The first thing that I noticed as I walked into the event site was how they changed the layout from the previous year. I made my way to one of the main stages where RX Bandits were playing, and I wondered where the other main stage was located. Last year, the two main stages were right next to each other, but as I found out later on in the day, the two main stages were at completely opposite sides of the fenced-in grounds.
Anyway, the first band I saw were the RX Bandits on the Jolly Green Stage. Recently, they declared they were going on their final tour as a band. I’ve only seen them once before and even though I’m not that big of a fan, it is sad to see their talent for a last time. This Bamboozle performance is probably their last in New Jersey. Their blend of rock and reggae is one that stands out from the other rock acts in the music business today. I was happy they played “Only for the Night,” since it’s one of my favorite songs by the group.
When they finally wrapped up, I walked over to the Zumiez stage, which was the closest stage to the Jolly Green Stage. As I made my way to the middle of the crowd, River City Extension walked out. All eight of them were present and I was excited to see their full band since I was only able to witness 5/8 of them when I saw them open up for Dashboard Confessional at Webster Hall a few months ago. The New Jersey-based band played to a mediocre crowd of followers, some who enjoyed the folk-rock by tapping their foot and others who jumped up-and-down relentlessly to the catchy melodies. RCE played with a lot of energy and fun, always smiling and always encouraging the crowd to sing along, even if half the crowd didn’t know the words. They entertained me throughout their entire set and I look forward to listening to them in the future.
Since I was so close to the Jolly Green Stage, I stayed there to watch some of Streetlight Manifesto, a ska band from New Jersey. While they never received the fame like Less Than Jake or Catch-22 did, they still bring the conventional, ska sound that many people enjoy. If a ska circle opened up in front of me, I might’ve jumped right on in.
I left a few songs into Streetlight Manifesto’s set to do some exploring. At this time, I still wasn’t sure where all the stages were. The field grounds were a lot roomier than last year’s, which I enjoyed greatly. I found the Saints and Sinners stage where most of the hardcore acts were. Then there were two very small stages next to each other where small, local bands performed all day. And finally I found the other main stage, the Jumo Stage. There, a crowd was gathering for Thrice, who were to perform at 6:25. When they took the stage, they went into “The Weight” and the impressive “Of Dust and Nations.” I’ll be honest, I stopped listening to Thrice during their Alchemy Index collection, which is why I was very happy when they played “The Artist in the Ambulance” followed by “Silhouette.” At that time, I decided I got all that I came for from Thrice, though I hear they concluded their set with “Deadbolt.”
It seems like every year of the Bamboozle Festival, there’s a pretty monumental band reunion. Two years ago was The Get Up Kids reuniting on the main stage. Last year, Something Corporate reunited. I won’t forget that performance because SoCo performed “Konstantine” during sunset. It was a beautiful sight to be a part of. And this year’s reunion was The Movielife. They played on the Zumiez stage and rocked out in front of a large crowd for a side-stage. The Movielife haven’t played a show since 2003 (I believe) but it was like they didn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t stay for the entire set of their reunion, but after they played “Walking on Glass” I was satisfied enough.
I took the short walk back to the other main stage, Jolly Green Stage, and waited for Alkaline Trio to come on stage. I need to prelude my excitement for seeing the legendary punk trio: I was supposed to see them about a year ago at Starland Ballroom, but the concert was canceled because of a crazy rain-storm we received. That was supposed to be the first time seeing Alkaline Trio. So this was finally my chance to catch them, and I was not disappointed. They opened up with “Private Eye” and that immediately forced me into the crowd, singing every word. The audience really went nuts during their next song, “Nose Over Tail.” The Trio were going through some technical difficulties at the start, but Skiba kept the mood fun throughout. They finished their 9-song set with fan favorites “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire,” “Emma,” and “Mercy Me.”
This was the time of the day when I had some down-time, since the next band I wanted to catch was New Found Glory, who were due up on the Jolly Green Stage in 40 minutes. But right when Alkaline Trio concluded, I heard the glorious sounds of wavy-bass lines from a distance. I quickly thought, “No way is there dub-step at Bamboozle.” I followed the sounds until I was in front of The Temple of Boozle stage, and to my surprise there were a decent group of punk-rockers with their hands in the air, dancing to the mixes of DJ Chance. I did the only thing that seemed right at the time, and ran into the middle of the pit and waved my hands in the air along with everyone else.
After my dose of dub-step was taken care of, I made my way back to the Jolly Green Stage and waited anxiously for New Found Glory. I’ve seen these Florida-based pop-punk rockers plenty of times, and they’ve never disappointed me. This was no exception. If there are two things you can guarantee from New Found Glory, it’s that they’re going to put on a very energetic, live performance, and that the crowd is going to go bonkers throughout the whole set. Needless to say, I was covered in sweat after NFG were done. The band played favorites like “Understatement,” “Hit or Miss,” “All Downhill from Here,” and “My Friends Over You,” along with “Blitzkrieg Bop” where Marky Ramone came on stage with the band and played drums. A few Bamboozles ago, NFG were my favorite performance. Though NFG put on a fantastic show, there were greater things to come.
Like my favorite band at the moment, The Gaslight Anthem! I’m certain than The Gaslight Anthem can never play a bad set, since they have so many amazing songs on all of their albums. As I waited impatiently for them to take the stage, I noticed a more mature crowd growing for the NJ-native band. I’ve seen The Gaslight Anthem twice within the past year, once at Radio City Music Hall (which I didn’t really experience them fully cuz of the seating arrangement) and once opening for My Chemical Romance (which was just plagued by MCR fans)… so this was my first time of really experiencing The Gaslight Anthem to the fullest. Opening with “High Lonesome” and “Old White Lincoln” the crowd immediately started to move around frantically and screaming all the lyrics to each song. Then when they went into “Great Expectations,” the crowd went wild.
In the middle of the set, I thought about how The Gaslight Anthem seemed a bit out of place from the rest of the music festival. There’s no doubt they’ve blossomed into a pretty popular band with some radio play for a mainstream audience, but their songs are much different than the rest of the festival’s headliners. All of the Taking Back Sundays, Dashboard Confessionals, 30 Seconds to Mars, etc. type of bands, you could easily group into one genre. But not The Gaslight Anthem. They have roots of punk-rock, but the soul of blues, and the lyrics of folk. Brian Fallon has mannerisms that remind me of Bruce, but to a smaller degree. Anyway, The Gaslight Anthem continued to play hits like “American Slang,” “The ’59 Sound” and tracks off their EP “Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?” and “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts.” Fallon showed his appreciation to the crowd for his success and thanked everyone for coming out several times. He also gave props to bands like Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, and Thrice whom he called “The tightest band in the country.” Then the band roared into their conclusion, “The Backseat.” It was a great performance from a great band.
At this point, I just wanted to leave from the high that I was currently in, but I couldn’t leave without checking out the headliner of the evening, Taking Back Sunday. So my surprise (and everyone else’s) they played their first album Tell All Your Friends in its entirety! There are really no other words to describe this.
I ended the night with one more group, Super Mash Bros. at the Temple of Boozle Stage. This duo does what a lot of mash-up DJs do, and what Girl Talk’s Greg Gillis has perfected. I was surprised at the turnout for these guys. Anyway, they put on a pretty awesome set, mashing TV-theme songs like Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the Friends theme song, a number of pop hits like Taylor Swift, MGMT, Eminem, etc. and even threw in some video game theme songs and Skrillex. It was definitely a great time and I enjoyed watching the large screen behind the stage displaying music videos from the songs the Super Mash Bros. were mixing.
Overall, Bamboozle 2011 was a very memorable experience. I can’t wait for next year!