Waking up in Astoria, Queens, Sunday was a warm beautiful day. Alas the weather forecast told us that it would not last and we were facing one of those days at a festival. You know, those rainy miserable days that make you question how badly you want to hear some live music.
By the time we got to Pier 11 to catch the ferry over to the festival site, the rain was beginning to fall. There were a fraction of the number of people that were waiting on Friday. No doubt the weather was keeping many people home. Sure enough, by the time we got across the river, the rain was coming down hard and steady.
There was only one man that would motivate me and my seven-month pregnant wife to head out in this weather – Trey Anastasio.
Seeing him walk out on to the stage brings a smile to my face like few other performers can. Then to have him open with “Sand,” and “Drifting,” my wedding song, my day was already made, two songs into the set. While no songs were jammed out all that far, his solos were tight and quick. It was a stripped down sound, fitting a man still getting himself back into the swing of things.
After the one-hour set was over, the crowd showed no signs of leaving. Festival organizers allowed the Trey and the band to go fifteen minutes over their slot and we were rewarded with a two-song encore. “Heavy Things” was nice, but “Tuesday” was a raucous topper to a very strong set. I cannot wait to see what is next from the future lead singer of Phish.
Earlier in the day, the first act I caught was Jason Isbell, along with Trey, one of the only reasons I came to Day 3 of All Points West in the first place. Unfortunately, in addition to battling a teeming rainstorm, Jason would also have to make up for his drummer not being able to get a flight to NJ.
Jason pulled it off as well as he could, playing a number of songs off of his solo album, and some favorites from his days with the Drive-by Truckers. The highlight of the set was his always solid take on “Into the Mystic,” featuring a horn section that went by the “Ybor City Horns” when they sat in with The Hold Steady at the Stone Pony in ’06. I don’t remember what they called themselves this time around.
The crowd was sparse in front of the Bullet Stage, which was a shame. Isbell is one of the best songwriters out there these days. He deserved to have more of an audience, and some decent weather.
The festival grounds were fairly empty, with security estimating only 11,000 on site for a location that maxed out Saturday night at 30,000. We wandered around in the rain and passed the time until Trey took the stage.
I decided to forgo Grace Potter to catch some of Ben Harper‘s main stage set, having never seen him before. Ben’s set was delayed more then twenty minutes while the techs dealt with some sound issues.
I enjoyed what I heard a lot, and knew a few of the tunes he played. I would have liked to have been able to hear more, but the delayed start didn’t leave us with much time to listen before heading over to see Trey.
By the time Trey ended his set, after being allowed to go 15 minutes over his allotted hour, we had had enough of APW. My preggo wife had powered through like a rock star, but it was time to head back to civilzation, um, I mean New York.
We missed Jack Johnson’s entire set which really didn’t bother me at all. It should be noted that Trey did sit in with him.
In all, All Points West was a good first effort and next year’s event is already in the planning stages.
I hope that they can come up with another way to address the state park alcohol restrictions, as the beer pens they had this year were awful. Small, cramped and with no way to see any of the music being made, it was the worst setup I have experienced at a fest.
Also, I’d like to see next year’s event have a deeper lineup. Especially on Friday, you got the impression that it was Radiohead and everyone else, that they were all opening for Radiohead; a strange vibe for a festival. I’d like to see some more substantial acts before the headliners.
Ultimately, I prefer the more jamband oriented festivals. There is a much larger number of bands I want to see, and I find the crowd to be more my style. That said, this event is a welcome addition to the NYC concert scene.
More photos from day three follow, with the entire gallery of festival shots here.