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All Points West

by David Yi 8 August 2009 176 views 2 Comments E-mail David Yi


Liberty Park’s field transformed into an ocean of sludge with feet slowly sinking into the ground like quicksand. A complete haze enveloped the park, sweat dripping off of everyone’s body as festival-goers danced in sync to the magical sounds that blared from the speakers, shared gloriously by all in the mud pie-slinging kingdom. Needless to say you West-coasters , it was a complete, joyous end to the three-day festival.

My partner in slime and I made the trek down into New Jersey around 5 PM, dodging the insouciant stampede that rushed to the various stages to ra ra riot to their favorite bands. I’ll admit, while others were too excited for the night’s acts, I was trudging along the long path toward the park, wishing they were replaced by Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jay-Z, MSTRKRFT, and Fleet Foxes all of whom performed the previous two days. But the night ended with my foolish jaded soul weeping in the back of the stadium in absolute, utter awe, as Chris Martin’s haunting and hypnotic falsetto brought everyone–young, old, headband sporting hipsters, collar-popping frat boys–to their knees. The battle of bands was far from fair, Coldplay ruled all throughout the land.

MGMT a sham, The Black Keys wow, and I need some ShamWow! to soak the tears shed from Coldplay.

That’s not to say that The Black Keys or any of the other acts like We Are Scientists, Lykke Li, or British newcomers La Roux weren’t great honorable mentions. Dan Auerbach’s intense guitar rifts along with the mesmerizing and passionate Patrick Carney on drums was a true showcase of bravado. Both showed charismatic musicianship that played on throughout their set. At one point during the performance there was a glitch with the microphones–the sound completely muted–but the malfunction made for a better show with Auerbach going off onto an impromptu two-minute long guitar solo.

Possibly the biggest disappointment of the night though, was the one act I actually really wanted to watch: Brooklyn-based electronica and noise rock duo, MGMT. I mean, Oracular Spectacular was my jam all throughout my brief stay in the UK during the spring of 2008, and I was playing it on repeat all throughout that year’s summer. “Time To Pretend” was the go-to song for any “in-the-know” DJ throughout London, playing from the posh clubs in Tottenham to the true grit bars in Shoreditch while “Electric Feel,” was the feel-good song of my last college semesters, stamping permanent memories of laying out by the California beaches, to dancing a fool on some crazy nights in Los Feliz.

Okay, so throw your ironic mustaches at me, Indie elitists, but MGMT was absolutely yawn-inducing, the band failing to possess even a miota of stage presence. Andrew VanWyngarden was completely dead onstage, singing without even a faint attempt at emotion and there were awkward pauses inbetween sets where stage banter was badly needed. The energy definitely came to a halt when the band played songs from their forthcoming album, Congratulations. The songs were boring to the point that when they were performed, even the most hardcore of fans–the high school kids who were shirtless, chests and faces painted in homage to their “Time To Pretend” era– were standing in place, wondering just what their heroes were doing.

It was extremely unfortunate that I had stayed for this when Coldplay was playing at the same time. Before their performance I actually ran into Chris Martin backstage, squealing like Abigail Breslin under my breath. I didn’t actually muster up the guts to talk to him, but I did to give him a slightly awkward smile and head nod while he passed into his trailer. Needless to say, even offstage, he looked like the true rock god that he was when he later performed in front of the masses.

The entire show, from what I caught, was absolutely alluring. The entire stage was composed of the “Viva La Vida” theme with colorful French Revolutionary-styled backdrop, each member’s flamboyant fashion complementing the set mood. The band opened with songs from their newest album like “Violet Hill,” and every performance after that had a completely different style and feel, beautifully unique from the next.

For instance, during “Yellow,” there were hundreds of yellow balloons were released into the sky. In “Lovers in Japan,” Martin sang while swinging a Japanese paper umbrella around while colorful confetti rained on fans.

Image via David Yi

Image via David Yi

The highlight of the show was when Coldplay became a little silly, playing homage to the absent Beastie Boys who were set to play on Friday’s show by performing “Fight For Your Right (To Party).” Jay-Z, who replaced the Boyz on Friday had also tributed them, blowing the audience away with his rendition of “No Sleep Till’ Brooklyn.” Coldplay also paid their respects to the late Michael Jackson with “Billie Jean.”

But it was the end of the show when Coldplay performed the haunting “The Scientist” that put the sprinklers in full gear. It was the second to last song in a set that lasted for over two hours that, to me anyway, instantly became one of the best Coldplay performances ever. With Martin crooning into the mic, his fingers like gentle hammers on the keyboard, the performance heartfelt and genuine. But it was when he went into his signature falsettoboth graceful yet strong, empowering yet tragic, that set chills up my spine. Those who forgot why they were Coldplay fans to begin with started to slowly remember, those who were musical skeptics started to believe. I did.

Coldplay ended and told us fans they’d be back in a couple of years which is basically an eternity, and bowed graciously four times before leaving the stage.

The performance definitely made this night one to remember. And with only the midnight moon glowing over us and the brightly lit buildings of Manhattan to lead us back home, we lingered in the field a little longer, just letting the festival sink in… like our bodies moving further into the glutinous earth.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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  • Rudy Klapper said:

    DAVID! jealousy

  • Lippy said:

    Hey Helen Keller who wrote this review, MGMT kicked ass. Bite us. Anyone who YouTubes their perf will see…and they definitely deserve a great big Congratu effing lations. Namaste.

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