The Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival Bring Suds’ & Song To The City By The Sea
The annual A.C. Beer and Music Festival 2018 kicked off its thirteenth season, at the Atlantic City Convention Center on March 23 and 24th. This event attracts hopheads from far and wide and has grown from humble beginnings to a major yearly event, attracting tens of thousands of beer and music enthusiast to what I consider my second hometown, Atlantic City New Jersey.
The backdrop for the festival is the cavernous AC Convention Center, which to the uninitiated would seem rather ambitious, but keep in mind that New Jersey is home to over 150 craft breweries, and hosts one of the most vibrant music scenes in the Country. The festival was divided into three sessions, with the first being Friday night followed by two on Saturday, one early and one later. The event organizers have done an incredible job in past years bringing big name performers to the Festival, setting quite a high standard, and expectation. Musical talent for the festival included the old school punker’s The Descendents on Friday night, followed by the veteran Boston based Ska powerhouse The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and finished up Sat night with the smooth reggae infused Island sounds of Pepper!
I arrived at the venue Friday night to find several thousand beer and music enthusiast already in queue, eager to get the nights festivities under way. After the customary singing of the National Anthem the gates were opened and the A.C. Beer & Music Festival 2018 was officially under way!
In the time span of a few minutes the elated crowd made their way into the venue and quickly began making very good use of their commemorative festival beer mugs. The beer flowed and spirits soared as the crowd found a kind of rhythm, wandering from vendor to vendor looking for the specific beer that called their name. With over 150 of the best craft breweries in the Nation at your disposal it could be a bit overwhelming, but nothing a true hophead couldn’t endure! There were also several local Restaurant options available to attendees.
Beer enthusiast are a social bunch and as the night progressed you could sense the goodwill and camaraderie between the attendees, who were chatting it up and having a few laughs while enjoying the outstanding beer selection. From a crowd watching perspective this event was solid gold, with a continuous flow of people in costume and beer related themes, some plugging their local breweries. The evening was progressing nicely with the opening musical artist working through their sets; you could see the crowd’s attention shift to the main stage in anticipation of the night’s headliners, The Descendents!
FRIDAY MARCH 23RD
The Descendents are a punk band formed in 1977 with current band members Milo Aukerman on vocals, Steve Egerton on guitar and vocals, Bill Stevenson on drums and Karl Alvarez on bass and vocals. The Descendents are an Epitaph Records recording artist whose latest album “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” dropped in 2016.
In the past, the punk scene was dominated by young people angry about a myriad of issues, mostly social and political. As time moved on, not much has changed except their age. Their still pissed off, and still look toward music as an outlet to their angst, but their older now. The Descendents have been in the scene for forty plus years but their music is still very relative, delivering that angry, impatient energy we’ve come to expect from a legit punk band. The Descendents are a prime example of things changing, but somehow remaining the same.
The Descendents quietly and unassumingly took the stage and began a ninety-minute set of old school punk rock. Front man Milo Aukerman sporting the typical bifocal specs, shorts and chuck’s, leading band mates through a ninety minute set beginning with “Suburban Home” off the band’s stand out album Milo Goes to College. The set was a seamless blend of songs from the bands 30+ year oeuvre. The Descendents brought their old school punk style to the masses with lively tracks spanning their catalogue including “Nothing With you,” I Don’t Want to Grow Up,” and “When I Get Old “. The Descendents played a total of twenty-six songs including the encore for the crowd of young and older punk rockers in attendance!
Getting thing started musically Friday night were Gutter Drunk and Bigwig. Both bands proved to be a great addition to the show, getting things started with high-energy sets!
Saturday March 24th had two sessions, noon until 4pm and 6pm until 10pm. The day started early with the Hops Trot 5k run and continued into the day’s festivities!
SATURDAY MARCH 24TH - EARLY SESSION
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are an American Ska band from Boston Massachusetts formed in 1983 with band members Dicky Barrett on vocals, Joe Gittleman on bass and vocals, Tim Burton on sax and vocals, Ben Carr on vocals, Joe Sirois on drums, Lawrence Katz on guitar and vocals, Chris Rhodes on trombone and vocals, John Goetchius on keyboard and Leon Silva on sax.
Ska music’s roots originated in Jamaica and is a hodgepodge of American jazz, Calypso, reggae and rhythm & blues, punctuated with off beat rhythms and distinct bass lines. Pioneers of the genre include The Skatalites, The Specials, The Selector and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were quite the sight, taking the stage sporting blue pin stripe suits, ties and Doc Martens. The set started with “The Old School Off the Bright” turning the convention center into a quasi mosh pit / skank fest, with band member Ben Carr working the stage, showing the crowd how its done. Dicky, the band’s lead singer controlled the action in his blue suit and shiny sunglasses, keeping the audience under his control. The Bosstones worked the crowd hard, delivering a knock out punch of hard driving ska jams that pushed the crowd to the brink and back.
Stacked Like Pancakes and High School Football Heroes were given the opening honors at the early session Saturday and tore it up, delivering high energy in your face performances!
SATURDAY MARCH 24 - LATE SESSION
Pepper originally hails from Hawaii, but currently calls San Diego California home. Pepper band members are Kaleo Wassman on guitar and vocals, Bret Bollinger on bass and vocals and Yesod Williams on drums and vocals. Pepper is a Law Records recording artist whose latest album “Ohana’ dropped in 2016.
Peppers music is rather unique, combining reggae influences and island sounds that can be hard driving at times, and at other times be so chill you can almost hear the waves. Peppers stage setup was simple and straightforward, a simple band banner hanging behind drummer Yesod Williams, and a simple lighting scheme. You could sense the camaraderie between band mates, which transcended into a very chill but very upbeat vibe. Pepper worked through their discography taking the crowd to a place of warm ocean breezes, surf, sun and bikinis. Set highlights for me were “Never Ending Summer” and “Vacation”. If anything can make a cold March day in Jersey seem a bit warmer, it’s Pepper.
Opening for the late set Saturday was Cheesy and the Crackers and Tropidelic, who did a great job getting the crowd in the mood!
In conclusion The Atlantic city Beer & Music Fest was truly an incredible event, what could be better that beer, music and lots of friends. This is a big event for our City that grows every year, and is recognized as being in the top ten events of its kind in the Country! This event takes an unfathomable amount of work to pull off and I would like to thank and congratulate, the fine people of Good Time Tricycle Productions and Near Dark Entertainment for bringing this event to our city by the sea!
Check out the Festival Website at www.acbeerfest.com for up to date information regarding this outstanding event!
Coverage by Pat Gilrane
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