Great South Bay Music Festival kicked off their weekend on Thursday the 7th with a banger of a lineup, featuring sets from Bayside, Manchester Orchestra, Grouplove, and a bunch of all-star locals. Though the lineup was strong, the organization was not that day, forcing fans to wait two and a half hours after doors were scheduled to be open to get inside. From what I experienced, there was an extreme breakdown in communications from the grounds to the public, with minimal updates from the festival itself, and even less information for the artists.
This slow start forced some extremely short sets from the local and opening main stage acts, but everyone did the best they could with what was in front of them. Artists like Like Minded Criminals, Zuli Jr, and Family Dinner displayed a particular resilience in each of their sets. Playing to small crowds, playing only 3 songs, and being told while on stage their time was up are hard things to navigate, but they handled it with class and grace. As the night went on, it was clear that no matter what time people had, their talent would shine through.
Fans were confused as Zuli Jr and Family Dinner were rushed on and off the stage, but when Bayside came out to play, all the stress melted away. I’ve seen Bayside a handful of times over the years and every time I’m blown away at how tight and concise their sets are. They made it a point to thank everyone for their patience and give a moment to the opening bands of the day, keeping things positive and in motion. Manchester Orchestra gave an incredible and emotional performance, closing with powerhouse “The Gold” and Grouplove kept spirits up late into the night with their incredibly upbeat closing set. I think the band that truly stole the show was local punk band Scared 20. They were handed a tough slot between Manchester Orchestra and Grouplove, given no parameters, a faulty microphone and occasionally no sound in their guitar, and still kept people on their feet when it would be easier to sit down.
Overall, regardless of the rocky road getting there, the music truly saved the day. I’d like to shout out each band, Like Minded Criminals, Zuli Jr, Family Dinner, The Dude Ranch, Scared 20, Bayside, Manchester Orchestra, Grouplove, and any others I may not have caught myself for giving 150% regardless of how much time they had. Everyone showed an incredible amount of adaptability, and they should be proud. Check out some highlights from each band below!