by Laura Cooper
All Points West, a hipster’s paradise? Think again.
The inaugural year of APW, a New Jersey based festival, brought in a wide cross-section of concertgoers, most of them looking for Radiohead. The most cost effective way to the festival was the LIRR, Path and lovely little bus-train contraption called the New Jersey Light Rail. It was charmingly compact and the line for tickets (which no one ever checked) seemed longer than the line at the festival itself. The line consisted of neon wayfarer wearing girls, many with a common question: “are you going to the Radiohead concert?” Only once did a traveling group of people on the Port Authority Train ask me and the people I was traveling with if I was going to the All Points West Festival. Yes, APW—there’s more than one band playing at this festival.
The misguided “tourists,” who took a detour into the realm of indie rock found themselves in front of the main stage for eight hours, soaked in rain and sweat just to get a glimpse of Thom Yorke. A waste of money in my opinion, but talk on the light rail centered mainly around the two-night headliner who had played Liberty State Park years before.
The backdrop itself was beautiful. The park faced the back of the Statue of Liberty, but from a distance it’d be easy to say you could make out lady liberty’s chiseled face, rather than her back. Right on the water, facing the Jersey and New York City skylines, the location was perfect. Every band I saw that day recognized its proximity to the grand scene unfolding in front of them.
APW was not Coachella, it wasn’t Bonnaroo, and it most definitely wasn’t Reading or Glastonbury. The park’s curfew was eleven pm, and we were all expected to find our way home, preferably by way of mass-transit. Just an hour shy of midnight, the surprisingly frightening park police had reason to get out their night sticks if you stayed late. APW was billed as an eco-friendly festival, one tent gave out reusable bags as “prizes” for recycling, another provided “free water,” better known as a hose with a long line of people not wanting to pay the four dollar a bottle to stay hydrated.
Jack Johnson helped curate the festival; he also had a tent there. The lonely bearded man who occupied Jack Johnson’s booth however didn’t bring in crowds of people to hear the gospel of green. Hopefully, it was better for him Sunday, the day Jack Johnson was actually headlining.
APW was a three-day festival. I only got to attend one day since a single day pass cost me $112 on Ticketmaster after service charges. However, getting your money’s worth out of the festival meant different things to different people. As I sat outside the crowd of people watching Radiohead, falling asleep on the moist grass, a random guy who called himself John approached me.
“Why aren’t you watching the show?” John asked.
“I don’t like Radiohead,” I replied, staring blankly at the grass.
“I built this stage,” John said, “I’ve been here since 7 am yesterday and I’ll probably be here until 7 am tomorrow. I guess I wanted to see what we were doing this for.”
When I asked him what he thought of Radiohead’s set he said, “Eh, all these people are weird.”
I had a relatively positive festival experience. The food was surprisingly palatable and cheaper than expected, the rain didn’t take all the fun out of the day, and the porta-a-potties weren’t full of vomit from the clearly intoxicated concertgoers around me. All together, I saw eight bands, Radiohead being one of them. Acts at All Points West ranged from Brazilian jam bands to Jack Johnson—as encompassing and neutral as music can get. APW was a good experience and I look forward to next year—but advice to future concertgoers: make the most of the festival and see someone different. You might be pleasantly surprised.