Since its return in 2013, Skate and Surf Festival has certainly had an interesting run over the last few years. From holding the festival at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2013 (with Fall Out Boy, Macklemore, and A Day To Remember as the high-priced headliners) to FINALLY getting Midtown to reunite last year, the festival has been slowly building itself back into the powerhouse festival it once was. This year’s edition returns once again to Asbury Park, where The Gaslight Anthem and Dropkick Murphy’s will headline. Don’t just look at the headliners, though: this lineup is quite obviously the festival’s most complete and jam-packed since its return. We at TGS don’t want you to miss out on any of the action, so we’ve compiled a list of the Top 20 bands that you NEED to see this weekend at Skate and Surf! See a name on our list that you don’t recognize? Fret not, because at the bottom of our countdown, we’ve got a playlist featuring all 20 bands on our list to help you get acquainted. Check out our most anticipated sets of Skate and Surf, and we’ll meet you in the mosh pits in Asbury Park this weekend!
20. CLOUD NOTHINGS
At a festival that showcases predominately pop punk and emo bands, Cloud Nothings will be a refreshing change of pace to break up your day. The band, although leaning closer to the indie rock genre, is bound to attract a big crowd. If you happen to be involved in college radio like I am or just a lover of rock in general, this set will be a fun one.
SET INFO: Sunday, 4:40-5:20 || The World Stage
19. MODERN BASEBALL
By now, the above should be a name which is rapidly becoming familiar to you. Whether being name dropped as a great up-and-coming band or touring with your favorite band, Modern Baseball has been seemingly everywhere in the past calendar year. Now, they make an appearance here at the Skate and Surf, where their juvenile brand of pop-punk will be not only welcomed, but embrace with open arms.
SET INFO: Sunday, 2:45-3:20 || Game Loud Stage
18. A WILL AWAY
Fresh off the release of their new EP, the stunning Bliss EP, A Will Away is a fast-ascending star in the emo genre. A late addition to the festival’s lineup, being announced along with set times this week, this Connecticut emo outfit is one that shouldn’t be dismissed. The aforementioned EP sounds like the deranged Frankenstein hybrid of Listen and Forgive-era Transit, The American Scene, and Have Mercy. All of those things are great separately, but when they all come together, true magic happens.
SET INFO: Sunday, 7:15-7:45 || Bar Stage
17. HEAD NORTH
If you’re like me, you didn’t quite give Head North enough attention in the months leading up to the festival. It’s time we both changed that. After seeing the band live a few months ago, I’ve been hooked on their blend of rock and emo ever since. They’re young, but they’ve got the talent and the sound to carry them as far as they want to go. If you still haven’t listened to them, this weekend will give you the perfect opportunity to hop on the bandwagon early.
SET INFO: Sunday, 3:45-4:15 || West Stage
Pentimento is so much fun. Seeing their set on the beach in Asbury Park might be one of the best ways to kick off summer. With a new record due out this fall via Bad Timing Records, they will hopefully have a new song to debut during set. If not, you’ll be sure to find most of the crowd singing along to their favorites from their 2013 self-titled LP.
SET INFO: Sunday, 8:50-9:25pm || East Stage
mewithoutyou have a long history and a stacked discography, which should be motivation enough to take the time to see them on Saturday afternoon. If you are of the younger crowd or perhaps never took the time to delve into mewithoutyou, this should be your wakeup call. The band recently signed to Run For Cover Records, and their new album Pale Horses comes out exactly one month after their Skate and Surf set. If nothing else, watch them play the lead single “Red Cow.” The song is bound to be massive live.
SET INFO: Saturday, 4:40-5:20pm || The World Stage
A very little discussed reunion on this year’s Skate and Surf bill comes in the form of West Chester, PA’s Spraynard. The band broke up in 2012 shortly after their stand out record Funtitled was released, but reunited last year for a series of sweaty punk-as-fuck reunion shows. Now, they’re taking their talents to the beach, where they will rock the stage with their snotty, no-hold-barred garage punk. I can’t think of a better ways to describe Skate and Surf than with their song, “Spooky, Scary,” “Let’s take in every ounce of daylight, stay up every second at night time, they only thing we’ll regret is not knowing what regret feels like.”
SET INFO: Sunday, 4:15-4:45 || Bar Stage
The band that just never seems to catch the big break that they so painfully deserve is taking the stage to yet again prove why you need to listen and love them. Fireworks are now three full-lengths and two EPs into their prolific career, and they’ve remained one of the most consistent and hardest-working bands in their scene. They always bring it live, and they’re also one of Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s favorite bands, so what more reason do you need to check out one of the best emo/pop-punk bands around?
SET INFO: Saturday, 8:05-8:40 || East Stage
The California quartet is one of emo’s best kept secrets. Because they don’t make it out to the East Coast very often, they are DEFINITELY a band to catch while in town. In preparation, go to iTunes and download the deluxe edition of You, Fear, and Me, which the band dropped last week. Souvenirs plays one of the first sets on Saturday, so get there early!
SET INFO: Saturday, 2:05-2:35pm || Bar Stage
So you’re out in the sun all day, hanging out and listening to music with your best friends. Sounds like a great time, right? That is until you see Alcoa, and you’re devolved into a blubbering mess of tears and feels. Maybe not your idea of a grand old time, but I know it’s where I’ll be. Defeater frontman Derek Archambault also fronts this group, which released its second album, the stellar Parlour Tricks, earlier this year. That means you’ll get twice the amount of Mr. Achambault’s honest and introspective poetry on Saturday. Speaking of which…
SET INFO: Saturday 3:50-4:20 || East Stage
Due to vocalist Derek Archambault’s unfortunate health problems, Defeater was unable to properly tour on their 2013 release Letters Home. Luckily, Derek is back on his feet and the band is back on the road. This will be the first time Defeater is playing the Garden State in a while, something us Jersey folk have been waiting patiently for. If their setlist looks anything like what they played at Groezrock two weeks ago, it’s been well worth the wait.
SET INFO: Saturday, 8:40-9:20pm || West Stage
9. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM
I know what you’re thinking: NO WAY, we’re looking forward to watching the band that’s headlining the whole festival? Yes, it’s a simple selection, and an obvious one at that. But consider this: is there any band that would serve as a better headlining act than The Gaslight Anthem? The band built their brand of anthemic alt-rock/punk in the sweaty basements of New Jersey, they’re residents of Asbury Park, and they’ve never been shy about their New Jersey roots. As the sun finally sets on this incredible weekend, The Gaslight Anthem will end the festival on a better note than any band out there possibly could. “
Set Info: Sunday, 8:30-10:00 || GameLoud Stage
8. SORORITY NOISE
Following last summer’s debut LP Forgettable, Sorority Noise grabbed the attention of many with Cam Boucher’s quirky yet relatable lyrics. After announcing their sophomore release Joy, Departed this week and dropping a single, this band is generating some serious buzz. Listen to Sorority Noise’s new song “Art School Wannabe” and get stoked to see them this weekend!
SET INFO: Saturday, 6:30-7pm || Bar Stage
7. THE WONDER YEARS
They’re the best pop-punk band in the world right now. They’ve begun to transcend their genre and peers completely and become one of the best bands of their generation. Their live sets have garnered them thousands (if not, millions) of fans around the world due to their passion and dedication. You need to see The Wonder Years play this weekend, and you’ll be making a grave mistake if you don’t.
SET INFO: Saturday, 6:55-7:45 || GameLoud Stage
What can possibly be better than seeing one of the best post-rock bands in the world bring their earth-shattering, atmospheric onslaught to an outdoor stage? I’ll answer that for you: not much. Gates rocks one of the festival’s side-stages in a set you’re going to talking about over the metaphorical water cooler for months to come.
SET INFO: Sunday, 6:30-7 || Bar Stage
5. MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA
Manchester Orchestra puts on one of the best live performances of any band right now. From the first song of the set on, you’re hit with a massive wall of sound that will make you simultaneously dance and scream each song word for word. Even in a headlining set, Manchester Orchestra tends to play all the favorites. Their festival set should be even more jam-packed with bangers, making it sure to be a highlight of the weekend.
SET INFO: Sunday, 7:30-8:30pm || The World Stage
4. PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH
Let’s face it: at its core, this blog and radio show is all about one thing: listening to music that brings out the sad in us. No band on this bill will be able to do that as well as Pianos Become the Teeth will. Their two full-lengths both contain enough melancholy to cause even the strongest people to crumble under the sheer weight of the emotion that oozes out of frontman Kyle Durfey in each track. There will be so many tears shed during this set, you’ll think you’re actually in the ocean of Asbury.
SET INFO: Sunday, 8:15-8:50 || West Stage
3. THE FRONT BOTTOMS
Another home-grown band playing the festival, The Front Bottoms are my dark horse contender for the best crowd of the festival. They have a rabid fan base who are devoted, energetic, and loud. It’s for a great cause: TFB’s acoustic/rock/emo sound is easy to relate to, and even easier to rock out to. The Front Bottoms are essentially a party while they’re on stage, and everyone in Asbury this weekend is cordially invited.
SET INFO: Sunday, 6:45-7:30 || Bar Stage
Last year’s Skate and Surf saw festival talent booker John D finally landing his white whale. He got Gabe Saporta-fronted Midtown to reunite for a weekend’s worth of sets. It was the culmination of about a half-decade of work for the festival. How do you follow that up? By earning the right to get one of the best post-hardcore bands ever to play their first East Coast date since ending their three year long hiatus. Thrice, undoubtedly one of the most popular and inspirational bands on this year’s Skate and Surf bill, close out Saturday’s slate of bands on The World stage.
SET INFO: Saturday, 7:45-8:45pm || The World Stage
The news of a Skate and Surf Thrice reunion set took everyone by surprise when it was announced. But perhaps even more shocking was the news of Seattle’s Acceptance reuniting to play the Festival’s The World Stage. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the band’s debut (and only full-length) album Phantoms, which has transitioned from criminally underrated- in the wake of Sony’s Extended Copy Protection scandal, the record wasn’t a huge commercial success- to cult classic status. Not only does their infectious brand of pop-rock feel fresh even today, the band recently shocked the world even more by releasing a brand new single, “Take You Away,” which you can hear below. The song continues to the band’s near-perfect legacy and showcases Jason Vena’s still marvelous vocal talent.
SET INFO: Sunday, 3:20-4pm || The World Stage