Hoodwink @ East Rutherford 5/1

May 11, 2009

“When it rains it pours” is not just a clever jibe at the weekend’s wet weather. Rather, it references a plethora of shows in the New York City region on Friday night; to name a few: The Get Up Kids and Brand New in Manhattan, Taking Back Sunday on Long Island, and Rutgersfest featuring NERD and Motion City Soundtrack. That’s not to mention the Hoodwink Festival, featuring nearly twenty bands performing full cover sets.

The first band I caught was Push Play, performing a set featuring music of Muse. Skeptical of any band being able to do Muse justice–let alone a seemingly generic punk-pop/pop-rock band from Long Island–I approached with caution. To much delight, the band played extremely well, touching on songs like “Time is Running Out” and “Hysteria” throughout their half-hour set. The band exuded confidence–frontman CJ Baran encouraged YouTube bootlegs, letting the whole world judge just how well the band payed tribute to one of England’s best acts–but did not come off as arrogant.

NeverShoutNever! performing one of Christofer Ingle's older songs.

NeverShoutNever! performing one of Christofer Ingle's older songs.

Speaking with Baran after the set, he remarked that Muse is Push Play’s favorite band; he did his best to hit Matt Bellamy’s notes, and succeeded more often than not. It was perhaps bassist Nick DeTurris and guitarist Steve Scarola that solidified the performance, however, with trembling bass lines and piercing guitars on songs like “Starlight”.

The same praise cannot be bestowed on NeverShoutNever!, a band tackling another British act–The Beatles. With less than impressive takes on “Hey Jude” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, the band threw in one of their own disappointing songs yet still only played for about half of their scheduled thirty minutes. Luckily, this gave me a chance to check out another 1960s set across the parking lot: Inward Eye tackling The Who, complete with Pete Townshend windmills. I only caught a few songs, but the band sounded very good.

Set Your Goals performing Nirvana and Foo Fighters material as "Set Your Grohls".

Set Your Goals performing Nirvana and Foo Fighters material as "Set Your Grohls".

Set Your Goals, as Set Your Grohls, took on Nirvana and Foo Fighters for one of the more interesting sets of the evening. Vocalists Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown traded lines from Dave Grohl’s catalog. On tracks like “In Bloom” it was refreshing, breathing life into a song two decades old; one would start the verse (“He’s the one!”) while the other finished the line (“Who likes all our pretty songs!”). Definitely a good performance, with the emphasis on “having fun” over the exact recreation of some of the radio’s biggest hits.

We the Kings failed to capture Jimmy Eat World's incredible stage prescence.

We the Kings failed to capture Jimmy Eat World's incredible stage prescence.

We the Kings followed, paying tribute to Jimmy Eat World. Having seen the Clarity Tour just a month ago, I wasn’t expecting a bland pop-rock band to do justice to the Arizona quartet, and, unfortunately, I was correct. I’m not exactly sure where the problems stemmed from, though I’d tend to place it on their drummer–Zach Lind’s drumming is spectacular, and We the Kings’s Danny Duncan just couldn’t keep up. The vocals presented another problem: Travis Clark tried, but he just didn’t deliver like Jim Adkins (but, then again, I’m not sure too many can). The setlist focused on the twenty-first century Jimmy Eat World, beginning with “Pain” and ending with “The Middle”, tossing in other hits like “Sweetness”, “Bleed American”, and “Big Casino” along the way.

The Cab's Ian Crawford

The Cab's Ian Crawford

I didn’t expect things to get any better on the next stage, as The Cab was set to cover Queen. If Jim Adkins is a difficult vocalist to pull off, then can Freddie Mercury even be attempted? Luckily, Alex DeLeon didn’t try to be the Queen vocalist and instead the band did it’s own take (and even a few medleys) of the 1970s rock legends. Taking liberties on nearly every song (on “Bohemian Rhaposy” the entire “Galileo” verse’s vocals were replaced by guitar voicings), The Cab managed to make the set enjoyable at the very least, which is likely more a testament to how good Queen’s songs are more than anything else.

I caught brief snippets of Mercey Mercedes performing Midtown, Bayside performing NOFX, and Boys Like Girls taking on four Coldplay singles acoustic (“Viva La Vida”, “The Scientist”, “Yellow”, and “Fix You”). From across the lot I could hear Forever the Sickest Kids whining about their Avril Lavigne set (vocalist Jonathan Cook: “this will probably be the shittiest thing you hear all weekend”).

For some reason I passed up The Ataris performing The Misfits in favor of Sum 41‘s Metallica setlist, which was being professionally filmed for perhaps a DVD. Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley spent an equal amount of time “interacting with the crowd” (read: dropping f-bombs) and playing Metallica songs (including staples such as “Enter Sandman” and “Master of Puppets”), none of which came off with the intensity necessary to pay proper tribute to metal’s most important band.

Some of the songs were just parts (“Battery”), and Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy”, the b-side of Metallica’s 1991 “Enter Sandman” single, was also tossed into the mix. Whibley’s vocals weren’t up to par, and the guitars just didn’t crunch like they needed to. The band finished with their own “Still Waiting”, a song they described as “definitely influenced by Metallica” before getting off stage. The full set:

Deryck Whibley doing his James Hetfield.

Deryck Whibley doing his James Hetfield.

Enter Sandman
Motor Breath
Where Ever I May roam
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Stone Cold Crazy (Queen cover)
Master of Puppets
Still Waiting

Now living in Green Day’s home state, but originally based out of South Florida, New Found Glory played next, performing as pre-American Idiot Green Day. Jordan Pundik appeared to channel a younger Billie Joe Armstrong, the band faithfully reproducing songs not even Green Day has played in years. Aside from a few songs sliding away from the California punk-pop vibe and into a more punk-hardcore vibe that Green Day certainly never intended, each song paid excellent tribute to the Berkley trio. The setlist consisted of fourteen songs, including “J.A.R.”, from the Angus soundtrack:

Welcome to Paradise
Nice Guys Finish Last
Armatage Shanks
The Brat
2000 Light Years Away
Geek Stink Breath
When I Come Around,
Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

The band effortlessly recreated Green Day’s early sound, and it was clear that they loved playing these songs. Some songs came with a story, often an introduction of why they chose to play a particular song or how the song had impacted their life. Pundik spoke briefly about Cartel’s earlier set–the Atlanta pop-rock group covered the Floridians–praising their live harmonies. After finishing up the electric portion of their set, Chad Gilbert and Pundik returned, taking on “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”–the perfect way to close a near-perfect set.

nti-Flag's setlist of The Clash songs.

Anti-Flag's setlist of The Clash songs.

I hurried over to see Anti-Flag‘s The Clash set, well across the parking lot. To perhaps the best crowd of the entire evening, Anti-Flag delivered stellar covers of the English punk band. No set all evening was more sincere, with Justin Sane, Chris #2, and Chris Head constantly showing appreciation for the ability to play the “songs they grew up listening to in their bedroom” to an audience. Essentials like “I’m So Bored With the USA” and “White Riot” were phenomenal. Covering a song that The Clash themselves covered, Anti-Flag finished with “I Fought the Law”, a perfect fusion of both Anti-Flag and The Clash’s messages. The full set:

London Calling
Police on My Back
Career Opportunities
Bored with the USA
Clash City Rockers
White Riot
Janie Jones
Should I Stay or Should I Go
Safe European Home
The Guns of Brixton
I Fought the Law (Sonny Curtis cover)

The final act of the night was already twenty minutes into their setlist when I got to the stage. Nationally renowned tribute act Badfish‘s mission statement is simple: “Keep Sublime Alive”. Too young to have seen the So-Cal trio live–frontman Bradley Nowell died of an overdose before I was even a teenager–I can’t compare Badfish’s live act to Sublime’s. I can tell you that Badfish sounded absolutely phenomenal, however, tackling not only the band’s biggest singles with spunk (and precision, down to Nowell’s signature voicings) but also many older, lesser known cuts.

A surprisingly strong take of “Ramble On” and a rant to check out Led Zeppelin preceded “Smoke Two Joints”, which was packed with brass and guitar solos. “Date Rape”, Sublime’s first radio hit, was worked out masterfully. The band’s final song was a Pennywise jam, “Bro Hymn”. For over an hour on a wet Jersey night, Sublime was indeed alive.

Though cold and wet for most of the night, Friday’s Hoodwink Festival was excellent, and many of the bands had special merchandise for the event (Bayside’s “It’s My Job To Keep Punk Rock Elite” shirt or Set Your Goals’s Nevermind-type shirt). The crowds were extremely small, making it not too difficult to get up close for any of the bands. New Found Glory may have had the biggest audience, and they certainly stole the show, but Anti-Flag’s set was also great.

Continue to check out inTuneMusic for reviews, photos, setlists, and more from the two-day Bamboozle festival.

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Photos by incredible photographers: angelxshoe, lullabysounds, n1njadrum.