Frantic City pics & review: Yo La Tengo, Snail Mail, Samiam, Bouncing Souls, RFTC, Superchunk, more

The inaugural Frantic City festival took place at Atlantic CIty's recently-opened Orange Loop Amphitheater on Saturday (9/24), courtesy of Todd Abramson (of WFMU and Maxwell's fame) and Asbury Park's HoldFast Records. Very aware of its location, the lineup featured a healthy amount of NJ indie and punk on the lineup. Fred Armisen was the day's MC, with bands alternating between two stages. WFMU was on hand to broadcast the festival in its entirety as it happened, with several artists shouting out the station during their sets, and colorful stickers with the station's call letters on it being passed around to the crowd. Car Seat Headrest was initially tapped as headliner, but withdrew last week due to "ongoing health issues."

The day kicked off at noon with a fiery set from punk trio Control Top, whose intense riffs and passionate vocals could be heard reverberating in the area surrounding the outdoor venue, which was sandwiched between towering casinos and hotels. Vocalist/bassist Ali Carter thanked fans for showing up early for their set, saying, "you guys are the real ones." Shortly afterwards, NJ punk heroes Titus Andronicus took the fest's second stage just a few feet away, as Patrick Stickles and company tore through modern classics from The Monitor, as well as previewing new material from their forthcoming The Will To Live which drops this week.

Protomartyr at Frantic City 2022
Protomartyr (photo by Edwina Hay)

Next up was Protomartyr, accompanied by The Breeders' Kelley Deal, who joined as a touring member right before COVID. Deal's contributions, which included guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals, elevated the band's already-powerful stage presence; frontman Joe Casey, donning sunglasses and his usual suit, appeared as commanding as ever while shouting the refrains of "Cowards Starve" and "Processed by the Boys." Fred Armisen joined the band on guitar during the band's last few minutes onstage.

Next up were influential punks Samiam, who played the Frantic City opening night party the night before and had the crowd shouting along to their classics. They also played material from their as-of-yet-untitled new album, including recent single "Lights Out Little Hustler."

Superchunk followed with a typically energetic set that included several cuts off this year's excellent Wild Loneliness, along with indie rock standards "Driveway to Driveway" and "Slack Motherfucker." The band's career-spanning set sounded massive on the main stage, and solidified their status as one of indie's most consistent bands.

Speaking of long-lasting acts, Seattle's Murder City Devils then took the second stage with their foreboding, shouty brand of punk and garage rock. Afterwards were Shannon and the Clams, whose main stage set delivered their eclectic blend of psych-pop, garage, and throwback doo-wop.

Bouncing Souls at Frantic City 2022
Bouncing Souls (photo by Edwina Hay)

NJ punk legends The Bouncing Souls were up next on the second stage, and their set included tons of classics from seminal LP How I Spent My Summer Vacation, along with many other favorites and their cover of The Kinks' "Better Days." The angle of the stage was directly facing the setting sun, but his didn't slow them or the energized audience down, although guitarist Pete Steinkopf expressed relief when the sun disappeared behind a building, saying, "finally, I can breathe!"

With the sun now completely set, Rocket From the Crypt kept the energy alive with a heavily-dynamic set, mainly relying on cuts from their celebrated LPs Scream, Dracula, Scream! and Group Sounds. Frontman John Reis' was in great form, repeatedly screaming the Frantic City's host city throughout the band's set, but referring to it as "Atlantis."

Surviving some technical difficulties which delayed their start a few minutes, Snail Mail brought a tightly-composed set to the second stage, with beloved cuts "Pristine," "Heat Wave" and "Valentine," as well as an exciting cover of Pavement's "In The Mouth A Desert." Lindsey Jordan was in high spirits, joking between songs with the rest of her band, which included Blaise O'Brien from Philly-based outfit Joy Again on keyboards. Jordan also shouted out the band's guitar tech, Henry, who appeared onstage many times while switching out her guitars, which led the audience to chant his name on multiple occasions.

Yo La Tengo at Frantic City 2022
Yo La Tengo (photo by Edwina Hay)

As the night drew to a close, Fred Armisen appeared onstage one last time to introduce headliners and Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo, before stepping behind a second drum kit for the entirety of their set. (They've done this before during Yo La Tengo's annual Hanukkah runs in NYC.) The dual-drummer setup added oomph to classic material, with older favorites like "Autumn Sweater" feeling appropriate on a breezy September night. The band's main set ended with a monumental, nearly 20-minute version of "Blue Line Swinger," but they came back out for a three-song encore that included covers of The Fugs' "Frenzy" and THe Tradewinds' "Abba-Dabba Do Dance." A great end to a very NJ festival.

View more photos from Frantic City by Edwina Hay, and watch fan-shot videos, including of Fred Armisen drumming with Yo La Tengo, below.