ROCK! AWAY! at Riis Park


Let the music draw you in to Riis Park this weekend. The first-ever ROCK! AWAY! Music Festival, a live music extravaganza featuring more than 30 acts, is taking place over the course of three days.

If you head down to Riis Park Beach Bazaar this weekend, you’re in for even more of a treat beyond lobster rolls and gourmet pizza. Max Power, who some may know as Matt Preis, has been supporting the local music scene since he moved to the area in 2013. He has hosted many smaller shows and open mics at local venues since launching the ROCK! AWAY! brand and music series over the past few years. This weekend will be his biggest production yet.

“I’ve always wanted to do a music festival. The opportunity came along to have a weekend at Riis, so I decided to make it as big as possible,” Power said. Back in February, Power went to work, acquiring some sponsorships and reaching out to potential acts, to create an amazing music lineup for a show that is completely free to the public. “I reached out to everybody and I’ve done a lot of work to make this happen and I hope it’s something that can happen every year. Rockaway needed this,” he said.

ROCK! AWAY! Music Festival is a three-day affair featuring local musicians, out-of-town acts and touring bands playing a range of genres including county, Irish, pop, indie, hip hop, surf tunes, punk, hardcore and of course, rock. Many will play with a full sound system on the main stage at Bay 9, while others will be playing acoustic sets in the two busking areas located at Slice O’ Whit’s and Cuisine by Claudette at Riis. The festival will showcase a lot of younger local bands like Arson Welles, Rattrap Bumpkin, Blame Mercury, Blac Rabbit, the BEasy Band, Lorena Leigh, The Forms and The Skells. Locals, John Baxter and John Simonelli, will also be some of the many artists to play in the busking area. Artist Masato Okano will also be live painting the event throughout the weekend.

For those not familiar with busking, Power describes it as “when someone comes in to a bar or restaurant with an instrument and asks if they can play in exchange for tips. They play a few songs, and if they’re good, they can stay. If they’re not, the bartender will ask them to leave. It was something I encountered in Europe a lot. This also includes playing on the street for tips, which almost every musician I know has done at some point. Last year in New York City, there was a Busking Day on July 15. We’ll have two busking areas in Riis that day, where people will be playing acoustically. This gives singers-songwriters a chance to be involved and a way to keep the music going all day. We hope to create that same energy of busking and that magic that can happen when someone walks into a bar and starts playing,” Power said.

 The whole festival starts Friday at 5 p.m. at Bay 9 at Riis Park Beach Bazaar where Vic Thrill of the Bogmen will kick off the show on the main stage, followed by three bands including local favorite Arson Welles. On Saturday, the fun kicks off at noon, and the day will be jam-packed with music at the main stage, plus the two busking areas, all day until 7 p.m. Many local favorites will be playing on Saturday, plus Jason Loewenstein of the band Sebadoh, which Power says is one not to miss. Sunday will “end in a bang,” according to Power. “On Sunday, the music will have a lot of people jumping around and having a blast and that’s intentional,” he said. Some highlights include Rincon, P.R. favorite, The Disfunction, local favorite, The Skells, plus Toranavox and Wonder Muff. The music starts at noon on Sunday and continues until 9 p.m. All of the music takes place outdoors, but in the event of rain, it will be moved to the Rockaway Brewing Company on Beach 72nd Street.

A big event such as this wouldn’t be complete without an after party. ROCK! AWAY! Music Festival has three of them, one for each night of the festival. On Friday and Saturday, the after party takes place at A/B Studios (111-22 Rockaway Beach Boulevard) and admission is $5.  Power wouldn’t go into detail, but a surprise act is slated to play at the after party on Friday, which starts at 9 p.m. and goes until midnight. On Saturday, the after party starts at 8 p.m. and includes Avi Jacob, The World’s Greatest Detective and The Disfunction. Sunday’s party will take place at the new Epstein’s Beach on Beach 90th Street. A special guest will also be performing then, followed be a DJ dance party. “Just take off of work on Monday,” Power suggests, as the fun will go all night long.

Power says he’s had a lot of help to make this event possible and has many to thank, including Rich Hill, Michael Nolan aka Cosmo, who has been a big supporter of local music, the Mermaids of Rockaway, Kim Gantz of, Jimmy Dowd of St. James, Tom Jodice, who will be running the sound on Saturday and Sunday, Nick Mastros of A/B Studios, Jean Sean, Will Abrams, Music Fest News, Rockaway Brewing Company, The Rockaway Times,  Deep Eddy Vodka, Ducky Johnson, and many more.

“My main motivation behind this whole thing is that I love and support music, I love Rockaway, and if I'm able to put this together and give it to people, then I want to, and so far it seems like it’s all happening,” he said. “This weekend is going to beautiful. There’s going to be a huge concentration of beautiful energy and amazing bands and you won’t be disappointed.”

See the accompanying ad for the schedule. Lineup is subject to change. For more information about the ROCK! AWAY! Music Festival, including updated schedules, head to

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