Bamboozle Day 2 @ East Rutherford 5/3

June 22, 2009

Rain welcomed the second day of Bamboozle on Sunday, but it luckily never got worse than Friday’s Hoodwink downpour. A brief recap of the weekend so far, in case you missed it:

On Friday, the Hoodwink festival featured twenty bands performing full cover sets. Highlights included New Found Glory covering Green Day, Anti-Flag covering The Clash, and Push Play covering Muse.

Saturday–the first day of The Bamboozle–featured nearly one hundred bands; stellar reunion performances by The Get Up Kids and Edna’s Goldfish, in addition to great performances by Bayside and New Found Glory, set the bar high for Bamboozle Day 2.

Sunday began with a host of punk and hardcore acts on two neighboring sidestages. I caught performances by The Scandals and Outbreak before walking to another stage for Inward Eye, a Canadian trio that draws heavily from bands like The Who–a band they’ve actually toured with. Inward Eye sounded extremely tight acted quite grateful for the fairly small audience they drew.

I walked to the main stage area to catch another Canadian act, the four-piece Billy Talent. Always full of energy and quirky behavior from frontman Ben Kowalewicz, the band satisfied my hunger for new-school punk rock and rocked the packed crowd across seven songs. “Devil on My Shoulder”, from their upcoming Billy Talent III, sounded solid. Before the band finished, Kowalewicz announced that Billy Talent would be opening for Rancid and Rise Against in July in New York City, a show I am excited to attend. The full set:

Billy Talent

Billy Talent

Devil in a Midnight Mass
Line and Sinker
This Suffering
Devil on My Shoulder
Try Honesty
Fallen Leaves
Red Flag

I wandered around a bit, passing The Sounds (who didn’t sound too impressive) and the pre-teen Jerzey Kids (who show promise as pop musicians). Arriving at the hardcore sidestages, I chatted with security about their relationship with various hardcore bands. It was certainly interesting to learn that most of the bouncers knew exactly what to expect from each of the bands, consulting the schedule to identify how difficult work would be for them at various times throughout the day. Upon informing the security team that A Day to Remember would be the day’s secret performer, a series of groans could be heard from the middle-aged bouncers. From working enough shows, each of the bouncers knew exactly what bands produced violent crowds.

This is Hell would be one of the groan-inducing bands for security. The Long Island hardcore act is loud, fast, and abrasive. Guitarist Rick Jimenez rarely let up over the band’s half-hour performance, and when he did, it was only to let bassist Johnny Moore step forward. Not to be confused with a plethora of metalcore and punk-pop styled bands marketed as “hardcore”, This is Hell left no doubt that they are a top-notch hardcore-punk band. Travis Reilly’s cry over Dennis Wilson’s raucous drums kept a tightly packed crowd moving for the set’s entire duration.

Australia’s Closure in Moscow played next on the adjacent stage. Drawing immediate comparison to Circa Survice, the band layers post-hardcore guitars over progressive-rock song-writing. Indeed, vocalist Chris De Cinque comes off as a tamer, less experienced Anthony Green; with more time in the role, De Cinque has potential to become one of the most prominent rock frontmen in the genre. With rock-solid drumming laying a concrete foundation for the guitars and bass, Closure in Moscow sounded great and likely picked up many new fans.

The band’s brightest moment came between songs, however, when De Cinque spoke on behalf of the band denouncing the nearby Banana Derby. A racetrack for monkeys, it is embarrassing to know that the Banana Derby was allowed to exist at an event like The Bamboozle where animal rights are often a subject of attention. PETA was notably absent at the weekend, but it is hard to believe that the animal rights extremists are not aware of the Banana Derby; certainly they should be.

Silverstein

Silverstein

Even more impressive were the acts of two concerned concert-goers: a guy and girl who skipped seeing their favorite bands in order to peacefully protest the monkey races. With makeshift signs constructed on the spot, the two stood in front of the collapsible racetrack attempting to raise awareness of the gross acts. I spoke with the one of the protesters briefly and left contact information; inTuneMusic is very interested in interviewing these two individuals–if they are reading, please contact inTuneMusic! We would love to tell your story and spread awareness!

Next on the mainstage was another Canadian act, Silverstein. Guitarist Neil Boshart drives the band, allowing the quintet to break free from what could otherwise be a fairly generic post-hardcore sound. Sticking mostly to singles and a few cuts from their latest offering, A Shipwreck in the Sand, the band engaged the crowd for thirty minutes before closing with “Bleeds No More”.

All the Day Holiday

All the Day Holiday

All the Day Holiday, a four-piece from Ohio, happened to be playing a side-stage as I wandered around the parking lot looking for the next band to check out. Drawing heavily from Sunny Day Real Estate, the band layers thick guitars with soaring pop melodies. The band’s familiar, yet strikingly fresh, sound grabbed my attention and kept me intrigued for the duration of the excellent set.

The Used played on the mainstage at 6:30. Not expecting much, I stood on the outskirts of the crowd to catch the Utah quartet. Even with exceedingly low expectations the band managed to disappoint. The setlist featured some of their stronger cuts (including a three song Taste Of Ink/All That I’ve Got/Buried Myself Alive medley), but the band sounded awful, largely due to frontman Bert McCracken’s awful performance. The full set:

The Used

The Used

Take It Away
Bird and the Worm
Hospital
Blood On My Hands
Medley
Pretty Handsome Awkward
Box Full of Sharp Objects

Not too far away on a nearby sidestage, Valencia were next on my list; due to the mainstage being backed up by about twenty minutes, I got a chance to catch a bulk of the pop-rockers’ set before heading to the obligatory Face to Face reunion performance. Valencia passed out branded balloons before the set; little touches like this go a long way in adding a pleasant ambiance to the band’s set–which was unfortunately heavy on We All Need a Reason to Believe, accounting for all but two of the songs (“3000 Miles” and closer “The Space Between”). The full set (acquired from a friend, as I left early to catch Face to Face):

Valencia

Valencia

Holiday
Safe To Say
3000 Miles
Better Be Prepared
Where Did You Go?
The Good Life
The Space Between

Face to Face‘s performance on the mainstage marked their first time in the New York City area in nearly five years. The “punk” music scene was a different monster then–one of the biggest “punk”-styled bands in the world right now (My Chemical Romance) was their opening act in 2004. Now, in 2009, Face to Face returned to the scene to find a tiny crowd awaiting them; earlier pop acts, such as The Maine, outdrew Face to Face by an enormous amount. In a festival filled with auto-tune, vocoder, and boybands, there was hardly any country for these old men. Still, none of this stopped the California four-piece from giving their all through an explosive forty-five minute set. Side note, this may have been the first audience all day composed almost entirely of kids old enough to purchase alcohol.

One of my favorite live bands, Rise Against, was up immediately following Face to Face. On most nights, the band is excellent: frontman Tim McIlrath’s stage presence is demanding, and his voice is powerful. Unfortunately he sounded fairly weak at Bamboozle, and Rise Against didn’t live up to their incredibly high standards. Still, through the eleven-song setlist (which banked heavily on Appeal to Reason–nearly half of the set came from their latest effort), the band executed their music with precision, moving from radio-friendly (“Ready to Fall”) to acoustic (“Hero of War”) to brash (“State of the Union”) with ease:

Rise Against

Rise Against

Collapse (Post-Amerika)
Give It All
State Of The Union
Ready To Fall
Long Forgotten Sons
Re-Education (Through Labor)
Chamber The Cartridge
The Good Left Undone
Hero Of War
Audience Of One
Prayer Of The Refugee

The band announced that they would return to the area with punk veterans Rancid (and Billy Talent) in July, so hopefully McIlrath returns to form. With a stronger setlist and a tighter vocal performance, Rise Against could compete with any band in their genre for best live band. It’s just too bad that they didn’t showcase that side on a rainy Sunday night.

Taking Back Sunday, in contrast, sounded the best they ever have. Regularly a band that struggles through their live set, the Long Island five-piece (with an added sixth touring member as a third guitarist) was on point during their hour long Bamboozle performance. Opening with “You Know How I Do”, the band exploded out of the gate, stopping only to introduce songs from their latest full-length, New Again. Sadly, those new songs aren’t as good as their older material, so while the band is finally shaping up into a strong live act, the setlist is declining:

You Know How I Do
Error: Operator
Set Phasers to Stun
Carpathia
You’re So Last Summer
Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team)
New Again
Liar
Sink Into Me
A Decade Under the Influence
What’s It Feel Like to be a Ghost
MakeDamnSure

No Doubt closed The Bamboozle Weekend a little after 9PM Sunday night. Gwen Stefani’s solo career certainly improved her stage prescence; she moved and danced like the veteran pop star she is. I didn’t stay for the entire performance, but the full setlist follows:

No Doubt

No Doubt

Spiderwebs
Hella Good
Bathwater
Underneath It All
Excuse Me Mr.
Ex-Girlfriend
Simple Kind Of Life
Hey Baby
New
Different Kinds Of People
Running
Don’t Speak
It’s My Life
Just A Girl
Stand And Deliver
Sunday Morning

Like the previous day, Sunday’s Bamboozle featured a plethora of throwaway acts including, but most certainly not limited to Family Force 5, The Maine, Hollywood Undead, The Used, Tinted Windows, 3OH!3, A Day to Remember, Brokencyde, and Owl City. However, strong performances by some newcomers (Closure in Moscow, All the Day Holiday) and the reunion of one of the best 90s punk acts (Face to Face) made Bamboozle Sunday a great day, capping off an excellent weekend.

Valencia

Valencia balloons

Photos by incredible photographers: Caroline Forest, angelxshoe, lullabysounds, n1njadrum, catchphrases, ilikehugs, waitingforconcerts, boycottlove, AlysonElizabeth, abearcostume, Shawna Adams, Amanda Courtemanche


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