An Atlantic City, N.J., music festival that was slated to feature Limp Bizkit, Rick Ross and Steve Aoki has been canceled just a week before kick-off after fans revolted over what they saw as unfulfilled promises and the city declined to issue a final permit for the event.
Organizers of the Bamboozle Festival, which was set to hold its first edition in more than 10 years at Bader Field from May 5-7, announced the cancellation in a notice posted to the festival’s official website on Friday (April 28).
“After extensive discussions, we have made the heartbreaking decision to cancel Bamboozle 2023,” reads the post on the website, which has been scrubbed of all other information. “An incredible amount of time, dedication, passion and hard work was invested into making this comeback a success. We appreciate everyone who supported this festival. Refunds should be requested at point of purchase.”
Though the festival did not cite the reason for the cancellation, a separate statement put out by Anthony Swan, city business administrator of Atlantic City, said the city put the kibosh on the event after failing to receive the paperwork necessary for it to proceed.
“We asked for this information months in advance to protect the city and the taxpayers of Atlantic City,” said Swan. “The event was fast approaching, and these issues were still unresolved.” After organizers failed to meet the city’s April 27 deadline to submit the documents, Swan added, “the attorney for the festival organizers has been notified … that the event is canceled consistent with our prior notice.”
The cancellation follows weeks of contention between Bamboozle organizers and fans, which began when those who bought tickets during the presale started complaining that the “stacked” lineup promised by founder John D’Esposito in a post on Bamboozle’s official Instagram page failed to come to fruition. Making matters worse, D’Esposito had said that the $400 three-day ticket prices would “jump” as more artists were announced, but instead they fell by nearly $100 after the fest offered a discount code.
The war of words between D’Esposito and fans ramped up in February when an anonymous Instagram account bearing the handle @scamboozlefest began making critical posts about the festival, claiming that organizers were refusing to honor refund requests and re-posting screenshots that showed D’Esposito harassing angry ticket buyers over Instagram, email and text. The Bamboozle Festival’s official Instagram account also began posting negative comments on Scamboozle’s posts, calling fans names like “clown,” “dork,” “pinhead” and “jackass.”
One post on the Scamboozle account bore screenshots of emails in which D’Esposito threatened to doxx a disgruntled fan named Alphonso Cino: “Maybe we have a street party in front of your home address,” one of the emails read. In an interview earlier this month with The Philadelphia Inquirer — which reported that Cino filed complaints against the promoters both with his local police department and the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit — D’Esposito claimed the emails were “tongue in cheek” and that he “was joking around.” In the same story, D’Esposito said he expected roughly 15,000 attendees at the festival and claimed that a total of just 47 fans had been refunded the price of their tickets by their credit card companies.
According to NJ.com, numerous Bamboozle ticket buyers have also filed complaints with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs for false advertising and refund requests.
Following Friday’s cancellation, vendors also began scrambling to recover the money they had shelled out. Speaking with The Press of Atlantic City, Nick Richetti of Canna City Hemp said he was worried about receiving a refund after paying out $10,000 for a booth on the festival grounds. “I own one small CBD store in North Carolina, and $10,000 will absolutely break me,” he said.
Billboard reached out for comment to an email listed on Bamboozle’s official Facebook page but hadn’t received a response by press time.
D’Esposito founded Bamboozle in 2002 and kept the festival going for the next decade, with previous editions featuring top-tier acts such as 50 Cent, Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, Snoop Dogg, Mac Miller, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy. At its peak, the event was drawing more than 100,000 fans over a single weekend. Following an alleged dispute between D’Esposito and his partners in the event, Live Nation and House of Blues, the festival went dormant in 2012. D’Esposito told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he repurchased the festival’s trademark in 2020 in order to resurrect it.