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Oceans Calling: A Harmonious Inaugural Music Festival in OCMD

In a crescendo of music, community spirit, and beach vibes, the first-ever "Oceans Calling" music festival descended upon the iconic Ocean City Boardwalk from September 29th to October 1st, 2023. This three-day festival, held in partnership with celebrated musicians O.A.R. (hailing out of Rockville, MD), made a monumental impact, drawing a staggering 50,000 music lovers from across the nation each day.

All arial photos credit and copyright: Ismael Quintanilla III

Oceans Calling offered a diverse array of musical experiences across three vibrant stages, each framed by the picturesque backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. With more than 30 performances scheduled over the weekend, the festival creators curated a kaleidoscope of genres, catering to a broad spectrum of musical tastes. From rock and indie to reggae and folk, the lineup was nothing short of spectacular.

The festival kicked off with a bang on Friday, featuring stellar performances by the likes of Jack Johnson, Alanis Morissette, Slightly Stoopid, Third Eye Blind, Michael Franti & Spearhead, O.A.R, and many more. Declan McKenna, Peach Pit, and Toad The Wet Sprocket brought their unique sounds to the stage, creating an unforgettable start to the weekend.

Saturday kept the momentum rolling with the legendary John Mayer headlining the day's lineup. Incubus, Sheryl Crow, Dispatch, and Jimmy Eat World, among others, ensured that the energy remained sky-high throughout the day. Notable performances from Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Matt And Kim added to the excitement.

The festival reached its glorious climax on Sunday, with headliners The Lumineers and Weezer delivering awe-inspiring sets. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Dirty Heads, Fitz And The Tantrums, and many more also graced the stage, leaving festival-goers with lasting memories.

Attendees enjoyed culinary delights from a variety of food vendors within the festival footprint and along the Boardwalk. From savory burgers and exotic tacos to gourmet gelato and everything in between, there was something to satisfy every craving.

Oceans Calling was not just a musical triumph; it was also a resounding success for the local community. The event brought a significant economic boost to Ocean City as we transitioned into the slower fall and winter seasons.

Local residents and business owners showered praise on the festival's organization and impact. Bishopville resident Frankie Zurla Knight lauded the event's efficiency and positivity, emphasizing the lack of issues and the fantastic performances. Local business owner Wes Hanna expressed his enthusiasm for Oceans Calling becoming a long-standing part of Ocean City's cultural calendar. “Incredible first year! Amazing experience and looking forward to Oceans Calling being a part of Ocean City for a long time. Hats off to the town for making it happen!” Hanna shared.

The festival's attendees echoed the sentiments of appreciation. Noelle Reister highlighted the event's organization, while Danielle Chandler Kennell reveled in the convenience of having such a spectacular festival right in her backyard.

Maggie Ramirez-McGraw, owner of GET BAKED Food Trolley, shared her delight in being part of the festival and emphasized the potential for Oceans Calling to mark a new era for Ocean City events. “As a local who grew up on this beach, and the only local food tent amongst the best in the industry, it was truly everything we could have hoped for. From the endless lines, to the familiar faces … we never stopped feeling the love from the moment it began through the final song. We have traveled the country working with this production company, and to merge both of our worlds was magical. I think Oceans Calling could be the beginning of a new era for Ocean City events. With proper coordination and a few adjustments, I’d say we just experienced our first of many to come. And we can’t wait to be a part of it.” Ramirez-McGraw explained.

Attendees at the Oceans Calling Music Festival were not only treated to world-class music but also had the unique chance to learn culinary tricks of the trade from none other than acclaimed chefs Robert Irvine and Amanda Freitag. These culinary masters brought their A-game to the festival, demonstrating their skills and sharing their passion. Actor Jason Biggs hosted these captivating cooking demos, adding an extra layer of entertainment to the festival's diverse offerings.

Local resident and business owner, Jeremy Brink of Ocean 13 and Captain’s Galley Crab Cake Shack, played a crucial role as production support crew for both Irvine and Freitag throughout all three days of the festival. Ocean 13, located on 33rd street, received a special visit from legendary guitarist Robert Randolph on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. While Captain’s Galley Crab Cake Shack, West Ocean City, received high praise from Slightly Stoopid’s production crew, who couldn't resist ordering dozens of their famous crab cake sandwiches on Friday.

The festival's commitment to both convenience and environmental sustainability was strikingly evident. The provision of super clean portable bathrooms ensured that attendees could enjoy the weekend in utmost comfort. However, it was the festival's dedication to eco-friendliness that truly set it apart. With water refill stations strategically placed throughout the event grounds, festival-goers were encouraged to stay hydrated while reducing plastic waste. Go Green OC and the Ocean City Chapter of the Surf Rider Foundation were instrumental in promoting sustainable practices at the festival. Go Green OC is on a mission to help Ocean City become the first zero waste resort town in the United States, and their dedication to their cause was on full display as they diligently managed composting and recycling. In a remarkable achievement, "Oceans Calling Festival composted an impressive 5300 pounds of food waste and compostable products in a single weekend" (according to Go Green OC facebook), underlining its commitment to preserving the environment and setting a commendable example for future events.

Throughout the Oceans Calling Music Festival, the exhaustive efforts of local law enforcement, first responders, town officials and the event promoters played a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees. Their unwavering dedication and meticulous planning contributed to a seamless event experience, allowing festival-goers to fully immerse themselves in the music and festivities. From traffic management to crowd control and emergency response, these professionals worked tirelessly behind the scenes, creating an environment where everyone felt secure. Their proactive approach and rapid response to any situation demonstrated their commitment to the safety of the community and visitors alike.

With a three-year contract in place between the Town of Ocean City and the festival promoter, Oceans Calling is set to return next year in October 2024, promising an even more extraordinary experience.

Oceans Calling has made a resounding entry onto the festival scene, blending exceptional music, an iconic coastal backdrop, and a sense of community that is bound to keep the crowd coming back.

To stay updated on future editions of the festival, visit Oceans Calling Festival's official website.

For more of our Oceans Calling coverage, visit us on Facebook + Instagram: OC Shore Magazine.

Friday Musicians: Jack Johnson, Alanis Morissette, Slightly Stoopid, Third Eye Blind, Michael Franti & Spearhead, O.A.R, Declan Mckenna, Peach Pit, Paolo Nutini, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Devon Gilfillian, Michigander + Calder Allen

Saturday Musicians: John Mayer, Incubus, Noah Kahan, Sheryl Crow, Dispatch, Jimmy Eat World, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Matt And Kim, Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs, Gin Blossoms, White Reaper, The New Respects, Virginia Coalition + Pup Punk

Sunday Musicians: The Lumineers, Weezer, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Dirty Heads, Fitz And The Tantrums, Grace Potter, The Wallflowers, The Driver Era, G. Love & Special Sauce, Robert Randolph Band, Alo, Joe P + O.A.R And Friends

Food Vendors inside the festival footprint (off of the Boardwalk): Basic Bowl Bros, Bun'd Up, Chicken Mac Truck, Coast 2 Coast, Corndog Inc, Dank Dogs: A Glizzy Experience, Dank Nugs, Firenzes Artisanal Gelato, Flaming Wok, Get Baked, Hebros Cheeseburger Subs, Hebros Gyros, Hot Box Wraps, Island Noodles King Of Pops, Koko's Bavarian, Landmade, Lobster Rolls & More, Los Burgers Hermanos, Lumpia Bros, No Good Burger Joint, Pho Cue, Pizza Nova, Quesadilla Gourmet, San Matteo Pizza, Taco Girl, The Big Cheese, The Salt Pot Kitchen, Tica's Tacos + Wookiedogs.


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