I wasn’t sure what to expect from Day One of All Points West. I usually hit the smaller Northeast festivals like Mountain Jam and the Vibes. But the setting was without compare. From almost anywhere on the festival grounds, a look to the East gave you a beautiful shot of the New York City skyline. Just to the right of that — Lady Liberty. Clearly a great setting for some music and, at least on Friday, the weather would cooperate.
I got to Friday’s show just in time to see Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Blue Comet Stage. Franti worked hard and put on a good set, but he seemed a bit out of his element and was unable to get the crowd moving in his usual fashion. I’ve seen him get an entire hillside of people on their feet, but the APW crowd wasn’t nearly as moved.
The highlight of the day was clearly Radiohead, whose light show was absolutely stunning (as Sam already mentioned).
The stage was covered, from the top of the rigging to just above the band, with bars that filled the usually empty space. The effect was beautiful. It is one thing to have video screens; that’s pretty standard these days. Radiohead, however, uses them to show eight feeds at a time, allowing those of us a bit farther back in the crowd to watch Phil Selway’s work on the drums. Always a treat.
I had a chance to catch the New Pornographers, and although I had only heard of them, never heard them, I enjoyed their set. Their set closing cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” was an inspired choice. You don’t hear many ELO covers these days.
If there was one act that impressed me it was Girl Talk. Although I’ve heard his tracks, I was curious to see him live and get a sample of what I’ve been hearing is a great live show.
Greg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) creates densely packed mixes with music from every genre from post-sixties rock, pop and R&B. What I didn’t expect was one guy with a laptop bringing with him a couple of hundred dancers from the crowd to pack the stage in an exuberant hourlong party.
From the stage came toilet paper, blow-up dolls and confetti. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
There’s so much going on in the mash-ups he creates that it becomes as much a “Name That Tune” situation as a chance to get down. A great set, and after Radiohead, my favorite of the day.
I tried to take in some of Underworld, a band that many people in attendance were excited to see. I got some good photos of their singer, but got out of there as soon as I was done.
Anything remotely smelling of techno/house music, if that’s what you even call it, has never been my thing and Underworld did nothing at all to sway me. That said, the jumping heaving crowd in front of the stage was most definitely enjoying themselves. Rock on, guys.
Check back for my recap of Sunday’s festivities, coming soon, featuring Jason Isbell, Trey Anastasio with Classic TAB, Grace Potter and Ben Harper.
Here are some more photos from the day, and the full set of photos from the fest are here.