Live From the Bamboozle, Where the Most Emo Act Was A Rapper, and the Only Grownups in Sight Were the Five Kids in Paramore
The Bamboozle Meadowlands Parking Lot Saturday, May 1
The Bamboozle is the circus-themed mainstream punk/pop/whatever blowout where the line for Mrs. Field's ice cream and cookies dwarfs the one for $10 Miller Lites. It's the sunburn factory with a kid sporting an irony-free Snapple tattoo. A morning zoo reject in a clown mask hurls homophobic, racist and/or nonsensical barbs at teens trying to drop him into the dunk tank. (Personal favorite: "If I had a head like yours, I'd get it circumcised.") Bamboozle is where you want to tell the high schooler who offers you drugs--"You want weed? I got that chronic!"--to put the shit away before he gets caught, dammit, and t-shirt wearing is an Olympic sport: "Gaga Has a Weiner," "I Don't Need to Pump My Fist to Look Sweet," "First Pumping Like a Champ," "Snookie Is My Homegirl," "Girls Don't Poop" (short shorts), "Blunts?" (written on bare stomach w/ Sharpie), "I Used to Be in Taking Back Sunday."
I guess there was music.
On the Penis Rap front was Dirt Nasty a/k/a former MTV VJ Simon Rex a/k/a gay porn star Sebastian a/k/a star of the sub-Wayans straight-to-video horr-edy Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (he plays Slab O'Beef). Here, he's most famous as the guy with a fake mustache in the video for Ke$ha's "Tik Tok". Under his Dirt Nasty guise, Rex makes joke rap that the Sesame Street set would find elementary. His song "Baby Dick" had an introduction ("this is a song about dudes with little dicks") and a chorus ("baby dick, baby, baby, baby dick"). Did I mention Rex is 35 years old? He finished his set with a song called "1980" that made Bowling for Soup's "1985" come off like fucking "Visions of Johanna." Here is a nine second clip of "Baby Dick":
On the Try Harder front was Ke$ha, who needs to try harder. Thanks to some carefully placed lasers and blacklight war paint, she made good on her pop star WTF factor on "SNL" a few weeks ago, but none of those whirls made their way to Bamboozle. So it was just Ke$ha, her pretend drunk shtick, a dancer who resembled an anorexic version of watermelon-bashing auteur Gallagher, and an inaudible band. There was nothing but vocals and bass and I imagined it sounded something like a gender bended take on a Beastie Boys live show circa 1985. Some people need raw talent, some people need lasers. Here's the bass drum sound of "Tik Tok":
On the Blow Kisses Not Coke front was Drake, who is about to send all other new rappers into Nah Right's back pages real quick, if he hasn't already. Drake likes talking to the ladies a lot: "I know we're in Jerz right now but I wanna know, like, can I fuck you?" he said to nobody and everybody. And he revels in the fact that he's not going to scare moms: "Ignored the Coke game and went with Sprite instead," he boasted, rendering both the notions of selling out and selling drugs moot. At a festival with many emo bands, Drake out-felt most. Nearly all of his songs are about the tragic pitfalls of fame, impressive for a 23-year-old whose major label debut isn't out yet. He's still working out his live set, though. The Biggie/2Pac tribute was hopelessly out of time, especially when contrasted with the honesty of what followed: "Never cried when Pac died, probably will when Hov does." His wannabe Jay-Z live band took away more than they gave. And even though his mentor Lil Wayne is currently counting bars on the other side of Manhattan, Weezy still managed to steal Drake's crossover gusto. Here's the Bamboozle crowd dumbing out to Wayne's "I'm Goin' In" verse:
On the What Now? front was Paramore, who have officially done everything a modern pop-punk band can do. Live, they continue to astound-- so why haven't they hit Coachella/Lollapalooza/Bonnaroo yet? It's overdue. If the kiddie tag is somehow holding things back, it's absurd; Paramore aren't "good for a Warped Tour" band or "good for a pop-punk" band, they're just good. Better than good, actually. They're tight. They've got songs. The last six tracks--from perennial live highlight "Let the Flames Begin" through "Misery Business"--marked a flawless, everyone-singing-with-every-word stretch that Springsteen would appreciate. And they've got Hayley Williams. She's humble. She's energetic. And she's tough. "My great grandmother passed away last night," she mentioned near the end of the set. But she wasn't just jerking tears, she was thinking positive. As a tribute, Paramore played their most uplifting song, "Where the Lines Overlap," it's call and response bridge--"I've got a feeling if I sing this loud enough you would sing it back to me"--meaning more than usual.
The set ended with a fan jumping onstage and finishing off "Misery Business" along with Hayley. The fan was excited, but not too OMG'd out to handle her shit. She nailed the bridge spotlight, just like Hayley. And then she did some goofy ska-esque moves during the guitar solo, just like Hayley. Then they both sang the line "God, it just feels so good" right at each other. Here's "Misery Business" and the surreal "Let the Flames Begin" outro:
"Let the Flames Begin" (outro)
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