Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff is embarking on yet another musical venture to bring a new festival, Shadow of the City, to his home state New Jersey. He’s ready to share everything he loves about the Garden State with fans, and now he tells EW that he’s looking to debut new music at the event on Sept. 19.
“I actually will [play new music], which is sort of tied to the festival,” Antonoff tells EW from the Pepsi Pass App and “Pop Open Music Every Hour” campaign launch party.
“I’m working on tons of stuff, but I always like to put things out as they’re ready—I’ve kind of always had a weird allergic reaction to the whole, ‘Get ready for Thursday,’ kind of vibe,” he says. “The only way that you can be fair to the people that are spending their money and their emotions on the music is do the things that you’re inspired to do in the moment without thinking about business or anything like that.”
Antonoff’s one-day, one-stage festival will take place at The Stone Pony in New Jersey’s Asbury Park, and includes performances from Charli XCX, Vic Mensa, MisterWives, Cults, The Front Bottoms, How To Dress Well, and Robert DeLong, with Bleachers as the headliner. The title reflects Jersey-born Antonoff’s feelings of the state, but it could easily be called Jack’s Dream Festival, involving everything from his favorite NJ magazine to arcade games from a local pinball staple. “It’s just about the culture of how I grew up,” Antonoff says. “I always knew the whole point of this festival was going to be about doing it in New Jersey and celebrating that.”
While the festival has only been in the making for about nine months, Antonoff has been planning it in his head for years, starting with a note on his iPhone. Growing up in New Jersey, not far from New York City—or as he puts it, “10 miles away from the center of the universe”—he felt there was a sense of missed opportunity for the state’s music scene.
“New York music is very shoe-gazy with an almost ‘too-cool-for-school’ energy, but New Jersey music is very larger-than-life,” he says. “There’s a great hope there, and you hear it in the music—New Jersey music and New Jersey fans just have this excitement, this hope, this energy that you can’t replicate unless you’re right outside of the hugest city, living in the shadows of it.”
Although it’s his first go at putting together an event like this himself, the 31-year-old has spent the last decade playing festivals around the world, which helped him figure out the do’s and don’ts for Shadow of the City. He says every step of the planning process has been a “complete bizarre surprise,” but so far, everything seems to be coming together just the way he imagined.
“You know, in my life, very few things feel like they just kind of worked out, like a dream sequence,” he says. “But this one really…I don’t know. It’s just perfect.”