I WAS THERE . . . All Points West @ Liberty State Park, 7/31/09

Friday’s revelers at All Points West know full well that when it rains, it pours. The mini-monsoon began during the Fleet Foxes’ jam at the Blue Comet main stage, continued to cool during The National and called it a wrap as Vampire Weekend crooned about commas. An eclectic crowd bedecked in mud and joviality featured middle-aged men shaking off their corporate skin, tipsy twentysomethings dancing about, and even a sprinkle of tiny tots sitting atop shoulders. Musical highlights aside, crowd goers appreciated that the lines at the multiple beer tents, or ‘refueling stations’ as deemed by some, were wildly shorter than last year.

…and even shorter as the crowd rushed the main stage for The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The rain clouds parted and a feeble sun paled in comparison to Karen O as she towered tall in a black and white kimono-esque mini dress, multi-color marbled leggings, fringed kicks, and her iconic eye make-up, seemingly inspired by Jackson Pollock. With her team in tow, Miss O erupted with high notes and catchy crowd pleasers from the band’s recent release It’s Blitz! and other album Show Your Bones. The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s latest hit single “Zero” had the crowd mashing Liberty State Park into a muddy swamp one minute and the next minute Karen O’s hypnotic vocals for “Soft Shock” morphed the Blue Comet crowd into one big noodle dance (cue wiggly arms and collective swaying).

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ended their set with a sentimental shout to their stalwart and water-resistant fans. Then the band dedicated a pared down version of “Maps” to “Yeah Yeah Yeah’s family and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s loved ones!” Wait, they don’t love you like we love you.

Ten days before the curtains were to be drawn, APW coordinators announced that Jay-Z would replace The Beastie Boys as Friday’s headliner due to Adam Yauch’s recent diagnosis of throat cancer and subsequent surgery plans. Though Beastie fans lamented, hip hop fans revved up for the stage return of HOVA on American soil thus answering the question, “Is he or is he not retired?” Always classy, Jay-Z paid tribute and opened his throwback set with The Beastie’s “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” He followed with his rendition of “Brooklyn (Go Hard).”

Jay-Z’s 80-minute set featured hits past and present; “99 Problems,” “Can I Get a Wha What?, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” and “DOA (Death of Autotune).” HOVA dripped lyrical gold backed by a full band and captivating visuals on the big screen behind him. In the middle of his rips of posers and declarations of personal greatness, Jay-Z delivered a resonant remix of “My President is Black.” Images of Barack Obama and the phrase “Yes We Did” floated behind the fervent hip hop artist. After a short tease, the encore came and set the crowd over the top with “Big Pimpin’.” Though many festival goers streamed out for the glacial ferry and the light rail, many more stayed and enjoyed Jay-Z’s appreciation shouts to the crowd, “I see you over there in the yellow, jumping up and down. You in the Beyonce shirt! Brother over there in the blue, I see you!”

The night continued with a set from MSTRKRFT on the Queen of the Valley stage though most people poured out of the park, muddy and happy they didn’t let a little water rain on their parade.

Nicole Velasco

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