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Long Overdue Bamboozle Review

Bamboozle Day 2
April 30th, 2011
Meadowlands Sports Complex

Bamboozle is hands down the biggest music festival of its kind. When it comes to the type of music that I cover on this blog, which coincidentally is also the type of music I listen to, it has no peers. After years of saying I was going to make the trip to New Jersey for the show, I finally did, thanks to it’s eye-popping Saturday lineup. The day featured scene stalwarts, up-and-coming acts, and most importantly, a few long-awaited reunions. While I had to make some tough choice with all of the conflicting stages and set timess, I did my best to see the best, and here is my summary:

Anberlin:
While it might not have been that early in the day, technically, you would have though those in the crowd at the Main Stage has just rolled out of bed during Anberlin’s  3PM set. The band was  met with general indifference as they performed a 30 minute show focused mainly on their recent release, Dark is the Way, Lights is a Place. This isn’t to say that Stephen Christian and Co. didn’t attempt to get the crowd involved, but considering they were playing another show later that night with 30 Seconds to Mars, they probably weren’t operating at 100%. Either way, they sounded good, and by the end of the set it seemed like those who had gathered around the stage were nowready to get the festivities under way.

Tokyo Police Club
Next up on the main stage was Ontario’s Tokyo Police Club. While they wouldn’t normally be mentioned in the same breath as most of the other bands at the festival, they actually received a better reaction from the crowd than did Anberlin, and they seemed to feed off this energy. Despite the fact they  hail from Canada, the songs they  played featured a  California-esque vibe that perfectly fit this bright spring day. The sunlight seemed to breathe new life into the songs, the the  only disappointing aspect of the set was that that it didn’t last  longer.

Streetlight Manifesto

After Tokyo Police Club stepped of stage, I headed over to the “Jumbo” stage, which was comparable in size to the main stage.  When I got there, Streetlight Manifesto had already begun their set, and a large crowd had formed. Streetlight was the first band (at least that I saw) to get the crowd moving. A legion of fans danced and shoved along to the seven songs the band would play. As is customary for Streetlight, they played their songs fast, so fast that in this case you would think they really wanted to be in the front row for the Movielife set that would follow theirs. They finished with what is by far their best song, “Somewhere in the Between.”

The Movielife
Playing a show together as a full band for the first time in eight years, this set was expected to be the highlight of the day for many, and for me,  it certainly was. A rabid crowd gathered in front of the small stage to witness the reunion, which had been rumored for years and was finally happening today. Opening with “This Time Next Year” and going on to play 13 songs over 45 minutes, the band completely killed it. Save for one lyrical flub, every song  was spot on, with the band sounding like they had prepared for this moment for months. As would be expected, the crowd ate it up, singing and screaming along with the type of energy reserved for long-awaited reunions and farewell shows, of which this set could very well encompass both.

The band did an admirable job  in using their time allotment to cover much of their catalog, featuring a number of tracks from their 2003 breakout Forty Hour Train Back to Penn, as well as earlier material from This Time Next Year and It’s Go Time. The songs the band played from their Has A Gambling Problem EP inspired the biggest singalongs, while “Jamaica Next,” which the band rarely played during their first go-around, was a very welcome addition. The most telling moment of the set came in between songs, when Caruanna announced the band had t-shirts for sale at a merch table. He followed it up by saying “You better hurry if you want one though, because we didn’t realize how popular we had become.” Hopefully the huge crowd and even bigger reaction the set received will inspire the band to get back on the road again. But if not, this was a great way to call it a career.

New Found Glory
After the Movielife set, I headed back over to the Jumbo stage, where Alkaline Trio was just finishing up their set. As the band made their exit, a number of fans departed, while many others raced to the front in preparation for an appearance by New Found Glory. The band has worn the crown as the kings of pop-punk for over a decade now, and they never disappoint in a live setting. By the time they took the stage, an enormous crowd had gathered to jump and sing along throughout their 35 minute set.

The band opened with “Understatement” from 2002’s Sticks and Stones, and the crowd did what they could to charge towards the stage, creating a giant mosh pit on both sides of the barrier that extended through the middle of the lot. The band, wearing Miami Heat-esque NFG basketball jerseys, kept the talking to a minimum in order to fit 11 songs into their short time on stage. At this point in their career, they could pretty much throw darts at a dartboard and come up with a great set list, but they did include staples like “All Downhill From Here” and “Hit or Miss.” Towards the end of the set, the band covered the Ramones famous “Blitzkrieg Bop” with Marky Ramone taking over on drums. The set would then close, as always, with “Intro” and “My Friends Over You.”

Gatsby’s American Dream

After catching the first five songs from the Gaslight Anthem (which were great), I headed back to the same stage the Movielife had conquered a few hours earlier to witness another reunion or sorts. After a long hiatus, Gatsby’s American Dream has reformed earlier in the year to play a show in their hometown of Seattle,  followed by an appearance at Austin’s South by Southwest  festival.

Bamboozle marked their first East Coast appearance in over five years, and the band that was once considered “the future of indie rock” was hoping to make the long trip worth their while. Competing against the Gaslight Anthem and an upcoming set from Taking Back Sunday, the band didn’t attract the huge crowd that the Movielife did, but those who showed up were still very excited to witness the band’s return.

Playing eight songs, the band sounded as tight as they had when I had seen them six years earlier. While they opened and closed the set with fan favorites “Theatre” and “Shhhh! I’m Listening to Reason,” respectively, the highlight of the set was the lone new song they played. “Modern Man” manages to mix what has always been unique about Gatsby’s American Dream with something new and excited, and that something is why those in the crowd are anxiously awaiting the band’s new EP, due sometime this summer.

Taking Back Sunday
After the set from Gatsby’s American Dream, I did my best to make my way over to the main stage, but I was met with an enormous wall of people that seemed to stretch on for miles. As noted in previous reviews, Taking Back Sunday has seen an enormous surge in popularity since they reunited (seems to be the theme of the day, doesn’t it?) with original guitarist John Nolan and bassist Sean Coooper. Since the reunion, fans had been  hoping the band would play their seminal 2002 debut album Tell All Your Friends in it’s entirety, and on this night, they would get their wish.


While performing the record start to finish wasn’t too much of a stretch for the band considering they had been playing about 7 our of the 10 songs live, it was a treat to hear  “The Blue Channel” and closing number “Bike Scene” performed live for the first time in years.  The band would then move on to “part II” of the set, which included their more recent work and featured two new songs, “El Paso,” and “Faith (When I Let You Down),” neither of which generated a huge reaction for the crowd. Other tracks, mainly Straylight Run cover “Existentialism on Prom Night” and closer “MakeDamnSure” did cause quite a stir and finished day two of the festival on a very high note.


Overall, Bamboozle had been a great experience. The impressive line-up delivered on its promise, as each band I saw put on a solid performance, even while many of them where out of their element on enormous stages in broad daylight. This may have been my only chance to see bands like the Movielife and Gatsby’s American Dream back on stage together, and I’m definitely glad I took advantage of it. Music aside, the festival was very well run, especially considering the massive amount of fans and bands who made their way to the Meadowlands parking lots. So in conclusion, if you’re a music fan and find yourself with an extra $55 next May, this is probably the best possible way you could spend it.


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New Found Glory Revives Classics for 10th Anniversary Tour

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

New Found Glory 10th Anniversary Tour
House of Blues Boston
February 21st, 2010

When it comes to pop-punk, New Found Glory’s self-titled record is considered by many to be the gold standard. Since its release in 2000, the album has inspired countless copy cats, none of which have earned the type of success the band has enjoyed over the past decade. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the fan favorite record, the band announced a nationwide tour in which they would play the album from start to finish on each night. They also announced they would be taking Saves the Day with them, marking the first time the two band’s had toured together in a decade. To die-hard New Found Glory fans, it seemed too good to be true. Luckily for them, it wasn’t.

The night began with a set from Fireworks, a band with a history of opening New Found Glory shows. While they may not do much to distinguish themselves from many of today’s other pop-punk acts, they have begun to build a sold fan base on the strength of their relentless touring schedule. This was evident as fans towards the front of the venue sang along, started circle pits, and generally made life uncomfortable for the those who weren’t familiar with the Detroit quintet.

While the band’s performance was spirited, it was often hard to make out lead singer David Mackinder’s vocals, which seems to be a common problem for opening acts at the House of Blues. The group did end the set on a high with their performance of “Detroit,” which had even fair weather fans singing along loudly.

Next was Hellogoodbye, a band that had earned commercial success with their 2006 album Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, but has fallen off the radar of late. The group had headlined large Boston venues in the past, but on this night they found themselves trying hard to win over hundreds of skeptical fans. Whether they were successful or not is debatable, for some at the front of the venue did seem to enjoy themselves, while the rest of the crowd waited impatiently for the night’s two big acts. The band saved their hits for last, finishing the set with “All of Your Love” and “Here (In Your Arms),” do the delight of at least a few in the audience.

The crowd’s indifference evaporated instantly when Saves the Day took the stage. While New Found Glory’s self-titled record may be the pop-punk gold standard, it can easily be argued that Saves the Day’s “Through Being Cool” and “Stay What You Are” take silver and bronze. With those two records, the band built a large cult following which hasn’t evaporated despite the fact recent releases haven’t been as well received.

I’ve seen Saves the Day on a number of occasions, and I must say that I haven’t been very impressed of late. They have focused mainly on their newer material, which wouldn’t be a problem, if only they would play the good new material. Tonight, they did, perfectly mix their older crowd favorites with standout cuts from their last two records. The crowd wasn’t shy in showing their appreciation, and it would have been easy to mistake the New Jersey quartet as the headliners.

While the band has gone through drastic line-up changes in the past year, they didn’t miss a beat sonically. Lead singer Chris Conely, the group’s only original member, seems to be re-energized by the changes, sounding better and looking more enthusiastic than in the band’s past few area appearances. The highlights of the set were popular b-side “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven” and “Bones” from 2006’s “Sound the Alarm.”It was the type of performance that could also re-energize the Saves the Day fan base as they await the release of their next record “Daybreak,” which should be out by the end of the year.

As the crowd caught it’s breath, New Found Glory’s stage crew unveiled a huge banner featuring the self-titled record’s instantly recognizable  artwork, Atari controller and crumpled Brittany Spears ticket included. The headliners would take the stage to the all too familiar tune of Miley Cyrus’s “Party being piped over the intercom, and from there, the insanity began.

As promised, New Found Glory would perform their self-titled record in it’s entirety, and opening track “Better Off Dead” provided the spark that would set the crowd off for the rest of the night. Bodies flew through the air while everyone from the front of the stage to the balconies high above sang and shouted along. The set’s first four songs, which concluded with “Hit or Miss” had those on the floor in a state of near-hysteria, and it was a blast, to say the least.

The set’s success was due in large part to the fact that nearly every song on New Found Glory just begs to be played live. The tracks hit hard and fast, with more sugary hooks than the venue’s coat check. The mid tempo “Sincerely Me” perfectly placed in the middle of the album, allowed the crowd to take a short breather.

“Boy Crazy” and the rarely played “All About Her” where the high points of the set for me, with both showcasing everything that has made New Found Glory a terrific live band for the past decade. While the band would announce “Ballad of the Lost Romantics” as the last song, but considering how quickly the the set had flown by, most in the crowd knew they were in for a lengthy encore.

The quintet would return to the stage, and as the original banner fell to reveal the image of a chainsaw wielding maniac, the band would launch into a seven song encore that showcased the best songs not included on their self-titled album. As usual, “All Downhill from Here” and it’s huge chorus had fans bouncing like super balls, while Gorilla Biscuits cover “No Reason Why” appeased all of the hardcore fans in the room. In keeping with tradition, the band would close the set with “My Friends Over You,” as the crowd somehow found the energy to give the song the reaction it deserves.

The crowd would then slowly file out of the House of Blues, and while some were exhausted and others banged up,  just about everyone seemed very happy with what they had just seen. New Found Glory has always been a great live band, and when you combined that with a standout album that hasn’t been well represented on recent tours, you have the ingredients for a great show. Throw in a band like Saves the Day and you have a the makings of an unforgettable night, which is pretty much what this was.

Listen To Your Friends, and Bring Them Out On Tour With You

May 11, 2009 1 comment

HPIM0681New Found Glory
Bayside
Set Your Goals
Fireworks
House of Blues Boston
April 30th, 2009

New Found Glory will never been considered one of the most innovative or creative bands out there. Their latest record, Not Without Fight, is possibly their most predictable work yet, going back to the sound that helped propel them to great popularity earlier in the decade. After reading that, you’re probably thinking I’m not much of a New Found Glory fan. Truth is, I love New Found Glory. For years they’ve been one of my favorite bands, and their show at the House of Blues in Boston represented the sixth time I would see them live. I like New Found Glory because they don’t try to be something they aren’t. They play fast, catchy pop-punk songs that are great for singing along to, and they transfer the energy found in their records to their live show. Their headlining show with Bayside, Set Your Goals, and Fireworks perfectly illustrated this.

The night began with a short set from Fireworks, the Detroit based pop-punk act who recently released their debut record “All I Have To Offer is My Own Confusion. The band seemed like the perfect fit for the tour, considering they seem to be heavily influenced by New Found Glory and have toured with Set Your Goals in the past. While they may have been a good fit, there were very few in the crowd who showed any interested in the band, with only a select few bobbing their heads or signing along. This isn’t to say that the band didn’t put on a good show and attempt to get the crowd excited, it just wasn’t happening.

HPIM0643

Set Your Goals

The crowd may have been saving their energy for the next act, Set Your Goals, the Bay Area band that has become somewhat of an underground phenomenon since the release of their debut LP Mutiny in 2006. They have played a number of memorable shows in the area, including a handful at the ICC in Allston that at times have featured as many fans on stage with the band as  down on the floor watching. While it would be much harder to pull off a stage dive at the House of Blues, the crowd still gave it their all during the set.

For a number of different reasons, I decided to stand off to the side of the stage for the entire show, so while I can’t exactly gauge just how crazy the crowd got, I can say I saw a good deal of crowd surfing and (attempted) head walking during Set Your Goal’s short set. The band sounded decent  music-wise, and included songs such as “Flight of the Navigator,” “Echoes,” and “Mutiny.”  The only complaint I had about the performance was the fact that the band has been playing the same songs live for about three years now.  This will change in July when the band releases their new record, one song off of which they played in the middle of their set.

HPIM0653

Bayside's Raneri

Next was Bayside, and this was my forth time seeing the four-piece who released their excellent forth record, Shudder last fall. As expected, the band sounded nearly perfect live, with guitarist (and Strewsburry, Mass.) native Jack O’Shea ripping of one jaw-dropping solo after another. Lead singer Anthony Reneri kept the between-song banter to a minimum and let the band’s varied setlist take center stage. After openning with “Hello Shitty,” the band would follow with “Boy” and then “The Walking Wounded,” providing one standout track from each of their last three records. “Masterpiece” from the bands debut record Sirens and Condolences was a welcome addition to the set, and fan favorite “Montauk” was also included before closing the set with “Devotion and Desire.” While the crowd had been quite enthusiastic during the Set Your Goals set, Bayside did not receive the same reaction. The crowd was seemingly split between fans who wanted to move around and sing along, and those who couldn’t’ wait for Bayside to get off the stage. This is unfortunate, but having half the crowd on your side at such a large venue isn’t a bad thing either.

After a short wait, it was time for the headliners to do their part. I am a strong believer in starting a set off strong and getting the crowd excited right from the outset, for it always seems to make for better shows in the end. New Found Glory also subscribes to this philosophy, as they began with current single “Listen To Your Friends,” easily the catchiest (and best) song off their new record. The crowd responded in full force, and from what I could see, they never let up for the rest of the night. The band would go on to pump out anthem after anthem, mixing the best songs from Not Without a Fight with all of their older favorites. This is the type of show that makes it very difficult to pick out just a few highlights, so I might as well just say every song was excellent and had almost everyone in the building singing along as loud as they could. It was a nice treat to hear “Tip of the Iceberg” and “Dig My Own Grave” in succession, both of which came from last year’s hardcore-leaning “Tip of the Iceberg” E.P. The only misstep (and it was a very minor one at that) was their cover of “Don’t You Forget (About Me),” which they used to close the set. It appeared that a good deal of those in the audience weren’t familiar with the track.

NFG's Jordan Pundik

NFG's Jordan Pundik

After a very short time off stage, New Found Glory once again grabbed the reins and ramped the energy back up with “Better Off Dead” to begin the encore. “Head on Collision” would follow, along with “Too Good To Be,” a slower track from 2007’s Coming Home. The band would then invite a random fan onstage to join the performance of the customary New Found Glory closing act, featuring Intro from 2005’s Catalyst, and of course, the band’s biggest hit “My Friends Over You.”

All in all, what I consider to be the strongest tour of the year so far easily lived up to the high expectation I had set for it. Each band sounded great and put together outstanding set lists. The crowd easily held up their end of the bargain, earning the title of “craziest show of the tour for sure” from NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert on Twitter (I’ve been doing some deep investigative reporting, I know). Title or no title, everyone in the building had a great time, from the people like me standing off to the side, to the crowd surfers getting tossed around, to the bands themselves. The only thing left to wonder is how long it will be until we see another tour this good.

New Found Glory set list (in order)

Listen To Your Friends
Understatement
At Least I’m Known For Something
Forget My Name
Right Where We Left Off
All Downhill From Here
Sincerely Me
Glory of Love
Truck Stop Blues
Truth of my Youth
Something I Call Personality
Hold My Hand
Tip of the Iceberg
Dig My Own Grave
Failure’s Not Flattering
Dressed to Kill
Don’t Let Her Pull You Down
Hit or Miss
Don’t You Forget (About Me)

Better Off Dead
Head On Collision
Too Good To Be
Intro
My Friends Over You

Bayside set list (in order)

Hello Shitty
Boy
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns
Carry On
Rochambo
Masterpiece
Duality
Montauk
Devotion and Desire

Set Your Goals set list (not in order)

Flight of the Navigator
Goonies
The Fallen
Work in Progress
We Do It For the Money
Echoes
To Be Continued
How Bout No, Scott
Dead Man
Mutiny