Friday, August 8, 2008

Go West

Tonight Radiohead headlines the inaugural All Points West Music & Arts Festival in Jersey City. They will be preceded by British electronic duo Underworld on the stage set up at Liberty State Park. This is a lineup to celebrate, but might also inspire consternation among superstitious New York area music fans, at least those who recall that the same two bands were scheduled to open the ill-fated Field Day festival five years ago. Field Day will long be remembered as a calamitous disappointment: a stellar roster of performers was set to perform on Long Island’s North Fork before local law enforcement, government officials and environmentalists put the kibosh on the event. People who had purchased tickets could opt for a refund or a relocated “field day” revolving around the Meadowlands parking lot in New Jersey. (Torrential rain put a damper on that already-underwhelming substitute.)

New Yorkers want and deserve a solid festival in their own backyard. Austin holds two venerable festivals each year- Austin City Limits and South by Southwest- that practically engulf the city. This summer, Chicago hosted both Lollapalooza and the Pitchfork Music Festival. And each summer music fans from across the country descend on Manchester, Tennessee and Indio, California for their respective Bonnaroo and Coachella festivals. Of course, New York does present organizers with a substantial roadblock: too many people and not enough land. But the city’s incalculable contributions to music over the years and its ceaseless creative energy should outweigh logistics.

Despite the ominous weather forecast for the weekend, All Points West has successfully avoided the metaphorical gathering clouds that doomed Field Day. Let’s hope the event is a success and becomes a mainstay. New Yorkers shouldn’t have to travel to points further west than Jersey to get their festival fill.

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