CONCERT: All Points West: The Wrap-Up

The inaugural All Points West Festival in Jersey City, NJ/NY, which took place this past weekend, amazed me, baffled me, and left me with many questions all at once. The festival managed to have a somewhat stellar lineup, with Radiohead headlining TWO nights in a row, and some other fine bands performing. I saw some good music, and was in a wonderful interesting atmosphere throughout the three days. Here are my issues. First of all, the Festival was in essence an example of a split personality. The first two days were filled with acts that would seemingly fit to play on the same bill: Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Underworld, Girl Talk, etc. The Third day, however, was almost a completely different festival. Aside from The Secret Machines, Cat Power, Rodrigo y Gabriella, and Matt Costa (kind of unfitting too), the festival transformed itself, literally overnight to a Tool magnet, attracting thousands of complete morons “there for JACK.” That morning I was bombarded with questions from people who seemed like they had never been to a festival, nor a concert, in their entire lives. “Do you know where the Bullet Stage is?”, “Where is Jack Johnson going to be playing?”, “When does Jack go on,” and “I think he is first” were just a few of the things uttered while I painfully forced out a pleasant and respectful response. The headliner that evening was none-other than bore whore extraordinaire Jack Johnson. Also on the bill was equally hateable Ben Harper and his “Innocent Criminals.”  That Sunday, in combination with the two days prior, was one of the weirdest days of my life. I felt like a total outsider at the festival. It almost felt like after all the indie kids, music aficionados, and hipster fans left on Saturday night following Radiohead’s brilliant set, even the concert organizers ditched the park and let all music hell break lose. It was an astounding experience, and not in a good way. A big DUB T F. Anyways, here a list of the favorite performances from the bi-polar weekend.

1. Radiohead – August 9th

“This one is dedicated to Kings of Leon, if we were that good looking, we’d be famous.” Yorke doesn’t take himself too seriously, as he dedicates “Airbag” to the band that performed before him, which is difficult to believe from a band as big and well respected as Radiohead. What he and his “cronies” do take seriously, however, is the live show they put on. The ability to blow a crowd completely away is a gift in the entertainment world, especially when it is your job to do that two nights in a row, to some of the same fans. Radiohead is the best band currently performing, with no contest. They play for their fans and for their fans only. They understand what a good showgoing experience is, and that is what they give, painstakingly, every night. The night before, which I will get to later, exceeded all expectations, but it was this show in combination with the previous nights, which blew any concert I have seen in my life out of the water. Radiohead claims to never play the same show twice, and by golly, they do not. I have seen them three times on the 2008 summer tour, and have never seen a remotely similar show. On this Saturday night, I witnessed the most stellar setlist I could fathom. An almost completely different one from the night before, excluding the always present In Rainbows tunes, which they even switch up from show to show. Like all Radiohead performances, the show was filled with funny jokes and comments made by the band, heartbreakingly beautiful ballads, eye widening anthems, and all that falls in between. This is sort of a review of both nights as a whole ongoing performance. The band PERFORMS, they put on a show, and a fucking good one. A+ and that’s the end of it.

Just look at this Setlist, we got KId A!:
01. Reckoner
02. 15 Step
03. The National Anthem
04. Kid A
05. All I Need
06. Nude
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. Where I End And You Begin
09. The Gloaming
10. Faust Arp
11. No Surprises
12. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
13. The Bends
14. Bangers and Mash
15. Everything In Its Right Place
16. Exit Music (For A Film)
17. Bodysnatchers

Encore 1
18. Pyramid Song
19. Videotape
20. Airbag
21. Fake Plastic Trees
22. There There

Encore 2
23. House of Cards
24. Planet Telex
25. Idioteque

2. Radiohead, August 8th

Well, I lied, this is not over. In comparison with the following night, this show was only slightly weaker. But that is only because the two shows were so close together. Immediately following the performance, my mind was essentially blown. It was only after the following night when I came to the conclusion as to which show was better. But really, that decision is inconsequential. Both nights combined for one of the best Radiohead setlists imagineable, essentially the same as Bonnaroo 2006, the best Radiohead I have ever seen, and the best live shows I have ever seen. PERIOD.

Setlist:

01. 15 Step
02. There There
03. Morning Bell
04. All I Need
05. Lucky
06. Nude
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. The Gloaming
09. Optimistic
10. Videotape
11. Reckoner
12. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
13. You And Whose Army?
14. Idioteque
15. Climbing Up The Walls
16. Bodysnatchers
17. How To Disappear Completely

Encore 1
18. House of Cards
19. Pyramid Song
20. Paranoid Android
21. Dollars and Cents
22. Street Spirit

Encore 2
23. Cymbal Rush
24. Just
25. Everything In Its Right Place

Now, I might as well just stop there, but I won’t because there was some other notable stuff at the festival.

3. Girl Talk, August 8th

Though I missed half of the set to get up close for Radiohead, with knowledge that he will be performing at my college in a month, what I witnessed during Gregg Gillis’s Girl Talk was epic. Chaos occurs when Girl Talk takes the stage. Gillis takes not of the scenery, “This is where Cloverfield took place! And that statues head (pointing to the statue of Liberty) was decapitated in that FEATURE FILM!” before he jumps into one of his mashups off of Feed the Animals. The area becomes a dance frenzied mosh pit, people singing along and going nuts, feeling both the joy and nostalgia that the music creates. Gillis leaps up and down to towering heights, hunched over in front of his laptop, and gets the party started.

4. Grizzly Bear, August 8th

Though a bit more laid back than the rest of the music at the festival, Grizzly Bear impressively captures the sounds they created on their beautiful Yellow House and subsequent EP, with the same impeccable vocal harmonies and instrumentation. An interesting, and inspiring little performance. Nothing spectacular, but still great. What was great, was how the bassist, who looked exactly like Jonny Greenwood with blonde hair (my friend and I called him “Chris Greenwood, the lost Greenwood brother) was able to hit those really high notes in “Knife.”

5. Andrew Bird

Though I also had to cut this one short to see Girl Talk, what I saw was spectacular. Mr. Bird is certainly no stranger to oddities, as he live loops all sorts of instruments and whistles just like a bird sings (hence the name). With a spinning piece of sound equipment that created the doppler effect, he had quite the stage setup. He changed the melodies of his songs, to make things a little stranger, but everything that he did was effective.

6. Chromeo (OHHHHH), Saturday

Chromeo is certainly “in control” of creating music that doesn’t take itself seriously, and thus lucks out at being accepted by the all hating eyes of the hipsters who listen to them. I mean, the whole idea is just hilarious. We’ve got an overweight Arab gangstah who goes by the name of “P-Thugg” playing a vocoder and cymbals while sampling the rest of the songs’ layers with the hit of a button. Then there’s his co-pilot Dave “1” Macklovitch on vox and a funk studded, effects laden guitar. The result is a electrofunk duo that both gets fans into a groove and evokes a good deal of laughter. They are also the self proclaimed only successful Arab/Jewish duo ever. The sweltering sun beat down on us, but they were so cool they took some of the heat off.

3. The Secret Machines, Sunday

One of the few bands I wanted to see Sunday, the Secret Machines, equipped with a new guitarist, brought their blend of epic guitar and drum heavy rock to the festival. Although the schedule for their stage seemed to be a bit off, causing me to miss a song or two, what I saw was great. The long, drawn out jams do not come across as overdone, because they are consistently energetic and intriguing.

7. Kings of Leon, Saturday

Though the band performed well, that is not the only reason why they are included on this list. It could have been the most annoyingly typical british asshole I have ever met in my life who pushed his way to the front of the crowd mid-set to “go mad” for both Kings of Leon and Radiohead and continued to tell people they were wrong for urging him to keep his dancing to a safe level, to which his response was “It’s a gig man, have you ever been to a gig?” It could have been Ed O’brien of Radiohead stage left warming up/sounding out KOL songs/being a fan? for the majority of the KOL set. And finally, it could have been their rockstar attire and “KINGS OF LEON” banner that repeatedly appeared behind them on screen to assure us that the band introduced as “Kings of Leon” indeed remained that same band for the duration of their performance. I never was a huge Kings of Leon fan, but always enjoyed their music. They definitely performed a deal of great music as well, but they weren’t the most interesting part of the set.

I really wish I had a picture of the British dude, sorry blokes.

8. Animal Collective, Saturday

The fact that Animal Collective made this list shows how little music I actually made it to during the festival. I’m sure the Roots would have made it on here, among others, if the schedule permitted me to see them. Anyways, I could not decide if this was god awful, decent, or amazing. I had wanted to see Animal Collective for years and never had the chance until this point. Their sound was awful, which is surprising because they did their own sound check, unless they wanted to deafen their fans. Aside from that important detail, it is very interesting to see them go to work and build their songs live, plugging sample after sample, taking up to 4 minutes to get a song going. They also transition between songs in a unique way for their style of music. It was simply too loud and overwhelming, but what you could make out behind the wall of sound was pretty neat. Their set list also left much to be desired, the only recognizable songs being “Fireworks” and “Comfy in Nautica” off of the recent material. How could they neglect “Leaf House,” “The Purple Bottle,” or other gems from their previous works either? I definitely expected more from these guys, but the disappointment was not enough to shatter my faith in them, nor was it enough for me to immediately dub it awful.

If anybody knows about or has a picture of the British guy I referred to in the Kings of Leon section and wants to help me reveal his doucheness to the rest of the world, we could have some fun with it.

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About Drew Litowitz

Sound advice.
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