Nostalgia rules the vibe at Adjacent Festival in Atlantic City

press of atlantic city
May 28, 2023

Atlantic City, NJ (May 28, 2022) – Jeff and Lisa Ronca exchanged looks several times Saturday.

As they peered into the mass of music fans in front of the main stage, somewhere in the middle of the crowd was their 15-year-old daughter, Bella, having the time of her life seeing one of her favorite bands, Beach Bunny, perform.

They saw their younger selves in that crowd.

About 25 years ago, the Roncas weren’t much older than their daughter is now when they were watching Blink-182 perform.

The Roncas joined Bella in the pit Saturday night for Jimmy Eat World and were ready to dance among the crowd again Sunday when Blink-182 headlined the two-day Adjacent Festival on the beach.

“Saturday was her day, and Sunday will be ours,” said Jeff Ronca, 46, of Brigantine. “I’ve seen (Blink-182) since I was in high school, and now I’m bringing my daughter, who is in high school, to the same concerts.”

Lisa said they began taking their daughter to these concerts at a young age. She laughed at how all of Bella’s teachers at Egg Harbor Township High School thought it was so cool she was going to see some of the music they also grew up on.

That’s what the weekend was for many in attendance. About 20,000 people filled the beach Saturday, with another 20,000 coming out Sunday, according to public relations specialist Ike Richman. Alternative rock band Paramore headlined the first night, with Blink-182, whose music blared from many teenagers’ car stereos in the 1990s and 2000s, on tap for Sunday night.

Adjacent was a part of a busy Memorial Day weekend in the city, kicking off the summer tourism season. It was supposed to be the second big outdoor music festival of the year in the resort. But the first, Bamboozle, scheduled for May 5-7 at Bader Field, was canceled after city officials said its organizers failed to do everything needed to secure permitting. No major incidents or police transports were reported through Sunday afternoon, according to city public information officer Andrew Kramer.

Mayor Marty Small Sr. said in a statement Sunday the city should be in store for “an epic season” after seeing the success of this weekend.

“The Adjacent Festival brought in massive crowds to our world famous beach, and trust me when I say this is just the beginning,” Small said. “Once again, we’ll be Live, Lit and Outside in Atlantic City all summer long. I just want to give kudos to our law enforcement and all public safety personnel who did a tremendous job keeping everyone safe this weekend. That’s why they are the best at what they do.”


‘The nostalgia runs deep’

Joe Cocola and Kali Mortwood came from San Diego to sit on the Atlantic City beach, look out at the ocean and listen to music.

On Saturday, huddled under an umbrella to shade themselves, they enjoyed looking at the crowd and seeing the different generations of fans as they waited for the arrival of their friend, Eric Watts, 35, who grew up in Garfield, Bergen County.

Excited to see Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness on Saturday and Blink-182 on Sunday, they were happy that a lot of the bands they listened to as teenagers are still around.

“You see a lot of people with their families here, sharing that music with the younger ones,” said Cocola, 34, who is originally from North Jersey.

McMahon has been well-known since the late 1990s with the band Something Corporate. He also is known for his solo project, Jack’s Mannequin, that was big from 2004-2012.

Blink-182 became a smash hit with the 1998 album “Enema of the State,” which features their anthem “All the Small Things.” The Roncas were excited to see the original Blink lineup back on stage with the return of vocalist and guitarist Tom DeLonge.

Brittany Mills and Shawn Wood, of Wilmington, Delaware, dug themselves a nice little lounge area in the sand just outside the thick of the crowd in front of the main stage. They were ready to listen to Beach Bunny, a newer group that went viral with the hit song “Prom Queen” on TikTok in 2018.

The couple only planned to attend Saturday, mainly to watch Paramore. Mills, now 31, said they were there for her 19-year-old self, while Wood grew up listening to a wide variety of music, not just the genres that played the festival.

“This is old person music now,” Mills joked, saying that her daughter listens to a lot of that music now.

“When we were kids, we wouldn’t dream of listening to our parents’ music,” Wood added. “But kids from our generation are listening to this kind of music. It’s transcending generations.”

Cocola and Mortwood, the visitors from San Diego, remember watching Long Island, New York, rocker Jeff Rosenstock, who performed early Saturday on the main stage, play at VFWs in the 1990s.

“The nostalgia runs deep,” Cocola said. “It’s powerful, nostalgia, and I’m here for all of it.”

Cooperative weather

Three stages were set up along the beach. Shortly past the general admission entrance at Kentucky Avenue were two stages — the Boot Stage and Thimble Stage. Keeping with the Monopoly board theme, the main stage was dubbed the Top Hat Stage and was backed up against the north side of the Playground Pier.

Single-day tickets started at $189 for more than 11 hours of music. Two-day packages started at $359. Many concert-goers said it was a great price for the festival, especially when comparing those prices to just seeing some of the major acts like Blink-182 and Paramore.

Jim Rude, 38, from the Poconos, and Ryan Collins, 39, of Easton, made the trek from Pennsylvania with a group of friends. Though they were happy with the price point, “it still wasn’t $30 for Warped Tour,” Rude said shortly after checking out I Am the Avalanche on one of the smaller stages Saturday afternoon.

“We got stupid lucky with the weather,” Rude added.

There was plenty of room between the stage areas for people to enjoy the beach, get refreshments and wander. Many found spots along the surf, enjoying a beach day in the 70-degree weather while listening to the music emanating from the stages on either end. It was more overcast Sunday with temps in the high 60s during the day.

“We just came by from listening to a couple bands over there (at the smaller stages) and migrating our way to the main stage,” said Bryan Maganan, 23, of Rockland County, New York, who found a nice spot along the water with Gabby Cabral, 21, on Saturday.

Maganan had never been to Atlantic City, but Cabral came to the resort for the Warped Tour in 2019.

“This is the perfect way to start off the summer season, the relaxation and enjoying music with friends,” Cabral added.

Mills and Wood, still lounging in their sand hole, found some enjoyment in people watching. Mills joked that much of the crowd didn’t look like they were beach people.

“A lot of people dressed in their Doc Martens boots like they’re going to an underground concert,” said Wood, 29.

Few tried the cold water, some only dipping their toes in the ocean. Atlantic City Beach Patrol lifeguards were on duty for anyone who went in.

“This is definitely my first time out in the sun this much in quite a long time,” Mortwood joked. ”San Diego goes through a May grey, and then a blue June.”

Ingrid Sitner, 27, of Staten Island, New York, wasn’t deterred by the cold water. She had just gotten done taking a dip when she and Luca Lombardo, 27, decided to cuddle up by the ocean and listen to Rosenstock from the main stage Saturday.

“It was about as cold as I expected,” Sitner said.

The two have been to several music festivals, but this was the first time Lombardo went to one on the beach, he said.

“It’s a little different from the hard ground, that’s for sure,” Lombardo said.

Sitner wished the weekend had more of a festival atmosphere with more food options, games and merchandise.

“But we’re having a great time,” she added.

Across the generations

The Roncas, of Brigantine, were at the festival with their daughter Saturday and made their way back to the beach Sunday afternoon, ready to be front and center for Blink-182. Jeff Ronca praised the city and the event organizers for a fun-filled weekend.

They hoped Blink-182 would put on a performance, much like one of the band’s hits, that could ask the elder Roncas, “What’s My Age Again?”

“Seeing all ages come together and discovering new bands,” Jeff said, “and sharing the music that we grew up with the next generation while discovering new music from groups we have never heard of is the best part of the festival.”

By: John Russo