A Solution To Sea.Hear.Now’s Big Problem
Last year I had low expectations for festivals in general, but I was blown away by the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now. I was stoked to return this year, with another great lineup of bands taking over the beach in Asbury Park on three stages.
Each day had a handful of bands I wanted to see - Saturday featured Work In Progress, Blind Melon, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, The Struts, and Bad Religion. Sunday was highlighted by Brick+Mortar, The B-52s, and Dropkick Murphys.
The scheduling worked against me a bit on Saturday, as Blind Melon and Work In Progress were playing different stages at the same time - I chose Work In Progress, and was happy because I got to see a surprise appearance by Pearl Jam's Mike McCready
I took a little break after that to cool down, and then headed down the beach to see some of Joan Jett's set. The beach was already getting crowded, so about halfway through her set I trekked down to the other end of the beach to camp out for a good spot to see the Struts. I got lucky, because "good spot" meant front row, standing against the barrier.
After that, a friend of mine wanted to see Cat Power, who was playing at the same time as Bad Religion. It took about 30 seconds into the second song for me to realize I did not belong at a Cat Power show, so I ran back to the beach to catch the rest of Bad Religion.
Now, here's where I was faced with a problem. I arrived pretty early on Saturday, around 1pm. I got lucky and found a parking spot near Wesley Lake. It wasn't bad, just a straight walk down the boardwalk for about a mile. My friend, however, wasn't able to arrive until later in the day. She got into Asbury at 4, but didn't make it to beach until 6! She spent forever just finding a parking spot, then walking and getting through security and everything took two hours.
I initially hadn't planned on going Sunday (it wasn't as easy to get a sitter for Baby Varacchi), but what also swayed my decision was the parking issue. It was crazy to park on Saturday, and I figured it would be even worse to get there on Sunday when the beach would be packed to capacity for Dave Matthews. I knew I'd either have to get there extremely early, then sit around all day just waiting for Dropkick (because I didn't even want to see DMB), or end up parking in another town.
Here is my proposed solution: beach camping!
If you head to other festivals like Bonnaroo or Mountain Jam, it's easier to spend the weekend because you can camp out. There's no need to drive to the event, head back home, and drive to the venue again. The hotels in and around Asbury sold out almost immediately after SHN last year, as soon as they announced it would be back for 2019. Maybe you are lucky and know someone who lives in or around the town and you can crash with them, but I really think a great solution is to just designate a section of beach for tents.
If you haven't been to SHN, they set up one stage on the beach right on the North Side of Convention Hall, then the main stage a few hundred yards up the beach. If you walk through Convention Hall heading south, once the building is between you and the stage, you can barely hear the music. It would be an absolutely perfect place to rope off a section of beach for people to camp. I don't know exactly how much space would be needed, but I'm sure someone at SHN could figure out how many tickets were sold, approximately how many people would camp, how much space each tent needs, and how much beach that would require.
I understand that the Berkeley and some of the other hotels might not like this, but there would still be plenty of people who would rather buy a hotel room than camp out, so they shouldn't suffer. The town of Asbury might hesitate at having less beach for non-festival, regular beach-goers...but with the amount of money coming in from the Festival, they should be happy. All the restaurants and businesses on the south side of Convention Hall would benefit a ton, too.
Now, in my personal case, it might not really solve my problem of babysitting for Baby Varacchi. It would also create a bit of an issue in that I'd have to leave my car in a parking space from noon on Saturday til late Sunday, but that could be made simple with an official Sea.Hear.Now parking pass that the town could charge for.
There aren't many flaws when it comes to Sea.Hear.Now, but I think adding in the element of beach camping would solve the biggest flaw.
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