Just days before Limp Bizkit, Rick Ross, and Papa Roach took the stage, one of New Jersey’s most iconic music festivals exploded into spectacular fashion on Friday after its organizer was accused of cheating and cyberbullying fed up fans.
Founded in 2002 by John D’Esposito, Bamboozle ran sold-out festivals in Garden State for 10 years, featuring shows like Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters, until a disagreement between organizers shelved it in 2012.
This year was supposed to be a big comeback, but from the very beginning cracks started to appear.
D’Esposito encouraged fans to buy early, claiming that when expensive “early bird” tickets first went on sale, ticket prices would rise as bigger names were announced. “The queue is stacked,” he promised on Instagram.
But that never happened, subsequent announcements failed, and promises from other big-name artists evaporated. Instead of getting more expensive, ticket prices have dropped.
Fans, who had paid nearly $400 for three-day tickets, complained of false advertisements and demanded refunds, and went so far as to launch an Instagram page called Scamboozle that said its goal was to “expose the scam that is the Bamboozle Festival.” refunds.
But D’Esposito only intervened by blocking or cyberbullying people who made online complaints and hurling insults such as “idiots”, “idiots”, “donkeys” and “f’n clowns”. (D’Esposito insisted Philadelphia Inquisitor was “tongue of the cheek”.)
When someone called a lackluster squad announcement “damn garbage,” Bamboozle’s official Instagram page posted, “No. No. UR.”
When someone else described the whole ordeal as “terrible,” the festival said, “I know it’s yours, but what am I. Look at yourself.” You are arguing about a festival, no one wants to clown you!”
Last month, D’Esposito admitted to NJ.com that he had only sold 6,000 tickets, despite previous suggestions that it was closer to 50,000.
Then the death knell came on Friday when Atlantic City officials said they would not allow for the event as organizers failed to pay license and facility fees and exceeded deadlines to provide necessary paperwork such as insurance certificates, emergency evacuation, and medical plans.
Atlantic City Business Manager Anthony Swan said in a statement, “There was an ongoing concern from the festival organizers that we were not getting the required documents in a timely manner.” Said. “We requested this information months in advance to protect the city and Atlantic City’s taxpayers. The event was fast approaching and these issues were still unresolved.”
Festival organizers posted a brief statement on their website on Friday acknowledging the event has been cancelled.
“After extensive discussion, we have made the heartbreaking decision to cancel Bamboozle 2023,” the statement said. “An incredible amount of time, dedication, passion and hard work has gone into making this comeback a success. We are grateful to everyone who supported this festival. Refunds must be requested at the point of purchase.”
It came out of the pockets of many, including a cannabis dealer who said he spent more than $10,000 on a booth and tried to reach out to anyone to arrange a refund. “I have a small CBD store in North Carolina, and $10,000 will absolutely blow me away,” Nick Richetti told the Atlantic City Press.
Others have popped up on the Scamboozle page to share the details of their desperate but failed refund attempts.
“Bamboozle was my home when I was a kid. It was in my backyard and when I was in high school, I thought I did the coolest shit in the world,” one ticket holder wrote. “I bought a ticket [me and my girlfriend] savoring the nostalgia of all the healthy times in high school as well as the nostalgia of our early times together… My anniversary weekend with the person I love is shaping up to be a massive failure with a $1,000 price tag on it.