It’s only fitting that the Great South Bay Music Festival would draw its biggest crowd ever with Long Island’s biggest band.
Taking Back Sunday rose to the challenge of rocking the densely packed, capacity hometown crowd of 5,500 with a sneak preview of the Rockville Centre-based band’s upcoming tour that starts next month in Baltimore and ends in the United Kingdom in December to support their recent Top 10 album “Happiness Is…” (Hopeless).
Kicking off with the current single “Stood a Chance,” Taking Back Sunday proved their love of the punk-pop anthem hasn’t diminished since their days of living in an Amityville basement. However, the 75-minute set also showed how the band, especially since the reunion of the “Tell All Your Friends”-era lineup in 2010, keeps adding layers to its music.
The multi-guitar attack of “Beat Up Car,” with guitarists John Nolan, Eddie Reyes and Nathan Cogan taking turns with bassist Shaun Cooper moving into the spotlight, features TBS’ sound thickening, giving Adam Lazzara’s vocals a sturdy launch pad for the song’s theme of escape from desperation.
Of course, that’s a switch, too. After all, this is a band that gave a voice to the desperate feelings of millions of angst-ridden teens with the emo touchstone “Tell All Your Friends.” It continues to strike a chord with that age group, judging from the countless teens screaming along with “You Know How I Do” and “You’re So Last Summer” and jumping around in time with Mark O’Connell’s thudding drum beats.
“This is really special,” Lazzara told the crowd. “We’re really thankful for all of you.”
He said the band was initially worried about playing the Great South Bay Music Festival because their music was different from the headliners of years past. However, they were happy they made the choice, especially given a potent lineup that included Circa Survive and up-and-comers Balance & Composure and Hicksville’s promising NGHBRS. “It’s really great to be home on Long Island,” Nolan said. “It’s been a while.”
And offering up a night to more youth-oriented rock should help the festival grow, introducing another generation to its great location in Patchogue’s Shorefront Park and the laid-back festival vibe that offers everything from quality cigars to deep-fried Girl Scout cookies. It could convince them to come back for another night of the festival (which ends Sunday) -- one where folks seated appreciatively in lawn chairs outnumber moshers.
SETLIST: Stood a Chance / Timberwolves vs. New Jersey / Liar / They Don’t Have Any Friends / Faith (When I Let You Down) / You Know How I Do / Beat Up Car / Number Five with a Bullet / What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost / A Decade Under the Influence / Better Homes and Gardens / You’re So Last Summer / Error Operator / 180 by Summer / Flicker Fade / Cute without the ‘E’ / Call Me in the Morning / MakeDamnSure