3-day Asbury beach concert a logistical challenge

Associated Press
In this May 9, 2012 photo, Christian McKnight, left, senior talent buyer for concert promoter Live nation, discusses the upcoming Bamboozle Festival with Scott O'Donnell, the company's executive director of programming and festivals, in front of the old Carousel building in Asbury Park, N.J. The  May 18-20 festival will be headlined by Bon Jovi. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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ASBURY PARK, N.J. (AP) — Putting on the Bamboozle Festival, the largest beach concert in the United States, is a feat of detail management: coordinating more than 100 performers, determining where to fit 30,000 fans (and their cars) each night, reinforcing a historic boardwalk so it won't sag under the weight of the crowd.

And then there are the dolphins.

The electronic music performer Skrillex is headlining Friday night's concert. His music is known for its shrill, screeching, shrieking sounds, which presented a concern not normally raised with concert promoters.

"An oceanography group met with us to see if Skrillex's sounds would interfere with the migratory patterns of whales and dolphins," said Scott O'Donnell, executive director of programming and festivals for Live Nation. "We assured them it wouldn't be a problem."

It was just another detail on a long check-off list for the Jersey shore's biggest beach party of the year.

Other top-name headliners include Incubus and Mac Miller on Friday; The Foo Fighters and My Chemical Romance on Saturday; and Bon Jovi on Sunday. Other acts include "Jersey Shore" star DJ Pauly D, Andrew Dice Clay, All-American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake, The Gaslight Anthem, Dramarama and Brand New.

The Bamboozle festival began in Asbury Park 10 years ago, but in recent years had been held at inland venues, including the parking lot at Giants Stadium.

"We figured what better place to bring it back to than Asbury Park, where it has its roots?" O'Donnell said. "What a love affair to New Jersey, to have Bon Jovi right here on the beach."

The festival will employ seven stages, including a giant main stage straddling the boardwalk and part of the beach. There will be separate stages for hip-hop, dance acts, heavy metal and hardcore, and punk.

"Everywhere you go, your ears will be hearing something," said Christian McKnight, senior talent buyer for Live Nation.

Part of the appeal of Bamboozle is the diversity of its acts, bringing together music fans who otherwise wouldn't see or experience different genres.

"Last year, we had Lil' Wayne and Motley Crue playing back-to-back," McKnight said. "That's something a lot of festivals wouldn't do, but we have this great cross-section."

As many as 100,000 fans could descend on Asbury Park for the three-day festival, with perhaps the largest crowds expected on Sunday when Jersey natives Bon Jovi close the festival.

Organizers have hired an events company that handles logistics for the Super Bowl and the Olympics. The goal is to keep everything running smoothly without unduly disturbing the surrounding residential neighborhoods. The music will end by 11 p.m. each night, although indoor after-parties are planned at several venues from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Nighttime beach bonfire parties with acoustic performances are planned at the south end of the beach (the main stage is at the north end of the beach). Barbecues with some performers at the legendary Stone Pony nightclub are also planned, as is a "silent rave" Saturday night in a park near the oceanfront.

Parking is expected to be tough in and around Asbury Park. The promoters have secured 9,700 spaces in the lot at Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, about 30 minutes north of Asbury Park, where fans can park and ride $10 shuttle buses to and from the festival.

NJ Transit is adding some trains and expanding the length of others to handle concert traffic.

The boardwalk itself is undergoing $100,000 worth of reinforcements to help support the weight of the crowd, not to mention the main stage, which promoters say will be the largest stage ever built for a beach concert in the United States.

Additional police will be on hand for security and crowd control, and the Berkeley Hotel, within the festival grounds, will have an on-site triage center to handle medical emergencies.

Ticket prices start at $65 for Friday's show, and $75 for Saturday and Sunday. Premium viewing areas cost $95 for Friday and $125 for the other two days.

The shows will go on, rain or shine.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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