By Steven Butera
It’s Thurday June 2nd and the battle of the bands have come to a head. All the semi-finals have been finished and judged and it was time to finish this war once and for all. By the look of the night you wouldn’t tell. The sky was overcast, covering the village with a blanket of coolness. The days before were unbearably hot, keeping most of the villagers poolside or indoors.
But there was a storm condensing at 89 North, a modest music venue right off main street on north ocean avenue, with enough space to accommodate the developing crowds as the nights go on and an overwhelming feel for excitement which keeps them there until the pressure finally builds up and forces them onto the outside patio which is just as big as the main floor and just as inviting. 89 North should be named the benefit capital of Patchogue; hosting every charity event that walks in their doors. But the humble owner, Dan Welsh, wouldn’t have it any other way. For this event, 89 North, was fully equipped. They house proper rigs, capable of making anyone’s heart skip a beat and leave their ears ringing for the next couple of days.
The first band, Lazy Bunny Ukulele Band a tight playing 4 piece band, entertained the crowd with upbeat cover songs such as Billy Jean by Michael Jackson and also covers from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime. The venue wasn’t quite filled yet, being that they started their set at 8pm, which is early for Patchogue standards. So consequently, the band hadn’t received the welcome that any band should expect when playing a venue like 89 North.
By 9 o’clock the attendance had swelled to a threshold, where you can barely hear the sound of your own voice and yelling at your friends wouldn’t help you. But besides these facts, there was a band The Ghost & The Crown, who casually took the stage. And when the band came on it was noticeable that the crowd was solely for them. The anticipation of their first EP In Memorium, brought a river of supporters and they didn’t stay quiet for long. The eddies turned into raging waters quicker than you feel the rage of a woman ignored. Which is not something that you should try for fun but if it ever does happen, make sure you run; But in this case, no one was running. They we’re fixated on the well-balanced vocal melodies and the intricate guitar patterns which made it difficult to walk away.
The Pamela Betti Band came on third. And played a bunch of cover songs including Rolling on the River. Their experience playing shows was obvious; but with the lack of diversity the band came off like background music. It’s always hard to keep the attention of a crowd while they’re drinking but especially if they don’t hear something familiar; something that they love.
A’mericana came on next with the same intensity as The Ghost & The Crown, although a completely different sound. Some ears perked up, as the band came on. But still the audience seemed to be supporting The Ghost & The Crown. Recently the front man Brian Gabriel, wrote and recorded their first album at Suffolk Recording Studio right across the street from 89 North. And with their second chance to play it live, they nailed their set with a precision of an All-star quarterback.
After A’mericana, it was time to make the final decision. By the reaction of the audience it was clear that The Ghost & The Crown would be the winner. This band’s sound is based off a linear point. “We know how we want to sound and we don’t have to try to find it. This band’s writing process is organic and we don’t try to fit into our sound. we’ve made our sound. We don’t spend time forging our sound – we know when we’re happy with what we’ve written.”, said the guitarist Tim Dillon. And if originality and difficulty wasn’t enough, the sound these guys made was incredible. But with all competitions, it was left to the judges and they ultimately decided to pick A’mericana. And with that, Rock the Patch had officially came to an end. An upset to many, but for A’mericana an opportunity to be heard. You can catch them play next at the Alive After Five festival on the coveted Blue Point Brewery Stage starting July 7th.