I thought I could avoid the murky conditions that plague UK festivals by attending All Points West, but rain and mud made it a transatlantic trip, turning the weekend into a damp but still enjoyable experience.
Skipping stormy Friday, I trekked from Manhattan to New Jersey and kicked off Saturday with Arctic Monkeys. Against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, Turner and Co. started their set with brand new ‘Pretty Visitors', which has a guitar-crunching chorus tailor-made for live performances. They sprinted through ‘Brianstorm', then introduced ‘Potion Approaching', another new addition that sadly lacked ‘Visitors’ punch. ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ got the crowd going and was followed by ‘Cornerstone', possibly my favourite track from 'Humbug'. Other standouts were slinky ‘My Propeller’ and perennial favourite ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.’ Strangely, the song tempo sometimes lagged, so the sense of witty urgency that characterises the Monkeys didn’t always translate.
A wander across the park brought me to Chairlift, closing with ‘Bruises', the single made famous on US iPod ads. The rest of their set was unremarkable, stronger for its instrumentals than for Caroline Polacheck’s occasionally shrill vocals. Tokyo Police Club woke the post-Chairlift crowd with an energetic performance, which my friends and I voted a pleasant surprise.
Tool was Saturday’s headliner, but I opted for Crystal Castles along with the rest of the attendees not wearing Tool t-shirts (apparently a prerequisite for their gigs). Alice Glass appeared waving a large spotlight above her head to compliment the stark flashes of white light that synced with their chilly, pounding electro. Highlights included ‘Crimewave', cleverly echoed in stuttering samples throughout the set, and crowd favourite ‘Courtship Dating'. Glass, despite her frenetic, equipment-climbing energy, was almost entirely drowned out by Ethan Kath’s compelling layers of fuzzy sound and shrill keyboard.
In spite of this, the crowd was one of the most hyped of the weekend and the set made a great end to day one.
All Points West 2009
'Adds a reality and a personal connection to his sound that can only really be achieved on the live stage'
'This is the proudest moment of my f*cking life!'