Ok, Ok, so we might be a little late, but here were Phil’s thoughts from APW on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of August:
All aboard the All Points West Express. The inaugural music and arts festival had a green mindset (recycling for swag, encouraging the use of mass-transit, free water spigot sites), big names (Radiohead, Kings of Leon, The Roots), and a great sound system. No muffled lyrics here, just pure sonic bliss.
The highlight of the festival (besides Radiohead of course) came from an artist who never laid a finger on an instrument. Pittsburgh’s Gregg Gillis simply set up a wooden table on stage with two laptops, and one had the initials GT adorning the front. You could feel the excitement of the crowd as two stage maestros dressed as cops brought out copious amounts of toilet paper and custom designed leaf blowers. The opening notes of “Once Again” started the set and an explosion of bodies rushed from backstage. These lucky participants hooted and hollered to the pleasure of everyone while tossing swimming toys, TP, and large condom shaped balloons into the crowd. The sensation reminded me of my first two years of college, as random groping and grinding occurred throughout. Gregg asserted his dominance with two events: 1) He had the whole crowd bumping to Kelly Clarkson, and 2) He tossed a pool lounge chair into the audience and took a flying leap onto it as his adoring fans held him up. I have seen fun in its purest form, thy name be Girl Talk.
Brazilian funky bunch CSS did not disappoint as they cycled through almost every song from their new album, Donkey. Love Foxxx was wearing a colorful (to say the least) ensemble that looked like she just tussled with a piñata, barely survived, and wore its streamer entrails as a trophy. The group invited two neon aerobic dancers on stage that presented different dances for almost every song. During “Alcohol” Love Foxxx asked one of them, “What’s your favorite mixed drink?” and the dancer quickly responded with “Alcohol”.
Cat Power looked healthy and happy as she playfully hugged friends off stage during the opening riffs of her set. I overheard a number of festers inquiring about who she was and what kind of music she played, and one girl even had the nerve to say that she sounded like Fiona Apple. I quickly whipped around and informed her that Chan was five years her senior and released her first album one year before Apple. ANYWAY, Cat Power lured many fans into her loving arms as she sang with a ferociousness that cleared the rain away and summoned much needed sunlight.
Grizzly Bear shined through with harmonies and reverb that lulled listeners into a dream state. Their last album, Yellow House, is the kind of record you can’t appreciate on the first listen. You must delve into it repeatedly to appreciate every nuance of the glockenspiel and the banjo. Group founder Ed Droste even pulled out an ivory recorder similar to the ones music teachers passed out in elementary school. In the end, their live set was much friendlier and the crowd proved it while swaying to and fro to the delightful melodies of “On A Neck, On A Spit”.
One aspect of All Points West that had me overjoyed was the contingent of world acts in attendance. Malian king & queen of funk, Amadou & Mariam, showed up ready to shake it down. Side by side they churned out hit after hit that caused a stir in everyone’s joints. Amadou sported a gold guitar that would have made Elvis jealous. Brazilian jam band Forro In The Dark kept the soul train moving with percussion work that was pied piper like. They brought out special guest Miho Hatori for three songs, including fan favorite “Paraiba”. Mexican acoustic metal duo Rodrigo y Gabriela didn’t even speak a word, but one could argue that they didn’t have to. Their fine tuned fingers amazed the audience, especially Gabriela who looked like she was just shaking her hand wildly against her guitar.
Of course, there was also some band named Radiohead that closed out two nights. One fact that I noticed and loved was that they don’t ever announce who they are or where they’re from. After watching their performance, in the immortal words of Notorious B.I.G, “If you don’t know, now you know…”
All in all, this was a fantastic start to what will hopefully be an annual event for the tri-state area. Cheers to AEG LIVE/Goldenvoice for bringing the spirit of Coachella to the east coast.