Music Meets Games in Revived Rockfest: Skate and Surf Festival

Concert promoter John D'Esposito is reviving the Skate and Surf Festival with new mobile gaming features.

John D'Esposito
Concert promoter John D’Esposito is reviving the Skate and Surf Festival with new mobile gaming features.
Photo by Keeyahtay Lewis.

John D’Esposito hopes to catch lightning in a bottle—again. Eleven years ago, the Freehold-based concert promoter launched the Skate and Surf Festival as a showcase for emerging alternative rock bands. From modest beginnings, the festival evolved into Bamboozle, a multistage extravaganza that attracted 90,000 fans last summer to Asbury Park to see big-name acts such as the Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi.

Now, after an eight-year hiatus, D’Esposito is bringing back the Skate and Surf Festival. The revived event, scheduled for May 18 and 19 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, will still feature some lesser-known acts, but the bill will be topped by big-name bands Fall Out Boy, Streetlight Manifesto, A Day to Remember, Andrew W.K. and Bayside.

Fall Out Boy was among the alternative acts that enjoyed valuable exposure during Skate and Surf’s initial three-year run starting in 2002 in Asbury Park; others included My Chemical Romance and New Found Glory. “The first year had that special feeling that’s just impossible to recreate…the vibe and the excitement of a young New Found Glory and a young Fall Out Boy,” D’Esposito acknowledges.

But Skate and Surf fell victim to its own success. As attendance ballooned to 5,500, the scene surrounding the festival grew too big, and too many bands wanted to perform. D’Esposito answered with Bamboozle. Lately he’s been thinking about getting back to his original concept. “Why? Because I’m nuts,” he says. “I think outside of the box, and I think bands appreciate that.”

That outside-the-box thinking has also given birth to GameChanger World, D’Esposito’s new video game app and mobile-gaming company. At Skate and Surf, attendees will be able to compete live with the bands featured in GameChanger apps on iPads set up around Six Flags. D’Esposito says it’s a great way to connect fans to participating bands like Forever the Sickest Kids, T. Mills and Bayside, who are among the stars of the app. “Music is going mobile,” says D’Esposito. “It’s what our culture is becoming.”

*Revised location of venue 4/29/13

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