The sun sank on Fort Pond as a crowd of beach-soaked revelers marveled at the Flaming Lips’ charismatic, heady performance. Carnival-like antics combined with baroque pop musicianship held this 500-person gathering awestruck on a sandy deck that overlooked a glittering beachfront. It seemed everyone had a coconut cocktail or summer ale in their hands as they rocked and swayed to the band’s psych-pop leanings. “We love you, Surf Lodge!” shouted the band’s eccentric lead singer Wayne Coyne, who was garbed in popped Mylar balloons. A besotted crowd reciprocated his sentiment, throwing their applauding hands into the air.
The Lips, one of the most sonically adventurous bands (and notorious for their grandiloquent stadium shows), seemed completely at ease engaging such an intimate audience. There were sing-alongs, dancing rainbows, skeins of stage-smoke and a giant silver balloon that read: “FUCK YEAH MONTAUK!” At one point a fan brought up to the stage a baby turtle whose legs grappled at the salty air. Coyne graciously accepted the “gift” and then decided to perform their next tune with his newfound friend in the palm of his hand. “We are making history here people,” Coyne said, smiling into the microphone. “When else has anyone seen a turtle perform on stage with a rock band?”
History it was. Everyone was well-aware that a show of this stature shouldn’t be happening at a tiny hotel a little more than a mile from Montauk’s main strip, on a plot of land that’s no greater than a large backyard. But for the rest of the summer the Surf Lodge has booked some of the most sophisticated independent-minded musicianship anywhere. The Surf Lodge’s communications manager Jonathan Picco added, “There’s a vibe going on. We’ve had Willie Nelson and Patti Smith play here. But we also like to bring the interesting indie bands as well.” Acts this year range from tUnE-yArDs to Benjamin Booker to G. Love; four nights a week, all summer long, live music will light up this little pond.