It was a weekend of firsts for Seaside Heights, the coastal community rocked by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and a boardwalk fire in 2013. The first ever opportunity for concert-goers to pitch a tent on New Jersey beaches brought the borough its largest music event to date.
Grammy award-winning English rock band Mumford & Sons were the brains behind this seaside stopover, bringing with them a medley of sounds and talent from Los Angeles to Sydney and everywhere in between.
The announcement of the Gentlemen of the Road tour and its stopover locations came with the release of Mumford & Son’s third album, Wilder Mind.
The band’s new album has met its fair share of resistance for the new sound. Many claim the original Mumford & Sons sound has been replaced by a much more mainstream melody.
In a recent interview, lead singer Marcus Mumford says he doesn’t “feel like this album is really a departure,” but rather, “the first of many albums that might surprise people.” If the overwhelming crowd this weekend was any indication, Mumford was right; certainly, no love was lost.
So, why Seaside? The Jersey town commonly (and unfortunately) associated with an MTV show, which shall not be named, has a colorful reputation. In a press release, the band explains the inspiration behind the choice:
“The Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers are all about live music. We get to put them on in towns not normally frequented by touring bands in buses or splitter vans. We deliberately look for towns that have something unique, or some vibe of which they are proud, explore them and enjoy what they have to offer.”
Seaside Heights had exactly that something they were looking for. Arcade lights, lemonade stands and sky high rides proved to be the perfect backdrop. It was as though a fantasy land had descended upon New Jersey’s coastline. From sidewalks to stages, everything was adorned with the GOTR symbol, making it impossible to forget where you were.
Performances by Alabama Shakes, the Flaming Lips, Jenny Lewis, The Maccabees, Little May and more could have undoubtedly stood on their own. The sounds coming from the stage set the perfect playlist for campers as they listened from their beach side dens.
It became clear later on, however, that Mumford & Sons was the obvious anchor of this shore front show.
As the sun began to set, the horizon of lights from the rides and concession stands came into focus. Tens of thousands of people closed in on the stage waiting for the four gentlemen to take their places, eager to hear that first note.
New songs like “Snake Eyes,” “Believe” and “Tompkins Square Park” accompanied tried and true songs including “I Will Wait,” “The Cave” and, for the much anticipated encore, “Little Lion Man.”
About the tour, Marcus Mumford says, “It’s like a little traveling family. It’s never the same thing twice.” And a unique experience it was with an unforgettable seaside scene that won’t soon be forgotten.
Here are some of our favorite pictures from the weekend.