Written By: Kelly Byrd
Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan.
Welcome to East Coast Live – your guide to the best of New York and the surrounding area’s eclectic live music offering.
Show 1: New Yorkers such as myself are spoiled with cultural events year-round and the proximity of New York’s first music festival – the weekend-long, All Points West (July 31 – August 2) across the Hudson at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ – was no exception.
The three-day program of All Points West was truly an assortment, mostly of indie-rock and hip-hop. Its lineup is reminiscent of more established festivals, such as California’s Coachella, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo (alum!), Chicago’s Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival or Austin’s Austin City Limits.
Although I was not able to attend the entire ‘festie’, I did make it to Sunday’s shows, headlined by Coldplay and Echo and the Bunnymen along with performances from Mogwai, Elbow, Silversun Pickups,Ghostland Observatory, Akron/Family and MGMT, among others.
After standing on line in the pouring rain for about half an hour waiting to be let through the ‘gate’, myself and the other, now irritated attendees were ordered to wait in the nearby rail station … indefinitely.
After an hour and a half of no answers, I was lucky enough to be sitting on the stairs where the kind security guard came blaring his megaphone to let us all know that, if the field was deemed to be in ‘sound condition’ the shows would begin at 4:00p.m. – no word on how this affected the lineup.
Mind you, the show was scheduled to begin at 1:00p.m., so, for lack of better words, this sucked.
So, when the clock struck 4:00p.m. the crowd trekked back to the entrance and lined up, soggy and damp, to be let in for what was sure to be a mud fest.
What happened to the line up, you ask? Well they simply canceled all acts that were scheduled to go on before – so my afternoon went as follows: Silversun Pickups, We Are Scientists, Elbow, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Black Keys (did you know they’re just a drummer and a guitarist/singer?!), and Coldplay. After all that, still not too shabby for an afternoon of music with a view of the New York skyline.
I must say, no matter how uncomfortable I may have been in my skin that day, all six sets made me forget it! I became bigger fans of all, and was truly impressed by these musicians – who were very thankful that we stuck around.
As we still have four shows to go, I’m only going to discuss Coldplay’s set, but you can see recaps of the others here.
Now, I’ll be honest, if a man told me he was a Coldplay fan rather than a Radiohead fan, I wouldn’t have wanted to date him – that is, before August 2, 2009.
Chris Martin totally made me swoon, and the kicker was when the band came out into the audience and played an acoustic set, including a cover of Billie Jean! So yes, CM is no MJ, but who’s gonna argue with a brit who can sing like an angel? Certainly not me.
For all photos from APW, go here.
Show 2 (FREE): Those of you not living in New York may not have heard of the blessing that is Central Park Summerstage – which offers free music, dance, and cultural events throughout the summer season. Perfect example: the Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabaté show on Monday, August 3rd.
Those of you who don’t know Béla Fleck, you should. Not only is he a MASTER banjo player (even if you’re not into Bluegrass or Country, you have to appreciate his talent!), but he’s also a wonderfully caring and kind-hearted person (I met him afterward!). At this show, Béla played about 5 songs with Toumani Diabaté (a great Malian singer known as the “Songbird of the Wassoulou”), but then main event was the screening of his documentary, “Throw Down Your Heart” – a film which follows Fleck on his journey through Africa to explore the little-known African roots of the banjo and record an album of the same name with local artists in Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali. The website puts it perfectly – the film “…provides a glimpse of the beauty and complexity of Africa.” I highly recommend you all see it, and purchase the album.
Show 3: Here in my room, pardon me while I put these talk shows on mute and provide a warning to all Incubus fans: They’re baaaaack!
The band played the second of two sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday, August 5th, including songs from their the majority of their catalog. Lead Singer Brandon Boyd and band put on a great show (as always), complete with about 6,000 back-up singers. Boyd’s voice still = amazing, and I can’t wait for their next full album – around 2012.
Show 4 (FREE): I first heard Grace Potter’s amazing voice while at this year’s Bonnaroo festival when she sang with moe. for a surprise set. With vocal comparisons to Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, needless to say, her voice is amazing.
On Friday, August 7th, I attended a Grace Potter and the Nocturnals show, hosted by Celebrate Brooklyn – an annual series of free concerts for the borough’s wide-ranging tastes – at the Prospect Park Bandshell, a centerpiece of the historic park, and the borough’s counterpart to Central Park’s Summerstage.
The show, which was opened by Deer Tick (whose singer proposed to his girlfriend while on stage!!), was amazing. Complemented by a beautiful summer night and an energetic frontwoman, the show was electric. With Potter dancing non-stop, (even while seated at her piano) and a show that ended with an all-hands-on-deck drum solo, followed by an encore performance of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit,
Show 5 (Whew!): I ended the week with a G. Love & Special Sauce and Jason Mraz show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey. Although I’m now a believer that Jason’s voice is truly the remedy for most aliments, his set was short and disappointing. I will say though, it’s a shame that the man’s music isn’t more popular, because he truly has an amazing range and voice.
After a busy week. I’m off to see the following:
Sunday August 23: Girl Talk at East River State Park
Monday August 24: Britney, bitch (c’mon, I have to see this Circus) at Madison Square Garden
Tuesday August 25: Taking Back Sunday, Weezer, and Blink 182 at Jones Beach
Friday August 28: Earth Wind & Fire and Chicago (had to get them into my life) at PNC Bank Arts Center
Stay tuned for more of East Coast Live!
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