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The Bamboozle: A Reporter’s Bittersweet Account

By Emily Dalrymple

The ferris wheel and large crowd on Saturday. Photo from thebamboozle.com

The ferris wheel and large crowd on Saturday. Photo from thebamboozle.com

The Bamboozle is a 2-day festival held at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This year, the festival was sponsored by the Wonka candy company, State Farm Insurance, Zumiez, and several others. The weekend featured two promising headliners – Fall Out Boy and the return of No Doubt.

For this reporter, Bamboozle has become a tradition. I have been making my way down to the festival for four years now. This year was definitely a change of pace. The festival was set up in a different manner than the last few years. Stages were moved around and the overall layout of the festival was a lot smaller. Stages were cramped together and there was often an overlap between bands.

Thomas Dutton of Forgive Durden with Greta Salpeter

Thomas Dutton of Forgive Durden with Greta Salpeter

Saturday night, I watched Forgive Durden perform “Razia’s Shadow” and was surprised that I could easily hear Third Eye Blind playing on the nearby stage. Forgive Durden did not disappoint though. “Razia’s Shadow” is a concept album featuring various singers from other bands. Rather than attempt to sing all of the vocals themselves, Forgive Durden brought a few of their famous friends with them including Greta Salpeter and Bob Morris of The Hush Sound, Dan Young of This Providence, Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter, and Fred Mascherino of The Color Fred.

International Superheroes of Hardcore. Photo by Jered Scott, taken from altpress.com

International Superheroes of Hardcore. Photo by Jered Scott, taken from altpress.com

Saturday also featured some other special guests. Cobra Starship brought All Time Low’s lead singer Alex Gaskarth on stage. New Found Glory disguised themselves as superheroes and played under the alias “International Superheroes of Hardcore.” The band played heavy metal songs about wearing seatbelts and their own favorite superheroes. Toward the end of their set, the band accidentally revealed their identity and played two cover songs.

International Superheroes of Harcode after they revealed their identity.

International Superheroes of Harcode after they revealed their identity.

The biggest special guest of the evening was Journey. After months of internet buzz that the eighties rock band would be making an appearance, the festival’s creative director Linc Thomas brought Journey out as the unidentified special guest. They played four songs and had attendees ranging from teen to adult singing along to all of the words.

One of the highlights of Bamboozle is the ability to meet members of your favorite bands whether they are doing a featured autograph session or if they are just walking around the festival checking out their friends. Shwayze, The Cab, Boys Like Girls, and Fall Out Boy are just a few of the bands who had their own featured autograph sessions. One of the strangest features of the day was the autograph signing by internet sensation Chris Crocker – only famous for screeching “Leave Britney alone” in a YouTube video.

While Fall Out Boy was the featured headliner of the day, there were other bands who made more of a presence. Gavin Rossdale, former lead singer of Bush, was one of the best performers of the day. I expected to only hear his solo material, but Rossdale fulfilled my wish and played two popular Bush songs. His performance was dead on and was definitely the highlight of my day.

Fall Out Boy had the last performance of the day, ending around 11:30. Their performance was good, but nothing new or memorable. As I left the venue that evening, I was tired, but eager to see what was in store for Sunday’s performances.

I made the decision to leave for Bamboozle a few hours later on Sunday. The morning did not feature any bands that were of particular interest. Sunday was also rainy and cold. When I arrived, the mood of the day was different and thousands of people tried to stay warm and avoid the rain in ponchos.

I ended up only seeing 4 bands on Sunday – 3OH!3, Sum 41, Rise Against, and No Doubt. 3OH!3 was not as interesting or as fun as I had hoped. After listening to some of their songs, I expected more energy and more fun. Maybe it was my own fault. After all, I wasn’t very happy in the rain.

Sum 41 was excellent. I did not know what to expect and after Deryck Whibley announced his level of intoxication, I was hesitant to expect anything exceptional. Luckily, the band sounded great, but ran over time by ten minutes. This wouldn’t be bad except that it proceeded to put the entire event behind.

No Doubt

No Doubt

Rise Against was not really a band that I would have wanted to see on my own. I can say that they were good and as far as I could tell, those around me definitely enjoyed their set. I was waiting for No Doubt. When Rise Against ended their set, I inched up toward the front of the stage just to see a band that I had been waiting to see for as long as I remember.

Gwen Stefani. Photo from thebamboozle.com

Gwen Stefani. Photo from thebamboozle.com

No Doubt did not disappoint. After singer Gwen Stefani announced that this was only their second show together after five years, it opened the door for them to make mistakes. But No Doubt did not make a single mistake that night. The band was flawless and seemed like they had never stopped performing. Stefani was all over the stage, even climbing up the side and running out into the audience. No Doubt was definitely a great way to end the weekend.

Now the title makes reference to the weekend being bittersweet. After all the fun I had, this reporter’s car wouldn’t start and I was stranded in New Jersey for the night. The next day, I met a very nice and funny cab driver by the name of Joe. I explained the situation to him and he left me with one of the best quotes.

“You got bamboozled at the Bamboozle.”