Sorry HOVA, the mud was too much

1 08 2009

By Jillian Mapes (@jumonsmapes)

The view of New York from New Jerseys Liberty State Park; photo by Jillian Mapes

The view of New York from New Jersey's Liberty State Park; photo by Jillian Mapes

Waking up this morning, I was pretty sure I had lost my mind. It wasn’t a dream – I really had skipped Jay-Z’s performance at All Points West last night. I wasn’t meaning to…it just sort of happened. One minute I’m looking for a booth that sells batteries, next thing I know I’ve walked all the way to the fest’s main entrance. I hesitated, turning back to run toward the main stage. Then I thought, “It’s just so far away. And I am covered in mud.”

So basically I’m a huge moron and am regretting my decision so much that it will be one of those moments that I will tell my grandchildren about with a sorrowful intonation. OK, not really…but you get the picture. I heard via Twitter that he opened his set with “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” and played 28 songs total. Insane.

As for the rest of All Points West day one, I was really impressed with how on-schedule the shows ran, despite shocking amounts of rain and wind that started during Fleet Foxes (4:30 p.m.) and only worsened until just before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (7:30 p.m.). Two of the bands I most wanted to see (The National and Vampire Weekend) were, of course, sandwiched between 4:30 and 7:30 on the main stage, but I braved the elements and it was definitely worth the discomfort of wet clothes. Well, until I fell into a giant pile of mud during Vampire Weekend’s set.

The National at All Points West; photo by Jillian Mapes

The National at All Points West; photo by Jillian Mapes

The National started its set with “Start a War” from Boxer, the 2007 release that got the Brooklyn band on most folks’ radar. Joining the usual line-up on-stage were a brass section and a touring keyboardist, though it was the percussion that made The National sound especially full Friday. Lead singer Matt Berninger jumped off the stage and onto the platform set up for camera crews during the band’s first several songs. It was actually kind of humorous seeing him roll awkwardly back on stage afterwards, though that didn’t deter him from actually jumping into the crowd during the band’s last song. He didn’t exactly crowd surf, but he chilled out behind the barricade, while crew members cautiously held his microphone cables. Given how hard it was raining, I’d say Berninger has some mad love for his fans to leave the covered stage atop which his band played.

Major National fans will be happy to hear that the band played new tracks, all of which were music to my ears. The National was, absolutely, the highlight of day one, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a close second. Karen O seduced me the minute she took the stage, wearing some crazy-ass patterned tights and a tiny, tiny dress printed with the names of various religions on it. And even though the look of guitarist Nick Zinner reminds me of when I worked at Hot Topic years and years ago (it’s his crazy black hair and studded skinny jeans), I must say, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one attractive band.

As for the band’s music, I can’t complain there, either. The New York art rockers played fewer songs from their latest album – “It’s Blitz!” – than I expected. However, I wasn’t disappointed by older favorites like “Gold Lion” and an acoustic version of the band’s breakthrough hit, “Maps.” Karen O, sporting an arm patch reading “Get well soon, MCA,” gave an extended shout-out to her loved ones in attendance before dedicating “Maps” to Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the Beastie Boys. Awww.




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