Social Sets the Stage: The Hampton Social concert series

With the arresting Hamptons’ landscape providing an immaculate backdrop, the Hampton Social concert series created an outdoor show that was anything but ordinary

By Sara Neff


Summer getaways to the Hamptons are nothing new to the residents of New York and the remainder of the tri-state region. As soon as the summer solstice passes on the calendar, hundreds of Manhattanites flock to the East End of Long Island to kick off their shoes and relax in the summer sun. Swank fêtes and concerts are a normal form of entertainment during the short summer months in the Hamptons, however, Hampton Social is one concert series that is putting all the rest to shame.

 Keeping in theme with incorporating the artists’ styles and characteristics into the menu, the décor and theme of each performance reflected the variations in each artist’s tastes.

Starting in mid-July and running through August, five different concerts, each starring a renowned recording artist, were held at the Ross School in East Hampton. Prince, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Billy Joel, James Taylor, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were the legendary artists chosen to perform at this exclusive event. The outdoor shows proved to be more glamorous, stylish, and collaborative than any other concert held throughout the United States this summer. It was the goal of Hampton Social to provide an incomparable lifestyle experience in addition to the world-class performances. It is known that in order to create an event of great proportions, innovative and imaginative ideas must be implemented, and Hampton Social is no exception. An intense amount of work was completed to create the intimate setting at each of the Hampton Social concerts-commencing with a grand entrance and concluding with lavish post-show hospitality.

Upon arriving at Hampton Social, guests were given a hint of the fantastic venue awaiting them inside. For each concert, 1,000 exclusive guests were ushered through the stately entrance: a small, white wooden door embedded in a large hedge-a signature Hampton Social art installation known as “The Doors of Social.” The event’s magnificence is further enhanced by traveling through the “Tunnel of Hope,” a lavish silver and black passageway elegantly decorated with large lights, mirrors, and soft pink flower arrangements. The opulence of Hampton Social continues onto the manicured lawns of the Ross School’s soccer field. Don’t let the term “soccer field” conjure up the images of metal bleachers or plastic concert seats. The field was transformed into a divine abode with Strategic Events outfitting it with tiered and carpeted marquee tents filled with ottomans, day beds, sofas, and tables to enhance each guest’s comfort. Bulldog Entertainment Group, known for providing the highest quality sound, produced each of the five performances along with Nile Rodgers Production. The production companies turned the Ross School soccer field into a venue equivalent to that of Madison Square Garden, complete with the most innovative stage, lighting, and sound. Additionally, a hospitality area was generously abound with an array of delicacies and top-shelf open bars were spread amongst the venue’s prolific grounds. Before the concerts, guests were entertained by DJ D-Nice, while David Blaine and his magician colleagues Dan White and Doug McKenzie surprised guests with their walking magic.

With access to Manhattan’s best and most exquisite restaurants just two hours down the Long Island Expressway, it comes as no surprise that the cuisine provided at Hampton Social was comparable to that of a five-star restaurant. East End caterer Robbins Wolfe executed different menus created by some of the country’s best celebrity chefs. A new executive chef was chosen to compose a distinct menu for each concert. For Prince’s performance, inventive and modern chef Geoffrey Zakarian of New York’s Town and Country restaurants developed a menu infused with intrigue and flavor to compliment the charming yet mysterious sound of Prince’s music. “I created a menu for this evening that not only reflects my style in the kitchen, but also brings to mind [Prince’s] style every time he steps on stage,” explains Zakarian.

The concept to pair the artists with chefs that reflect their personal style and characteristics was a theme echoed throughout the entire concert series, and was especially true for Billy Joel’s performance. Appropriately, Billy Joel’s wife, Katie Lee Joel, was chosen as the executive chef for his concert. Katie Lee, a self-taught chef and culinary expert, prepared a variety of Southern comfort food dishes that she makes for Billy Joel at their home, including lobster rolls, peach cobbler, and, of course, “Billy’s Marinated Skirt Steak.” Having Katie Lee as the executive chef for her husband’s performance added an unrivaled personal touch to the concert.

Completing the list of executive chefs contributing their knowledge and expertise to Hampton Social were Adam Perry Lang, Harold Dieterle, and Tom Colicchio. Lang, with a diverse background in high-end as well as casual cuisines, blended the two fares to create versatile dishes that perfectly meshed with the kaleidoscope of fans drawn to Dave Matthews. Dieterle, Top Chef winner and owner of the West Village restaurant, Perilla, created a menu to accompany the sweet harmonies of James Taylor. It made perfect sense for Hampton Social to combine the nation’s “top chef” with one of the nation’s top recording artists.

Keeping in theme with incorporating the artists’ styles and characteristics into the menu, the décor and theme of each performance reflected the variations in each artist’s tastes. The dissimilarities of the artists’ music and vibe played a significant role in the creation of intimacy for each performance. Without their diversification, Hampton Social would have a generic atmosphere found at most outdoor concerts. The assimilation of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ red-hot classic rock sound with the décor of a smoky nightclub evoked the feelings of diversion and struggle that have contributed to the band’s many successes. On the other hand, the blissful simplicity that is reminiscent of Dave Matthew’s music was captured in the brightened setting of his concert. After the shows, DJ D-Nice had guests jamming while they enjoyed an array of fine desserts.

While everyone at Hampton Social was considered a VIP, the opulence of Hampton Social, matched only by the exclusivity of each concert, attracted a host of A-list celebrities. With no velvet ropes, the glitterati were free to mingle with the rock stars, and at a price of $3,000 per ticket, per concert, only the haute monde attended this chic event. To uphold the intimacy of the concerts, a privileged 1,000 guests were able to rock to the music of their favorite artists. The guest list, though small, was incredible. Everyone from Renée Zellweger, the Olsen twins, Howard Stern, and Kelly Ripa, to Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Simmons, Adam Sandler, and Paul McCartney joined with the other guests to nosh on the superb cuisine, listen to fabulous music, and take pleasure in the complete experience offered by Hampton Social.

With an ever-discerning community populating the Hamptons, it can be difficult to impress, but Hampton Social greatly succeeded. While the inclusion of big name artists was a start, the intimacy of each performance was most astonishing. The Hampton Social concert series was the first of what we hope to be many events, and with not yet finalized plans to hold events in Miami, LA, Dubai, Paris, Aspen, and other intriguing locations throughout the world, Hampton Social has completely revamped the concert experience for the better.