The Best and Worst of The Bamboozle 2012

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For the uneducated, The Bamboozle festival has been a festival that takes place every year around the first weekend of May for the last couple years. Headliners have included everyone from No Doubt to Fall Out Boy to Motley Crue, and each year always manages to bring a crowd of freaks, geeks, weirdos, normal people and just about everyone in between. This year, the festival changed its locale from the concrete of The Meadowland’s parking lot to the beach-front Asbury Park. There were plenty of great moments, weird moments, and awful moments, but here is just a sample.

Biggest Rockstars: Foo Fighters

You really can’t doubt the awesome power of the Foo Fighters. After taking a helicopter into New Jersey to play their set on the Main Stage Saturday and melting a couple faces, they took a helicopter back to NYC to perform as a backing band to Mick Jagger on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. Most other bands would have cancelled over something along these lines (example: Blink-182, who were slated to play Saturday, cancelled due to drummer Travis Barker having surgery on his tonsils and were replaced by My Chemical Romance). But Dave Grohl and company know that while cancelling one and doing strictly the other is the easier option, it isn’t the most badass. And if Dave Grohl is anything less than badass, then something’s wrong with this picture.

Worst “Rock ‘n’ Roll” Experience Ever: Buckcherry

Playing a tambourine against your ass. Wearing nothing but leather. Having a fan on stage behind the drum kit to make it appear that your drummer’s hair is blowing in the wind. When Buckcherry took the stage Sunday before the Gaslight Anthem, it looked like only about three people didn’t hate their guts. I’ve seen bad shows, but honestly, Buckcherry and their cast of rejected Guitar Hero characters top the list of “Worst Shows I’ve Ever Seen”. And I’ve seen several thousand local shows. “You’re all listening to rock ‘n’ roll on the Sabbath day! Y’all should be ashamed,” said lead singer Josh Todd before launching into a song about doing cocaine and drinking Budd Lite and then quoting biblical verses. Honestly Josh, you’re the one who should be ashamed.

Happiest Man on the Planet: Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem

A year ago, the Gaslight Anthem actually had a headlining slot at the Bamboozle. This year, while they were still a big name, they couldn’t compete with the star power that is Bon Jovi. Despite the fact that a large majority of their crowd was stage sitting for Bon Jovi, Brian Fallon wore a massive grin the entire set. He rambled on about how if Bon Jovi were to play “all the hits” (like a billboard he saw said he was going to), it would take at least a week. He also pointed out a girl in the crowd wearing a bikini, claiming it wasn’t bikini weather and that she should cover up before she caught a cold. And while he did inject some humor in that aforementioned bikini incident (“Your mom called me and said that she was worried about you and I agreed”), he wasn’t saying it to be a jerk, he just seemed genuinely concerned. Brian Fallon was truly the most grateful person at the festival, be it that he was grateful for everyone in the crowd singing along or just grateful to open for Bon Jovi, and he definitely showed it.

Best Cover (tie): Brand New doing “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails versus The Gaslight Anthem doing “Baba O’Riley” by The Who

The Gaslight Anthem knew exactly the audience they were pandering to when they covered, as Brian Fallon put it, “the greatest rock song of all time”. It’s possible that when choosing their setlist, they realized that most of their crowd would be waiting on Bon Jovi, who was slated to play about three hours later. Choosing “Baba O’Riley” must’ve won them a couple new fans and given the people who’d never heard of them a chance to sing along. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Brand New (who were sandwiched between the Gaslight Anthem and Bon Jovi) showed that they really gave no fucks when they ripped through a blistering cover of a song that contains the line “Bad luck / Fist fuck”. Both covers were great in their own way, making for a great tie.

Coolest Moment: “Bleed American” by Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World, known for their special brand of alternative rock, played a bouncy, fun set before My Chemical Romance. Anybody watching realized that Jim Adkins (singer/guitarist) has a lot of underutilized energy that he just can’t utilize (he spends a lot of time singing and bouncing around and doesn’t get a lot of a chance to move). During their song “Bleed American” (or “Salt, Sweat” if you bought the album after 9/11), his guitar started to have technical difficulties early on. He saw his opportunity and literally took his guitar off, threw it to the side, grabbed the microphone from the stand and bounced around like he’d been obviously dying to do. Despite the fact the song lacked some of the oomph that it’s known for having with two guitars, it was worth it to see Jim Adkins go screamo on the last line of the song.

Worst Time to Play: 9.30 on Friday

Skrillex was LOUD. So loud that anybody could here the sound of a computer tower melting from a mile away (which, is to say, you could hear it throughout the festival grounds). Any band playing around the same time as him was doomed to compete with the loud sounds of a computer backfiring. Whitechapel, playing their own special brand of death metal on the Saints and Sinners stage (the closest stage to the Main Stage), couldn’t compete (I was standing right next to the S&S stage, I could hear Skrillex better). The Wonder Years tried (making a number of jokes at Skrillex’s expense along the way) and while they gave it their all, nobody could ignore Skrillex entirely.

Most WTF Moment: Obey the Brave

French-Canadian metalcore band Obey The Brave definitely win this category, hands down. While they launched into a song entirely in French, a hermaphrodite (or very androgynous (fe)male)  threw down in the pit (and was later carried away for being too violent), a girl did cartwheels in the pit and a more-than-slightly-intoxicated-man went into the pit and dropped his pants, causing a nearby security guard to ask if he had just done that, and why. It was a weird time for all.

Most Understanding Band: Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City Soundtrack were slated to play the smaller Zumiez stage during the day, and the larger Main Stage at night just before the Foo Fighters. When it was revealed that the Foo Fighters had to be in NYC, they had to change their set time to earlier, thus bumping MCS to the Zumiez stage for a double shift that day. If they were down about it, they didn’t show it. Their buoyancy lasted through both sets, as they bounced through favorites such as “My Favorite Accident”, “Everything is Alright”, and their new single from the upcoming album Go titled “True Romance”.

Worst Fans: Bon Jovi

You could spot them from a mile away. The Bamboozle’s usual crowd is under thirty, but Bon Jovi brought a ton of MIWLF (Mom’s I Wouldn’t Like to Fuck) and the beer-belly-showing men that love them. Those stage sitting for Bon Jovi later in the day were yelling at crowd surfers and doing their best to stop any circle pits from forming while they were waiting for Bon Jovi to take the stage. Hey, we’re allowing you to be here, now let us have our fun goddamn it.

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