This weekend, New Jersey’s premiere music festival, The Bamboozle, took Asbury Park by storm. The festival, which had originally started off as an underground alternative rock festival, took a more mainstream twist, with acts such as Pauly D, Skrillex and Mac Miller to the lineup. However, maintaining the roots John D’Esposito originally planted for the festival (D’Esposito sold the festival to LiveNation early this year), rock and roll was still alive throughout the weekend.
The sun was shining bright as the waves crashed on Asbury Park’s North Beach on Saturday afternoon. The beach, where the main stage was located, had people packed like sardines, crowded against the stage waiting to see the evening’s headliners, My Chemical Romance and the Foo Fighters. Late last week, it was announced that Blink 182 would have to cancel their performance due to an illness in the band. While waiting in the crowd, fans read the LiveNation text message board, making it clear with their discontent of the change in headliners. Messages such as “Blink > MCR” and “Scream if you want Blink!” appeared on the marquee. Nevertheless, their negativity was ignored as a plethora of My Chemical Romance fans made their way to the front of the stage.
My Chemical Romance performed a flawless set, performing songs from their greatest radio hits, as well as lesser known songs from their first album, such as “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” and “Our Lady of Sorrows”. The emotional hometown performance provoked New Jersey native, Gerard Way to say to the crowd, “It’s good to be home!”. The biggest crowd pleasers were their 2007 single, “Welcome to the Black Parade”, as the entire beach sang along, and “Famous Last Words”. The latter, whose hook proclaims “I am not afraid to keep on living/ I am not afraid to walk this world alone” overwhelmed the crowd with a cathartic feeling.
The beach filled to the brim as the evening’s main headliner, The Foo Fighters, took the stage. Opening with “All My Life”, the crowd showed extreme excitement as Dave Grohl took the stage. He took incredible advantage of the crowd’s energy, and fed off it as they performed song after song. The group’s drum kit even had an image of the late Freddy Mercury on it. When asked why, a fan said, “Because why shouldn’t there be?!”
Always one to praise rock n’ roll whenever he can, Grohl took the mic to talk about the younger generation of rock fans. “There’s all these little kids coming up to me saying ‘I just started learning guitar last week, and I wanna be in a band!’ Well, that’s all you have to do . . . You don’t need lights and computers – you need one of these, and you can tell the guys with the laptops that I said that!”
Sunday began as bright and sunny, the sweltering heat making it seem like the day was going to be a perfect beach day. A mad dash was made to the stage to save spots for bands that were performing later in the day as well as the first band to take the stage – Marianas Trench.
The festival was the Canadian quartet’s first performance back in the states since singer Josh Ramsay fell ill at a concert in New York City. The band opened with their most well-known song, Celebrity Status, and continued on to perform their major singles, instead of following along with their “Ever After” stage persona. Ramsay began to tell the crowd how every time the band goes to the states, he never knows what to expect for the crowd, and that they always end up surprising him. Due to a misunderstanding on the promoter’s part, the band was unable to meet with fans following their set.
Boys Like Girls followed their set, performing their summer anthems, “Thunder”. “Love Drunk”, and “The Great Escape”. Singer Martin Johnson announced they have a new album coming out this fall, and requested the fans film their latest song and put it on youtube. He then thanked the fans for coming out as it was their first show in a year and a half. Following their set, the band stayed at their merch booth for several hours, signing and posing for pictures for a lengthy line of fans.
Buckcherry performed later in the day. Josh Todd’s clearly inebriated appearance proved rumors about a relapse in his drug addiction to be true, as well as getting the crowd to chant “Cocaine” during their song “Lit Up”. With a voice as raspy as his and considering how under the influence he was, his vocals were completely on par, as if you took their debut record “15” and popped it into your stereo. Todd’s (possibly unintentional) humor made the show fun to watch as well.
Finally, the festival was closed out with New Jersey’s own Bon Jovi. From the start of the festival, long time fans of his secured their spots at their barricade. Playing all of his greatest hits, fans young and old were singing along, despite the cold weather that overtook the festival toward the end of the evening. It was a spectacular end to a just as spectacular festival.
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