We have about one more solid month of summer music festivals before this season, the biggest one yet in the U.S., comes to a close. Each town, whether big or small, tries to outdo everyone else with a better festival headliner, a better gimmick, better live web streaming, and even a better logo. Since many of the same acts are playing various festivals, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out from the rest of the pack.
To get the most bang-for-their-buck, festival promoters are also having acts sign “radius clauses” which prevents them from playing in a certain town (or radius) for a specified number of days. If you’re not going to see your favorite band in a club show for a few months, you might as well come out to our festival, right?
This year Lollapalooza is tugging at the 90’s heartstrings with the triple-monster-bill of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against The Machine. Bonnaroo surprised everyone by having Metallica show up at their festival (which in the past just catered to jam band aficionados). Pitchfork peaked my interest by having Public Enemy play It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back in its entirety.
I bring all of this up, because New York City (my current home), the mecca of everything, is having their big summer festival, All Points West, a couple weekends from now. Because New York City is the heart of it all–and because we get shows that other cities can only dream of–you’d think we have the most kick-ass summer festival of them all, right?
A concert at Liberty State Park sounds promising, I mean c’mon, how many summer festivals are taking place with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop? Can’t forget about that gorgeous New York City skyline. Even though I don’t want to think about the ferry ride over (can you say cluster f–k?), all in all, the setting for All Points West is unlike any other festival in the country.
If we got ourselves a great festival backdrop, in what many call the greatest city in the world (where many of the greatest bands in the world have spread their musical wings), why are the headliners of All Points West, Radiohead and–get ready for this–Jack Johnson?
No disrespect to Johnson, but having your name in bold letters next to Radiohead, playing THE summer festival in New York City, are you kidding me? Unless Johnson’s playing on a surfboard with the Beach Boys, I’m not convinced he should be headlining a festival in The Big Apple. Sadly, the rest of the bill is good, but not great. Ben Harper, Underworld, and Kings of Leon (all talented artists mind you) take up the second line of the poster.
And speaking of the poster, what’s up with the logo (or lack of one)? At first glance it looks like an advertisement for a real estate convention at the Javits Center. No color, no creativity, black font (all caps)–sigh.
Maybe because I’m spoiled all year long with live music in New York City I expect more. Come to think of it, the 3-day concert is actually in Jersey City. If the other towns are kicking our butt with a better summer festival package, we could do what we also do–blame it on Jersey.