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All Words: Nick Balleza
All Photos: Nick Balleza & Matthew Carroll

I arrived in Asbury Park on Sunday around 1pm; enough time before the shows to meet with friends, sit on the beach, dig my feet into the sand and enjoy the view of the crashing waves while breathing in the sea air.

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As much as I’d like to call the ATP “I’ll Be Your Mirror” Festival “the Jersey Shore of music festivals” purely based on the location, not only would that be a huge misnomer, it would be doing it a massive disservice as well.

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The experience was pretty much the opposite of all pavilion/stadium music festivals I’ve attended in my lifetime.  And in that I mean the location, weather and timing was wonderful.  The two main stages, the Paramount Theater and Convention Hall were located indoors at the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

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The crowd it drew was a mature, knowledgable, and for the most part courteous group of people.

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Shepard Fairey’s propaganda style art pasted on the surrounding buildings really tied everything together.  The food and drinks were reasonably priced.  I didn’t once have to wait in line to use the restroom.  I found parking right in front of the Convention Hall.   There weren’t any signs of overindulgence: i.e. incapacitated kids being gurney’ed by EMTs to an ambulance standing by, or pools of vomit to avoid.

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Acts started their sets on time with the utmost efficiency.  In fact, this was probably the most fun I’ve had at a music festival in a very long time.

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I was able to attend 8 acts on Sunday:

  • Anika
  • DD/MM/YYYY
  • Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel (no photo/video policy)
  • Deerhoof
  • Earth
  • Company Flow
  • Public Enemy
  • Portishead

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It would take me multiple posts to cover each show… Company Flow, Public Enemy and Portishead each could fill a review on their own, so I’ll just give a rundown of some of the highlights of my experience and let the photos do the rest of the talking.

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Well worth the 8 hours I drove towards and back to the DMV area.  Great job ATP… keep putting on events like this stateside, and I’ll keep coming to them.

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Sunday Highlights:

  • The uncomfortable silence between songs after a fan shouted “I like your tights!” to Anika
  • Anika’s cover of Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime” (while reading the lyrics from a notebook)

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  • Seeing DD/MM/YYYY perform their last show ever in the US
  • Noticing that I’m not the only one who had issues with Jeff Mangum’s name being auto corrected (Ticketmaster ticket was printed as JEFF MAGNUM)
  • Witnessing an usher tell Amy Brooks (Portishead Fan Numero Uno) to put her cell phone away during the Jeff Mangum performance… when it wasn’t a cell phone at all.  Chapstick dude. Chapstick.
  • Company Flow together again, for what was apparently their 3rd show together in 10 years.  I’ve seen El-P and Mr. Len separately, first time seeing Bigg Jus perform.

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  • Public Enemy performing Fear of a Black Planet with S1W on stage
  • FLAVORRRR FLAVVVVV!!!  Stripping down from a black winter jacket, to Walter Payton jersey, to Run DMC T-shirt… then pulling out the trademark clock out from under it.
  • Flav, a 52 year old man, stage diving 3 times.

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  • Watching Public Enemy and noticing Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof right next to me watching as well
  • The entire Portishead show, with Beth Gibbons hitting every single powerful/vulnerable note in front of an incredible video screen backdrop
  • Chuck D guesting on stage, putting a verse on the instrumental end of Portishead’s “Machine Gun”

Did you go? How was it for you?

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