Bamboozle Turns 10 in Asbury Park
The Bamboozle Festival, an annual three day concert event in New Jersey, began at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park in 2003. In 2006 the event was moved to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford where it stayed until this year. In honor of the festival’s 10th anniversary, The Bamboozle traveled back home to Asbury Park for a weekend of oceanfront music.
(Source: Amber McGarvey)
A return to my favorite quirky beach town and a roster of artists as diverse as the Foo Fighters and Skrillex made this year’s edition of Bamboozle worth attending for me. Luckily, I was able to check out Sunday’s full schedule of artists spread out among seven stages. As I walked down the boardwalk to enter the festival through the Grand Arcade, Asbury seemed as should be: alive and electric. So much energy congregated around Convention Hall, The Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar, as Tillie with his iconic grin kept watch on the busy scene. The seaside city has had it’s share of challenging times but seeing the cafes filled with patrons and the beach filled with locals and visitors alike reminded me of what Asbury Park is truly capable off.
After moving inside festival grounds and figuring out the layout I set about to catch the acts I wanted to see. I quickly heard amidst the crowd that Bruce Springsteen was rumored to make a surprise performance. Although unfounded, the wishful chatter was a testimony to how dedicated New Jersey fans are to their homegrown musicians, especially the biggest act out of Asbury. Concert-goers on Sunday, though, were anticipating Bon Jovi to close the festival in true Jersey style, and they were not disappointed.
Even many artists, including East Brunswick’s Catch 22 and Jesse Lacey from the headlining band Brand New, took time out of their sets to recognize and thank Jon Bon Jovi for his work in making Bamboozle 2012 successful. His influential role was proven when Bon Jovi emerged onto the Main Stage after nightfall, projecting an energized rendition of “Raise Your Hands” down the boardwalk. During “Blood on Blood” Jon made sure to take a moment and reflect on the contributions that Asbury Park has given to New Jersey’s music scene and culture, resulting in an overwhelming cheer from the audience the spread along the beach.
(Source: Amber McGarvey)
Overall, the most telling part of Bamboozle was the wide mix of attendees it attracted. Surveying the crowd, representatives from many sectors of New Jersey life could be found. Standing behind me were the spunky Jersey Girls who sang along with every word of Bon Jovi’s set, remembering the summers of their youth. Next to them were the local young adults who came after their shifts working the boardwalk restaurants. Earlier I passed the stereotypical kids holding “Free Hugs” signs before watching their favorite pop-punk bands. Then there were men clutching beers and discussing how they took their boats out the day before to listen from the water. Even my own mother attended the festival on Saturday and enjoyed herself. As New Jersey author Junot Diaz said “The Boardwalk was where all of NJ came together. Where NJ, for better or worse, met itself.” I passed these words painted on a wall bordering the boardwalk and saw them demonstrated in the diverse audience that was able to enjoy Bamboozle and a beautiful day in Asbury Park. Bamboozle 2012 proved to be a great celebration, not just for ten years of the festival, but also for the state’s storied and thriving music community.