Bassist Mike Martabano, left, and singer Adam Cruz, right, of the band Xombie, perform at Bamboozle Festival in Asbury Park, N..J., Sunday, May 20.
In recent years, Adam Cruz bought a ticket to the Bamboozle Festival, a multi-day music event held in the parking lot of Giants Stadium in northern New Jersey, cheering, sweating and moshing with tens of thousands of other fans.
On Sunday, however, Cruz was up onstage as the festival returned to the city where it began 10 years ago, performing with his rap-metal band Xombie to an enthusiastic audience a few hours before headliners Bon Jovi were due to close out the festival.
"I've come to the Bamboozle Festival for six years as a fan," Cruz said. "To be here as a performer is a dream come true. It really is."
The festival seemed to be running smoothly as it neared its conclusion.
Organizers expected 100,000 fans to attend the shows, billed as the largest beach concert in the United States this year. Concerns about horribly snarled traffic largely failed to materialize as many fans took trains or rode shuttle buses from a racetrack 20 minutes away.
One of them was Joseph Dyer, 27, of Point Pleasant Beach, who rode the rails to the Asbury Park train station a few blocks from the oceanfront, and got there with no hassle.
"It's a good vibe here," he said. "Everybody's getting along, having fun, drinking a few beers."
Fans with dyed hair, T-shirts that read "I Hate Everyone," and even ones with sayings both printable and unprintable scrawled on their bellies with permanent marker were among those dancing to the music and punching beach balls into the air as bands played on seven stages along the oceanfront.
The concerts featured nearly 100 bands, including Skrillex and the Foo Fighters.
But it also was a golden opportunity for lesser-known bands to win over new fans.
"We've played here the last three years, and it's always an amazing experience," said Jordan DuMont, bassist for Mazmyth, a band from Livingston Manor, N.Y. "It's great exposure for us. We get to play for a lot of people who have never heard us, and then we get to hear all these other bands we love."
Other top-name headliners included Incubus, Mac Miller, My Chemical Romance, "Jersey Shore" star DJ Pauly D, Andrew Dice Clay, All-American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake, The Gaslight Anthem, Dramarama and Brand New.
Organizers hired an events company that handles logistics for the Super Bowl and the Olympics. The goal was to keep everything running smoothly without unduly disturbing the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The music ended by 11 p.m. each night, although indoor after-parties were held at several venues from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Nighttime beach bonfires with acoustic performances were held at the south end of the beach (the main stage is at the north end of the beach). Barbecues with some performers at the legendary Stone Pony nightclub also took place, as did a "silent rave" Saturday night in a park near the oceanfront.
The boardwalk itself underwent $100,000 worth of reinforcements to help support the weight of the crowd, not to mention the main stage, which promoters say was the largest stage ever built for a beach concert in the United States.
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