Review by: Jennifer Fry
Cover Photo: Jimmy Eat World by Taylor Regulski
Ocean City, Maryland hosted the first ever Ocean’s Calling Festival September 29th through October 1st. Last year was supposed to be the first year, but due to tropical storm Ian they had to cancel.
The festival was located at Ocean City Inlet Beach, 809 South Atlantic Ave. The boardwalk and amusement park presented three stages for musical entertainment: The Sea Bright Stage, the Rockville Stage, and the Carousel Stage.
A group of highly talented and popular musicians performed at this year’s festival.
The list of artists is as follows:
Jack Johnson, Alanis Morissette, Slightly Stoopid, Third Eye Blind, Michael Franti & Spearhead, O.A.R, Declan Mckenna, Peach Pit, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Devon Gilfillian, Michigander, Calder Allen.
John Mayer, Incubus, Noah Kahan, Sheryl Crow, Dispatch, Jimmy Eat World, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Matt and Kim, Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, Gin Blossoms, White Reaper, The New Respects, Virginia Coalition, Pup Punk.
The Lumineers, Wheezer, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Dirty Heads, Fitz and the Tantrums, Grace Potter, The Wallflowers, The Driver Era, G. Love & Special Sauce, Robert Randolph Band, ALO, Joe P, Patrick Martin, and special set by O.A.R and friends.
Special guests included Chef Robert Irvine who brought his culinary magic and laughs to the stageand bringing the heat with Michael Franti and Marc Roberge as guests. Chef Amanda Freitag and friends also had a cooking demo for the audience. Popular American actor and comedian Jason Biggs made a couple appearances as host. Many will know him as the star in the American Pie film series that started in the 90’s.
Fans started to line up early for those who wanted to get first dibs at the rail. Gates officially opened Friday at 12:00pm. There were plenty of gate lines, with special access to those with VIP and Platinum tickets. Waiting to get checked in and bagged checked was a minimum of a few minutes. All wristbands were self-scanned as you entered the venue, making entry a breeze. They offered several different ticket optionsincluding General Admission, General Admission Plus,VIP, and Platinum. Each tier adds more perks thanthe previous tier. With attendance close to 50,000 people, space was non-existent for the end of the evening performers. If you wanted to see a favorite artist, getting a good spot often meant missing an act or two of the artists prior. This is a typical situation at larger festivals. Even with 3 days of fun, the space was so expansive it was impossible to view all the food vendors, entertainment, stores, rides, games, and photo setups.
Ocean’s Calling went above and beyond to make and appreciate all festival attendees. Lockers were available for festival goer use for the day or weekend. Charging stations were available to keep those festival photos and videos going. Complimentary water was available for those in the VIP sections. Water refill stations were available for those with an empty refillable container. Plenty of medical tentswere available and Ocean City police and the festival’s hired security did a wonderful job making sure everybody was safe. Updates on the big screens showed the daily schedule. Plenty of air-conditioned bathrooms were available with minimal lines. An elevated viewing deck was a nice addition for those with VIP tickets. A few more stands to purchase merchandise would have been beneficial.
More than Music:
There were several things to do while in the festival. Rides at Jolly Roger at the Pier were available. Just think how awesome it was getting a bird’s eye view of Jack Johnson serenading to 50,000 plus people on Friday night! One could also ride The Kraken as it whips you through the salty sea air! With part of the boardwalk open, there were plenty of restaurants and stores to check out during the day! Places like Quiet Storm Surf Shop provided refuge from the noisewhile checking out their surf apparel and accessories. Fun City Arcade was open to take the kids in to win some awesome prizes. The famous Fisher’s Popcorn was available to purchase a carry around bucket snack! The Candy Kitchen was there for your sweets needs. The Dough Roller was tossing around some serious pizza for festival goers all weekend long! Of course, Thrasher’s French Fries was a top favorite!!!
Plenty more food and beverage places were available in the festival as well. Places included Basic Bowl Bros, Flaming Wok, Get Baked, Lobster Rolls & More, Pizza Nova, Taco Girl, Wookiedogs and tons more!
Weather was looking questionable with the days leading up to the festival being windy and rainy. It started to look like bad luck with weather again and festival goers started to get nervous about a second-year cancelation. There was some misty rain at times, but the weather seemed to hold off and was only a slight annoyance. The skies remained cloudy until darkness took over. Mostly everyone seemed to come prepared with hats, ponchos, rain jackets, and pants.
Music for the Beach-y Vibes
Toad the Wet Sprocket was playing at the Rockville stage while large waves could be seen in the background as the music carried through the salty air. This alternative band became one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the 90s. They have a folk pop sound that wielded enough melody that straddled between modern rock and adult contemporary. Their set consisted of hits such as “Walk on the Ocean”, “All I Want”, and “Fall Down”.
Third eye blind also performed at the Rockville stage. A California alternative rock band known for their bright and melodic sound bring together a sound of post grunge and classic rock mixed. They played some fan favorites including “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Jumper”, and “ Never Let You Go”.
Alanis Morrisette, award winning singer and producer from Canada, also played Friday’s crowd on the Sea Bright Stage. She was one of the biggest breakthrough artists of the 90’s music scene. Her music presents an alternative rock angst with a mainstream pop sense of deeply poetic confessionals. Fans of all ages could be heard singing loudy to her hits. Some songs include, “HandIn My Pocket”, “Uninvited”, and “Thank U”.
Saturday’s weather seemed to keep holding on to the clouds and rainy weather. Again, it did not stop people from having a good time. At the Sea Bright Stage, as Sheryl Crow and her band took the stagethe weather turned from a misty rain to a heavier one. Sheryl Crow’s updated sound in classical rock made her one of the biggest musical acts of the 90’s. People sang, danced, and had a wonderful time during her set. As she sang “Soak Up the Sun” the rain stopped, and a beautiful sunset began to engulf Ocean City. It was an unforgettable moment. Some other hits she sang were “If It Makes You Happy” and Cat Steven’s cover “First Cut Is the Deepest”.
The festival did a great job with having a nice mix of musical talents. For those emo/ rock fans, Jimmy Eat World played at the Carousel Stage that evening. This stage was under cover and had a more indoor smaller stage type of setup. The crowd for Jimmy Eat World that evening was 3 deep outside. They probably could have placed them on one of the larger stages. Once the band took the stage, you were in for an evening of a high energy performance. Some songs included “The Middle”, “For Me This Is Heaven” and “Just Tonight”.
Rock band Incubus played at the Rockville stage. A performance ranked highly by word of mouth as one of the best acts of the festival up to that point! These guys are one of the biggest acts of alt-metal music of the millennium. They put on an awesome live showand the crowd showed it’s love for them! Some songs they played included “Anna Molly”, “Pardon Me”, and “Dig”.
Sunday was a perfect weather day for all. Much warmer than the previous two days and the sun was out for once! Perfect for a beach festival! Fans couldnow get rid of the ponchos and bring back out the shorts! Weezer joined in the fun playing at the Rockville stage. One of the most popular groups to emerge in the post-grunge alternative rock aftermath. They played “Island In the Sun”, “Say It Ain’t So”, and “Buddy Holly”.
O.A.R and friends really threw some extra fun for festival goers that weekend. G Love joined them on stage to sing “Ring of Fire”. Robert Randolph joined them onstage to sing “Fool In the Rain”. One of the biggest surprises was Richie Sambora joining them on stage to sing “Dead or Alive”. A huge thank you and congratulations to O.A.R for the partnership in this festival.
The festival ended Sunday evening with a wonderful performance by the legendary Lumineers. One of theleading acts of modern folk music, they were theperfect band to end an amazing weekend. Some songs played include “Angela”, “Cleopatra”, and “Stubborn Love”.
This article would be pages long if I included every single thing this festival provided. It was amazing how smoothly it ran in its first year. Bands started and ended on time. Check in was flawless. There were a few minor altercations, but nothing to say the safety of anybody was compromised. There were plenty of food and beverage choices. It was a nice touch to include part of the boardwalk and the amusement park. Being in Ocean City provided many places to stay and brought revenue to the area that is usually starting the off-season. I am looking forward to seeing the acts for the following year. It’s definitely a festival you don’t want to miss!