Four days into my US holiday I was leaving the quiet surroundings of Newport and heading to New York with three of the lads. The main purpose of the trip was to attend All Points West, a music festival held in Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Another cause for excitement was the fact that this was going to be my first visit to NY. It’s kinda weird going to a festival on your J1, it’s like and experience within an experience. Usually I’ve had to settle for festivals when a trip abroad was not feasible for whatever reason.
The festival was a three day event without camping facilities which suited us, as it enabled us to stay with friends in Queens and so soak up more of New York. We eventually left Queens on Friday with a ridiculous amount of alcohol in our system for roughly 2.30pm(we’d been informed there was a 7 drink limit in the festival and so planned accordingly). I’m not usually one for being drunk at gigs but when on your J1….
Anyway as it turned out the rain was so torrential that it sobered us all up just as Vampire Weekend took to the main stage. It seems fitting that the only wet and miserable day was by far the best of the weekend. After VW played an enjoyable set (I’m not a huge fan) we made sure we had a prime location for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, one of the bands I was most excited about. The New York based trio proved to be the highlight of the weekend. A typically frantic performance by lead singer Karen O coupled with excellent sound and crowd-pleasing set-list blew everyone away…it even stopped raining!
We hung a little further back for Jay-Z, who to his credit put on a very entertaining show. It was sickening for me that the Beastie Boyshad to pull out, the had been the main pull factor for me. Jay-Z opened with a tribute to the trio in the form of “No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn” which ran perfectly into his big hit, “Brooklyn, We Go Hard”. During his show I observed that’ it’s near impossible for a white man to dance to rap without looking like he’s trying to be black, and that’s fine when you’re clubbing in Havana’s, but when your in Jersey City it’s a little disconcerting.
The second best act of the festival also came on the Friday in the form of electro/house duo MSTRKRFT. I’d never listened to them before and had barely heard of them but their performance ranks as my favourite dance gig to date.
The sun came out for Saturday. With less necessities on our “to-see list” we made sure we were in on time to catch Arctic Monkeys. Playing songs off their new Humbug album the indie outfit showed a marked progression in both sound and stage presence from their early days. They also treated the crowd to old favourites like Flourescent Adolescent and View from the Afternoon. Our next priority was Canadian dance act Crystal Castles. The duo fronted by eccentric and downright sexy singer Alice Glass had the crowd fixated with their loud and aggressive sound as well as Alice’s erratic shouting. unfortunately we had to miss the end of CC to catch Tool. The Californian rockers were their usual loud selves and played with precision even if their performance was lacking in imagination.
unforseen delays on Sunday resulted in us missing The Gaslight Anthem and We Are Scientists, the former a band I’d love to see live as I’m just getting into them, the latter I’ve already seen but would have enjoyed another show. Thankfully we were in time for Mogwai,one of my favourite bands. Some onstage disagreement and a more limited set rendered their performance less enjoyable than their show in Dublin earlier this year, but I still savoured the 16 minute classic Mogwai Fear Satan. As with the two previous nights the festivities were played out by a dance act, a great idea for any festival in my opinion. Legendary French DJ Etienne de Crecy drew the festival to a close with an old-school electro set and a dazzling light show.
Each night ended with a ferry back to New York and the most fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline at night, an experience almost as enjoyable as all the music slapped together.