It has been three years since the Great South Bay Music Festival played Shorefront Park in Patchogue and judging by the crowd on opening day Thursday, its return has been highly anticipated.
“I had my tickets from years ago and I’ve been holding onto them hoping they would come back,” said Chris Braut, 39, of Copiague. “This event is just awesome! There’s nothing better than seeing bands perform live.”
The 14th annual event, absent in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, was blessed with clear weather and smiles upon the faces of Long Islanders who were happy to be back spreading out their blankets and setting up their lawn chairs.
“This is a beautiful day at a beautiful venue,” declared David Zack, 61, of St. James, who came to see Bayside. “I remember one of the best shows I’ve seen here was Taking Back Sunday — in the rain, no less!”
Matt Shaw, 40, of Babylon was excited to check out Manchester Orchestra and Grouplove with his wife, Samantha, 36, but he remembers when his own band Two Cent Sam played the festival.
“We opened up for Starship in 2015. It was good time,” he recalls. “It’s nice to get back to live music again.”
After a two-hour delayed opening of the festival due to technical difficulties, Long Island bands dominated the Clamshell Bandshell. The first notes came from Like Minded Criminals, who are making a comeback. After getting some attention in 2017 for its debut, “Drowning in Bed,” the rock band returned to the stage with two new members bassist Kevinn Rinn and lead guitarist Jeff Bloch.
“We are looking to pick up from where we left off and keep on going,” said Rinn, 29, of Huntington Station.
The band's new single, “So Far So Good,” fit in with older songs like "Burn It Down” and fan favorite, “20,000 Leagues Below the Sea.”
As the clock struck 6:35 p.m., The Montauk Project brought its signature blend of classic and psychedelic rock to the Clamshell Bandshell. New songs “Undertow” and “Highball” even got the crowd dancing on the lawn.
“A festival atmosphere is an opportunity for us to meet a new audience that maybe hasn’t heard of us,” said lead singer-guitarist Mark Schiavoni, 35, of Sag Harbor, prior to taking the stage. “We want people to get goose bumps on their forearms. To us, that’s success.”
Sean Killeen, 52, of Holtsville brought his girlfriend, Suzie, and his kids, Liam, 13, and Jenna, 19, down to see his favorite band Manchester Orchestra and despite the time delay he was determined to wait camped out by the stage.
He stated, “We are here until the last band goes off!”
The festival continues through Sunday. For tickets and more information, visit: greatsouthbaymusicfestival.com.