LINCROFT, NJ—Rock The Farm, which was held on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus on Aug. 27, was a strange mix of rock nostalgia, family fair, and bro reggae jam. It was indeed a unique hodepodge that answered the question, “Where can I get cheese curds and watch the singer from Dispatch noodle without shoes on?” Located right in the heart of Monmouth County, the festival aimed to raise money and awareness for those in recovery. While many college campuses host small festivals, very few can claim that they united Trevor Hall, Vini Lopez, Carmine Appice, and Quincy Mumford for a good cause.
In particular, the cause these (mostly) aging rockers were supporting was the CFC Loud N Clear Foundation, which aims to help those attempting to walk away from addiction stay on a clear path, to the point where they generate a social sobriety calendar to eliminate temptation. While classic rock and recovery fundraisers might not seem like a perfect match, those participating gave it their all. Hearing “Freebird” is almost always worthy of an eyeroll, but when former Lynyrd Skynyrd member Artemis Pyle launched into those opening chords, the crowd all but swooned.
While the tone of the festival was difficult to pin down (dad-rock hippy gathering?), the sets were all top notch. Chadwick Stokes was especially lively, throwing his voice and body into each song. It may seem strange to write this about an artist that was big among the college radio set nearly 20 years ago, but emerging bands could learn something from Stokes. As hokey as the “shoeless troubadour armed with nothing but melody and the truth” shtick may be, Stokes managed to be captivating while singing from a stage roughly the size of a children’s bouncy house. His typical closer, “Our Lives Our Time,” sounded especially poignant, as Stokes sang his traipsing take on religion and government in the middle of a particularly absurd presidential race.
However, no act commanded the crowd quite like Trevor Hall, whose minimal band of ringers backed him during intense-yet-strangely-feel-good renditions of “Unity,” “Lime Tree,” and “Om Shanti Om.” Hall’s pseudo Eddie Vedder voice wrapped itself snugly around droning keyboards, upright bass, and Polynesian drum beats. Like dogs attracted to a noise in the distance, fans came in droves to listen to Hall preach about love, the spirit, and living in harmony. By the end of the evening, Hall had transformed a crowd of muscle bros, hippie harlots, soccer moms, and teenagers in Katy Perry tank tops into a united front. When his hour-plus set ended, it felt like the day had been building toward that performance.
Next year’s Rock The Farm will likely take place in the same little parking lot as this one. Alice Cooper’s sister-in-law (?) will likely be selling the same strange assortment of goods as she did this year, and you’ll want to scoff. If you take a deep breath and give into the strange vibe of the miniscule charity benefit, you might just see why it matters. Addiction is no joke, and while we may have largely forgotten them, these rockers will be on that small stage, pouring themselves into each and every song that’s faded from popularity, but never memory.
Show date: August 27, 2016