When Snoop Dogg took the stage for his unlikely Bamboozle headlining set in the parking lot of New Jersey’s Meadowlands Arena Saturday night, a huge chunk of the pop-punk-centric crowd beelined for the exits. But those who braved it out in the 40-degree temperature and spitting rain got quite a show. Snoop opened with an oldie, “Murder Was the Case,” and even though the bulk of the audience was probably five when Doggystyle came out, everyone complied when Snoop ordered, “Now throw your hands in the air!” before he launched into a cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.,” which inspired a mass chant of “I’m a motherfucking p-i-m-p!” Heads kept bobbing and hands shot up in the air as Snoop ran through “Gin and Juice,” “Nothin’ But a G-Thang” and “Snoop’s Upside Your Head,” but his pre-song banter was even more of a hit. Before an unexpected — and awesome — cover of Akon’s “I Wanna Fuck You,” he waxed poetic: “Any ladies in the house tonight? Everybody forgets about the ladies at these festivals. Well, I don’t forget about the ladies. Are there any ladies in the house tonight who like to have sex? Are there any ladies in the house tonight who like to make love? Are there any ladies in the house tonight who like to fuck?” All three questions were met with insane screaming. Good thing the moms and dads were out of earshot, waiting in the other parking lot.
Earlier, Jimmy Eat World‘s Jim Adkins launched into the first chord of “Sweetness” just as finger-and-toe numbness set in.”Are you guys having fun?” he yelled, seeing hundreds of hoodied heads jumping up and down for warmth. “We were too, until now. We’re having some bass trouble. Now it’s a Jimmy Eat World show.” Once the technical problem was kicked, the band unleashed energetic renditions of “Work,” “Always Be” (“A song to get warm to,” Adkins said), “Here It Goes,” ” Praise Chorus” and “Dizzy.” By then, the crowd — which was filled with canoodling high-school couples — was pumped, and when the band closed with the hyped-up “Middle,” it looked like everyone had forgotten about the cold.
Crowd-surfing was the sport of choice during Paramore‘s set (as opposed to wrestling, or chucking empty water bottles, as fans were doing during other bands’ earlier performances). “Thanks for sticking around in the gross weather!” yowled Hayley Williams, who bounced across the stage as she ran through the bandâ’s hits: “Let the Flames Begin,” “Emergency,” “Here’s We Go Again,” “For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic,” “That’s What You Get,” “CrushCrushCrush.” There wasn’t much banter coming from the stage — it was almost too cold for witty chit-chat — but the faithful crowd (lots of whom were in T-shirts — WTF!?!) dutifully sang the words to every song. And when Williams dedicated “Pressure” to “anyone who bought our first record,” raucous cheers rocked the Jersey parking lot.
Towards the end of Anti-Flag‘s raucous mid-afternoon set on Day Two of Bamboozle (when temperatures were much warmer, and the crowd less swathed in sweatshirts), bassist Christopher Barker looked out into the audience and screamed, “The enemy isn’t politicians or presidents or prime ministers. Our own enemy is our cynicism and apathy. I look out into the crowd and I see progress.” Meanwhile, strewn about parking lot at the Meadowlands, teens wearing day-glo Nikes and T-shirts were taking naps, snacking on chicken fingers and fries or purchasing bags of merch, including T-shirts that read “Girls Don’t Poop.”
Despite Barker’s impression of the crowd, the second day of Bamboozle was hardly politically charged. But so what? There were too many bands to check out, split up on nine stages, starting at 11:45 a.m. and going until 10:30 p.m. But the fest didn’t really heat up until mid-afternoon, when Bret Michaels took the stage for a quick 35-minute set. He opened with a lackluster “Talk Dirty To Me,” mostly because Michaels’ voice sounded like it had been tarred and feathered. Turns out he came down with a case of laryingitis, but that didn’t stop him from dancing across the stage and nailing some gravity-defying air splits. “I’m not gone of those guys who likes to blow shit off,” he said. Considering the illness, the set was mostly decent. Prog-rockers Coheed and Cambria even joined in for a set closing “Ain’t Nothing But A Good Time,” and for the most part, that’s exactly what Michaels delivered. (Spotted during Michaels’ set: Taylor Momsen and Connor Paolo from the CW show Gossip Girl, who looked bored out of their minds.)
Other highlights from Day Two included Phantom Planet‘s excellent set of mostly Beatles-style Sixties pop. The dudes were a breath of fresh air from a lineup that was heavy on young emo-pop upstarts. And frontman Alex Greenwald seemed to be aware of it. “Have you heard of our band before?” he asked. It was hard to gauge whether the audience had, until the group launched into their most famous song: “California,” a.k.a the theme song to The O.C.
The Gym Class Heroes‘ set suffered from terrible sound, but frontman Travis McCoy seemed overly stoked to be there.”We came here tonight to have sex with your ear vaginas.” Gross! Still, the set featured a cool, techno-y cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” although the audience seemed baffled by the song choice. Co-headliners Coheed and Cambria delivered the strongest performance of the night by far with dynamic, virtuosic prog-metal as well as some crazy green-neon laser lights. Highlights included “Ten Speed” — easily the group’s most emo-sounding tune — with the crowd joining in for a hair-raising sing-along.
By the time Panic at the Disco hit the stage to perform cuts from their groovy new disc, Pretty. Odd., as well as mellowed-out versions of songs from their debut, the crowd of teens and parents had thinned out considerably. After all, it was a school night. But any die-hards who were bummed out by missing the headliners don’t have to worry: a sea of cell-phones adequately documented the set.