There's a certain point every summer when the city loses its seasonal charm, and an outside adventure beckons your name. Every so often, a work-related invite for a road trip presents itself, and I dive on the concert coverage opportunity like a brave soldier on a detonated grenade. I've seen great concerts at every venue that NYC has to offer - new and old, typical and unique - and I had been feeling a bit claustrophobic and jaded leading up to this past weekend. I wanted to get out. I wanted to go somewhere special. After being granted exclusive access to the brand new Volkswagen SmileDrive App, I knew exactly where I should go.
Growing up on the Jersey Shore, there are many special, historic places that many of my fellow locals take for granted. Perhaps the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy opened up our eyes about our own surroundings. One of these monumental locations that I was relieved to see quickly recovered was Asbury Park, whose venues have been - and will remain - strong influencers on music culture.
Using the Volkswagen SmileDrive App to pave the way, my girlfriend and I kicked out of work early last Friday for our trip down to Asbury. Cruising out of Jersey City, we headed across the behemoth Pulaski Skyway en route to the Garden State Parkway. The entire trip was captured in the app, which brilliantly does not allow you to toy with it whilst your vehicle is in motion. Along the way, the app keeps track of things, like distance, time, and even the weather, all of which and more are accumulated into your Smile Score.
Although Baeblemusic is generally a home for current indie and pop favorites, we were pretty stoked to get a chance to see 90s icons Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth of the Under the Sun Tour performing at the symbolic Stone Pony, outside atop its massive Summer Stage. Growing up, I had long heard my parents', uncles', and family friends' tall tales of that one random Wednesday night
when Bruce Springsteen showed up to play at the Pony. My own friends have even shared similar experiences as the Boss has surprised the Ocean Ave. venue in recent years to perform alongside bands like Gaslight Anthem. And I knew this event shouldn't expect a Bruce run-in, but being present at this one-of-a-kind musical setting was a treat in itself.
For a music fan, walking around Asbury Park has a museum-like effect. Although many of its buildings have accumulated their fair share of dust, each individual venue, from The Stone Pony to Asbury Lanes, carries its own historic legacy. I even have memories of the boardwalk's side parking lots where I experienced my first Warped Tours. Looking at the setting through such a lens, it was far too appropriate of a location to watch bands of my youth take the stage to play the radio hit songs of my youth.
Wonder Bar and Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park Convention Hall
Asbury Park Casino and Carousel House
Seeing this group of bands perform was a truly nostalgic experience. It was astonishing to see such a massive crowd swarm the stage for a chance to sing along with bands who last stood in the limelight over a decade ago. And since their heyday, bands of this era have endured an ample amount of harsh criticism, but by joining together for the Under the Sun Tour they're proving their relevancy by doing what they love. In many ways it was heartwarming to witness. And it was remarkable to see so many young teenagers who knew every last line that echoed out of Mark McGrath and crew's mouths.
This post is sponsored by Volkswagen SmileDrive
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