Rosen said. “We’ve written a lot of albums that are different styles because we are influenced by a ton of different music.”
“This is my favorite stuff we have done so far,” Bergholm said. The guitarist said their upcoming project is a left turn from their freshman LP, ‘Weaving Spiders,’ he described as “poppy.”
Santee described the high-energy rock trio as “Little Richard joining The Ramones.”
The Battery Electric said they were thrilled to witness a performance by the now 73-year-old Blondie, who played classic songs “One Way or Another” and “Heart of Glass.”
“I made eye contact (with Blondie) and I am pretty sure there is a restraining order now,” Santee laughed.