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Winner Recap: Win a Trip To See Bleachers & Friends at the Sold Out Shadow of the City

June 26th, 2024

Hillary M. from Wisconsin was the winner of the Propeller experience to "Win a Trip To See Bleachers & Friends at the Sold Out Shadow of the City" that took place in June 2024. Below are some of Hillary's highlights from the experience.

As a teenager, I found my people in the local punk music scene in the suburbs of Chicago. My free time was spent listening to novice musicians figure out chord progressions in their parents' basements and garages. I made photocopied fliers for the local shows using cut up magazines and the sickest fonts I could find on the internet - before the internet was easy to use. My weekends were spent attending shows at coffee shops, and all-ages nights at bars, and the VFW halls, supporting the bands I saw practice their hearts out. And on really lucky weekends, we headed into the city to see more experienced artists connect with the crowd.

Bleachers, fronted by Jack Antonoff, has held a special place in my heart especially because of Jack's own teenage involvement with his local punk scene. When that's a part of your identity, hearing him sing about "chasing that feeling" hits a little different. It resonates. Being a fan of Bleachers is a way I honor that teenager that still lives inside of me - a band that is raw, emotional, connected to their fan base and each other - and on top of that, manages to have the best live energy. 

I felt so lucky to win the prize to see Bleachers in their home state at their sold-out Shadow of the City Festival. I brought my best friend, husband, and fellow giant Bleachers fan, Eric with me. Our journey started with an early morning plane ride, and a midday arrival in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Asbury Park is a legendary town with deep musical roots. We loved the vibe of the boardwalk, the local restaurants (all of which had live music!) and the history that you can see in the architecture and artwork. 

Our accommodation at The Asbury Hotel dovetailed the music-rich experience nicely – a lobby with a floor-to-ceiling bookcase of records that you can borrow for your room equipped with your own Victrola record player. The hotel also had a connected diner, rooftop bar, and a resort pool – which we enjoyed the morning before Shadow of the City. The hotel staff was friendly and welcoming – really we found all the people of New Jersey to be hospitable and kind. 

The Shadow of the City experience was unforgettable. A huge shout out to our new friends at The Ally Coalition, Geoff, Chris, and Becky! You all made us feel welcome and your kindness made an impact on us. We began our time at SOTC by visiting the Gone Now bedroom, which is a recreation of Jack's teenage bedroom. It was a moment of nostalgia, as a fellow 90s teenage punk, to see wall-to-wall handmade fliers boasting names of bands I recognized, and plenty I didn't. Another highlight was touring the legendary Stone Pony. The staff at Stone Pony were enthusiastic about pointing out specific guitars we should look at, as well as other hidden gems. Between sets there was a dunk tank, and it was thrilling to take my shot at dunking Jack in broad daylight. Unfortunately, I am awful at sports, so Jack stayed dry during my time at the helm, but we may have flipped each other off – a very Bleachers way to say "Love ya, mean it". 

The music - wow! Prior to Bleachers, we were in for a treat. Been Stellar, Grace Ives, the pop punk emo vibes of The Wonder Years, Bartees Strange, Samia – who we saw twice during this current tour and absolutely adore, and The Japanese House! 

When it was time for Bleachers, Geoff moved us to VIP which offered a fantastic view. When I talk about the friendliness of New Jersey, I also must mention the comfort and good vibes of Bleachers crowds. What else is better than dancing and shouting the lyrics alongside perfect strangers who somehow feel like friends? We got to go into the photo pit for their mashup of "Everybody Lost Somebody" and "Goodmorning." Chloe, the staff photographer, couldn't have been sweeter nor more helpful. It's hard to describe what it was like in the pit. I tried to remember to take videos, but I really wanted to soak in the experience, knowing it was fleeting and special. I reflected on being a teenage punk scream-singing my heart out in a dilapidated venue in the outskirts of Chicago and knew deep in my heart how lucky I am to be scream-singing in the photo pit at Shadow of the City! Do we ever grow up? If we do, music keeps us young. 

We left the SOTC festival armed with a signed poster by every band we saw that day, a signed drumstick by Hutch, and too many memories and unreal moments to count! We are incredibly grateful to Propeller and The Ally Coalition for making it all happen. The Ally Coalition uses their reach through music and artists to fundraise, providing much-needed resources to grassroots organizations that support LGBTQ youth. This important work is meaningful to me – their mission matches my core belief that all humans are deserving of safety and equality.

- Hillary M.