By: Terrance Pryor
Regardless of your point of view, the 2013 Skate & Surf Festival was definitely an experience. Just like the Electric Daisy Festival in Queens, this event also received a massive amount of complaints from disgruntled fans. Whether it was about the lack of reunions on the lineup or the last minute venue switch to Six Flags, people certainly had a lot to say.
Rain is an unavoidable factor when it comes to outdoor festivals, but the lack of actual roofs for the stages proved to be damn near hazardous. Every band had to perform in the drizzling rain which led to many mishaps with their equipment. Another thing that irked me was that three stages were connected to each other; one stage stood in the front while two other stages took their spots right next to each other on the side. Bands alternating between the side stages reminded me of one of those under-attended 20-30 local band "fests" at your local VFW.
"Is this surfing weather? Is this skating weather?", said Hostage Calm vocalist Chris Martin before the band shot into their opening song "Brokenheartland". After having to unfortunately sit through mediocre local bands full of predictable stage moves and uninspired music, it was a breath of fresh air to see one of punk rock's rising acts take the stage. Martin joked about the weather stating that he'd want the drizzle to turn into a torrential downpour (he then dedicated "On Both Eyes" to hypothermia). Security had a tough time holding back the steel barricades as fans frantically engaged in pile ons and crowd surfing during the band set. For their final song "Don't Die On Me Now", Martin decided to join in on the fun by hopping his way into the crowd during its sing-along chorus.
The fact that Bayside, Saves The Day, RX Bandits and Glassjaw played in that exact order was a huge throwback to old school Skate & Surf fans. Bayside, who are currently on tour with Alkaline Trio & Off With Their Heads, played a short "greatest hits" set. All of your favorite tunes where there including "The Walking Wounded", "Duality" and "Already Gone". It's really great to see a band like Bayside still command such a strong reaction from fans after all these years. Positioned next to the main stage was a DJ booth occupied with a ton of dull rappers on the mic. Rapping about smoking weed in the rain and such didn't really sit well with a lot of people. The audience showed their utmost appreciation for these hip-hop hacks by throwing meat sticks (and other objects) at the booth and flipping birds left and right.
Saves The Day decided to do something different for their return to Skate & Surf by allowing fans to choose their setlist. With the addition of new drummer Dennis Wilson (ex-Every Avenue), the band made us feel like it was 2003 all over again. Their set was heavy on Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are material with the addition of a brand new tune entitled "Ring Pop". Unfortunately due to time restraints, the band wasn't able to perform the #1 most voted song "At Your Funeral", which surprisingly didn't seem to upset many in the crowd.
For their first U.S. show since their farewell tour back in 2011, RX Bandits never sounded better even in the dreary weather condition. Opening with "In Her Drawer", the four piece managed to get the crowd in a frenzy with sing alongs and circle pits. Since they were playing at Skate & Surf, the band thought it would be fitting to cover Weezer's "Surf Wax America" to the surprise of many. To end their set, the band performed an epic jam packed version of "Only For The Night". If you haven't heard, the band will be hitting the road this summer to perform their album Resignation in its entirety.
Glassjaw's last appearance in the area were the Worship & Tribute 10th anniversary shows back in July so many eyes popped open when they saw the LI post hardcore band on the Skate & Surf bill. Their appearances are scarce so whenever they announce a gig, their loyal fanbase will indeed follow. The band kicked things off with "(You Think You're) John Fucking Lennon", and their eager fans detonated on cue. Vocalist Daryl Palumbo seemed very stiff in his performance occasionally singing away from the crowd. Let's be honest, though: Daryl could sit in a chair, sing quotes from Shakespeare plays and fans would still go completely apeshit. Grown men screamed "That's my baby" towards Daryl and for some reason it didn't seem awkward. Not all of the action was on stage or in the crowd. During "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" all eyes turned towards a group of workers climbing a huge light structure which resulted in a huge applause when the men reached their destination. It wasn't until "Pink Roses" when Daryl finally acknowledged the crowd with a "Good evening" as if the band were in the midst of a 3 hour set. Unfortunately for everyone, that wasn't the case when the band's set was abruptly cut short after the following song "Jesus Glue".
This year's revival of Skate & Surf will certainly be talked about for a long time. Some will bash the festival for an unpleasant time while others will praise every band for taking the risk of performing in horrid conditions. If there are plans of doing Skate and Surf next year, let's hope they learn from the errors of this past weekend.