The Bamboozle Festival returned to Asbury Park this past Summer for its 10th Anniversary showcase, transplanting major players from years past like Motion City Soundtrack and Brand New, local globe trotters such as The Gaslight Anthem, The Bouncing Souls, My Chemical Romance, and Bon Jovi, and the best Rock Band in the world, the Foo Fighters, onto a series of stages strategically placed on the Boardwalk and Northern Beachhead, drawing close to 100-thousand patrons over a three-day period…and our musical hub by the sea won’t see a repeat performance in 2013.
According to a story broken by the good folks at The Asbury Park Sun, City Manager Terence Reidy had this to say: “They’re [LiveNation] making an economic decision to try another site for 2013. “They’re still going to work with the city [on other events], but for Bamboozle they’re looking elsewhere.”
This decision to move New Jersey’s only major music festival to a yet to be named location, an announcement not expected until “late January,” according to a source connected with Bamboozle, can be viewed with two sets of emotions…
For many music fans in the area, this announcement adds to an already dark set of clouds that have moved over this city and its arts scene in recent months, as they were denied a follow up installment of the All Tomorrow’s Parties-presented I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival, while seeing the burgeoning night club that was The Press Room close, as the local government halted live musical performances on the Boardwalk outside the The Sandwitch, and receiving notification that Trinity & The Pope would be closing its doors on November 1st.
For these types of like-minded citiziens, Bamboozle was a blessing that went off without a hitch and had the potential to transform Asbury Park’s reputation as a rundown beach town of yesteryear overrun by crime and violence, and paint it as a reemerging musical hotbed with a legitimate summertime festival circuit stop. They could almost picture it: Bamboozle would continue to evolve, instilling new life into this community, and place this locale and its homegrown artistic hullabaloo on par with the likes of Indiana’s Hangout Festival…tonight, its become apparent that this is not the case.
Another way to look at it is like many a local business owners and residents who were hamstrung by that magical weekend in May. Told to over stock their supplies for they’d be overrun by foot traffic; told to leave town or hunker down in their apartments for the neighborhood would be overtaken by tourists and hooligans; these people prepared only to see quite the opposite take place.
As previously mentioned, the congestion was limited and the extra stress added by being told to leave or hunker down could ruin anyone’s weekend. However, cutting off festival patrons from the rest of town by instituting a no re-entry rule killed local establishments who threw thousands of dollars away on overstocked shelves, and overstuffed pantries…for them, this is one less headache to deal with come springtime.
For a city that’s tagline includes the phrase “where music lives,” the last few months have seen a lot of music jump ship for greener pastures, or at least more secure confines, where gun shots don’t crack like a whip through the dark flesh of the night. I don’t think its any coincidence that after the deadliest month in this city’s recent history, a major music festival that caters to younger members of the populace, one that had such a successful weekend stint on the Boardwalk less than six months ago, has decided to turn away from its roots, its birthplace, and move on. Can you blame the Bamboozle brass? I surely can’t.
When talking with my source associated with Bamboozle tonight, who will remain anonymous, one thing they made crystalline is this: “Our audience, our people, they come first, and we will provide them a concert experience that cant find anywhere else.”
Bamboozle’s allegiance lies with the fans that have allowed it to mature from Skate & Surf to the mammoth multi-day event we now know it to be, and It will not jeopardize that relationship with the threat of outside violence, or unprecedented parking meters, nor a meddling local government that would rather try to monetize an artistic endeavor and watch it die in the process, than foster it with a helping hand in hopes that it will give birth to something greater in the process.
The abrupt departure of Bamboozle after its impressive return speaks volumes. This is a turning point for this city. It lost something good tonight, something that instills pride, something else to hang its hat on other than the weathered ghosts of a storied past.
Maybe The Boss had it right on his most record, playing the role of Madame Marie rather than the blue-collar bluesman we’ve embraced him as: “The marauders raided in the dark and brought death to my hometown…” Hopefully he’ll he’ll prove to be a false profit, well, this time at least.