By Ashley Aron

Dear Bamboozle,

This year marked my fifth year trekking from my home state of Connecticut all the way to New Jersey to be a part of the three-day extravaganza that is The Bamboozle Festival. Each year I’ve gone has been an absolutely amazing time: great bands, lots of small companies selling unique products, and a wide variety of people in the crowd. I’ve grown attached to the parking lot at MetLife Stadium that transforms each May into a playground for concertgoers, but this year the venue changed. Bamboozle headed home to its original location in Asbury Park. A beautiful stretch of beach with plenty of boardwalk shops and stands, Asbury Park seemed like a nice change and I was very intrigued to see how the festival would be run. Sadly, it was a huge letdown, and here’s why:

1. The Beach Club & Lounge. I purchased one of the many VIP options available: a $350 ticket that got me into all three days of the festival as well as the actual Beach Club & Lounge. This “lounge” was a fenced-off section of the crowd in front of the main stage, but allowed me a very poor view of the stage. Although there were food trucks and separate Port-a-Potties in the area, it was kind of a letdown to spend all that money for such a shitty view.

2. Stage layout. Normally at MetLife, the several Bamboozle stages are all spread out evenly, allowing attendees to walk easily from one side of the parking lot to the other. Most importantly, the sound was never an issue because the stages were just far enough apart that you could be at one stage watching your friends at the Break Contest stage without being interrupted by the blast beats of the metal outfit two stages away. At Asbury Park, not only did the Break Contest stage have about six square feet of space for the audience to congregate in, but the Main Stage was also in such a position that the sound would reverberate all the way down the boardwalk. During The Wonder Years set on Friday night, Skrillex’s incessant bass drops kept intruding.

3. Lack of merch. One of my favorite aspects of going to giant festivals is the chance to pick up a ton of merch from a variety of bands without the hassle that comes with ordering stuff online. It’s a huge form of profit for the band, which is why it’s a perfect way to support them. When I went to scout out the selection, however, I only saw tents for Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Skrillex, Mac Miller, and other headliners. The rest of the tents were clothing companies or various other vendors.

4. Missing BoozleTwist prizes. The most clever marketing plan I’ve ever seen is BoozleTwist: you sign up for an account on the website and earn points that can get you some killer prizes like merch bundles, free food/water vouchers, free parking passes, etc. To earn points, you re-tweet the Bamboozle account, post on the festival’s Facebook, check in on FourSquare to the Break Contest events, or read the weekly emails. I claimed three prizes: free water, a year’s subscription to Alternative Press Magazine, and a We Came as Romans merch bundle. I was able to claim the water at the tent, wrote down my address for the AP subscription, but was told that the WCAR merch bundle hadn’t arrived. When it wasn’t there on Sunday, I was told to write down my address again for them to ship it to me. That was in May, and I have yet to receive either of my two missing prizes or gotten a reply from Bamboozle/LincStar regarding the issue. Not cool, bro!

5. The bracelet fiasco. For 2012, Bamboozle decided to replace paper tickets with bracelets. For a three-day event, I thought this was a smart move because I didn’t want to carry three tickets or risk losing one before I entered the venue. However, the process of getting the bracelets shipped out in time was an absolute disaster. Attendees who had ordered their bracelets in December still hadn’t received their bracelets by May, and even those who ordered theirs earlier in the year were still without bracelets. I ended up having to bring a scanned copy of the credit card I purchased the bracelet with along with my order receipt to will call and, after a tedious process of getting the bracelet registered, was finally able to enter the venue. It was just a huge bump in the road that started off the weekend negatively.

Unless next year’s lineup is absolutely fantastic and I get my BoozleTwist prizes, I, sadly, doubt that I will return to Jersey.

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