Five Lessons Learned from Bamboozle 2012
This weekend, nearly 100,000 concert goers poured into the Asbury Park oceanfront area for The Bamboozle Festival. Here's a rundown of things experienced and lessons learned over three amazing days of music at the Jersey Shore.
Simply put, The Bamboozle Festival was one of the most logistically well-run events I have ever experienced. I was among many skeptics who simply couldn't envision the Asbury Park beachfront holding so many people. I didn't understand how organizers would handle the massive influx of people. I decried the idea of busing in crowds from Monmouth Park, thinking that shuttles would not be frequent enough to handle the masses expected. I didn't think that NJTransit could adequately serve the area. I was wrong. It ran like clockwork and the organizers, staff and city officials should all be commended.
The Bamboozle Festival featured dozen of bands each day on seven stages. While big name acts like The Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi got much of the attention on the festival's main stage, some of the festival's most shining moments happened on its smaller stages. Whether they were seasoned veterans or young up-and-comers, the festival's non-headlining acts put on marquee performances all-around. Check out a performance from Gainsville, Florida ska punk band Less than Jake:
It's dark, it's gray and it's pouring rain on the Monday after The Bamboozle. Luckily, the weather held off over the weekend. While there were some tents over the sound booths and stages, it's unclear how well things would have gone off if the weather had gone south. The indoor space at Convention Hall including the main auditorium, Paramount Theater and the Grand Arcade were all utilized throughout the weekend, but there simply isn't enough space in there to house an entire Bamboozle-sized crowd.
The Bamboozle Festival was a massive moneymaker for anyone who was lucky enough to do business within the borders of the festival. Whether or not the festival had the same economic impact on surrounding businesses remains to be seen. While bars and restaurants in close proximity to the festival grounds undoubtedly saw runoff, more needs to be done to include local businesses. Venues like The Stone Pony, The Wonderbar and Porta did very well hosting after-parties and exclusive performances. Bamboozle organizers should use Austin, Texas and the annual South by Southwest festival as a model. SXSW utilizes numerous bars, clubs and other venues citywide and spread throughout the course of a week. The no re-entry, gated festival model is a proven business model for Bamboozle, but incorporating the SXSW model could help to create an event that lasts longer than just the weekend.
When it comes to music festivals and large concerts, events like Coachella, Bonnaroo and South by Southwest get the most attention. This year, one series of events in particular proved Bamboozle's legitimacy. When Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl got the call from Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, asking him to perform alongside rock legend Mick Jagger on the show's season finale, you'd think he would have canceled his Bamboozle Festival performance immediately. Instead, the Foo Fighters went through great lengths to perform a full set at Bamboozle and then board a helicopter to New York. Rumor has it that Jagger himself was hanging out backstage during the Foo Fighters' performance.