“It’s hard to dance with umbrellas,” admitted lead singer Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, the group that was as hard-charging as the three steady hours of rain on the first day of the All Points West Music and Arts Festival at Liberty State Park, half a mile (of water) from the Statue of Liberty. The crowd danced, or hopped, in the mud anyway to this group’s 50-minute set that was, for my money, the best of the day – or at least the rainy portion of the day. vampireweekendTheir melodies were as pleasing as the announcement Koenig got to make: Because of the rain, everybody’s Friday one-day ticket would admit them to Saturday and Sunday as well.
To call Vampire Weekend the best is in no way to knock the rest of the line-up. There were three separate stages. I hung out at the main stage, called Blue Comet, and saw (in order) Fleet Foxes, The National, Vampire Weekend and then Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and finally Jay-Z. The last two groups performed after the rain had ended, and the sun had given way to a night sky filled with festival lights, the Statue of Liberty, and the brilliant New York skyline.

All Wet All Points West. Photos by Jonathan Mandell
All Wet All Points West. Photos by Jonathan Mandell
The rainy sets were for me the most memorable. Matt Berninger of The National jumped off the stage and into an ecstatic crowd. (And because I got such a cool shot of this, that’s the one at the top of this blog post).
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are always energetic, a feverish blitz of punk rock and conceptual art, but does it say something that a little too much of my attention during their set was riveted to the two giant eyeballs they sent bouncing out to the crowd?
jayz-at-apw2Jay-Z was supposed to start his set at 9:10. At 9:20, a giant counter came on the stage set at 10:00, and we waited another ten minutes, but then he really did show up exactly at zero, the screen filled with flashing images of cars and city streets and the word Brooklyn, and the power amps filled with the Beastie Boys’ 1987 hit “No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn – Jay-Z’s tribute to the band he replaced as first-night headliner, after they had to drop out because Beastie Boy Adam Yauch is getting treatment for cancer. In the rap, he replaced the line “Beastie Boys at the Garden” to “Jay-Z at All Points West.”

Culture Vampire Weekend A Highlight at All Wet All Points West Festival (Matt...