The Bamboozle (Day One) 5/3

May 6, 2008

Since 2006, The Bamboozle festival has grounded itself outside Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Each year, over one hundred bands play for two days over the course of the first weekend in May. Beginning around noon and ending near midnight, the festival showcases the smallest, unsigned bands to the most popular acts in the country. It’s normally a humid affair–this time, however, the weather was cold and rainy.

I arrived on Saturday around noon to check out the first day of The Bamboozle, heading to the 5 Gum side stage to check out Long Island’s The Sleeping. A post-hardcore act that I’ve caught at Bamboozle in the past, the band performed with Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row), playing a solid set featuring some of Bach’s material in addition to The Sleeping staples such as “If Your Heart Was Broken”. Though later in the evening after fatigue set in I’d chill out to some pop-rock acts, The Sleeping were a great way to kick off the weekend with a crowd that was certainly ready to dance. The band sounded tight; guitarist Cameron Keym’s metal-inspired licks were sharper than ever, and vocalist Douglas Robinson captured the crowd.

Story of the Year were next on my list at 2PM, so I ventured to the Asbury Park main stage. Let it be known that the sound, for both Day One and Day Two, was terrible on the Asbury Park stage–unfortunate because about half of the bands I saw during the weekend set up on that stage. As I’m not a professional audio engineer, I’m not exactly sure what the problem was but the sound was never consistent: bass was either muddy or non-existent, and microphones never maintained the same volume, often cutting out nearly entirely for seconds at a time.

Despite common sound issues that would plague nearly twenty bands on that stage, Story of the Year sounded excellent for the duration of their set. It’s been some time since i caught the band on tour, but their live show had always been their strongest point; it’s great to see they’ve only improved over time. Their set:

And the Hero Will Drown
The Antidote
Anthem of Our Dying Day
Wake Up
In the Shadows
Until the Day I Die
Is This My Fate? He Asked Them

Over half of their set came from their debut Page Avenue, but the band unfortunately included two of their lesser songs from that release in “Anthem of Our Dying Day” and “Under the Day I Die” but did include two of the strongest, opener “And the Hero Will Drown” and “In the Shadows”. The new songs from The Black Swan (“The Antidote”, “Wake Up”) sounded promising, so I’ll need to check out that album soon.

New Jersey ska-stalwarts Streetlight Manifesto were up next on the opposite main stage (which suffered from none of Asbury Park stage’s sound issues). The band played extremely well, with a large selection of songs coming from Somewhere in the Between. The band pleased the crowd with “Dear Sergio”, a song that engaged many people listening who were familiar with Catch 22’s Keasbey Nights but not necassrily Streetlight Manifesto.

At 3:30PM on the Nokia Ticket Rush stage, Vinnie Caruana played a set entirely of The Movielife songs with Set Your Goals as his backing band. Though he stated numerous times throughout the set that “this [wasn’t] The Movielife”, you’d be hard pressed to find a single person in the crowd who was concerned with that fact. Vinnie sang like the band hadn’t broken up five years ago, with dead-on delivery of songs nearly a decade old. Set Your Goals’s (a band I wanted to see as well but passed up on to see Saves the Day) guitarists, bassist, and drummer covered each song with precision. Cuts included “Hand Grenade”, “Pinky Swear”, “Hey”, and “Face or Kneecaps” before the near-obligatory closer, “Jamestown”. Vinnie constantly thanked the crowd for giving him the chance to play these songs, but it was really the crowd constantly thanking him for resurrecting the songs of an incredible punk-pop band.

Dressed as cops and coming out to Inner Circle’s “Bad Boys” on the PA, Less Than Jake took the Asbury Park stage at 4PM, opening with “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads”. My first time catching the band live, I was quite impressed with how tight the band sounded. I’m not a huge fan of the band (perhaps getting into them late into their career), but I respect their contributions to the genre and their live show convinced me to give them some more attention. Their full set:

All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
Last One Out Of Liberty City
Gainseville Rock City
Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts
Great American Sharp Shooter
Ghosts Of You And Me
Science Of Selling Yourself Short
Look What Happened

I took an hour break between 4:30 and 5:30 to check out various tents and merchandise, picking up a great Refused Shirts For a Cure tee. SFaC is a great project; all proceeds go to the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment. The SSE provides financial assistance to underprivileged women who cannot afford expensive breast cancer medicine and therapy; there are a lot of shirt designs, I urge you to see if your favorite band is there and to pick one up for just $12.

I caught a little bit of theAUDITION and Bless the Fall, two bands I didn’t have much interest in checking out but stayed at for a little bit while talking to some friends. Chiodos played at 5:50 on the Asbury Park stage, my next destination. The band played a balanced mix between their two full-length albums; they sounded decent, and the crowd was explosive the entire time. The full setlist:

The Undertakers Thirst For Revenge Is Unquenchable (The Final Battle)
There’s No Penguins In Alaska
Baby, You Wouldn’t Last A Minute On The Creek
Teeth The Size Of Piano Keys
Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered
The Words ‘Best Friend’ Become Refined
Is It Progression If A Cannibal Uses A Fork

I rushed over to the opposing NowWhat mainstage before Chiodos was finished to catch New Jersey locals Saves the Day, who opened up with Stay What You Are‘s “See You”. Chris Conley sounded tremendous: his voice was not only crisp and clear, but he sounded confident and in control of the crowd the entire time. When told the band had time for only one more song (the main stage times were getting increasingly backed up), he asked the crowd to pick between “Ups and Downs” and “Firefly”–“Firefly” apparently was the first thing he heard and played both that and then “At Your Funeral”, upping the count of songs from their 2001 LP to three. The full set:

See You
The End
Anywhere With You
You Vandal
Can’t Stay The Same
Head For The Hills
Shoulder To The Wheel
At Your Funeral

It would have been nice to hear “Ups and Downs”, one of my favorite Saves the Day songs, but the band still played a great set nonetheless. The band has too much material to get picky about songs not played, especially when they picked nine great tracks anyway.

Jack’s Mannequin, another casualty of the Asbury Park stage, was next at 6:50; they didn’t start immediately after Saves the Day, so I managed to make it across the parking lot in time to get close to the stage before the band started. “Dark Blue”, with part of the extended introduction, kicked off the setlist which included a song from the upcoming The Glass Passenger (which certainly sounds promising — I was worried after a slew of less-than-stellar post-Everything in Transit tracks) and a cover from Something Corporate’s North. The set:

Dark Blue
Holiday from Real
The Mixed Tape
Suicide Blonde
Kill the Messenger
La La Lie
Me and the Moon (Something Corporate cover)

The band played well, but their sound was somewhat marred by the stage. Before “Kill the Messenger”, frontman Andrew McMahon commented on the weather; during the song (which features the lyrics “I’m going to send a little rain your way”) the misty rain slowly picked up. Even taking into account projection, the song had never felt so real or so powerful. Aside from the lack of staple “I’m Ready”, I don’t think I could have asked for a better setlist. “MFEO” is an incredible track that stands on its own, but it really works perfectly for closing a set, especially outdoors in the rain, in the parking lot.

Paramore played the Asbury Park stage at 8PM; almost immediately it was obvious just how poor the stage’s sound actually was, as one of the tightest pop-rock acts in the scene today suddenly sounded sloppy and uninteresting. The band kicked off with Riot!‘s “Let the Flames Begin”, following it with All We Know is Falling single “Emergency”. Either during that track or during “Stop This Song (Lovesick Melody)”, a b-side from the Riot! sessions, the stage’s sound started to click back together and the band sounded incredible for the rest of their set, which was, in its entirety:

Let the Flames Begin
Stop This Song (Lovesick Melody)
Here We Go Again
That’s What You Get
For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
Misery Business

“Here We Go Again” was sans the At The Drive-In mini-cover, instead segueing flawlessly into “That’s What You Get”. Much like an hour ago watching Jack’s Mannequin amongst teenage girls barely (if at all?) old enough to drive, I felt out of place singing along to every word, but it’s always refreshing to catch other guys mouthing the words: this is great pop music, and I’m glad that these young teens are growing up on true pop-rock, not manufactured radio garbage or Britney Spears-esq bubblegum, even if the band is dominating the radio with songs such as “Misery Business”, the set’s closer.

During the aforementioned hit single, I walked out of the crowd to get to Jimmy Eat World, an act I’m almost embarrassed to admit I had never seen live. The band’s performance was unparalleled by any other act all day, and their forty-five minute setlist was incredible:

Big Casino
Always Be
Here It Goes
A Praise Chorus
Let It Happen
Bleed American
The Middle

The rain was a constant mist during their performance; it was a little chilly, but incredibly relaxing. There’s not much to be said about the band’s performance other than that their live sound is a near perfect recreation of their studio albums, from the guitar subtleties to the incredible harmonies.

Snoop Dogg closed Day One, coming on around 9:30. I was a little further back than normal (near the soundboard) for his set, but he still sounded pretty good. I had never seen him live, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he managed to hold my attention for some time. I left midway through his set to get to a party, but his full set was:

Murder Was The Case
P.I.M.P. (Remix)
Who Am I? (What’s My Name)
That’s That Shit
Gin And Juice
Lodi Dodi
I Wanna Fuck You
Snoop’s Upside Ya Head
Nuthin’ But A G Thang
Ain’t No Fun
Deeez Nuuuts
Notorious DPG
Snoop Dogg
My Medicine
Sexual Eruption
Drop It Like It’s Hot

The entire day was great, as I got to see some older bands for the first time live in addition to seeing some of my favorites once again. The weather was great: I’d prefer chilly and rainy to blistering heat and humidity any day. Moreover, cell phone service actually worked, which allowed me to meet up with friends throughout the day. There was room for improvement though: I couldn’t find any time cards (something usually handed out when you walk in), and, to beat a dead horse, the Asbury Park stage sounded terrible. Scheduling was pretty solid: Set Your Goals and Men Women & Children were the only two bands I missed due to conflicting times.

If anyone has any corrections/updates to the setlists I posted (which should be accurate, but there’s always room for error), please post them in the comments.