July 21, 2017 Great South Bay Music Festival Beats The Rain Patchogue, NY 7-14-17
Following a rain soaked opening, Great South Bay Music Festival returned to Shorefront Park in Patchogue Village on Friday, July 14th. This day, the festival expanded to three stages, The Main Coors Light, Clamshell, and Jambalaya Stage, as all the action kicked off around 5 PM with a total of 15 acts scheduled to perform. An interesting assortment of local and national talent, if Day 1’s theme was Pop Punk, Day 2’s would be that of Reggae Rock. Somewhat of a signature of the festival’s heritage, Reggae sounds were flowing through the grounds of the park, creating a feel good vibe right from the start.
Matched with a variety of other genres, Friday’s lineup would feature acts such as Oak & Ash, Aron Street, Carrie & The Cats, Brooke Moriber, Dylan Rockoff, Nonstop To Cairo, Craving Strange, Samurai Pizza Cats, Offshore Regulars, Oogee Wawa, and Gnarly Karma spread throughout the side stages. In addition, The Main Coors Light Stage would feature a cast of The Skints, hitmakers New Politics, Reggae legends The Wailers, and hybrid Rock all-stars 311. An exciting mix, like Day 1, Day 2 was reportedly a sold out affair that promised to be full of excitement.
Kicking off The Main Coors Light Stage at around 5:30 PM was UK based band The Skints. Together a decade now, The Skints sound is full of styles ranging from Reggae to Rock, to Hip Hop. Proud to be a part of 311’s summer Unity Tour 2017, The Skints fit right in with the day’s events at Great South Bay Music Festival.
Coming out loose, The Skints – Bassist Jon Doyle, Drummer/Vocalist Jamie Kyriakides, Guitarist/Vocalist Josh Waters Rudge, and Multi-Instrumentalist/Vocalist Marcia Richards – immediately drew attention with an infectious Reggae beat. Unifying vocals, creating ear-pleasing harmonies, they played original tunes including “Mindless,” “Rat-A-Tat,” and “This Town.” Complete with a ground rattling bass line that had early arriving festival goers in a groove, The Skints finished up their set with songs including the catchy “Tazer Beam,” “The Forest For The Trees,” and “Culture Vulture.” For those still unfamiliar with the Brits, be sure to pick up their 2015 album, FM, to learn more.
With some light rain falling here and there, fear was another downpour would hit the festival once again, but thankfully Mother Nature cooperated for the remainder of the night. Not skipping a beat through the weather, even trying to absorb some of the mud throughout the fields from the rain the night prior, the stage crews were hard at work making sure each act ran according to schedule. Doing just that, at around 6:40 PM New Politics were set to go. A three-piece band made up of Danes Lead Vocalist David Boyd, Guitarist/Vocalist Søren Hansen and native Long Island Drummer Louis Vecchio, New Politics have been making waves since their the release of their 2013 sophomore album, A Bad Girl in Harlem. An album anchored by the certified gold selling single “Harlem,” New Politics has toured extensively, wowing audiences wherever they may land.
Also a part of the 311 summer Unity 2017 tour, acting as direct support, New Politics’ eclectic brand of Pop Rock is quite refreshing. Coming onto the stage all smiles, they wasted no time to get the crowd’s attention, opening with the lively “Everywhere I Go (Kings & Queens)” off their 2015 album, Vikings. From there it was off to a shuffling of tunes ranging from their earlier material like “Dignity” to the show-stopping rendition of Beastie Boys “Sabotage” where Vecchio’s jolting drum hits mirrored the original flawlessly. Now completely gaining the growing audience’s attention, the band pumped out fun with “Tonight You’re Perfect,” the wild “Just Like Me,” and uplifting “West End Kids.”
Embracing the positive reaction from the crowd, the band introduced themselves, expressing how excited they were to be performing. Aware they were somewhat of the odd band out in the theme of The Main Coors Light Stage, New Politics was unphased and rather than alter their sound to fit it, stuck to who they were as they went into “Fall Into These Arms” and “Yeah Yeah Yeah.” All part of the endearing quality of the band, New Politics won over even the more skeptical of festival goers, having them throw their hands in the air by request. Furthermore, New Politics took advantage of the time to showcase their new single “One Of Us,” a fresh new sound by the band, mixing influences in a somewhat homage to Queen and even the Beatles. Then, bringing it all to a close, they delivered the aforementioned big hit “Harlem” to arousing respond. Preparing their forthcoming new music, New Politics are poised for further success.
Giving everyone a chance to grab a quick drink or a bite to eat in the diverse cuisine of the food court, at 8 PM it was time for The Wailers. The band of music icon Bob Marley, The Wailers were the pinnacle of Great South Bay Festival’s Reggae Rock theme. The only act on the main platform not a part of 311’s tour, it began to become clear The Wailers garnered their own following to the grounds. With fans of all ages, all denominations and backgrounds, the mud ladened field filled up rapidly.
As for The Wailers, their history runs far and deep, dating all the way back to 1960s. A talented mix of musicians who helped bring Marley’s music to life, various incarnations of the band’s lineup have existed over the years. Reuniting with original players in 2016, for the first time since Marley’s passing in 1981, The Wailers brought a sense of history and culture to The Great South Bay Music Festival.
A display of how music can unify, even in the most trying of times, The Wailers quickly took the audience away with memorable tunes including “Natural Mystic” and “Forever Loving Jah.” Full, dynamic, and colorful, they continued on with classics such as “Buffalo Soldier,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” and “Roots, Rock, Reggae.” Led by Josh David Barrett on main vocals, each song sounded rich with texture, much like the original renditions recorded on tape all those years ago. In addition, the drumming of Aston Barrett Jr., keyboards of Javaughn Bond, vocals of Shema McGregor as well as Hassanah, along with the guitar work Junior Marvin, Donald Kinsey, and “Dreadie” Reid was impeccable. Each player was on point, but more telling was the enjoyment they displayed while performing.
Moving right along, bringing the feel good, positive vibes, Kinsey lit it up on guitar with an emotional solo within “Lively Up Yourself.” Then the fun continued with brand new music such as the tune titled “It’s Alright,” raising the question, is there a new Wailers album on the way? A question left to be answered if and when, they mixed in more favorites including “Three Little Birds/One Love,” “Stand Firm,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” and “Jamming,” among many others. A performance about unity and love, The Wailers were the retreat everyone needed from all their worries.
With night set in, Great South Festival was now completely packed in preparation for 311’s headlining performance at around 9:30 PM. A band which has made a career out of not fitting in, the Nebraskan band are the definition of Alternative. Marrying Reggae, Rock, Punk, Metal, Hip Hop, and Funk, to label 311 would be a disservice. Paving their own way for nearly three decades now, 311 has seen each of their albums since 1997’s Transistor break top 10 in the Billboard 200 charts, including their most recent, 2017’s Mosaic. Out in support of Mosaic, 311 have plenty to offer as they remain on the road all summer long.
Well known for their energized live performances, Nick Hexum (vocals), Doug “SA” Martinez (vocals/DJ), Tim Mahoney (guitar), Aaron “P-Nut” Wills (bass), and Chad Sexton (drums), were elate to be returning to Great South Bay Music Festival for the first time since 2015. Sharing in their excitement, dedicated fans gathered close to the stage as an array of lights illuminated the night with the band kicking off with “Perfect Mistake” and “Freeze Time.” An interesting mix of new and old, the opening gave way to 311 classics such as “All Mixed Up,” “Come Original,” and “Beautiful Disaster.” Not to be overlooked, Mosaic was also on full display with the dream-like “Too Much to Think,” party-vibed “Wildfire,” and trippy “Too Late.”
Moving about the large stage often, with microphones in hand, Hexum and Martinez completely rocked on vocals, showing time and age has no effect on them. In fact, the band as a whole sounded extremely youthful and vibrant throughout and Sexton’s solo following “Applied Science” was more than just another run of the mill drum solo, it was massive. Continuing on, keeping the music flowing seamlessly, “‘Til the City’s on Fire,” “One and the Same,” and “On a Roll” polished off the showcase of Mosaic, and judging by the crowd reaction, each went over exceptionally well. With hands waving in the air, many singing along, “Amber,” “Do You Right” and “Down” rounded out the main set before an encore performance with a blast from the past with 1995’s “Hive” and funky 2003 cut “Creatures (For a While).”
All in all delivering a set well worth the price of admission alone, 311 proved exactly why they are kings of Alternative Rock. Rhythmically unbeatable, their track selection allowed for no downtime, and with consistent crowd simulation. As for the rest of Great South Bay Music Festival, well, there would be two more days ahead. Amidst those days would be more top rate music to go around and with that there would bound to be more lasting memories.
Photos by: Diane Woodcheke Photography