I WAS THERE . . . All Points West @ Liberty State Park, 8/3/09

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Photo credit: MAHALA GAYLORD/THE STAR-LEDGER

Due to the less-than-mediocre execution of last year’s event, I attended this year’s All Points West music festival with limited expectations. With questionable chances of lightning and high winds, gates didn’t open until 4 PM and several bands were canceled, including the Gaslight Anthem. However, I was just in time to catch the full set of Silversun Pickups, and it was well worth the wait.

The band performed “Little Lover So Polite,” “Panic Switch” and the popular fan-favorite, “Lazy Eye,” while vocalist Brian Aubert definitely pulled off the same raw intensity live as within his studio sound.

Mogwai is a band I’d love to see in a slightly different setting than All Points West ( i.e., just the band, in an indoor venue, in the dark). However, they still managed to blow my mind on a festival stage, with the sun up, amongst too many people who wondered when the lyrics would come. By far, this was my favorite performance of the day.

Quickly I ran to the Blue Comet stage in hopes of catching some Echo & the Bunnymen. Luckily I got there just in time to hear them cover “Roadhouse Blues” and “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” along with their popular hit, “Under a Killing Moon.”

After an energetic performance from The Black Keys, came the hardest decision of the day: Coldplay or MGMT?

Having already seen Coldplay on their second album tour, I decided to catch the first half hour of the British boys and then head over to the Bullet stage.

Luckily I was able to hear “Violet Hill,” “In My Place” “Clocks,” and a jingly version of “Yellow,” while I was happy to stay for one more song after Chris Martin announced, “As four British people who grew up in the mud and the rain, we salute you for coming out to what can only be described as a mud Jacuzzi.” The band then rocked out to song “42.”

While apparently Andrew VanWyngarden cut MGMT’s set to one hour because he wanted to see Coldplay, the band still played many fan favorites, from “Weekend Wars” and “Pieces of What,” to “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend.”

The band announced the last song they’d be playing would be a new one called “Congratulations,” and it only took one minute of fans yelling “one more song!” for the band to come back on and encore with “Kids.”

Anyway, a big part of me wishes I would have stayed for Coldplay, as I missed personal favorites “Strawberry Swing” and “Politik,” along with tribute covers “You Gotta Fight” (Beastie Boys) and “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson).

The last surprise of the night came from Etienne De Crecy, a French DJ who put on an amazing visual show that could only be described as a cross between
Hollywood Squares and 3D Pacman, on acid.

Overall, while All Points West is conveniently close for us music-lovers in the Northeast, its proximity to New York City and its location in New Jersey forces it to become a strict, overpriced event that features music, rather than a truly unique music and festival experience. Luckily they featured enough talent in the line-up this year to make it worth your dollar.

Lucy Tonic

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