The New Jersey-set show will also feature a Steel Train reunion.
Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, Steel Train, and fun. fame launched the Shadow of the City music festival in his home state of New Jersey in 2015, and now he’s bringing it back for a second year with The 1975 and Carly Rae Jepsen as headliners, EW can exclusively announce.
Antonoff started the festival as a way to give New Jersey — a state bands usually skip over in favor of its more glamorous neighbor, New York — a chance to have a great, music-fueled time of their own. The inaugural festival featured Bleachers as a headliner, and included sets from bands like Cults and How to Dress Well.
“I always wanted to have a festival in New Jersey, so last year was amazing,” Antonoff tells EW. “The whole thing is exactly what I hoped it would be, which is just like, if I was 15 and could throw a party and invite 10,000 people, that’s what it would look like.”
Although Bleachers won’t make a return to the stage at the fest’s new location in Seaside Heights, another Antonoff project will: Steel Train is reuniting for the first time since playing a handful of shows in 2013.
“I was just thinking about it, and I was like, okay, I want this [festival] to exist beyond me, but I need to be part of this thing,” Antonoff says. “I see Shadow of the City as, once a year, I can do something very bizarre, whether it’s get Steel Train back together, or talk to my friends about coming and doing a show with me. I want it to exist as a place where people can expect that I’m going to do something totally out-there.”
Read on for more from EW’s chat with Antonoff, and see the full lineup — which also includes acts like BØRNS and Frnkiero Andthe Cellabration — below. Tickets for the June 18 festival are now on sale here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The 1975, Carly Rae Jepsen — you have all these great acts playing. Can you tell me about how you made that list?
JACK ANTONOFF: One of the cool things about the way we work on Shadow of the City is that it literally starts with a note in my phone. I’ll write down, these are my favorite bands, or a combination of artists that really inspire me, and artists that I’m friends with and really inspire me, people I think the world should be listening to. So that list ends up becoming pretty much what the lineup is. I wrote down Carly Rae Jepsen because she’s a friend, I’ve worked with her, and she just made an incredible album. I just saw her live and it’s really wonderful what she’s doing. She’s made an amazing artistic transition. The 1975, similar thing where it’s like, the album they just put out is so incredibly interesting to me and I think that they’re carrying a torch of live band music that isn’t as present as it should be.
When you’re choosing bands, do you look for people with New Jersey ties? I saw Frank Iero is on that list and he has a well-known affection for Jersey.
Yeah, definitely. It’s meant to be a combination. I want to celebrate where the festival is and what the festival is but I also like the idea that in the shadow of the city we can throw this big show with bands that do huge arenas all over the world. It’s super important to me to have both: a real local feeling, and then beyond that, I want to have a festival that is beyond just bands from New Jersey.
Are you going to have just one stage again this year?
Yeah. I look at festival culture and I feel like it’s very overblown in America and there are these massive festivals popping up everywhere and I think that one thing that’s very special about Shadow of the City is I’m not doing this so I can put food on the table. This is truly something that just comes from a passion about having a festival and having a festival in this part of the world in New Jersey so it gives me the ability to not to have to make decisions based on what makes sense financially.
Maybe if we did more stages or had more bands or more days or whatever it is, we could make the numbers work better. But the only thing we think about when we’re doing Shadow of the City is, what show that we would want to go to on the Jersey Shore? And that’s nice, because it’s really just me and my partners that are doing it just trying to put together something really great. We literally haven’t had one conversation really about numbers other than assuring that we don’t have to sell our homes to put on the festival. [Laughs]
What will be different about this year from the first fest?
I think the biggest difference from this year to last year was last year was just this idea. You can book all the bands and you can sell the tickets and you can have the food trucks come and all the fans and you can do everything, but it can be the worst experience of everyone’s life. Last year when the show actually started, and the first band played the first note to when Bleachers closed it, it was one of the best days of my life.