The weekend of May 28th-29th (this is late, I know!) was the 3rd annual festival B.O.M.B. Fest in Hartford, Connecticut. This was its first time expanding into a two day festival and, although ticket sales were less than estimated, it still blew everyone who was there away and made for an experience that I know most people can’t wait for (myself included). The venue was small but easy to coordinate and made for traveling from one stage to another easy, especially with overlaps which inevitably will happen. The placement of the smaller, local band stage was conveniently near the VIP entrance and food tents which gave those small bands a lot of exposure. The pavilion, which was the headliner and larger band stage, had a cool indoor/outdoor set up where you could watch inside on seats or standing, or sit on the grassy hill outside.
There were a lot of bands that I really enjoyed, new discoveries and old bands that held a lot of promise. River City Extension, an 8-piece band formed out of Tom’s River, NJ, put on a great set where there was even a small following of Binghamton University students to enjoy one of BUMP’s favorites. Titus Andronicus also put on a great set which I only caught the end of. Their stage presence is amazingly active and they transferred their energy well into the audience. Two new discoveries for me were Man Man and Eoto. Man Man is a quirky band from Philly with an incredibly addictive musical variety that made everyone in the crowd seem mesmerized. The paint on their faces just added to their overall energy. Eoto was an electronic pair that I actually enjoyed (I’m usually not really that into the electronic sets at festivals). It was great to see them creating their music on the stage, which is a nice diversion from the usual sight of watching a guy play with laptop and dance. Finally, one of the most exciting parts of B.O.M.B. Fest was watching the Shpongletron Experience. The lights and graphics were hypnotizing and seemed to be telling some trippy, crazy story accompanied with the music. Usually Shpongle has a larger orchestra that only further makes this English project into something more desirable to watch. Honestly the only word that I can think to describe it is awesome because for most of the set words couldn’t even come to mind to describe what I was watching.
The two headliners for the weekend were Weezer and Snoop Dogg who were amazing to watch, although they weren’t necessarily current bands. That is really the biggest complaint I could find for either performance – although Weezer has released Raditude, Hurley, and Death to False Metal in 2010 and Snoop just released Doggumentary this past year, those aren’t where their popular songs are. The followings for both lie in the 90’s and early 2000’s and not so much in their new cd’s. Even with this, it was still really great to see both performances. Weezer had a great stage presence and it was an amazing thing to hear all of those songs that I’ve loved for so long live finally. And I was actually surprised at how into Snoop I was able to get. Before he went on, I couldn’t think of any of his songs and I had never seen a rap show before so I was pretty skeptical. But as soon he (finally) got on stage, I couldn’t sit down and it turned out that I knew way more than I thought!
As far as bands that I didn’t really enjoy, I would definitely have to say the Cool Kids and Neon Trees were two disappointments for me. I didn’t stay too long for either set because I found myself very bored. Cool Kids seemed like they were jumping around and shouting a lot, and Neon Trees reminded me of a pop-punk band that was trying really hard to be something unique. I personally, although this opinion was not one that all of my friends necessarily shared, was a little bored of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I usually really like listening to their cd, but for me it didn’t transfer well into a live show. I found myself pretty distracted and waiting for something more energetic to happen so I could get more into it. Even when they played their hit Home I wasn’t really feeling it – I had higher expectations of that performance from what I had seen when they performed Letterman. And I was also a little afraid they were going to go into their cute “Jade and Alexander” dialogue where they explain the first time he knew he was in love with her, in which case I probably would’ve just gone somewhere else. Luckily they didn’t and I was spared. Although I didn’t see it, I heard that Big Freedia was something that Connecticut was not ready for. This quirky artist performs “bounce” music which is huge in New Orleans and is literally girls just bouncing their bottoms around on stage as he shouts random things. Apparently the crowd threw things and forced the artist off-stage early, a rude lack of appreciation for the artist. If you don’t like, you should just walk away. My last disappointment is not with an artist, it’s with myself for missing Dan Deacon who was described to me as one of the best performances my friends had ever seen. After watching YouTube, I became mad at myself for missing what looked like an amazingly fun and interactive performance.
I had a great time working at B.O.M.B. Fest and I love seeing the progression as they grow and decide to do more. I really can’t wait to see what they bring to the table next year.