(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Jack Antonoff’s annual New Jersey music festival, Shadow of the City, made its triumphant return this weekend at The Stone Pony Summer Stage to the delight of a roaring sold-out crowd, most of whom had been holding their tickets for nearly two and a half years. After the festival’s multiple postponements due to the pandemic, Antonoff’s band Bleachers took the stage on Saturday night and were ready to, well… “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night”– the title of the band’s third studio album, released this past July. It’s safe to say their mission was accomplished. The only tears shed were tears of joy, as the band powered through an exuberant 25-song set.
You will be hard-pressed to find a touring band right now that performs the way Bleachers does. A 6-piece group of multi-instrumentalists, Bleachers is a project deeply influenced by the music and stage presence of Bruce Springsteen, complete with horns, drums, and synths– a sound Antonoff proudly boasts as uniquely New Jersey. The Boss himself gave Antonoff and Bleachers his stamp of approval earlier this year, by featuring on the track “Chinatown” off their most recent album. There was no sign of Springsteen in sight on Saturday night, but his influence was very much felt throughout the venue he made famous.
“Here the f**** we are. I don’t know what happens tomorrow, but we’re here tonight!” Antonoff shouted to the crowd, admittedly overwhelmed with emotion, finally getting to perform for who he lovingly refers to as his “people” after so long away from the stage. Bleachers played a jam-packed two-hour set, performing their own songs, as well as covers of The Waterboys’ hit ‘The Whole of the Moon’, Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, and Tom Waits’ ‘Jersey Girl’, famously covered by Springsteen. Opening for Bleachers were Philly favorites, Japanese Breakfast, Chicago’s Beach Bunny, and singer-songwriter Claud, also from Chicago and supporting Bleachers on their current tour. Earlier in the day, fans were treated to sets from bassist extraordinaire Blu DeTiger and Jersey’s own Long Beard.
Shadow of the City directly benefits The Ally Coalition, a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by Antonoff and his sister, fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. The organization works to better the lives of homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth. Previous years’ festivals have included a charity dunk tank and Mario Kart competition that attendees can buy into to compete against Antonoff. For more information on The Ally Coalition, visit theallycoalition.org
Here are more photos from the festival in order of appearance.
Taylor Shields is a live music photographer from the Philadelphia area, covering shows in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. For samples of work and general inquiries, please visit tayshields.com.