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Though All Points West was nearly one of the trickiest concerts to travel to, it was well worth the pricey ferry ride and the marathon trek to the grounds. Reaching the site was like finding an oasis in the desert; just when you thought you were there, it was a bit farther. However, upon landing at the long-awaited “refuge,” we had already forgotten the stress of getting there. Ah, the things you will do for Radiohead.

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Flaunting a clever, yet forthright backdrop, the “Coachella of the East” showcased some kick-ass bands during the kick-off weekend. We were lucky to part of the movement that cloned the iconic West Coast festival eastward.

(Stay tuned for some special APW interviews with The Go Team!, Lowry, Your Vegas, Metric, and more in Sentimentalist Magazine’s Sept. issue.)

Friday, August 8th

Lowry

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On the first day, I managed to get to the venue early enough to catch Lowry, a new Brooklyn based five–piece band that blends enchanting harmonies with new-folk rhythms. “Whiskey” was definitely my pick of the set off of their current album, Love Is Dead. Make sure to catch these guys play in Brooklyn at The Public Assembly 9/25.

Lowry Setlist

Whiskey
The Weight of Light is 6
Zipped Up the Lost Coat
Roads
Cactus Moon
One Thing

The Go! Team

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The Go Team! are the band with an energetic team-spirit set, which left concert-goers bouncing around. With Ninja’s jumpy dance moves and the band’s fierce guitar playing, this Brighton-based band with two drummers is a treat to watch.

The Go Team! Setlist

Flashlight Fight
The Wrath of Marcie
The Power Is On
Fake ID
Grip Like A Vice
A Version of Myself
Junior Kickstart
Bottle Rocket
Everyone’s a V.I.P. to Someone
Flashlight Fight (reprise)
Lady Flash
Doing It Right
Keys to the City

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear’s live set had a more raucous sound than on their studio album, Yellow House, released in 2006. Lead singer Ed Droste churned out heavy tunes like “On A Spit” and a new crowd favorite, ” Two Weeks”. The band left a solid impression on the second stage for fans who were jamming out. Along with other Yellow House faves, we got first listens at a new Dan song “Fine For Now,” and an untitled new Ed Droste tune. Atmospheric acoustics and a strong live show complemented the lead singer’s Rufus Wainright-style vocals. Make sure not to miss this band opening up for Radiohead on their current North American tour.

Grizzly Bear Setlist

Two Weeks
Little Brother
Knife
Fine For Now
Untitled
Fix It
On A Neck, On A Spit (Abridged)
While You Wait For The Others

CSS

CSS put on a highly entertaining performance, complete with neon leotards and tons of confetti. The band came on a bit late at the Bullet stage, but came out with so much energy, it was like a carnival show on speed.

Underworld

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Later in the day, I headed over to the Blue Comet stage to catch some of Underworld. I had never seen the band live before they were worth the detour. The one track that stands out in most Underworld fans’ heads is, arguably, “Born Slippy Nuxx” from 1996′s Trainspotting.

Next to Radiohead, Underworld’s set was the most cathartic, and thanks to their design group Tomato, the stage graphics and images were incredibly unique and at times, bizarre. All this is apropos since Underworld is one of the leading pioneers of the electronic music. Wearing a sequin-clad blazer, frontman Karl Hyde dazzled the crowd with spastic dance moves and camera angles, leading the anxious dance crowd deep into the night.

Underworld Setlist

Crocodile
Spoonman
Rez
Cowgirl
Pearls girl
Push upstairs
Nu train
You do scribl
Two months off
Rowla
Shudder / two months off
Born Slippy.nuxx
Moaner
Jumbo

Radiohead

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Radiohead was the biggest draw of the day, and since they are the reason why most of the 30,000 people here got out of bed this morning, the band made sure not to disappoint. Returning to their New York fans for the first time in two years, the beloved Brit band performed a remarkable set. They tapped into their entire catalog, occasionally visiting quality classics like “Morning Bell” and “Paranoid Android.” The light show was just as impressive as the performance, and back-dropped by one of the best skyline views I’ve seen in years; it was a visionary beacon. Thom Yorke dedicated “Everything In Its Right Place” to opener Underworld, and churned out tunes from 2007′s In Rainbows, showcasing some of our new favorite Radiohead songs, “Weird Fishes” and the bluesy guitars of “House of Cards.” We’ve never actually been to a Radiohead show that we didn’t love, and with Yorke’s haunting voice and a two-hour set with 20 + songs, any aficionado would have been in heaven.

Saturday, August 8th

Saturday was fraught with even more excitement, with clearer skies and a line-up that better satisfied an outdoor festival. Saturday’s sold-out crowd was even rowdier and seemed to have that “Coachella East” vibe promoters were hoping for, filled with giddiness, anticipation and delight.

Your Vegas

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First up on my list was Your Vegas (not to be confused with Scotland’s Glasvegas), the New York-based, five-piece from Leeds. These guys have come a long way in a year, recently coming off tour with The Bravery and Duran Duran. Showcasing emotive rock songs like the “Aurora” and “In My Head” off their new album A Town and Two Cities.

Your Vegas do a great job of mixing epic-indeed soaring guitar lines, polished harmonies and new wave influences. Having been compared to U2, Coldplay, and Muse these guys make arena-ready songs. Their debut album established these Brits as one of the most impressive new bands of the year.

Your Vegas Setlist

It makes my heart break
Your Vegas
Birds Of Paradise
The Way the War Was One
Until The Lights Go Out
I Wish You Were
Somewhere Else
In My Head
Troubled Times

After nearly passing out during Your Vegas’ set, when the sun was at its strongest, I retreated backstage for some rest and relaxation, but it wasn’t long before I was drawn back out for the catchy dance-along songs of Metric. Wearing an asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder, gold lamé jumper, singer Emily Haines got the crowd going with songs from Old World Underground, Where Are You Know to the most recent album Grow Up and Blow Away. It doesn’t matter where I am at any point in time, but whenever I hear “Dead Disco” I have to stop everything and explode into spastic dance moves. For anyone that wants to be introduced to new wave/indie music with personality, it’s the song for you.

The Virgins

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We next caught The Virgins, who made quite a splash this year with their self-titled debut. Introduced on The Bullet Stage by former MTV VJ Matt Pinfield, the guys put on a captivating show full of post-70′s punk rock tunes, and closed out with the crowd favorite “Rich Girls.” The band stirs just as much excitement while playing as do the bouncing hipsters dancing in the front row. The frontman finished the set saying, “Holy shit, that was a fun show!” Catch these guys on tour with The Black Kids starting Sept 19th.

The Black Angels

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After The Virgins, it was time for one more beer so we retreated to the VIP area to meet some friends, only to run right back to the stage for one of my new fave bands, The Black Angels. With their psychedelic rock reminiscent of the 60′s-meets-modern appeal, this band brings on a Woodstock vibe. With a 4+ guitar wall of sound, The Black Angels rocked through an hour of phenomenal tunes off last year’s debut, Passover and their new album, Directions To See A Ghost.

The Black Angels Setlist

Manipulation
You On the Run
Shipper At The Gates Of Heaven
Mission
Black grease
Ronettes
Science Killer
Young Men Dead
Surf City
Never/Ever

Encore:
Empire
You in Color

Kings of Leon

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For me, besides seeing Radiohead for a second time, Saturday’s highlight was Kings Of Leon, clearly a weekend favorite, as the sold-out crowd rushed the Blue Comet stage. The sun was starting to go down, people weren’t too drunk, and everyone was ready for the Southern boys who made good. Every time I see them, they get better and better. The Kings played a long set made up of all sorts of goodies from their 3-album catalog. Opening up with “Crawl,” the band went on to play everything from “Molly Chambers” and “Milk” to “Knocked Up” and “Mc Fearless” from 2007’s Because Of The Times. Every song had me jumping around like a hyper twelve-year old on a sugar rush as the band charged through a fiercely energetic set. Right before The Kings unveiled their new single “Sex on Fire,”and singer Caleb Followill commented on the absurd five-drink-per-person festival rule: “I heard they’re not letting you guys get too drunk out there. Well, they didn’t say anything to me, so I’m gonna have a drink.” The Tennessee natives return to NYC on Sept 23rd at Webster Hall to mark the release of their fourth album, Only By The Night. By the end of the set it was clear KOL has become a stadium rock machine, and judging from their upcoming 02 Arena dates this year, their current success is only the beginning.

Kings of Leon Setlist

Crawl
‘Black Thumbnail’
‘Taper Jean Girl’
‘My Party’
‘Razz’
‘Molly’s Chambers’
‘Sex On Fire’
‘King Of The Rodeo’
‘Fans’
‘Milk’
’4 Kicks’
‘California Waiting’
‘The Bucket’
‘On Call’
‘McFearless’
‘Spiral Staircase’
‘Knocked Up’
‘Manhattan’
‘Charmer’
‘Slow Night, So Long’ Crawl’

Radiohead

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After KOL, the grounds were in full swing and everyone was ready for Radiohead. I retreated backstage once again only to see All Points West looking a bit more like Coachella with lots of young Hollywood walking by the catering tent waiting to enjoy the much anticipated headliner. I’ve seen Radiohead a few times now, and over the past two nights the sets has been “rocked” up a bit, with new instrumentals sprinkled over classic songs and occasional guitar solos from Johnny Greenwood. “All I Need” was treat and seemed to be a bit slower which made the night magical, especially with a weird half full moon looming in the distance.

Saturday’s sound was almost more impressive than that of the night before, and as Thom Yorke breezed through “Kid A” with his tambourine in hand, you really felt lucky to be there in that moment. As on Friday, they played a lot of songs off last year’s In Rainbows. “House of Cards” always gives me goose bumps with it’s bluesy, heart-wrenching jam out and soaring vocals. Good music: check…spectacular light show: check…and amazing Manhattan skyline: check… It was a definitely a Saturday night to remember. Later, Yorke even dedicated “Airbag” to opener Kings of Leon, saying, “If we were as good looking as them, we’d be famous.” Yes Yorke, but you’re already famous… really, really famous.

Radiohead Setlist Saturday 08/09/08

Reckoner
15 Step
The National Anthem
Kid A
All I Need
Nude
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Where I End And You Begin
The Gloaming
Faust Arp
No Surprises
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
The Bends
Bangers and Mash
Everything In Its Right Place
Exit Music (For A Film)
Bodysnatchers

Encore 1
Pyramid Song
Videotape (False start. Thom, “I meant to do that.”)
Airbag (Thom dedicates to Kings of Leon. “If we were that good looking we’d be famous.”)
Fake Plastic Trees
There There

Encore 2
House of Cards
Planet Telex
Idioteque

Text by Aishah Roberts/Photos by Andrzej Liguz/moreimages.net