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All Points West 2009

When APW presented its inaugural festival last year, we weren’t alone in taking issue with the experience: lack of food options, a fair but generally recycled undercard which played more like “a bunch of bands opening for Radiohead,” an extremely restricted/overpriced drink situation designed to keep people sober and make them feel uncomfortable by boozing in pens with views of zero stages but plenty of other people prioritizing beer over music. For a festival that was nicknamed “Coachella East” in its early planning stages, the incorporation of elements from Indio’s fest were superficial at best, a few structures that resembled Coachella’s decor but with no deep thought given to attendees’ comfort and convenience. Goldenvoice and AEG promised big changes to the festival’s layout this year, and they delivered: an impressive food court with options for all, rearranged stage orientation with a solid sound system, beer pens along the length of the mainstage field with perfectly unobstructed views (limit raised from 5 to 7 drinks, still stupidly expensive though), and a lineup that honestly is better than the one I’ll take in at Lollapalooza this weekend (but for one Depeche Mode). Ironically, Beastie Boys’ unfortunate cancellation helped in that last regard; the band’s scheduled headlining set was hardly unique to All Points West — but Jay-Z’s first US festival appearance and triumphant 28-song performance was the only of its kind. Video of some of that and some more thoughts:

On any other weekend, the biggest story probably would have been let’s say Jigga opening with a reverent “No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn.” But when you have a quasi-destination festival (once you take the ferry to Liberty Island, you’re committed) and two days of intense rainstorms, there’s just no way around the All Points Wet puns. The deluge did exploit another area of shortsightedness on APW’s part: little rain preparedness. Few ponchos to be purchased on the grounds, and even on a sunny Saturday, navigating the muddy fields and barnyard smell was oppressive at best. There’s only so much you can do with a grassy field turned to mud, and some of these pictures demonstrate how it can make for a good time if you’re down with a bilious game of slip ’n’ slide, but maybe some more planks to bridge the mud pits would be helpful.

You could blame mother nature on Friday, I’ll lay responsibility with Telepathe, whose excellently dark, witchy beats seemed to conjure instantly the gray clouds and high winds that would erupt into an outpour by the time Fleet Foxes presented their powerfully pastoral, lush harmonies. (The mystical feel of summoning rainstorms wasn’t lost on FF either, J. Tillman telling us they felt like “sorcerers” up there. Dry sorcerers.) The rain continued through sets from the National (appropriate), Matt Berninger rewarding the die-hard/mud-soaked crowd by wading deep into it with his mic, and Vampire Weekend, whose sunny African appropriations brought balance to the stormy experience.

The wetness broke in time for Karen O’s yoga moves, staying away all of Saturday for Arctic Monkeys Humbugged set and MBV’s deafening display, but returned on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of all acts with a start time before 4:30PM. The Sunday show did go on, though, the fest honoring Friday’s ticketholders as a sign of good will, culminating in what was reportedly a stellar set from Coldplay. In addition to just being Coldplay, the band covered “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson’s dead, y’all) and took a cue from Uncle Jay with a less reverent spin on “(You’ve Got To) Fight For Your Right (To Party).” We’ve got videos of the ColdJay covers, and here’s a ton of photos of mud, bands, and more mud, most by a still soaking Abbey Braden.

Jay-Z – “No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn”

Coldplay – “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”

Coldplay – “Billie Jean”

sounds of buzz
Comments (20)
  1. all shook up  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    what a random, horrible hodgepodge of musicians.

  2. Nick Rock  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    To call this or Coachella a festival is a stretch. There is none of the festival freedom found at Bonnaroo or any number of smaller fests. I’ve been to Coahella and it’s a tourist trap – no booze permitted, not even in the camp grounds; bands playing 45 min sets; security checkpoints complete w/ pat-downs everywhere… and APW sounds even worse.

  3. dtrtr  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    People, if you don’t want to have fun, you won’t have fun. Don’t go.

  4. Much improved over last year. I loved the layout and the lineup. Basically if you went with a good attitude, a pair of wellies and some good friends, it was hard not to have a good time. For me, there were too many highlights to mention, but YYY’s, St. Vincent, Fleet Foxes, Coldplay, Jay-Z, The National, Neko Case, Vampire Weekend, Echo & The Bunnymen, Black Keys, and Heartless Bastards easily made up for the sloppy conditions. My Bloody Valentine was amazing and loud. And I loved the look on the all the Tool fans faces during the noise outro to “You Made Me Realise”. Absolutely priceless.

  5. Watching Tool fans during My Bloody Valentine’s set was easily best part of All Points West.

  6. Radio Zero  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    My favorite part was when Tool paid tribute to the Beastie Boys by playing a cover of “Shake Your Rump”. Very nice and tasteful, to boot.

    BTW – the Tool fans were not flipping the bird at MBV, they were saying that MBV was #1!!

    • chris  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

      I knew that MBV’s set was getting close to being over just by the increasing smell of douche from the Toolbags coming towards the stage.

  7. barry  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    Before I clicked on that video, that is EXACTLY what I thought the Coldplay version of Fight for Your Right would sound like

  8. Besides all the fun some people can have with mud I prefer my festivals a little dryer. I hate it when after a while anything you touch is either muddy or soaking wet.
    Would’ve loved to see Tool though.

  9. jessica  |   Posted on Aug 4th, 2009 0

    my bloody valentine doesnt deserve to even get on a stage and play live. they are terrible. no emotion no performance and no words were seen. gogol bordello and tool were by far the best parts of the festival.

    • Rob S.  |   Posted on Aug 8th, 2009 0

      “my bloody valentine doesnt deserve to even get on a stage and play live. they are terrible. no emotion no performance and no words were seen. gogol bordello and tool were by far the best parts of the festival.”

      You apparently aren’t familiar with how the word shoegaze was developed. Look it up.

  10. Sean  |   Posted on Aug 4th, 2009 0

    haha, jessica.

  11. tommy  |   Posted on Aug 4th, 2009 0

    oddly enough, i saw coldplay last night in massachusetts and chris martin said he wanted to play the best show ever because their set at apw was “the shittiest show [they]‘d ever done”…doesn’t seem like that from the video. go figure.

    • Sanders  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

      Uh, it was actually really good, but I think he was talking about the fact that a) it literally smelled like shit there or b) he fucked up lyrics several times. Or both, I dunno. Though they played really well, especially the BB+MJ covers (and going into the crowd next to where I was to play green eyes helped)

  12. Saturday was a beautiful day, though did not go to the festival was on the same island. We could feel and see the excitement of the crowd and heard the music all the way up the Statue of Lberty.

  13. Muddy festivals = FUN

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