Long Beach resident Mark O'Connell, drummer for the world-renowned alternative rock band Taking Back Sunday, had been looking forward to playing a show in his hometown for quite sometime.
But all that changed Tuesday when Long Beach city officials and Quiksilver organizers agreed to cancel the festivities surrounding the first-ever professional surf competition to hit the East Coast.
City officials said that, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, it was best to cancel events that were not part of the core surf contest, including skateboarding, motocross, BMX and live music that included such bands as Flaming Lips, Interpol and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
"I was in the UK when my wife called me to tell me she heard a rumor that the festival components were canceled," O'Connell said. "We were informed shortly after. Quiksilver did a great job letting us know what was happening, but it would have been really great to do this for them and the city."
According to city officials, the aftermath of Hurricane Irene raised questions about whether the town was prepared to host such an event. With thousands of residents left powerless or flooded, and parts of Long Beach left damaged, the festival could not carry on.
"When Hurricane Irene came through, all eyes were on us," said O'Connell, who is on tour in Europe. "When I think Long Beach, I think resilient and strong. I think everyone just assumed that the festivities were going on as planned because that is just what we do.
"The city endured such a major storm and we got through it," he added. "Wouldn't it have been great to add some cheer and festivity to the area?"
When first approached by Quiksilver to play at the festival, Taking Back Sunday was thrilled and even cut their tour short overseas to make it back to their Long Island home.
"We were so excited to play this show, being a band from Long Island," O'Connell said. "Only Shaun [Cooper] and I still live here, the others have moved, but we originated in Long Island."
O'Connell noted that many artists worked their schedules around the show in Long Beach. Badfish, a Rhode Island-based Sublime tribute band, was also set to headline a night at the Quiksilver festival. The band was unaware of the cancellation until late Wednesday, and its members thought it was unfortunate they couldn't play for a Long Beach crowd.
"Badfish regrets that we won't be able to perform due to cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene," drummer Scott Bergin said. "While we're aware that the cancellation of the arts and entertainment portions have caused some anger among potential attendees, we're happy to comply with their wishes.”
Even though O’Connell is upset at the money the bands will lose with the loss of the concerts, he’s more upset that the small local businesses won't be able to cash in on the many people who were expected to attend the festival.
“I plan on living here for years to come and raising kids. I would love this town to prosper more than it already has,” O’Connell said.
Though they feel the town will miss out, O'Connell said he and his bandmates are proud to see residents band together to make sure their voices are heard.
"I think it's great that so many people pulled together and petitioned for bringing the festival back," O'Connell said. "It's great to see that there are so many people who want great things for Long Beach."