Every year, at the end of July, the Great South Bay Music Festival hits Shorefront Park in Patchogue, NY. It’s a four-day music-filled tried and true Long Island event that many clamour to attend annually. Many of the fest’s musical acts hail from the island, and it’s a great way to support local talent all in one spot, and maybe discover a few upcoming bands too. Never fear though, there is also plenty of “big” band action at the end of each day. But, with so much to see and do, where does one even start? Easy! After this year’s edition (July 12-15) we decided to compile a list of things to know if you’re hitting the festival in 2019.

01. Do: Attend as many days as possible.
– I get it, it’s a 4-day festival, you’re a busy person. I could only attend the first two days, but seriously try your best, and if you can’t make all 4, at least each day has some what of a theme, and you can choose based on what suits you the best. Thursday, the alternative rock day, had a somewhat mellow turn out. Don’t get me wrong, there were tons of people, but compared to Friday it was a small showing. When you’ve got so many awesome local bands, and big headliners like The Get Up Kids, Thrice, and The Front Bottoms, you’ve got to make some extra time to head out. Friday was a different beast entirely. It was a feel good day full of hippies, stoners, reggae, and ska. I couldn’t possibly pass up seeing Dirty Heads, Less than Jake, and Sublime with Rome.

02. Don’t: Blow off the weekend dates.
– I know, I know, a lot of the bands were cover acts, and ones your dad listened to in his youth. But really, you have to give it up to some of the groups that have been going at this forever and are still rocking it out on the big stages; Electric Hot Tuna, The Dickey Betts Band, Little Feat, etc. Plus, there were a lot of different jam bands, Humphrey’s Mcgee, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Papadosio, it must have been a very chill summer weekend!

Check out Rachel Amato’s full photo gallery from Day 1 of the festival.

03. Do: See as many local bands as possible.
– Everyone crowds around the main stage to see all of the popular bands, but come on, this is Long Island. We have an amazing local music scene. The set times for the Clamshell Bandshell stage were almost directly the breaks between the big bands, so all you had to do to enjoy some local music was walk over to it. It’s an outdoor festival so don’t be lazy, you have to expect some walking involved. This year we saw bands like, I Ignite, GutterLIFE, Dudley Music, and Gnarley Karma killing it and showing how LI does local music.

04. Don’t: Forget that third stage, the Jambalaya stage, hidden in the back!
– While Thursday was smaller, they open up another entire yard of vendors and a third stage for the other 3 days of the show. The only unfortunate thing about the third stage, is that if you want to see the big bands, the set times for this stage were basically mirror of the big stage. Such is the plight of festivals, so many bands so little time.

GSB is Love. And they’ve got the video to prove it.

05. Do: Bring cash!
– While there is a break in the tunes there is so much else to check out. Local vendors selling different wares; jewelry, bongs, jerky, clothing, music lessons, and of course food! There had to be at least 20 different food vendors with everything from BBQ from Bobbique, to meatballs from The Meatball Place, to pretzels from Knot Of This World, to fried pickles, to acai bowls. There was literally an option for everyone and its made even better that is was all local Long Island companies.

06. Don’t: Stand in line for the ATM.
– I made that mistake, and while you think that it shouldn’t take that long for a few people to get cash out quick, it does. Never underestimate how long it takes a drunk man to retrieve $20.

Check out Rachel Amato’s full photo gallery from Day 2 of the festival.

07. Do: Drink!
– While there weren’t many options available for alcoholic consumption, what they did have fit the mood of the festival entirely. You had spiked seltzers, some hoppy IPA’s, and some Belgian ales (along with every party’s big name lite beers…. bleh). Not into alcohol, or underage? Fine! There were plenty of Long Island drink stands with things like cold brew coffee from Sail Away and freshly brewed tea by SubtleTea. The real theme of this festival, is basically a laid back summer party. They pull this off by being relaxed and small enough, but still maintaining a large amount of entertainment, where you don’t need to get black out silly to have a good time.

08. Don’t: Forget this is actually a family-friendly festival.
– I was actually very surprised to see this. Some bands can be pretty vulgar, and especially on reggae day just the mention of the word marijuana would send a cloud of smoke over the crowd, but this festival invites you to bring your kids along, under the age of 10 being let in for free. There is plenty of space for you to put out some folding chairs and a towel and lay out on the lawn, bring the whole family and relax if you’re not the kind of person who needs to see a show stage side. But please if you bring your kids and like to be in the midst of the crowd, give them headphones! They have little ears.