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The BamboozleThe Bamboozle: live in Asbury Parklive in Asbury Park (2012)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: InaGreendaseInaGreendase
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Saturday's edition of The Bamboozle at Asbury Park, N.J., promised a handful of veteran acts I'd have to watch behind massive, never-ending crowds of people, but also a couple bands I knew would garner only select interest, with small audiences that would make for comparatively intimate festival per.
Saturday's edition of The Bamboozle at Asbury Park, N.J., promised a handful of veteran acts I'd have to watch behind massive, never-ending crowds of people, but also a couple bands I knew would garner only select interest, with small audiences that would make for comparatively intimate festival performances. It was for this reason I figured, hey, why not check it out?
Soon thereafter, I met up with the cousin, who had wandered over to this area to partake in the Bamboozle's fine dining on offer. (We split an overpriced and relatively underwhelming Philly cheesesteak, overloading on free cups of Coca-Cola from a nearby promotional truck that I think stole a bit of my soul when I first entered it.) All this while Anti-Flag played. Specifically, while they played standbys like "Fuck Police Brutality," "Turncoat," "Die for Your Government" and "Power to the Peaceful." The audience seemingly ate it up, with a mosh pit straight out of Warped Tour circa 1997. A-F, interestingly, also shouted-out the decidedly non-political Balance and Composure, apparent friends from their state of Pennsylvania.
Less Than Jake was next. While their set promised to be a likely good, nostalgic time, I've never seen Foo Fighters play anywhere, so being how many times I've seen LTJ throughout the years, I thought it best to try and catch a few songs from the Foo instead. While they had a two-hour set, it did interfere with Hot Water Music and the Promise Ring, so I didn't stay long. I was able to watch them plow through a small handful of hits: "Rope," "All My Life," "The Pretender," "My Hero" and "Learn to Fly." Nothing seemed too wild about the band's live show, necessarily: Dave Grohl ran up the side ramps of both stages a couple times and yelled a lot; a leathery Pat Smear astutely rocked out; Taylor Hawkins thrashed about on his complex kit; bassist Nate Mendel locked down the groove; Chris Shiflett provided the riffs. That seems par for the course, but if I were a bigger Foo Fighters fan maybe I would have been blown away.
I weaved my way through the sand and crowded boardwalk back to Zumiez to catch Hot Water Music. The stage was now running a good half-hour behind schedule, which means I could have caught more of the Foo, but alas. The population in this area still seemed small, but when the band finally took the stage and I looked behind me, it seemed to have filled out pretty well, even if it was a lot of curious onlookers waiting for Motion City Soundtrack's second set of the day. The band ripped into a solid half-hour, and while the festival setting provided a strange quirk to the echo-ey sound (I love reverb, but it wasn't right here), the small gaggle of fans near the front didn't mind at all, with playful shoves and raised fists and fingers. Roughly half of the band's half-hour set included major standouts from their great new record, Exister (which all sounded immaculate, by the way), and of course, the other half a "Greatest Hits" selection of sorts, with Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard co-leading the way with their beautifully burly strains as the sun fully descended behind them.
I had been waiting to see the Promise Ring ever since the time I was searching for Blink-182 B-sides on KaZaA in the Y2K and stumbled across a (probably intentionally) mislabeled MP3 of "Raspberry Rush." Their set here was certainly not what I had been expecting to see for the last 12 years, but not at all bad. They came out to raucous cheers, but largely because the now-ginormous crowd was expecting Motion City Soundtrack, not realizing how late the stage was running. When the members were actually visible in the light of the stage, there seemed to be a confused murmur going around. "What is this, Vertical Horizon?!" yelled one upset patron. While I would have thought that one of MCS's bigger musical influences should translate well with even MCS's mainstream fans, the set was maybe too weird to cross over all that strongly. Not only did tPR pull out some comparatively obscure choices given their limited time (no "Is This Thing On?" or "Stop Playing Guitar"?), with a heavy focus on 1999's Very Emergency, they added a lazier flair to much of the material--an almost alt-country twang at times. Again, this was not bad. Just different. It's essentially the band doing a reunion their way, and you can't disrespect that; they definitely seemed to be having fun with it. There were very, very few people in the crowd who had any idea what was going on and why this was so cool (it was the band's first goddamned show in the tri-state area in a decade, for Chrissake!), but after the mini-dance party up near the front stage right side, we seemed to be left satisfied by the short and sweet set.
From there I headed immediately to the Brand New/the Front Bottoms aftershow, which was a predictably great time. I've seen BN about 15 times before this and this was one of the better sets--granted, that's largely because of how comparatively small the Stone Pony is, but I digress. The Front Bottoms were a cool opener, playing ragged, brash, acoustic-tinged ramblings (dude's somewhat nasal voice also reminds me of Tom Delonge, strangely). New fanboy Kevin Devine came out to help on one of their songs to the clear delight of many in the crowd, too.
Brand New came on about 10 after midnight with their ripping cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Wish" (which, sadly, few knew), then worked their way backwards through the catalog with a couple of tracks from each of their four studio albums before randomly dishing out highlights from across the board for the final third. Some unique tidbits included an extended, jammed-out bridge for "Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't," an appearance of "Flying at Tree Level" and a Jesse Lacey solo electric version of "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad." They looked like they were having fun with all of it, thankfully. While we may not get another album for a while, shows like this are an OK stopgap. Full setlist here. Worth the $40 for a little club show after a day of festival stage watching, I'd say.
The Bamboozle, while mired a bit in trends, disorganization and shameless corporate plugging (the "Marlboro Experience" trailer? C'mon.), does look out for the (somewhat) older folk like myself. At times. There was a good stock of long-time favorites of mine here: I saw Boysetsfire, Hot Water Music, the Promise Ring and, for a little extra dough, Brand New, with all four bands turning in solid-at-worst performances, and for that I can't complain too much.
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