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Sea.Hear.Now 2023 Music Festival Review

The poster for Sea.Hear.Now’s 2023 festival. Photo credits: Sea.Hear.Now

As the adrenaline rush from this wild festival weekend wears off, I find myself trying to relive every single second of Sea.Hear.Now 2023 in my mind. More than just a music festival, I caught a few hours of the professional surf competition, I walked through art galleries filled with work from almost every performer on the lineup, and I shopped at the convention center for beachy wares to get me through the long, cold East Coast winter. To say I was in my element is an understatement, yet how could you not be at this festival? With top tier performers stacked all day long on both days of the festival, there is truly something for everyone at Sea.Hear.Now.

There were three different stages on the festival grounds, each with an ASL interpreter, and far enough apart that the sound didn’t clash during multiple sets. While the sound was perfect in the VIP section and at the front of the general admission pit, fans took to social media to slam the production company for the spotty speakers in the back of the oversold crowd. The sound issues endured through Saturday and most of Sunday, which understandably outraged fans who paid hundreds of dollars to attend. 

To me, the experience made up for the sound issues, and I started with Sheryl Crow’s performance on Saturday. Full of authenticity, Crow told fans that getting out in nature saved her life. Effortlessly belting out her sunshine-rock hits like “All I Wanna Do” and “Soak Up the Sun,” the crowd leaned into the relaxed vibe of the set. Crow’s contribution to the art gallery was the guitar she played during her set, which was signed, decorated, and super cool. 

I caught Greta Van Fleet’s set next and, WOW! This performance quite literally took my breath away as the lead singer, Josh Kiszka, dazzled the crowd with his incredible vocal range and talent. The rest of the band put on a showstopping performance as they hammered away on their instruments in a way that didn’t seem humanly possible. The band had infectious energy, a hauntingly beautiful sound, and had a certain way of captivating the crowd. Complete with outfit changes, audience interaction, and good old rock and roll vibes, this was one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. Their set made me brim with inspiration, so check out my artist spotlight article on Greta Van Fleet next.

To hype myself up for the energy I knew The Killers would bring as the Saturday headliner, I stopped at Bob Moses’s set before snagging my spot in the pit for The Killers. A Canadian electronic duo, this wasn’t Bob Moses’s first rodeo. Having played at festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza before, their set had funky lighting, upbeat music that you couldn’t help but dance to, and a kind of rave vibe that no other artist brought to the festival. 

Having been awoken by the thrilling vibrations of a true EDM set, I headed over to see the The Killers for the final performance of the day. This was my third time seeing The Killers live, and lead singer Brandon Flowers brings incredible showmanship and seemingly more energy every single time. They opened with “Mr. Brightside” and the crowd absolutely lost their minds. The entire set felt like one long trance as the band never seemed to take a break. Flowers could be seen flashing his charming smile until the lights on the stage went off, and the crowd ate it up. At one point, the band brought up a fan to drum onstage and the energy in the crowd became electric. The band’s talent intertwined with the lasers flashing over the crowd, and the waves shone with moonlight as The Killers played for their full hour-and-a-half set plus more on the cool sand. The band reluctantly left the stage at the end of the night, and I was floating on music festival cloud nine after day one of the incredible weekend.

I eased into day two by skipping around between Stephen Sanchez, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter who gained popularity on TikTok, and Joey Valence and Brae, the modern-day ‘90s hip-hop duo born out of Penn State University. The differences between the artists were stark, as Sanchez flirted with the audience and crooned out hits like “Until I Found You,” while JVB’s “Beastie Boys-esque” boom bap style got every head bopping.

It was almost evening, and I headed over to see the Beach Boys. Rumors were swirling that John Stamos might be with the band, and I needed to see it to believe it. Sure enough, none other than Uncle Jesse himself appeared on stage with two of the original Beach Boys members, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. I, like everyone else in the audience, was captivated by the legendary musical group still rocking the stage. People of all ages danced and sang in the crowd to the beachy surf rock, and I was reminded how beautiful it is that music can connect us all.

The sun set as I watched Mt. Joy’s set from the grass, which felt like the right thing to do at a Mt. Joy show. Lead singer Matt Quinn and guitarist Sam Cooper met in high school and have been performing together since 2005, gracing fans with indie folk and modern jam band hits like “Let Loose” and “Silver Lining.” This laid-back vibe continued later in the night when I saw Rebelution, a reggae rock band that got the whole crowd swaying to the hypnotizing percussion.

It was now dark as Weezer took the stage. Singer Rivers Cuomo belted out Weezer’s kooky hits like “Beverly Hills,” Hash Pipe,” and “Island in the Sun,” while dedicated Weezer fans gave it everything they had. 

For the final performance of the festival, Foo Fighters, led by the iconic Dave Grohl, shook the house. They played with their new drummer, Josh Freese of Nine Inch Nails, after the passing of their beloved drummer, Taylor Hawkins, in 2022. Grohl’s passion and humor commanded the crowd, and his massive talent was undeniable. With decades worth of music, the band played for two hours to a crowd of adoring fans. 

As the final notes of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” lingered in the beachy air, the festival came to an electrifying close. Topping this year’s lineup will be difficult, but I have no doubt it will be done. With previous headliners such as Stevie Nicks, Green Day, and Pearl Jam, I am counting down the days until Sea.Hear.Now 2024.

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