Did you go to Bamboozle? A bunch of our staff did. I just got the write-up from Christian from his first day experience, and I've posted that below. I think he's still recovering, but we'll have more write-ups soon as well Got some pictures to post up as well, so check the replies.
I know summer has officially started for me. Why? It’s starting to get warm, I’m packing away my sweatshirts, and the shorts and tees are being sported. Also, I’ve attended Bamboozle, the yearly music and pop culture festival located in my beautiful home state of New Jersey.
I know the first question that is running through all of your minds: “Did he just call New Jersey beautiful?” The answer is: “Yes, I did. Deal with it.” Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the reason you’re reading this article.
When Bamboozle announced its triumphant return to Asbury Park, the local in me questioned the ability to execute this undertaking. As it approached, there were mixed feelings from the community on whether this would be a giant disaster or a fantastic success. From my observations, this shall fall in the latter. John D, Christian McKnight, Andrew Ellis, and Matt Galle – you guys never seem to do less than impress me. Your ingenuity to consistently pull off one of the prosperous and entertaining festivals in the country is undeniable.
For those of you not familiar with Asbury Park, it’s a dilapidated town that has been trying desperately for years to get back on its feet to relive its glory days. The buildings of yesteryear are standing, some just barely, and are now an afterthought of a new generation of people that call Asbury Park their home. However, the layout of the festival keeps you on the beachfront and away from the trouble the town can bring to an outsider.
The biggest concern was the parking and walking. From my personal experience, I had such an easy time with everything. Maybe it’s because I took a non-suggested route, but I was able to get into the festival without the slightest inconvenience.
When you go to a festival, 95% of the bands have to play a condensed set in order to fit everyone into the day. This means that set lists are carefully chosen to appeal to the fans that pay a high fee to see their favorite artists. It’s expected that the bands stick to the fan favorite tracks. Some obey this rule. Some don’t.
My first band that I got to check out was This Good Robot. Fronted by the former Patent Pending front-man Michael Ragosta, the band commanded the main stage unlike most bands that have been around for their period of time. The band creates a fantastic brand of their own take on pop-rock. In an interesting way, it reminded me of Head Automatica or The Matches.
I then ventured to the Zumiez stage to watch pop-punk’s latest hype band, The Story So Far. I named their debut full-length effort, Under Soil & Dirt, my album of the year. Now, it was finally time to see if the band lived up to the expectations. It’s safe to say that the band exceeded any and all hopes I had of being “the next big thing.”
From the moment they opened up with “States and Minds” to closing with “High Regard,” the band had the crowd in the palms of their hands. I got goosebumps watching this group of baby faced musicians work the stage like they have been doing this for ten years. The crowd was so responsive and energetic for a band that has the weight of the world on them. The fact that they still have this raw edge and young feel to them brings a certain inexplicable appeal that has swept the pop-punk community by storm.
My personal favorite was when they played “Rally Cap,” as it’s my favorite track but I have come to understand that it’s not one of their favorites.. Also, they played “Closure” for the first time ever this weekend. When speaking with a well-known manager of recognized pop-punk bands, he said, “After The Wonder Years, they are the biggest thing in pop-punk.”
Next up on the Zumiez stage were site darlings Motion City Soundtrack. The band has transformed itself into a cult-style act that has cemented itself in the culture of the Bamboozle/Warped Tour crowd. It’s always a pleasure to see bands like MCS because you know what you’re going to expect. There is no nonsense or BS with an act like this. They go out and put on a damn good set night in and night out without faltering. They blazed through their set, mixing up old and new, including “Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die,” “Disappear,” and “My Favorite Accident.”
I then ventured to the main stage to check out The All American Rejects. The band plays a huge reason that I listen to the music that I do and it’s my time that I have seen them. Before I can comment on the band’s set, I have to say that the stage was absolutely gigantic. The enormity of the stage, consisting of an LED backdrop and two large screens on each side of the stage showing what’s going on for people who were too far back to see, gave such a new vibe to the whole festival. Previously, Bamboozle has some very large stage set ups, but this trumps anything they had ever done prior.
The All American Rejects started off their set with crowd favorite “Dirty Little Secret” but then segued perfectly into “Swing Swing.” This is the AAR that I first fell in love with and I’m glad they haven’t neglected songs like that got them their start. As I’m standing with some friends on the boardwalk and the sun heating the air perfectly while great music is filling my ears, this is how the Bamboozle should be experienced. There was nothing that could distract you from enjoying the moment.
AAR continued to run through their set, mixing in some of their new material along with more fan favorites such as “Move Along” and “My Paper Heart.” The band truly enjoyed the space they had available to them (As did most of the bands) and worked the crowd like the veterans that they are.
Immediately following The all American Rejects was Jimmy Eat World. I was able to catch about half of their set but from what I heard I absolutely loved. The band has been in the spotlight and a festival staple for so long that they make this seem routine. Their set list consisted of songs from many of their records, including “Work,” “Pain,” and “Futures” from Futures, “Bleed American” and “The Middle” from Bleed American, and “Blister” and “Lucky Denver Mint” from Clarity. They played what the audience wanted to hear, did it well, and everyone was left with a solid performance from some of the truest professionals in the business right now.
After Jimmy Eat World came the replacements for Blink-182 after their last second cancellation – My Chemical Romance. If you’re a fan of the band, I’d suggest that you leave because I’m about to state a personal opinion that won’t many find to appreciative – I thought they were horrendous. They opened up with “I’m Not OK” which sounded awful due to the mix. There was a lot of bass and it was lacking any guitars and vocals. The band didn’t sound that tight to begin with, but then they started to play tracks that I personally have never heard. They then ventured back onto the path of familiarity by playing “Na Na Na” but that wave of confidence to enjoy their set was dashed when they went into another song that the majority of the crowd became unfamiliar with. Subsequently, I left in search of new music.
Instead of finding new music, I gave my ears a quick rest (If that was even possible) before I made my way back to the main stage to see the Foo Fighters. If you’ve seen the band live before, you don’t need to read this review to know what I’m going to say. If you’re too lazy and want to get it summed up shortly, just know this: the Foo Fighters are a must see live act. They are beyond belief fantastic. Everything they play is nearly flawless and this band defines what rock n roll is. They played nearly every one of their hits over a two hour span and made the night completely worth it.
During their whole set, I went to go see punk heavyweights Hot Water Music. Even though there were only about 500 people watching them, the grizzly veterans of punk played a charged and passionate set that will show up any contemporary punk band today. Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard sounded absolutely fantastic, playing off one another on stage as the crowd was hanging in anticipation of every song the band was going to play. They are the last of a dying breed and hopefully they don’t make this comeback short-lived.
After some time, I rounded out my night by going to see some of my friends in We Came As Romans. I had the chance to see them a lot last summer on Warped but it’s always good to watch a band progresses. They played the main stage on Friday and although I did not have the opportunity to go that day, I am glad they played the “Bamboozle Bonus Round” slot on the Saints and Sinners stage. The band plowed through their set, combining songs from their two Equal Vision releases. The crowd was highly responsive and energetic even though they were one of the last bands of the day and it was a great way to close out the day.
Come back tomorrow for my reports of Sunday’s shenanigans at Bamboozle 2012.