I’ve known for quite some time that I’m getting old, but it took my trip to Bamboozle Left on Saturday to confirm my worst fears: There may be no going back. I’ll tell ya, PopWatchers, there is nothing like walking into a giant punk/emo music festival held in a parking lot between L.A. and San Diego to reinforce the fact that the youth culture to which I once held so firm is slipping away. Frankly, if I can’t handle Bamboozle, I don’t even know who I am anymore.
Things started innocently enough. I threw on my best black hoodie and my calf-high steel toe Docs, packed my black and white striped fingerless gloves, and invited my friend Sarah — with whom I’ve enjoyed many a Warped Tour/Dysfunctional Family Picnic — to join me for the drive down to Irvine. We arrived in time to hear New Found Glory encourage the crowd to (safely) begin a “circle of death,” and — wait, circle of DEATH?? My lord! We wandered the grounds, taking in all the skinny jeans and artfully-tousled hairdos and 12-year-old girls dressed like music publicists. I put in my earplugs. Sarah put her hat on, because she thought it might make her look less elderly.
Wish I could use this post to prove my punk bona fides, but since the main motivation for the trip was a chance to see Jimmy Eat World and Paramore (pictured), I’ve got no leg to stand on there. Face to Face frontman Trevor Keith ended their (very good) reunion set by saying, “This concludes the punk rock portion of the evening. When we’re finished, the boys can go put on their sisters’ pants and poof up their hair real nice.” I’m pretty sure that, had he known I was there, he would have added, “And the thirtysomething journalists who can’t understand why so many children are wandering around with just one shoe on can get excited about their major-label bands now.”
Happily, those bands did not disappoint. Though your Grandma Whittlzwas standing more than 200 yards from the stage (it is difficult towrite and mosh at the same time), she very much got a kick out ofsquinting to see Hayley Williams’ tiny little red head blaze throughParamore’s hits: “That’s What You Get,” “For a Pessimist…”,”Crushcrushcrush.” Her voice stayed amazingly strong and clear forsomeone who was tossing herself about the stage like a marionette, butSarah and I took solace in how out of breath she seemed between songs.”Oh, see, she is breathing heavy,” Sarah said. That’s what I’d sound like the whole time, I thought.
Best thing about Bamboozle: No waiting. Two mainstages erected sideby side mean one band can set up while the other plays, and the finalnotes of “Misery Business” still hung in the air when Jimmy Eat Worldturned on their blinding lights to chase a deconstructed (and sort ofunsatisfying) version of “Big Casino.” They, too, did not stray farfrom the songs we could all sing along with: new album cuts wereinterspersed with “Just Tonight” and “Pain” from Futures, “Sweetness,” “Praise Chorus,” and the inevitable “The Middle” from Bleed American(that last number finally clearing up my ongoing struggle to figure outwhy the guitar solo in the Foo Fighters’ “Long Road to Ruin” sounds sodamn familiar). Jimmy et al kept the banter to a minimum, soundedgreat, and made one ballsy move: handing their lovely acoustic ballad”Hear You Me” to a crowd that not four hours earlier had engaged in acircle of death. It went fine. I suspect most of the death people hadleft already.
Satisfied, Sarah and I decided to cut our All-American Rejectsexperience short, using my patented “I Can Leave Once I Hear A Song IKnow” technology to walk out after “Dirty Little Secret.” In theparking lot, we were suddenly approached by a middle-aged man wearingsocks. “Why can’t anyone keep their shoes on here?” Sarah murmured ashe walked up, but it seems the poor guy had been sleeping in the car,waiting to drive his daughter and her friends back to the Bay Areaafter the show. That’s like 7 hours, minimum. That, PopWatchers, is agood dad. And somewhere inside the still-bouncing parking lot, his kidwas probably having one hell of a good time. Not so long ago, I wouldhave joined her. Sigh. Now where did I put that Metamucil?