All Points West is an experience to say the least -- seven hours in the excruciating sun/rain will do a person in. It's still worth it, as some of the best acts in the music came from around the world to play in Liberty State Park, a stones throw from the Statue of Liberty. The tickets were pricey, which explained why most of the crowd were older, more bro-ish and for the most part, very well behaved. I was accidentally handed a VIP bracelet along with my press pass and so I got to enjoy the perks of an air conditioned tent, free food and massages, but my friends on the outside seemed to be having a great time as well.
As for the bands, Girl Talk killed it. Greg Gillis and the 100 eccentrically dressed people on stage had the whole crowd dancing like crazy. CSS and The Go! Team (who I caught up with after their show... so stay close for that post) were also lots of high energy fun. Duffy's live rendition of "Mercy" was nearly perfect, although her show was a bit cheesy. The Roots, who I hadn't really listened to before, converted me into a huge fan with their fun big band performance. The Virgins were amazing as always; they had girls and guys alike going crazy as they ended their set with the single "Rich Girls." Animal Collective could have been better; it's very hit or miss with a band like that (and the sound system just wasn't right for their type of music). I never understood the appeal of the Kings of Leon -- their music is nothing special, and the faces that the bass player Jared Followill makes on stage are rather ridiculous. Radiohead even took a jab at them later in the night by saying, "This song is dedicated to Kings of Leon. If we were as good looking as them, we'd be famous."
Which brings me to Radiohead, who gave the best live performance I have ever seen in my life -- two nights in a row! Thom Yorke embodies every song as he sings it, bringing a new level to his music that is unavailable on record. Each song was executed perfectly, as well as the accompanying light show. Both shows left me speechless. And I can now cross off, "see Radiohead live" on my list of things to do before I die.
Overall the festival was a fun experience. I would, however, suggest better sound systems, less tyrannical security (no outside food, carding if you wanted a beer, waiting in lines after lines after lines... ) and a more spread out line up for next year.
And watch out for the cornered cuties of All Points West coming soon!
Photographs by Keith Carlsen