Skrillex Scares Dolphins, Draws Revelers to Seaside Bamboozle Fest

The Bamboozle Festival in Asbury Park, N.J., kicked off Friday against a perfect backdrop of ocean waves, salty air and the Jersey shore.

The night’s lineup attracted a cross section of 23,000 fans eager to sample a full menu of musical delights, be it electronic, punk, metal, pop or hip-hop.

“I drove 11 hours just to see Brand New,” said Michigan resident Valerie La Beau, eager to catch the Long Island emo rockers after-party set at the Stone Pony on Saturday night.

Festivalgoers came from all over just to hear their favorites, and there was plenty to see on Friday. The main stage featured Mike Posner, Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, Incubus, Michigan rockers We Came As Romans and electronic/dubstep sensation, Skrillex.

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The night was a homecoming for many of the artists. Incubus bassist Ben Kenney hails from Brielle, N.J. The disbanded New Jersey pop-punk band, Armor For Sleep, regrouped for one special show and an inspired set on the festival’s Zumiez Stage. On Saturday, Belleville’s My Chemical Romance will hit the main stage along with the Foo Fighters, and Sunday features New Brunswick’s Gaslight Anthem, Wayne’s Dramarama and the pride of Sayreville, Bon Jovi, closing out the festival.

The big draw and most exciting artist of night one was definitely Skrillex, aka Sonny Moore. He first played the festival in 2006, but has exploded in a big way in the electronic world. It was obvious from the anticipation in the crowd just who exactly the kids were there to see.

Opening with a five-minute video countdown, Skrillex attacked his set with punk rock ethos and rock star charisma. His music has all the bombast of a big rock concert, only he’s just one person behind turntables, computers and a laser light show that assaults the ears and eyes. Skrillex/Moore, elevated in what looked like a spaceship over the crowd, was the only act afforded an hour and a half on stage.

(Prior to Bamboozle, Skrillex's set caused waves with oceanographers, who (no lie) called a meeting with festival organizers concerned about his set affecting the migration of dolphins and whales in the Atlantic Ocean.)

Samples of Flo-Rida’s “Good Feeling,” mixed with songs that have become the ringtones of a generation -- “Ruffneck," “Breakn’ a Sweat,” and the crowd pleaser, “Cinema” – filled the air, as visuals of blood, robots and Mortal Kombat exploded on screen.

Then there was Moore himself, screaming into the microphone and daring his audience to get up and chant, move, shout and lose themselves in a sonic blast. It was clear the fans heard the call to action. Many were lining up outside Convention Hall for his after-party before his set wrapped.

Earlier in the day, Mike Posner kicked things off with fan favorite “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” (no Lil Wayne hologram, however). He later surprised the crowd with a rousing cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Closing out with his radio hit “Cooler Than Me,” Posner seemed elated to perform for the Bamboozle fans, telling the audience his set was a “dream come true.”

Mac Miller’s eagerly anticipated appearance attracted thousands of female admirers, and Miller did not disappoint. Clad in a shirt that read “RIP MCA” (an homage to late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch), the hip-hop hottie ripped through a set that included the rowdy “Knock Knock” and the humorous “Donald Trump.” In a Justin Bieber-esque moment, Miller shared a video of himself as a baby opening birthday presents while he sang the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” The “ooohs” and “aaaws” in the audience were louder than Miller’s thumping bass line. Of course, they came for the tunes, and the 20-year-old rapper has plenty of those. He also has a sensitive side with introspective cuts like “(Angels) When She Shuts Her Eyes.”

The eye candy continued as the alternative rock band Incubus took the stage. Lead singer Brandon Boyd is a sight to behold, and finally satisfied his female fan base by removing his shirt for the last song. The band offered a smorgasbord of crowd pleasers and a cross-section of their hits – “Megalomaniac,” “Drive” “Pardon Me” “Anna Molly” and the seductive, “Are You In?”

In a perfect moment, Boyd dedicated “Wish You Were Here,” a song about the ocean, to all “the surfers.”  

There was plenty to do after festival doors closed. The Stone Pony kicked it old-school with eclectic funk and ska rockers, Fishbone. Front man Angelo Moore, clad in a purple suit and a wig, was entertaining as ever, rocking the theramin like nobody’s business. The band tore through their musical legacy – “Alcoholic,” “Everyday Sunshine" and “Party at Ground Zero” -- all the way to the bar’s last call.

Twitter: @micheleamabile