Stay positive and love your life. One could say that was the theme of day two of the Great South Bay Music Festival. That’s the vibe that exuded from all in attendance, as well as from those on stage on the breezy summer evening of Friday, July 17.
The Great South Bay Music Festival is the largest four-day music, art and cultural family event on Long Island. Taking place at Shorefront Park in Patchogue, this year featured over 60 musical artists on four stages including top names, including Colbie Caillat, Christina Perri, 311, Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna, as well as local emerging artists in a variety of genres.
“Are there any Patchogians? Am I saying that right?” asked Mighty Mighty Bosstones lead vocalist Dicky Barrett to the masses. The Bosstones are best known for their hit from the platinum-selling 1997 album Let’s Face It, “The Impression That I Get,” which the crowd loved hearing for its blast-from-the-past quality. The ska-core band from Boston, MA, features saxophones and trombones and their style combines third-wave ska with hardcore punk and other influences, making them the perfect opener for the genre-defying headliner 311.
“I came out to see 311,” said Catherine Wolfe of Coram, “and had a damn good time.”
Though the day was packed with dozens of talented musical acts, including Oogee Wawa and The Green, the majority of the record-setting crowd of 7,000 on Friday came out to see 311, whose style ranges from wicked and wild to mellow and mild. Originally from Omaha, NE, 311 blends reggae, rock, funky jazz fusion and everything in between, in a way only they can pull off.
“They played a nice mix of songs,” said Steve Leggio of East Meadow.
The set list, which is rarely the same from one show to the next, opened with the timeless “Beautiful Disaster.” In their trademark style, lead vocalist and guitarist Nick Hexum traded off verses with the always energetic Doug “SA” Martinez in “Freeze Time.”
Hexum gave props to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones during “Come Original’s” list of artists “comin’ full range.” Fans dug the always crowd-pleasing and much-loved drum break during “Applied Science,” and, later, P-Nut’s killer bass solo vibrated the coins out of your pockets.
Bubbles filled the air during the positive lyrics and dreamy instrumentation of the “Beyond the Grey Sky” encore. They closed with “Creatures (For a While),” a jamming popular single, and strong finish to a dynamic and uplifting show.
East Meadow resident Arien Dijkstra has seen the band at a multitude of venues over the years. “The beach setting at Shorefront was the perfect environment for 311,” he said. “The show sounded great.”
In addition to the music, the festival’s artisan market featured winding rows of booths for shoppers and food lovers. The diverse collection of handmade and imported creations combined with food vendors of all kinds contributed to the festive atmosphere and feeling of community of the event.
After grabbing a taco or a hot dog or a veggie burger, attendees could get in line for a fresh craft beer from Long Island’s own Blue Point Brewing Company or a root beer from Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Pop stand, then have their hands painted with intricate designs by a henna artist. Next, they could head over to Whirl & Dervish’s hula hoop booth for an impromptu hula hoop performance and then check out the merchandise tent for a special souvenir. It is not an overstatement to say there was something for everyone.
From July 16 to 19, more than 21,000 people attended the festival, whose numbers grow each year. Jim Faith, the founder and producer, said, “We are looking forward to our 10th anniversary in 2016.”
For the second year in a row, Faith is helping to plan a free festival, the Farmingdale Downtown Music Fest, taking place on Sept. 19 and 20.
When asked which band this year has the most dedicated fans, without hesitation or qualification, Faith unsurprisingly answered, “311.”
Great South Bay Music Festival 2015 was a great success by any standard. Long Island music lovers are already looking forward to next year and the eclectic mix of artists. For more information, visit www.greatsouthbaymusicfestival.com.