Toward a Future Festival

Posted on 12 August 2011

While unknown indie bands and seasoned rock ‘n roll vets from all across the U.S. were belting songs on the second day of the Escape to New York music festival this past weekend on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, the East End got wind of some very unfortunate news.

The Hamptons’ highly anticipated second act, MTK: the Music to Know festival, had come to an end—before it even had a chance to begin.

Sure enough, just days before it was scheduled to unfold atop the tarmac of the East Hampton Airport, the MTK: Music to Know festival was officially cancelled.  In keeping with the weekend’s suddenly dour turn of events (Day Three of E2NY was cancelled for weather-related reasons), MTK was abandoned.  As festival organizers proclaimed, ticket sales were just too low.

Like many other MTK festival hopefuls, we too were sad.

MTK not only promised to educate us isolated Long Islanders on the relevant new music of the day — the “music to know,” if you will — it promised to punctuate our summer with a large-scale event: two days’ worth of live music, good food, new trends and the opportunity to brush shoulders with thousands of people all gathering in the same place with one overarching goal: to have a good time.

We commend the ambition of those who backed the effort to make this festival happen. Yes, certainly for their creativity and their desire to infuse the East End with something (dare we say it?) hip — but, to be honest, mostly because we remember what it was like when we actually had the opportunity to attend such shows. There was the “All For the Sea” concert with the likes of James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet and Bob Dylan, which used to be held every year as a fundraiser for Southampton College. And then there was “Back to the Ranch” in Montauk, which showcased Paul Simon, among others.

The way MTK fizzled out of sight this past weekend, it seems there’s little hope the concert might make a resurgence next year. And while we would hate to see these efforts all for naught, even more importantly, we would hate to see the push to bring a music festival to the East End suddenly diminish.

Clearly, there’s a taste for something of this caliber here. (MTK did, in fact, manage to sell about 2,500 tickets, not to mention those that would have been purchased on the day of the concert itself.) Hopefully, this year’s MTK effort is just a taste of what we can look forward to in the future.

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