Bamboozle music festival in East Rutherford bolstered by powerhouse pop lineup – The Star-Ledger – NJ.com
Andrew Miller Event security help fans of Wiz Khalifa escape the crushing crowds during The Bamboozle Festival in East Rutherford on Friday, April 29, 2011. Andrew Miller/For the Star-Ledger To purchase this photo, please call the Star-Ledger photo Library at 973-392-1530 The Bamboozle Festival: Friday gallery (30 photos)
EAST RUTHERFORD — Mitchell Furia didn’t know how he was getting home. And on this gorgeous spring evening, he didn’t particularly care.
Furia, 19, drove nine hours to get to the Bamboozle music festival — from Tonawanda in upstate New York to the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford. Focused more on the prospect of nonstop music than the demands of toll collectors, he arrived short on gas and cash. His three grinning friends were no help, but they certainly did not seem down. After a full day of music, funnel cakes, amusement park rides and dancing, spirits were high.
Who was the hot artist who drew Furia and his friends to the swamps of Jersey, and caused him to budget so badly? Nobody in particular.
“There are so few opportunities to catch so many bands in one place,” Furia said of the Bamboozle, which is bringing more than 200 acts to the stadium parking lot this weekend. “You could spring for a ticket for one of the big festivals like Coachella (in California), but you’d have to take a plane.
“New Jersey has something special here.”
Of all the big names at Bamboozle 2011 — and there are many, including red-hot rapper Lil Wayne, local punk heroes the Gaslight Anthem and heavy-metal veterans Mötley Crüe — the most trusted may be the brand itself. For Bamboozle loyalists, the fest has come to mean camaraderie in the sun, musical exploration and lots of opportunities for dancing. It also offers fans more access to their heroes than almost any comparable event: It’s not uncommon to see artists hanging around their merchandise booths, shooting the breeze with listeners before and after their sets.
Last year, the Bamboozle drew 60,000 to the Meadowlands. In 2011, it already has matched that figure, with approximately 27,500 on Friday and more than 32,000 Saturday, and there is still an entire day left (previous Bamboozles at the Meadowlands were two-day events; this year, it began on Friday night).
The Bamboozle has been criticized for catering to teenage tastes. It’s a valid knock — many of the offerings on the undercards are young bands whose tales never will be inscribed in rock ’n’ roll encyclopedias. But the church of pop music was built on youthful enthusiasm, and in showbiz, being disposable is no hanging offense.
Teenagers also identify with the struggles and aspirations of young musicians on the rise. At some festivals, fans stand with arms folded; at the Bamboozle, everybody seems to want the musicians to succeed.
Alex York of Manhattan is one of those young unknowns on the rise. The Billy Idol look-alike, whose career is just beginning, played a spirited set of glam-influenced pop in the afternoon yesterday to a modest-size but enthusiastic crowd. Then he spent a half hour at a small table next to the Temple of Boozle stage, shaking hands, signing T-shirts and posing for photographs with fans.
“Bamboozle is an opportunity for young artists like me to meet listeners in an intimate setting,” he said. “I mean, it’s a big festival, but people come right up to you.”
Perhaps this is why the Bamboozle maintains such a positive atmosphere. It is as close to Six Flags Great Adventure as a rock festival ever could get. It has the feel of a city fair, and the sound of an earthquake.
On Friday, overcast conditions threatened to dampen the enthusiasm of concertgoers. But even as a cold wind sent drizzle slanting toward attendees, the party kept getting hotter.
Saturday was a different matter altogether. Performers sang under blue skies; it wasn’t quite T-shirt weather, but it was a beautiful day for an outdoor event. As dancing painter Dave Garibaldi splattered paint on a canvas in the general shape of John Lennon’s face, spectators caught rays on an artificial grass laid out on the stadium concourse. Others wandered from stage to stage, flirting, purchasing food and soda, and stopping at some highly unusual concession stands.
Olympia Wood modeled spirit hoods — large animal-shaped headdresses that were proving popular in the Spitters (hip-hop) area of the festival.
Wood’s spirit hood gave her the pointed ears and flowing mane of a wolf. Like many enterprises that set up booths at the Bamboozle, spirit hoods had a social component: Some proceeds will be donated to environmental causes.
“We’re a new company,” Wood said. “But we’re thrilled to be here. We love the energy.”
Brittany Hanks, 16, of Rumson, a customer, agreed.
“New Jersey loves to try things,” she said.