5 Music Festivals That Almost Happened on Long Island

Music Festival

Music festivals are fun, but despite the fact that they have the same odds of happening on Long Island as the proposed tunnel to Connecticut, some organizers keep trying—with predictable results.

Aside from annual national touring music festivals such as the one-day Warped Tour or fests based in amphitheaters such as the two-day Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival, both of which are at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theatre, attempts to throw Woodstock-style, one-off, multi-day rock-a-thons as they were intended to be experienced—in wide open fields—have their plugs preemptively pulled more often than they come to fruition on LI.

Since this year’s high-profile luxury Fyre Festival failure proved it’s not just a problem on the Island, it’s a good time to take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the region’s biggest attempted music festivals.

Field Day
When: June 7-8, 2003
Where: Enterprise Park, Calverton

Out of all festivals on the list, this one is probably the most infamous. With huge headliners such as Radiohead, Beck and the Beastie Boys, it was poised to be the best music festival of the summer in the US. As with all festivals on this list, events did not go as planned despite promises of “two full days of music and camping!” Days before the festival began, the Town of Riverhead refused to grant a mass-gathering permit for fear that police would not be able to handle the crowds. Scrambling for a place to hold the festival, promoters made Field Day a one-day festival at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. To make matters worse, festival-goers had to buy new passes for the rescheduled version and were not honoring Calverton tickets. The Meadowlands version was plagued by rain all day and only had 16 artists on the lineup.

Bonnaroo Festival NE
When: Aug. 8-10, 2003
Where: Enterprise Park, Calverton

Riding off the success of the inaugural Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., promoters planned on bringing a version of the festival to the northeast. Seeing the permit fiasco of Field Day in June, they decided to cancel the festival a week later. With more than 25,000 tickets sold at the time of cancellation, Bonnaroo NE had a heavy lineup of classic rock, featuring acts such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Dave Matthews Band.

Escape to New York
When: Aug. 5-7, 2011
Where: Shinnecock Reservation, Southampton

Technically speaking, Escape to New York did actually happen, but the final day was unfortunately cancelled due to flash floods. Planned by the creators of famed UK festival Secret Garden Party, the festival was a small, specialty experience on tribal grounds that emulated the vibes of Burning Man that featured Patti Smith, Of Montreal and Best Coast. The capacity of 5,000 was met, according to the festivals publicist and featured amenities like on-ground glamping. The promoters told fans that the festival would return in 2012, but it never came to fruition.

Music to Know Festival
When: Aug. 13-14, 2011
Where: Easthampton Airport, Easthampton

The 9,500-person festival, designed to be a small, boutique-style fest, was planned to feature Vampire Weekend, Bright Eyes and Ellie Goudling as headliners. Taking place on Runway 4 of the East Hampton Airport, the festival would be a synthesis of music and fashion, hosting vendor tents from store such as Topshop, J. Crew and Madewell. Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.

Quiksliver Pro New York
When: Sept. 1-10
Where: Long Beach

The surf contest happened, but the music didn’t. Quiksilver Pro New York was one of more prominent surf competitions that year, offering a $300,000 check to the winner, the highest prize purse to ever go to a surfer at the time (Owen Wright won that year.) A music, food and fashion aspect was slated to be incorporated to the contest. Amazing bands such as Interpol, The Flaming Lips, LI natives Taking Back Sunday, Neon Indian, Portugal. The Man and Wavves. The music portion was cancelled after it posed too much of a challenge to the City of Long Beach in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, which hit days before the festival. The 2012 contest was cancelled in December 2011 by Quiksilver because of a lack of profit from the 2011 event.

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