A Live Nation festival that got its start a decade ago by the Jersey shore has proven you can indeed go home.
The Northeast has a new destination festival with Bamboozle’s move back to Asbury Park, N.J. The three-day fest drew about 90,000 people to the beach and boardwalk to see acts including Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Skrillex, Mac Miller and My Chemical Romance.
The Bamboozle Festival recently returned to Asbury Park for its 10th anniversary after spending six years at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford.
Bamboozle, which pulled between 5,000 and 10,000 fans per day to a convention hall in Asbury Park in its first couple of years, has since grown, drawing approximately 90,000 fans May 18-20.
But all that growth presented some challenges.
For one thing, there was the location. House of Blues COO Ben Weeden told Pollstar moving the festival from the Meadowlands in northern Jersey to the shores of Asbury Park wasn’t easy.
“From a logistics, production and operational standpoint, it was a lot of heavy lifting to go from doing stages in a parking lot to putting stages on the beach and on the boardwalk,” he said. “The Meadowlands might not have the vibe of a beach … but it does have the infrastructure there.
“So you’re giving up a lot of that in the Meadowlands to hopefully create something that’s going to keep growing in size and become a destination festival site.”
Weeden noted LN brought in Game Day Management – the company that does parking and transportation for the Super Bowl – and Dan Parise’s Diversified Production Services to ensure the festival would make a smooth transition.
There was also the challenge of testing out a new ticketing system.
Bamboozle instituted RFID wristbands for entry and exit during this year’s fest, using technology powered by Intellitix. The system apparently worked well enough that the festival might consider allowing fans to pre-load money on the wristbands for F&B purchases and merch in the future.
Of course, without drawing a sufficient number of fans, Bamboozle wouldn’t have been able to put its parking, production or ticketing system to the test. So while this year’s show featured alternative, hip-hop, pop, punk, metal and DJ acts, it also included some artists with broad appeal – like Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi.
The move was a good one, Weeden said, adding the fest has gotten a lot of positive feedback from fans, bands and the press.
“We actually kept the same amount of three-day wristbands we’ve had in the past,” he said. “There wasn’t a big falloff because, ‘Hey, you’re not in the Meadowlands this year.’ People liked the brand and the bands and decided, ‘I’m coming again whether it’s in northern New Jersey or Asbury Park.’”
Still, he gave credit where credit was due. “It doesn’t hurt to have three days of 75-degree, sunny weather,” he said, but also explained organizers worked quickly to rectify any issues that popped up.
“We learned a lot about parking. From a logistical standpoint, we added shuttles after the first day. We were listening to the fans on real time on social [media]. If we knew we had issues with a shuttle here or a shuttle there, we could make changes.”
Changes for next year’s Bamboozle will likely include a couple of satellite parking lots – one in northern Jersey and another in the southern half of the state – to help ease traffic. The one thing that won’t change, however, is the seaside setting.
“It’s a gorgeous site,” Weeden said. “We worked well with the city and I think it’s something we want to continue to do in Asbury Park going forward.”