It’s August, and while the festival circuit has been going strong for a couple months, my own personal festival season is just beginning. This week brings the first All Points West to Liberty State Park, and I couldn’t be more excited to take a day off from work, hop a ferry and catch a full day of good indie rock.
Yes, I said indie rock. Friday’s lineup has it in abundance across all three of its stages. For a festival run by Goldenvoice, the Coachella promoters, and set in a park with a clear view of the Statue of Liberty (just a hop, skip and boat ride away from the Big Apple), it only makes sense that APW features some of the cream of the indie crop.
While I’ll only make it out for Friday’s sets, there are still a number of highlights I’m looking forward to, and set time conflicts I’ll try to navigate.
I’ve never been a diehard Radiohead fan, but I know a great live band when I see one, and the band I saw at Bonnaroo in 2006 was a great live band. Despite the fact that we were “packt like sardines” on the field in Manchester, Thom Yorke and co. put on a mesmerizing show for two hours. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.
New Pornographers vs. Grizzly Bear
I love A.C. Newman’s pop songs and Neko Case’ haunting voice, but somehow I’ve managed to never catch the New Pornographers live. And yet I’m thinking of missing their set to catch Grizzly Bear. I’ve seen Grizzly Bear only once, if you can even call it that. They played a couple songs at an 826 Benefit in New York, but those songs were mesmerizing, and I think I’m leaning towards seeing them on the smaller stage. Plus Justin tells me they killed it at Lollapalooza, so I think my mind is pretty much set.
Andrew Bird vs. Girl Talk
Here’s another tough call for me. Watching Andrew Bird craft his intricate tunes loop by loop is always amazing, but on the other hand there’s Greg Gillis mixing sample after sample, working his audience into a frothy mess. Again, I’m not that familiar with Girl Talk’s music, but I’m tempted to finally see what all the fuss is about. I think I may have to split my time here.
Honestly, what I am most intrigued by is the festival itself. Promoters have been trying to host a large multi-day festival in the greater New York City area for a while now, and now its finally going to happen. But will it go off with a bang or a whisper? While Radiohead headlining two nights is no doubt a huge get, its hardly an exclusive engagement. Radiohead have been headlining festivals across the world this summer. Jack Johnson, who will be headlining Sunday, has been equally promiscuous recently. Further more, APW is competing with the Virgin Festival in Baltimore on Saturday and Sunday, a fact that probably helped thin the available bands for both festivals. So I’m interested to see what the turn out is like, if it really will be an NYC crowd, complete with all the skinny jeans and disinterested parties usually found in the clubs around the city. Can it turn into a viable yearly contender?
Paul and I will be posting words and guitar, er… words and photographs from the weekends festivities so stay tuned.
Posted by Sam Verrill
I’ve never been much of an indie kid, and the line up of this fest confirmed it for me. I usually attend more jamband-oriented festivals, and this one is a bit too indie-oriented for my tastes. In fact, this is the first festival I am going to where I’ll have hours of time to kill between the bands I want to see. Of course I am still going to wander around and sample as much as I can.
I’ll be attending Friday and Sunday. On Sunday, particularly, there are a number of bands I’m looking forward to checking out.
Michael Franti & Spearhead (3:45, Blue Comet Stage)
No band is more suited to play a festival setting than these guys. I’ve seen what Michael Franti can do with a hill full of heads, all getting down to his messages of hope and positivity, and it is awesome. I’m hoping the APW crowd will react the same way.
Radiohead (8:30, Blue Comet Stage)
This is gonna be a good one, kids. Looking forward to hearing some of In Rainbows live and hoping Radiohead bring the ROCK, not a bunch of blips and bloops.
This one is going to be a little bittersweet for me. The last time I saw Radiohead was at the same venue, just a few weeks prior to 9/11. The stage was set up like none other. There was no backdrop behind the band, just an open view to the lit-up World Trade Center towers. Quite a sight.
And that’s all I know about Friday. I’ve heard of a bunch of the bands that are playing — CSS, Andrew Bird and Girl Talk among others — and will let you know what I think.
Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB (7:30, Bullet Stage)
I’ve got high hopes for this one. I haven’t seen Trey since his Langerado headlining set in ’07. He’s been a bit, um, busy since then. As much as I dig the usual horns, I’m looking forward to this stripped down set, with his classic trio backing him up.
That big shiny thing in the audience? That will be me beaming as the man takes the stage.
Jason Isbell (5:00, Bullet Stage)
Only 40 minutes? One of the best songwriters on the planet and the guy doesn’t even get an hour? Earl Greyhound gets an hour! Geez.
Okay, I feel better now.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals (6:30, Blue Comet Stage)
I’ve heard a bunch of Ben Harper over the years, but have never seen him. I can’t think of a song of his I’d like to see; I’m just looking forward to seeing what he can do.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (6:45, Queen of the Valley Stage)
I would have liked to have been able to see her whole show, however, the scheduling gods were not kind. I’ll get to see a bit of the beginning of her show before heading over to see Trey.
Finally, closing out the festival, there is Jack Johnson on the Blue Comet Stage (8:30). Frankly, I don’t get the big deal. I’ve always thought that if I went to Hawaii and headed to the nearest beach, there would be Jack Johnsons as far as the eye can see. That said, people seem to like his middle of the road, adult contemporary radio-friendly tunes. I’ll check out the beginning of his set and get some photos, but this is not a band that is going to keep me there until the fest ends.
So who is going to be at the Fest? Who are you looking forward to checking out? See you in Jersey City!!!
Posted by Paul Kanterman