Rock! Away! Music Festival showcases all the neighborhood has to offer

White Merlot performing at last year's Rock! Away! Music Festival. Photo Credit: Eileen Steakin

The festival will feature more than 75 performances in venues all around Rockaway.

White Merlot performing at last year's Rock! Away! Music Festival.
White Merlot performing at last year’s Rock! Away! Music Festival. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Brian Munoz

A three-day music festival featuring dozens of performances at a bevy of venues will kick off in Rockaway this week.

The third annual Rock! Away! Music Festival will run Friday through Sunday and will include more than 75 performances by bands and musicians from the Rockaway peninsula and elsewhere, organizer Matt Preis told amNewYork.

The festival is a “crawl” of sorts, with shows taking place at a number of different spots, including Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Rockaway Brewing Company, Bungalow Bar, RBQ, AB Studios, Healy’s Pub, Low Tide Bar and Caracas Arepa Bar, Preis said.

The event grew out of Preis’ desire to showcase the peninsula’s vibrant, diverse music and food scene, he explained.

Matt Preis, aka Max Power, organizer of the Rock! Away! Music Festival which features Kool Keith, Ye Mighty Wave, Blac Rabbit and more.
Matt Preis, aka Max Power, organizer of the Rock! Away! Music Festival which features Kool Keith, Ye Mighty Wave, Blac Rabbit and more. Photo Credit: Mark Eidinger

“For me, Rock! Away! Music Fest is about spotlighting a lot of what we do in Rockaway in the summers,” said Preis, who goes by the promoter and DJ name “Max Power.” “There’s so much great music going on on the beach.”

Headlining bands will include The Black Widows, a Minneapolis-based “surf roxotica band,” and The Sex Rays, another Minneapolis-based band that describes its music as “psycho-surf-garage-punk” — both of which will play more than once over the course of the weekend.

The festival will also feature a number of local acts, including Rockaway Beach-based psychedelic rock band Blac Rabbit, Preis said.

One of Preis’ favorite lineups, taking place at AB Studios on Saturday, will include a handful of metal, punk and hard-core bands. But the music will include more than just those three genres over the course of the festival, he noted.

“Rockaway is not just about rock and roll, or punk, or Americana — it’s about everything,” he said. “We even have some reggae in there, and… blues and jazzy type stuff… just to try to mix up as many genres as we can.”

Attendees will also be able to catch some local artists in action at the different venues, including one creating a large-scale live painting.

Singer Michelle Miears singer at last year's Rock! Away! Music Festival.
Singer Michelle Miears singer at last year’s Rock! Away! Music Festival. Photo Credit: Eileen Steakin

“I never know what’s going to pop up. A lot of art just kind of pops up because I open it up to friends and say, ‘go paint here,’” Preis said.

The performances on the boardwalk and at Riis Park will be “kid-friendly,” he noted.

Music lovers who attended the festival during its first two years left with “good energy,” Preis said, adding that “the energy in Rockaway is infectious.”  

“[The festival] kind of invites people who are in the mood to just have fun, not get crazy and just enjoy themselves,” he said. “And meet a bunch of people who love being by the beach and listening to great music.”

If you go: The Rock! Away! Music Festival runs Friday through Sunday in various locations around the Rockaway peninsula. For a full schedule of performances, go to the festival’s Facebook page.

Maya Rajamani