All Points West | 08.08 - 08.10 | Jersey

Sunday, August 10

APW 2008
"I don't drink Absolut, but I'll take a beer or brownies," said a State Park officer after being offered a vodka drink from one of Sunday's tie-dyed patrons. The mood changed Sunday, though even in the rain you couldn't refute the faultless space that combined green grass and views of both NYC's skyline and Lady Liberty's dignified, well-rounded backside. Sure, you may hear complaints about a five drink limit, beer corrals and last call being at 8:30 p.m., but packing your trousers with some hooch of your own was an easy solution. All Points West was a miracle of convenience, and the biggest letdown after two days of Radiohead wasn't the rain but a final day missing Thom Yorke.

After an extended delay, we were let loose in a dash to find ponchos and trash bags as rain started for Amadou & Mariam. This blind West African duo has been pushing out a deeply spiritual and powerful voice of the African plains for over 20 years. Mariam twinkled in red sequins as Amadou let loose his deeply powerful voice - a beacon of love and truth that graced the licks from his golden guitar. Mariam curled her lips into a smile as Amadou announced the African song titles before each selection. Together, they built fountains of joyful, erupting sound punctuated by skinned drumbeats, blocks and bass.

De Novo Dahl were dressed for the wet weather, sporting red and yellow striped 1940's full body swimsuits. Frontman Joel J. Dahl looked and sang like a character from a Roald Dahl book, using his quiet aggression to chant "Make Some Sense" from their latest album, Move Every Muscle, Make Every Sound. Moose Hungate whirled the keys into a frenzied carousel style mix, adding to the up-beat indie rock set.

De Novo Dahl :: APW 2008
It's funny the amount of bracelets and marks you got at All Points West. At the end of any given day you could run into a stranger in NYC who was also at the festival and get a rough estimate of their day just by glancing at their wrist. Here's how that conversation might go. "So, I see you rode the ferry over, hung backstage at the Bullet, had four beers and didn't wash too well on Friday, because your purple slash is still showing."

Rain couldn't dampen the spirits of Rodrigo y Gabriela as they advanced with a strong set. Gabriela Quintero frequently pointed the neck of her guitar towards the dark rain clouds and tapped out a beat with a speedy shaka hand. Her wrist raced all over the guitar's body while thumps from inside the hollow instrument echoed in time to the raindrops. Rodrigo Sanchez closed his eyes and channeled God through feverishly paced strumming. For him, it was all in the details as he drove home his points during their take on Metallica's "Orion." They finished with bows and blasting AC/DC intermission music.

Ben Jelen (pronounced: yellin') was the second performer to crack a Cloverfield joke about our lady in the harbor (New Pornographers did it Friday). He rattled through a set featuring the bold, bright environmental rock of "Insensitive" as he told us there are better things to do than dropping bombs. Over at the Bullet, Jason Isbell was trying to explain why he was missing his drummer. Apparently, Muscle Shoals, Alabama doesn't have airplanes. No worries as he harmonized with the four other musicians onstage in his firm but sensitive Southern way. Isbell has a jaw that hangs lower than the average bear's and he shows he means business in the corners of his mouth. Isabel landed heavy blows as they worked into a driving key and guitar driven jam during the side-blowing rain. His patient voice linked stories of Southern life into the music before uncorking a beautiful version Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" that rocked our damp, gypsy souls with some help from three Philadelphia horn players.

Sunday, Chan Marshall (Ms. Cat Power) was in a chipper mood, dressed in green and a skinny black tie. She felt right at home on the main stage as she sang down onto the front row. Marshall is wonderful but it should be noted a lot of her prowess is because she is backed by one of the greatest bands going. The Dirty Delta Blues Band is the soundtrack I want playing wherever I travel. Gregg Foreman's funky key strolls made the rain seem not as cold as the band laid down blue soul drops during their cover of CCR's "Fortunate Son." Their inspired minimalism and palpable soul built to a dripping frenzy before "Lived In Bars" pulled the first rays of sun from the clouds.

Kamara Thomas - Earl Greyhound :: APW 2008
Cat Power had found some sun, but it was the first chords of Earl Greyhound set that seemed to really clear the sky. Lead guitarist Matt Whyte wore Sunday white, the equivalent of Jimmy Page's '77 "Dragon Suit." The Brooklyn power-trio kicked things off with "S.O.S." and did not let up until the end of the set. Smoke and raging guitar added to the mystery of the band, creating a psychedelic edge to their modern rock sound. The highlight of their set was the final combination of "I'm the One" > "Monkey." While Whyte busted loose with an intense guitar solo, drummer Ricc Sheridan punished his kit, leaving witnesses utterly amazed before they rolled on to The Secret Machines, the other power-trio next door.

The Secret Machines are way more sonically driven than your average trio, building layers of harmonious industrial fuzz and powerful chords. Their songs are nasal and less dark than before but their voodoo still penetrates dark places. The keys are a ritual for Brandon Curtis and the drums are a labor of love for Josh Garza, who hammers his kit similar to the late John Bonham.

It got chilly as the sun dipped below the clouds and a light rain started again during Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' set. Back at the merch tent, you got dark green passports to guide you around the festival for free but insulated wife beaters were going for $49.50 (not really, but close). Potter was talking about sex as I strolled up, and then she launched into a smoldering "Stop The Bus." Potter is instantly your best friend, that unassuming, happy girl-next-door just belting her heart out for all to see. She had cut her hair and donned an indie-rock friendly outfit including some skintight black jeans. Her Flying-V locked horns with Scott Tournet's axe, and, unlike their All Good set, she worked the embers patiently, coaxing out the jam.

Trey Anastasio :: APW 2008
Trey Anastasio played a packed warm-up club show in Brooklyn on Thursday before ferrying over to All Points West to rock the Bullet Stage. The crowd for Trey started to build during The Secret Machines' set and was fully packed by the time Big Red took the stage. Surrounded by his band, "Classic TAB" jammed through Phish's "Sand," as Anastasio tossed a long, seductive glance at the statues rumpus. He mouthed out the jam as the notes emitted from his weapon. He was charming his jam out while encouraging his inner guitar master to bring it big boy style. He dedicated a tender "Drifting" to his grandfather, who arrived from Italy at nearby Ellis Island in 1910. Ray Paczkowski tested Anastasio with some sinful organ riffs during "Cayman Review," and the two locked up in a bubbling, lighthearted calypso jam. There really weren't many Russ Lawton (drums) and Tony Markellis (bass) highlights other than providing the solid launch pad for Anastasio to soar from. He wailed on some incredibly fast, pleasing solos throughout a lively, hour-plus set that really trapped its groove during a 15-minute "Gotta Jibboo." Trey Anastasio may have played at looking aloof, but Sunday night there were barely any doodling moments as he let notes leap and dive into the Hudson River as a sea of strobe lights penetrated our brains. Surrounded by friends, he returned to the stage for a surprise two-song encore that saw Paczkowski downshift into a Charlie Brown choppy "Heavy Things."

Trey Anastasio played right into the beginning of Jack Johnson's set, and as Trey finished he let loose the thousand or so freaks who had been partying hard right through the Sonic Forest and smack into the family friendly, Curious George songster. When Jack's crowd met Jill it was not quite love at first sight but, by the end, Anastasio got pulled onstage by Johnson, along with Matt Costa. Anastasio ad hocked the guitar on "Mudfootball" before Costa added his own barely audible notes to "Fall Line." Costa remained to flawlessly segue into his own "Sunshine," helping to create a shared ending to APW's introductory weekend.

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