As is often the case with music festivals, the lineup for Frantic City—Sept. 28 in Atlantic City—is the only fuel the hype train needs: NJ icons Yo La Tengo and the Bouncing Souls (and Titus Andronicus); beloved bands that don’t play here often like Rocket from the Crypt and Murder City Devils; newer acts like Snail Mail and Control Top. And more, including a Friday night opening show at Bourré featuring The Ergs. Oh, and the main festival is hosted by Fred Armisen.
A cool fucking show, right?
“We were trying to do somewhat of a balanced show in terms of some of the older bands that we and our friends like and also bring in some younger acts like Snail Mail and Car Seat Headrest,” says Todd Abramson, DJ, former booker and co-owner at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and co-organizer of Frantic City with Joe HoldFast.
The two were prompted to put on a show in Atlantic City, in part, by The Complex, which runs several venues in Asbury Park and Atlantic City, including Bond Street and Bourré. The idea was to get more music lovers down to AC to experience what’s been building down there.
“I think some of the businesses in The Orange Loop are trying to make the area a little hipper, if you will. One or more boutique hotels are going to arrive over there in the not too distant future. … Coming out of lockdown, there was just a general and specific urge to make things happen again,” Abramson says.
And Atlantic City has been growing its music scene for some years now. The Anchor Rock Club and Bourré consistently bring in great bands—not to mention the bevy of casino-based venues—and the city has multi-form spots like Orange Loop Amphitheater and the Atlantic City Beach venue, which has hosted Phish, notably, every summer for several years.
But for many of us in NJ, the distance (and, possibly/cynically reputation) of Atlantic City makes it unlikely we’ll pop over one evening for a show. Putting together an unmissable bill certainly helps pull people, but there has to be a broader effort from all parties to continue to revitalize the AC music scene, Abramson says.
“It’s going to take a sustained effort, and there’s going to be some growing pains, so it’s a question of how committed people feel they’re going to be,” Abramson says. “It’s gotta be on both sides— yeah, you have the people doing the events, but it also requires the commitment of ticket buyers and attendees to support these events, and maybe a little help from the city.”
Just by the proximity on the calendar—and the concentration of great bands on the bill—it’s tempting to compare Frantic City to this weekend’s Sea. Hear. Now. in Asbury Park. But doing so belies the vision for Frantic City as we look forward to future iterations of it, which Abramson says will remain smaller-sized.
“To be honest, it almost seems like there are more festivals of that size than there are smaller ones. In a way, that makes what we’re doing more special,” Abramson says.
Tickets are $95 for the whole day, which Abramson says is organized to limit downtime—there are two stages, so although bands won’t be playing simultaneously, a band on one stage will be able to start when the previous one finishes, with a little interlude from Armisen. There’ll also be food and beverages available, and you’ll be just blocks from the beach in late September; what more could you ask for?
“It’s gonna be a great day,” Abramson says. “One of the things that’ll be so great about it, you can say obviously Bouncing Souls or Car Seat Headrest are better known than Control Top, but what we really tried to do here is put together a day that is worth being there for the entire event. I know not everybody can necessarily do that. There’s not going to be downtime or filler. The fact that we have two stages will keep things very brisk.”
For more info or to buy tickets for Frantic City, go here. Show starts at noon on Sept. 24 at the Orange Loop Amphitheater in Atlantic City.