Photos by Chris Rotolo
Overcast skies loomed over day three of the Bamboozle, but the only gathering storm that manifested were the ones taking place across the fest’s multitude of stages, and maybe the occasional floating inflated condom . As the crowd was still shaking off the cobwebs, reverb still buzzing in their ears from Foo Fighters’ Rock N’ Roll clinic the night before kept the energy of the previous two days alive. After choking down an eight-dollar cheesesteak, that didn’t actually have any cheese on it, I ventured to the Zumiez Stage to experience the Sussex, NJ-native Hardcore-Punk outfit Folly. Jon Tummillo’s neurotic, primal growl set against classic Ska-Punk backbeats made for an oddly danceable afternoon Metalcore mix.
Commencing a dance party of his own on the other side of the grounds was the college party rapper Sammy Adams, a veteran of Bamboozle’s past.
“When I played the Bamboozle in 2010 it was 110 degrees and my shoes were sticking to the fucking stage,” recounted the MC. “We started the show with 2,000 people, by the 2nd song there were 4,000, and by the end there was 10,000…Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve become I owe to my fans. I owe my job to you. I owe my life to you.”
Sammy’s 2012 mainstage set didn’t draw anywhere close to that gaudy closing number, but his brand of z100-ready Hip-Hop struck upon the festival’s target audience while Bon Jovi squatters in lawn chairs somberly sipped their 16 oz. Coors Lights while holding their ears…I had myself a Sam Adams for obvious reasons and it was then two high school girls offered to show me their boobs for a dollar, which was then reduced to 50 cents. I politely refused. You’re welcome feminists.
Zooming back over to the Zumiez Stage, Bayside drew a sizable, passionate crowd with the familiar bobbing along to their Pop-Punk stylings. Extreme energy and seamless transitions only added to the band’s preceding reputation in the live arena.
Buckcherry, never the ones to miss out on a prime festival opening slot, turned in their motorcycle rally-style Alt-Rock complete with a giant silver skull and crossbones. Regardless of any possible snark, the outfit can certainly pound and shred with the best of any contemporary proto-Zeppelins. Half of the crowd went wild for “Crazy Bitch” while the underaged and their parentals gave more than the occasional wince, especially during lead singer Josh Todd’s diatribe on as to what exactly constitutes a crazy bitch…and on the sabbath day no less.
Todd and company were followed by the conquering heroes returning home to their cheering loyalties; The Gaslight Anthem took the stage with a nod to the recent passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch as the Beasties’ “Sabotage” cued their entrance. The group opened with “Great Expectations” as an immediate crowd swell forced many of the camping moms out of their supplanted lawn chairs and out of the front row. A bro-pit made the situation largely uncomfortable, but it was all pretty harmless. If you can mosh and have your sunglasses not fall off, you’re just not doing it right.
Gaslight delivered with a set that rivaled the crowd response of any act of the weekend. Their classic New Jersey brand of instant nostalgia blended perfectly with the shoreline atmosphere. Asbury Park is their home turf and they won’t be yielding that advantage anytime soon. After a raucous set of their own greatest hits the band closed with a spirited cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”. It’s amazing how many people still think the song is called “Teenage Wasteland” 40-plus years later, evidenced by the chatter all around. The highly rumored Bruce Springsteen cameo never came to fruition.
Whereas The Gaslight Anthem were all smiles through their sneers, Bamboozle mainstay, Brand New, brought a slightly more ominous Hardcore-Punk sound to the festival’s largest stage. Singer Jesse Lacey’s growl reverberated off the glass of the nearby apartment buildings while working through the best of the band’s quiet-loud-quiet-loud discography. The Jovi revelers were wise not to get to close as some of the more furious mosh pits of the weekend broke out all through the mass assemblage. The double percussion set up along with great atmospheric fret-play made for a more than worthy precursor for the rock royalty ahead. It was easily one of the oldest median aged audiences Brand New has ever played to. The set culminated with “You Won’t Know” as the band trashed their gear leaving Lacey crying out the eponymous song phrase until it seemed he might drop.
However, as far as many Boardwalk denizens were concerned, the true headliner of day three had already trudged through half a set on the Zumiez Stage. After eating vegan barbecue with long-time manager Kate Hiltz across the street near Asbury Lanes, The Bouncing Souls masterfully waltzed through a set of classics, like “Hopeless Romantic” and “Private Radio,” made-for-basement ragers, such as “I Like Your Mom” and “East Coast Fuck You!” and new tunes from it forthcoming June 12th full-length release, Comet, namely “Static.”
Watching the actual headliner, Jon Bon Jovi, dance and preen in front of the Bamboozle’s clown logo was a bit surreal at first, but considering the multitudes amassed to see the New Jersey legend, it was an apt closing to a festival inching nearer and nearer to all ages legitimacy. Somebody has to spend money wantonly, and it certainly won’t be the teens the fest usually attracts.
Soccer moms and dads sang along to a collection of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits, having seemingly the best time of any group at any show of the weekend. The band, along with Foo Fighters, displayed their world class live show hitting every note and crowd pleasing mark with a precision that only years and years of arena touring can produce. Unconsciously ironic images of John Lennon and Barack Obama blazed into the eyes of the seemingly conservative masses who responded to any song mentioning “Jesus” or “God” like a gospel choir. Again, it was Sunday afterall.
“It’s been a year since we’ve been on stage, but don’t worry we’re as handsome as ever,” Jon said right before launching into “It’s My Life”.
The skies finally gave way towards the final moments of the Bamboozle as fireworks exploded over the exiting Bon Jovi and rain soaked the exiting throngs. If you are the type to draw meaning or symbolism from weather patterns then some kind of eloquent, metaphor laden closing passage would probably be a safe bet at this point. For others, 2012’s grand Asbury Park music festival experiment could not be labeled anything other than a resounding success from top to bottom and end to end. Here’s hoping the Bamboozle has found a new permanent home on the shore. Any true hyperbolic significance can be drawn straight from the Jovi’s mouth.
“It’s not the behemoth Giants Stadium we’ve grown used to be playing, but it’s Asbury Park on the beach right where we used to play Convention Hall. This is where it all started.”