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The Bamboozle: Music and Merch Madness at the Meadowlands

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Every May for the last five years, we've gone to The Bamboozle, a two-day pop-rock-emo-punk-screamo-etc. music cornucopia, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Every May, everyone else is 14 to 17 and we're the oldest people there (besides the parents). Every May we swear we'll never go back.

So, of course, we just went back this weekend.

While we like to tell ourselves we go for the music—we saw Ke$ha, Weezer, MGMT, Ok Go, Matt & Kim, Girl Talk, Hanson (!!), and Bullet for my Valentine (among others)—the (real) other reason we can't resist the lure of the 'boozle? The Merch.

We are to merch like Tiger Woods is to mistresses—we love 'em but we know we really shouldn't bring anymore home. And just like sex addiction can be triggered by a traumatic episode in childhood, we sort of chalk up our merch-obsession to growing up deprived of Hot Topic.

Band merch has come a long way since the uniform group-shot T-shirt and sew-on patch of the 1980s. It's 2010, and bands are brands—sweatshirts, bracelets, licensed products, hats, belts, suspenders, fingerless gloves, you name it, bands slap their name/logo/slogan/motto on it.

Then there are all the clothing labels that were built from the festival up—labels like Glamour Kills, Angry Penguin, and Bird vs. Car are clothing labels that go where the kids go—and the kids, they go to shows.

Check out some of our photo galleries below of what we saw at The Bamboozle this weekend:

Kids, accessories, hairdos, and miscellaneous merch stands we love the names of—Fueled by Ramen, anybody?

The most popular merch stand at The Bamboozle was this Jan Vanek kiosk (below). It was so popular, in fact, that we couldn't even get close to the dozens of 1"-wide rubber bracelet styles they had on offer—they were emblazoned with words and slogans including "Epic Fail," "Ruthless," and "Carpe Diem" and were priced at $10 (!!) each.

The "Fuck Cancer" merch stand was mobbed last year, but this year it was way more mellow and less crowded. The Bamboozle got some new organizers in 2010 who made all the expletive-named merch stands cover up their expletives. So there was duct tape over "Fuck Cancer" and also duct tape at another merch stand that was selling T-shirts sporting the slogan (in huge block letters, a la House of Holland) "Fuck Justin Bieber."

The PETA merch stand is always mobbed, every year. Maybe it's because PETA2, the organization's junior arm, has such great stuff to give away. We must confess that, even though we eat meat, we once signed up for a PETA2 mailing list just to get the little chicken sticker that said, "I am not a nugget."

Photos were taken with a Sony Bloggie PM5, provided for use by Sony, a sponsor of The Bamboozle.
· The Bamboozle [Official Site]

Meadowlands Stadium

50 State Route 120, East Rutherford, NJ