From left, top: Grizzly Bear, Girl Talk, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper; Bottom: Nicole Atkins, The Go! Team, Kings of Leon, CSSPhotos: Getty Images
Maybe you didn’t have the cash for the tickets (despite everyone in your office e-mailing last week about extra seats for sale). Maybe you were worried about the weather (although it was mostly perfect). Maybe you’re just a sad loser like us. Whatever your excuse for missing All Points West, why not read a maddening litany of all the other awesome concerts — besides Radiohead — you didn’t see?
The Go! Team
The dynamic Brighton-based dance band kicked off the festival Friday afternoon with loud pulsing beats and exercise steps to “Get It Together” and “The Power Is On,” the American Apparel–clad singer Ninja prancing around like a renegade Spice Girl and calling out to the crowd, “Anyone who isn’t dancing is going to get fat!”
Gregg Gillis blew the early-evening air wide open when he and his ragtag entourage of dancers, B-boys, drag queens, models, and hipsters packed the stage, throwing beach balls and glitter into a jacked-up crowd. The Pittsburgh mix master let loose a barrage of prodigious pairings: Youngbloodz–cum–folk rock with “Damn!”/”The Weight,” old- vs. new-school hip-hop in “No Diggity”/”The Whisper Song,” and an extremely X-rated interlude about oral sex mashed up with the MacBook Air song. A giant balloon fish weaved its way through outstretched arms as Sinead O’Connor’s entreaty to her lover “Nothing Compares 2 U” mixed with Shawnna’s equally emotional “Gettin’ Some Head.”
Kings of Leon
The Nashville rockers brought their fieriest guitar chords to the main stage like it was a stadium, playing a sexed-up set which included “Crawl,” “Happy Alone” and “King of the Rodeo” as the screen panned between singer Caleb Followill’s furrowed brow and drummer Nathan Followill’s pink-bubblegum bubble-blowing.
Since the Hawaiian folk rocker Johnson has added multi-instrumentalist Zach Gill to the lineup, the sound is richer, Gill’s piano adding a bluesy jazz vibe that makes sun-soaked favorites like “Poor Taylor” and “Bubble Toes” sound new again. Those who’d braved a day of rain got a pleasant surprise when special guests began appearing. Trey Anastasio wandered over from the next stage to play awesomely on “Mudfootball.” Matt Costa spent all of “Fall Line” a verse or two behind.
It was fine afternoon fare, the crooning harmonies mingling with the scent of funnel cakes as the Brooklyn-based Grizzlies played longtime favorites like “Knife,” with some of the clearest and tightest vocals of the festival.
Strobe lights, neon leotards, boas — it all came together in a burst of energetic electro-pop with the Brazilian beat-boppers and the crowd dancing along to “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” and “Alala,” upraised hands rising and falling in rhythm to instrumental breaks. Lead singer Lovefoxxx is that girl at the bar who has more fun than everyone else.
Your next indie crush from Jersey had Karen O’s smoky, dragged-out vocals perfectly paired with quirky set choices like “Brooklyn’s on Fire,” which crescendoed into a fist-pumping tribute to the borough.
The socially conscious rapper spent the last three months sampling Ethiopian soul and recording in Marley’s old house, and decided to share a few tracks with the crowd. The sweetness of his voice on a cappella tracks juxtaposed with the bitter images of violence and corruption in Jamaica.
The pint-size performer from Wales has gotten a lot of flack for trying to be the next Winehouse, but “Rehab” ripoff “Mercy” aside, which face it, is fun and danceable, Duffy chose to shine the spotlight not solely on those scratchy vocals, but her distinctive pitch and penchant for introspective lyrics as well, showcasing songs like “Warwick Avenue,” and the title track off her album Rockferry.
The Felice Brothers
Maybe the best faux-hillbilly band around (c’mon, one of them is from Staten Island), the set, although uneven, deserves serious credit for their rub-a-dub fun-time song lyrics like “I poured some whiskey into my whiskey,” and the off-kilter sense of humor showcased on a Dylan-esque ballad to a long-lost pussycat named Ruby, complete with requisite feline screeching into the mike.