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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.


Blink-182 Returns With a Bang

August 28, 2009 2 comments

HPIM1255Blink-182
Comcast Center, Mansfield MA
August 6th, 2009

In the days leading up to the show at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Ma, the idea of seeing Blink-182 live didn’t seem that strange. While they had gone on “indefinite hiatus” five years earlier, seemingly never to speak again, the announcement of their return in February didn’t come as a surprise. Since that Grammy night announcement, the band had played a number of small shows and made countless late night TV appearances, stepping back into the spotlight as if they had never really left.

However, when the unmistakable trio of Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge and Travis Barker took the stage before 20,000 screaming fans, I couldn’t help but be shocked, even if it was only for a moment. It was really happening. Hoppus and DeLonge, who had barely acknowledged each other’s existence for nearly half a decade, were back to licking each other’s necks and making crude jokes. Barker, who was nearly killed in a tragic plane crash only a year earlier, was back behind the kit providing the band’s background, and the fans that seemingly stretched on forever were singing along like it was 2003. Most impressively, Blink was tearing it up, sounding better than they ever had before. In the end,  the band made everyone forget (+44), Angels & Airwaves, the indefinite hiatus, and all the bickering, proving they were back and in a big way.

Before the headliners would take the stage, the night began with two big name openers, and one very awkward one. The latter was Boston’HPIM1168 own Chester French. Their set, played in broad daylight before thousands of empty seats, included multiple attempts to get the crowd interested, all of which were miserable failures.  Luckily, the band made a quick exit after only twenty minutes.

With the sun still shinning, Panic! at the Disco took the stage to a smattering of applause and launched into a set consisting of material mainly  from their wildly successful 2005 debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The quintet has fallen on some hard times of late with the flop of their second record Pretty, Odd, and the July departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker. However, neither of these things seemed to bother lead singer Brandon Urie who bounced around the stage as he belted out all of the band’s hits. The only other time I had seen Urie and Co. was when they had opened for Fall Out Boy in October 0f 2005. At that show, they had been ear-splittingly bad, relying on recorded beats and stage antics to cover up for their lack of talent. What a difference four years makes. After throwing in Pretty, Odd tracks “Nine in the Afternoon”  and “That Green Gentleman,” for good measure, the band make their exit.

HPIM1187Next up was Fall Out Boy, who had headlined the same venue two years earlier and were in the midst of their final tour before taking a well deserved break in 2010. While their set did run close to 45 minutes, it seemed to fall flat due to the fact that the band focused only on their hit singles. The band played only two tracks from their latest record Folie a Duex, the rather obnoxious “I Don’t Care” and “America’s Suitehearts.” While favorites such as “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” may have excited some in the crowd, that seemed quite tired to those who had seen the band in the past. This is not to say the band didn’t sound great, mainly because of lead singer Patric Stump’s spectacular vocal performance. Stump’s improvement over the past four years is nothing short of remarkable. If he were a baseball player, everyone in the crowd would be screaming for a drug test.

After Pete Wentz was finished with his rants and Fall Out Boy said good bye to the Boston area for the time being, anticipation began to rise for the return of Blink-182. An enormous black curtain was unfurled in front of the stage while the crew frantically readied what would be an immense stage production. As the crowd began to chant and those lucky enough to be at the front of the stage pushed forward, the lights in the enormous shed dimmed, and the curtain fell.

As the black curtain finally fell, there was a huge roar from the crowd, and the trio that had introduced thousands, if not millions to “punk music” HPIM1240stood ready, only a few feet from where I was being crushed by a few hundred other fans. They quickly burst into “Dumpweed,” and then followed  with “Feeling This” and “Rock Show.” As I mentioned in previous reviews, I am a fan of starting the show off strong, and Blink was doing just that.

One of the more surprising aspects of the show was just how good the band sounded. During their heyday, Blink was generally regarded as a terrible live band. They couldn’t play, they couldn’t sing, all they could do was make lame jokes. Suddenly, Mark and Tom both tore it up on their respective instruments, and Barker was his normal spectacular self behind the kit. Hoppus and Delonge raced back and forth from one edge of the enormous stage to the other, certainly in better shape than any of the sweaty and exhausted fans all around me. Of course, Tom doesn’t have the greatest voice, but while he was downright embarrassing as recently as the band’s national TV appearances, his vocal miscues were barely noticeable on this night as the fans helped to pick up the slack.

In between Tom Delonge jokes (some things never change) Blink played all of their hits, as well as a good portion of their last (and probably best) album, 2003’s Blink-182. While they were supported by an enormous backdrop and light show, it was the frantic movement of Hoppus and Delonge that took center stage. At times, the two displayed the chemistry that had helped to make them household names in the early part of the decade, most notably when Delonge licked Hoppus’s neck.

HPIM1274While the trio did stick mainly to their hits, there were a few surprises on the set list, including “Not Now” and “Man Overboard,” two b-sides which never made on to an official Blink record, but are just as good as any tracks that did. The band would close the set with “Anthem Pt. II,” and then return for the most memorable encore I’ve seen in a while. It began with Travis Barker performing a solo, from about 30 feet in the air. The all-world drummer was lifted above the stage on a platform that dipped and curved at perilous angles, thrilling those watching from down below. The stunt had been a staple of Blink sets even before the band when on hiatus, and it was obvious Barker was well-versed, dazzling the crowd for upwards of ten minutes.

Next was ”Carousel,” an early gem from the band’s 1993 cassette release Buddha, to the delight of longtime fans. “Damnit,” the band’s biggest hit followed, accompanied by showers of confetti. Despite its commercial success, the song remains a favorite of most Blink fans, which was quite obvious from the reaction it evoked. While everyone in attendance begged for more, we’re going to have to wait for another tour and another record. While both of these things seem quite up in the air, Blink’s performance on this night shows they would be foolish not to milk this reunion for all it’s worth. The band has returned from their self-imposed exile stronger than ever, and it’s hard to imagine their next record being anything but another huge success. Much like this tour.

Blink-182 Set List

    1. Dumpweed
    2. Feeling This
    3. The Rock Show
    4. Easy Target
    5. What’s My Age Again?
    6. Obvious
    7. I Miss You
    8. Stay Together for the Kids
    9. Down
    10. Always
    11. Stockholm Syndrome
    12. First Date
    13. Man Overboard
    14. Going Away To College
    15. Not Now
    16. Adam’s Song
    17. All the Small Things
    18. Reckless Abandon
    19. Josie
    20. Anthem Pt. 2
    21. Encore:
    22. Drum Solo
    23. Carousel
    24. Dammit