Long known as a city that merges a vibrant and eclectic music scene with an equally colorful and active LGBTQ community, the past year and a half in Asbury Park N.J. has been understandably & noticeably silent. That all changed this past weekend when the Sea.Hear.Now festival returned to the famed Jersey Shore town. The music festival brought back thousands to the beach town for a back to back Saturday and Sunday concert experience, that showcased rock luminaries like The Smashing Pumpkins, Patti Smith, Ani DiFranco, Billy Idol and Pearl Jam throughout the weekend, all garnering massive crowds, which had to either be vaccinated or present a negative COVID test to enter. There was plenty of equally vibrant LGBTQ representation, when hometown favorite Remember Jones and emerging country/pop superstar Orville Peck both headlining massive shows of their own during the two day festival.
Remember Jones’ set showcased the newly minted officially out performer sharing the stage with a number of Asbury Park’s famed drag and gender bending performers, with queens like Luxx Noir London, Victoria Courtez, Magenta Milian, and Tastie all serving as glamour-puss back up dancers for the effervescent frontman. Jolina Jasmine was one of the queens who got to perform on stage with Remember Jones & said to me exclusively “he really knows how to command and engage the crowd. They really loved us. He was just as easy and fun to work with off as he was on stage. A true professional! He and his entire band were also very welcoming and invited us queens in as their own.”. Tastie, an Asbury Park favorite who also took to the stage with Remember Jones said “I want to give a huge shout out and thanks to Anthony from Remember Jones for giving all of us queens the opportunity to be up on stage in front of all of those people. I know his intention was to really shake things up and make a statement on the inclusion of all different kinds of gender expression and I think it was a really bold and powerful move! And you could tell the crowd LOVED IT!”. (The full performance can be seen on the Remember Jones Family Page here)
Remember Jones wasnt the only LGBT representation at the landmark Asbury Park event. Country music’s latest big thing Orville Peck stopped in for his own set, which saw a packed crowd singing along to his biggest hits. The masked crooner even showed a little bit of love to one of Asbury Park’s favorite drag performers. As Tastie tells it, “I was making my way over to the VIP viewing section right as he was about to sing a song that he wrote about a drag queen. It was a very serendipitous moment. “I wrote this song about a drag queen and coincidentally there’s a drag queen right now!” He asked my name and told me he loved the look, and then he told every one in the audience to go out and support drag! I was on the Jumbotron the entire time walking down and I didn’t even realize; it was an insane moment, for sure.”
Telling the crowd that this was his “first show in New Jersey”, Peck launched into hits like ‘Roses Are Falling’ and garbed in a vibrant green outfit (along with his trademark black fringed leather mask) Peck captivated the crowd and turned their idea of what “typical” country music is directly on its ear. Like so many others, Peck seemed to instantly fall in love with the Jersey Shore town himself, saying on Instagram “Thank you @seahearnow for an amazing time! Performing beside the ocean, the great crowd and opening for @billyidol & @smashingpumpkins made for an unforgettable first show in Jersey.”
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