FROM THE ASBURY PARK BEACH: Sure, the anticipation was high leading to the climax of the three-day Bamboozle 2012 festival, but Bon Jovi wasn’t the only Jersey-born entertainer firing up the beach crowd.
Bergen County’s Action Item drew enough screams to warrant consideration as the country’s next big pop band.
They even came out accompanied by the West Essex Regional High School drumline from North Caldwell.
Other acts drew attention, including Craving Strange, an alternative rock band from Long Island (Amityville, to be precise).
They competed in a series of contests and were voted into the lineup – albeit not on the massive main stage at the north end of the beach near Convention Hall.
Boys Like Girls, on the other hand, took full advantage of the bright lights. They performed like a big-time band, slipping two songs from their third album, due for release this summer, in with older tunes: “Thunder,” “The Great Escape,” and “Five Minutes ‘Till Midnight.”
Another Jersey original, Gaslight Anthem (New Brunswick), held court on the colossal Temple of Boozle stage.
While unveiling the band’s new single, “45,” frontman Brian Fallon gave the crowd a treat with whoops and screams on the Who’s Baba O’Riley.”
Action Item was formed four years ago, with Anthony Li of Lyndhurst on guitar, Mark Shami of Rutherford on piano, vocalist Brian Cag and bass player David Buczkowski and drummer Dan Brozek, all from Wallington.
“We were friends first and we really came together through music.” Cag told CLIFFVIEW PILOT late last year. “It kind of just happened naturally, which I think was the best way.”
They immediately hit the road, opening for acts that include Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Allstar Weekend, We the Kings and Honor Society. They played Bamboozle last year and Warped.
As Li put it, the bandmates told themselves “we are going to go on tour, we are going to build our fan base, and that is how we are going to make a name for ourselves.
“We learned what to do, what not to do and what makes people happy.”
Smooth vocals and catchy, soft-rock melodies might remind some of The Fray or One Republic. The band’s style ranges from straight-ahead pop (“Somewhere Out There” and “Boy With The Microphone”) to piano-driven ballads, such as “Home.”
But it’s the lyrics, sung with heartfelt commitment, that have cemented Action Item’s place as New Jersey’s latest up-and-coming pop band.
Today’s crowd didn’t seem as big as yesterday’s estimated 40,000 – many who came to see the Foo Fighters. But there were still plenty of people packed in.
Bon Jovi was due to go on at 8:45 and finish by 11 o’clock.
THE AUTHOR: Megan Skehan is a senior at Lehman College in the Bronx. She’s majoring in Multimedia Journalism.