"I just want to say that you all look stunning," Adam Lazarra of Taking Back Sunday told the mostly average-looking crowd at the festival stage at Jones Beach Ampitheatre (or Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre if you want to be specific). While his gesture was thoughtful, it was far from the truth as girls with way too much stomach were letting it all hang out and acne was really running rabid throughout the crowd. However, who the hell really cares about that anyways, it's the show you want to know about right?
New York alternative station K-Rock (WXRK) has been putting on this festival every year since 1997 (save for last summer, 2003, when they simply called the Summer Sanitarium tour their summer festival). This year's line-up featured (for once) mostly Tri-State area bands as 6 out of the 10 were from the New York/Jersey/Long Island area. This year the show was a whopping $95 (at least my ticket was, I had 7th row) for a lineup that consisted of bands that, while talented, could not draw crowds that were willing to pay that much to see them, still there were a fair number of people filling up the ampitheatre.
Due to Long Island traffic (those in the area know what I'm talking about) I was stuck on the Cross Island for 45 minutes (where I had to go a total of 8.5 miles) and missed Midtown's entire set. Walking in just as Taking Back Sunday was taking the stage I witnessed their usual antics. Adam swinging his mic around while the new guitarist shouted in John Nolan's parts. It was interesting when the band was first announced to play the festival back in May since I don't think I'd ever heard them being played on K-Rock (the station has now been playing the new single). Kids moshed and sang along and of course, the kid dressed in the Winnie the Pooh outfit (it's getting really old, by the way) crowd-surfed a few times so the band would notice him. I guess it was the usual antics for the band, Adam even climbed up the side of the stage and hung from the tracking on the top of the rented festival stage. Setlist was something like: You Know How I Do, Timberwolves In New Jersey, (new song), Great Romances Of The 20th Century, Bonus Mosh Pt. 2, You're So Last Summer, A Decade Under The Infuence, Cute Without The E.
Up next, Story Of The Year, the band taking the heat for jumping on the post-hardcore bandwagon. Their live show was intense. Spin kicks, backflips and an overall kickass amount of energy. It also helps that they write great songs as well. I really think they're the band that took this whole post-hardcore, screamo, whatever movement and made it sound as perfectly commercially accesible as it could. They seemed real sincere and looked like they were enjoying themselves as the fans jumped, moshed and screamed along to the setlist of: And The Hero Will Drown, Dive Right In, Divide And Conquer, Anthem Of Our Dying Day, Falling Down, Until The Day I Die, In The Shadows
Teen girls shrieked as New Found Glory took the stage next. Is it just me or did their singer get really fat? Anyways, I've seen them a bunch and their live show, while fun, seems a little sloppy. It's obvious how much Jordan is helped in the studio as he sturggled to hit certain notes from time to time. It's also kind of a downfall for me when I find out that the singer doesn't right the lyrics. It just seems like it's not really as heartfelt when they're written for him. The two guitarists on the other hand, seem to be really in sync with each other as they trade off occasional screams and backing vocals while hopping around with their instruments. Setlist was something like: Understatement, Truth Of My Youth, Hit Or Miss, It's Been A Summer, At Least I'm Known For Something, Dressed To Kill, My Friends Over You, Your Biggest Mistake, Something I Call Personality, All Downhill From Here.
As everyone shifted over to the main stage, Yeah Yeah Yeahs began their set. Now, I think this record is a fine little record and I like Karen O's vocal style. I think a lot of people picking up the record for "Maps" were a little suprirsed when they first popped it in and she screams "I'LL TAKE YOU OUT BOY!" I think that's the way many people felt upon seeing the band that afternoon. Karen O paraded around while the guitarist looked bored and the drummer just looked like a little kid in a candy store. Their loss, the band pounded through upbeat numbers like "Man" and "Black Light" (featuring one of the best lines I've ever heard, "Boy you just a stupid bitch and girl you just a no good dick!"). They, predictably, closed with "Maps." Setlist was something like: Rich, Man, Black Light, Y Control, Pin, Maps.
Before Brand New came on, Gary Dellabate also known as "Baba Booey" from the Howard Stern Show introduced them as being "so excited because they're from Levittown" (also on LI). The band took the stage and broke right out into "The Quiet Things (That No One Knows)." Jesse seemed to be in high spirits and was rockin' out (for as much as Jesse Lacey can rock out). Vinnie, as usual, looked kind of bored but the band put on a stellar performance. Their songs actually sounded great in the big open venue (except for "Jude Law And A Semester Abroad" which sounded awkward without a big sweaty plethora of kids in trucker hats and studded belts screaming along every word). Jesse even tried to jump off the jump set which resulted in him whiping out. He got back up like a true rock star though to finish the tune. Setlist: The Quiet Things (That No One Knows), Jaws Theme Swimming, I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light, Jude Law And A Semester Abroad, Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't, Sic Transit Gloria.
Cypress Hill was up next, so my girlfriend and I thought it would be a good time to get food…
Which brings us to The Darkness. I saw them a few weeks ago in Boston at the BCN show, I thought they were good but something was missing. What was missing was back in tact for New York as Justin spent almost as much time talking as he did playing. Their witty British sense of humor was a breath of fresh air as Justin led the crowd in chants of curse words and singing ungodly high. Not to mention the band sounds tight as hell as Justin and his brother trade their awesome shredding guitar solos. The crowd, of course, responsed the most to "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" but that's not to say other numbers didn't rock as hard. There were the naysayers and "too cool" frat boys calling them fags and what not, but The Darkness really proved themselves not just to me, but to the audience as a whole and probably themselves as well. Setlist: Growing On Me, Stuck In A Rut, (new song), Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman, I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Stuck In A Rut, Love On The Rocks (With No Ice).
The moment most people had been waiting for was upon us. The Beastie Boys. After a long introduction from their DJ playing various clips of songs the Boys of NYC broke out onto the stage to "Root Down." I'm honestly not the biggest Beastie Boys fan, but I do own two or three of their records and always enjoy their singles. The set was basically a lot of their hits as well as one or two new numbers for To The 5 Boroughs. My only complaint was that they ignored some of their biggest hits: Sabotage, Fight For Your Right, Girls (although, I can understand if they don't want to play the latter two, seeing as they probably feel out of place singing about partying and girls at their age now). What was best about the set was that the Boys forgot the lyrics to a few old numbers and had to have the crowd help them along. They were also the only band of the night that did an encore after they left the stage. Setlist: Root Down, Sure Shot, An Open Letter To NYC, Body Movin, Brass Monkey, Pass The Mic, Paul Revere, Triple Trouble, 3 MC's and 1 DJ, Ch-Check It Out. (encore): Intergalactic, So Watcha Want.
Right before the Strokes, surprise guest Jay-Z came out and performed "99 Problems." For some reason, this got the most crowd reaction the whole night. Go figure.
The Strokes finished the show with a rather uninspiring set. I've always thought this band was OK but their arrogance and the fact that Julian is the most monotone singer I've ever heard hasn't always set well with me. The only really noteworthy part of their set was that Alfred (I think that's his name, the guitarist with the beard) was pissed that his amps weren't working and at one point just threw both amps over, leaving his guitar techs scrambling to pick them up (kind of a dick move if you ask me). They're the one band I'm not totally sure of the setlist, I know they opened with Reptila and it included (in no particular order): Someday, Hard To Explain, Last Nite, The Modern Age, Take It Or Leave It, The End Is No End, Automatic Stop, What Ever Happened?, Under Control, The Way It Is and maybe a few more.
One other noteworthy thing to mention is as The Strokes were leaving the stage, two K-Rock DJ's came on to do the usual "Thanks for coming, blah blah blah" and Fabio of the Strokes was still walking offstage. So Fabio being the "cool indie rock guy" he is grabbed the mic from one of the DJ's and barreled out "I wish this guy would shut the fuck up!" and tossed the mic into the crowd. Funny, but kind of lame and really didn't accomplish much.