Saturday, August 1, 2009
All Points West 2009: Friday Pictures and Review
It was a wet one in Jersey tonight for the opening of the 2009 edition of All Points West. Consolation prize for all those that braved the elements is the option to return for a day of hopefully drier weather and music Saturday or Sunday. Pretty solid move by the festival organizers. Not something I'd have expected or something they had to do.
Onto Day 1 itself, getting ready to shut it down for the night I have to say it was a pretty unreal Friday. Expectations were high for Heartless Bastards, Fleet Foxes, The National, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs and they delivered. On top of that the performances by Seasick Steve, Q-Tip, and Jay-Z were all better than I could have hoped.
Full review (or what I can manage tonight) and PICTURES below.
After only catching the tail end of The Hearless Bastards set opening for The Black Keys back in Feb. I knew I wanted to get to All Points West early to catch their 1pm Friday performance. Erika Wennerstrom and Co. did not disappoint. They managed the early slot well, rewarding the early attendees with "Hold Your Head High", "Sway", "Out To Sea", and "The Mountain" to get things rolling. These guys won't be playing 1PM time slots for long. They have the sound and the chops for the big stage.
I wasn't sure about this one, but wanted to secure my position at this stage for Fleet Foxes and The National. That said, Seasick Steve played a stomp-along boogie down set of stripped down blues for the growing crowd. Impressive for any one-man show to carry the action on a big festival stage, but Seasick Steve seemed as comfortable in this setting as he might seem in Roadhouse or on your local subway platform. It was stripped down and basic, but good stuff still. Better than expected. I'll have videos to follow.
And the rain started rolling in...
These guys seemed to take FOREVER to get set up and ready to play, so I was thinking they were being a little high maintenance. The rain was starting and the wind was picking up and then it was a full blown monsoon. Drummer J. Tillman joked that the heavily bearded members of the band were like wizards unleashing a spell on the city behind us with the rain pouring down in sheets. Their set seemed to start out slow, but picked up steam as they settled into favorites "Your Protector" and "Mykonos". It was a shame their set had to end. They seemed to be picking up steam as things went on. What at first seemed like it could be a dud rallied to be a rousing well played performance.
Pictures were limited during The National's set because it was an absolute downpour. It was too wet to risk much of anything with the electronics, but their set was tight, especially considering the conditions. I had a setlist going but the conditions made it impossible to keep track. They got right into things with "Start A War", "Mistaken For Strangers", "Brainy", and "Secret Meeting". Despite the weather they sounded really good. I lost track of everything they played but was happy to hear "Slow Show" (personal fave), "Fake Empire", "Squalor Victoria", and "Blood Buzz Ohio".
To close the band broke into their high energy jam "Mr. November" and lead singer Matt Berninger (perhaps feeling bad watching those of us in the crowd get drenched) decided to sing much of the tune from the audience. It was pouring and the crowd was loving it. As nervous security personnel looked on Matt sat on the outstretched hands of the crowd and gave us an emotional "I won't f@ck us over! I'm Mr. November...", again and again. He was spent by the time he rejoined the band onstage. Awesome energy on his part and a GREAT set played by The National.
At this point I was along with most everybody else, soaked to the core. I have been rained on at shows before but this was the wettest I have been in awhile. After The National I had to retreat to the beer tent for some recovery (and a trip to the bathroom). After a few beers and a little respite from the rain it was time for Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
As the crowd eased out of hibernation from the rain the YYYs got everybody going with "Heads Will Roll", "Skeletons", and "Zero". Karen O even told me she loved me (and everyone else in attendance) prior to a slowed don version of "Maps". Good set. Karen, I love you too.
After a quick stop off to catch the end Q Tip's set (where we got to catch a couple nice Tribe Called Quest teasers, including 'Award Tour') it was time for the countdown to headliner, Jay-Z's performance.
I have to preface this by saying I doubt I would ever have gone to see Jay-Z otherwise. But holy sh!t, that dude can put on a show. After a giant clock counted down to his appearance he took the stage to pay tribute to original headliners, The Beastie Boys by playing "No Sleep To Brooklyn". I'll have to get a decent video up here of it, but wow, that got the crowd going. He went on to play a very accessible and high energy set of crowd favorites that even I knew. By the end I was actually drying out and thoroughly impressed.
Now I'm beat, but as mentioned after a nice shower maybe I'll be back for tomorrow or Sunday. I'm thinking Sunday. Anybody have an opinion on which day to attend? Gnite til then.
Also, lots of vids to come in the future. I took about 20 of them, but need to get them uploaded. In time...
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