Out on the bluffs down by the Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays on June 11, you’d be forgiven if you were shocked to see a bandstand in the parking lot or hear the squawks of speakers and the guitar and drum licks of a sound check wafting over the dunes. After all, it’s been a pretty silent year.
Young musicians from throughout Southampton Town set to work to change that in this year’s 18th Annual Battle of the Bands, one of the first signs of a return to normalcy after the isolation of the pandemic year.
There were only two bands competing in this year’s battle — En Fuego of Hampton Bays and Flooded Harbour of East Quogue — organizers said they thought many teen musicians were unable to practice to get ready for the competition while in quarantine.
But the crowds were boisterous and enthusiastic, and an energetic half-time set by 2017 Battle of the Bands winners Road Trip, all seeming much older and with more polished licks than the year of their high school win, kept the energy going through the sunset and into the night.
Flooded Harbour got the crowd going with a great set of hard-driving, instrumental rock. Band members Pier Piergiorgio, Bradley Capone, Lexington Carrera and Michael Forseth didn’t have much to say about their music, other than to say the music spoke for itself. And it did.
En Fuego (Hunter Montgomery, Nellie Nicolova, Jack Oats, Luke Hefter and Dan Stark), which was declared the winner of the battle at the end of the night, had a punky, surfy edge that carried them through to victory.
Road Trip took to the classics, mining the best of 1960s rock and roll. They brought down the night with The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” played in response to all that we’ve missed over the past year.
“Lord, I’ve missed you all,” sang lead singer and keyboard player Nick Corridor. The crowd roared. The feeling was mutual.