Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bamboozle Day One

Two weeks ago, I made the journey up to the Meadowlands outside New York City for the annual Bamboozle Festival. My second year in attendance, I knew that the only thing you can expect from the 'Boozle is a non-sensical, yet brilliant band lineup, teenage boys who still think 'Free Hugs' signs are clever, and over-priced food. This year the festival area was expanded with extra rides and two new stages, making for even more difficult time management decisions. The above photo was taken at the top of the ferris wheel before doors opened, aka the calm before the storm.

The first band to play on Saturday were pop-punkers We Are the In Crowd, who I will admit to knowing nothing about, but enjoyed regardless. They've just been revealed as one of the acts for the new Soundwave Revolution Festival, which come to think of it, is basically the Australian equivalent of Bamboozle.

The best stumbled upon band of the day was Brooklyn via Israel married duo Hank & Cupcakes. It's hard not to stop when you walk by a woman standing on drums in a Lady Gaga-esque outfit throwing lipstick into the crowd. Judging from the audience size at the end of their set compared to the beginning, others were clearly drawn in as I had been. Making unique, upbeat indie dance music is difficult enough, but for only two members to do the work of four and pull off a great live show is even more impressive.

Forever the Sickest Kids singer Jonathan Cook climbing the stage scaffolding during their hit, 'She's a Lady.' Several seconds after this was taken, he accidentally dropped the microphone into the sea of people below. Fortunately, the two teenage fans who caught the mic returned it to the stage and were personally given free merch by the band as a thank you. Aw!

"I take it this is the first time many of you have seen us," laughs Tokyo Police Club singer Dave Monks after instructing the crowd to sing along and receiving a quieter than expected response. One of the hazards of playing a festival like Bamboozle is that you honestly don't know what percentage of an audience are there for another band and Tokyo Police Club handled the waiting Thrice fans with grace. Actually my first time seeing them (after years of failed attempts), I was glad the indie pop Canucks lived up to their recorded work and filled their short but sweet set with hand claps, bright clear vocals, and happy keyboard dances.

Just a man and his guitar, the always amazing Frank Turner took the stage sans band for Bamboozle. He enlisted the help of the audience to be the harmonica (he forgot his) in 'Dan's Song' and when some were hesitant, he went for his usual banter, "If you're the type of person who's too cool to do air harmonica at a fucking festival in the middle of the afternoon, you're too cool to be here anyway, you hipster motherfuckers!" Doing a perfect mix of old and new tunes (including my personal favourite 'Photosynthesis'), Frank promised a major US tour in the future to support his upcoming release England Keeps My Bones.

Due to a HUGE crowd at a tiny stage, I surpassed a much buzzed about The Movielife reunion show and instead wandered over to the area usually reserved for comedians. There I watched the legendary Marky Ramone do a 'cooking show' to promote his new line of pasta sauce. Yes, I'm serious. It smelled delicious and 80% of the people present were waiting for comedian Bo Burnham and had no idea who Marky Ramone is. As you can see, Marky also chugged an entire jar of the pasta sauce. This is not even in the top ten weirdest things I saw at Bamboozle, if that gives you an idea what that weekend was like.

It was especially exciting to see Pennsylvania locals Tigers Jaw (who I once saw at a gig in my friend's garage with five other people, a dog, and someones Mom) play to a large crowd. Even the band themselves didn't believe it, "Why are you guys watching us? Don't you know New Found Glory and Das Racist are on now?!" The die-hard crowd screamed along with every word, some yelling at pauses that they came from the Midwest just to see this band. If by any chance we have any Midwest or Southern US readers, I suggest you check out Krazy Fest in Kentucky, which has a fantastic lineup consisting mostly of all the good PA/NJ bands us East Coasters tend to selfishly hog.

As the day goes on, the names get bigger and it becomes more difficult to get photos. Sorry Dashboard Confessional, Gaslight Anthem, and Taking Back Sunday fans, I assure you their sets were fantastic, but I have no photos or notes because by this point I just wanted to sit and listen to them play from far away. You would too if you'd been standing in the sun for ten hours straight. Here's a photo of a midget wrestler dressed as a chicken in the new Bamboozle Luchador Ring to make you feel better. The only thing that made this sight even more ridiculous is that Miley Cyrus' brother and the chick from Gossip Girl were standing next to me cheering them on. Yes, that's in the top ten weird moments.

Oh Bamboozle, you so crazy! More on Day Two coming soon!

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