All Points West, the ambitious three day rock festival in Liberty State Park in New Jersey, starts today. With over 40 bands on three stages and multiple appearances from a little headliner called Radiohead, the new kid on the booming festival circuit has already established itself as the biggest event of its kind in the Northeast. It's also distinguishing itself for an ecologically mindful approach to festival planning; for one thing the only drivers permitted to park are those who carpool, and concertgoers are strongly encouraged to take mass transit. Which means getting there will definitely be half the "fun." (Here's a guide.)
If you want to find out for yourself, tickets for today are now being sold on Craigslist for less than face value. Maybe nobody will notice if you simply don't come back from lunch? All Points West organizer Paul Tollett, who works with Goldenvoice on the Coachella festival in California, spoke with us yesterday.
How many people are expected this weekend? 30,000 a day.
Are any of the days sold out? Saturday is now sold out.
So whose idea was it to have a big three day rock festival in Jersey City? Well, we’ve been trying for years. Some of the staff that works at Coachella is based in New York in our AEG Live office. So they worked the show when Radiohead played at Liberty State Park in 2001. We’ve been looking for a site for a while and when they said they could get Liberty State Park it was obvious that we should do it there. I think it’s the best place on the east coast to do anything.
How did you score Radiohead? I think it was a combination of timing and the fact that they like that site a lot.
How much of the environmentally-friendly aspects of the festival were influenced by Radiohead? I think their thing has more to do with touring, not so much festivals.
But when you approached them had you already planned to focus on reducing the carbon footprint for this? That’s always part of doing a festival. You’re in that mode to do your best, you know? It works out here especially well because it’s so close to the city and mass transit can be such a big part of the show, which you can’t always do in other festival locations.
All Points West was announced for the same weekend as another would-be festival in New Jersey called Vineland. And then Vineland dropped out. What was going on with the scheduling there? I don’t know why Vineland dropped out but everyone wanted Radiohead. If I had to guess, I’d say that Vineland was looking at Radiohead, but I shouldn’t say because I don’t know.
With the big American rock festival explosion in the wake of Bonnaroo’s success, how concerned are you about the market for this sort of thing exhausting itself? Bonnaroo’s not the only successful festival out there. I think there is a chance there could be too many but I think that if they’re in different regions and have they’re own focus it’ll be fine. I like that festivals are a big part of American music right now.
Do you go to these other festivals and compare notes? I went to every one of them this year. Well, I shouldn’t say that because I’m sure I missed something but I am on my seventh weekend of music festivals. This is the last one for me.
You went to Rothbury, right? Yeah, we promoted Rothbury. We have a hand in that, Coachella, Stagecoach, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, Mile High Music Festival in Denver, and now All Points West.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in mounting this event in Jersey? It’s just more serious in New York because of the security issues than it is in Michigan or Denver or the desert in California. There’s just no public assembly issues.
What advice do you have for concertgoers this weekend? Just to keep an open mind. This is the first year we’re doing this so to some extent we’re finding our way also. We have a track record with other festivals so I hope that people will have an open mind. We’ve never done a three day festival in New Jersey so we’ll be fixing things along the way if anything goes wrong.
Besides Radiohead, what other bands are you most excited about? Underworld. I don’t see them enough. And Trey was good at Rothbury so I’m looking forward to his show here.
Yeah, he was a last minute addition. How did that come about? I think things changed in his world, you know? He started booking some shows, which is fortunate for us.
Who is Jack Johnson and why is he headlining every festival on earth this summer? [Laughs] I had him on Coachella and I know he’s playing other ones, too. But you’d have to ask him.
Who’s headlining Coachella next year? Don’t have it yet. Or it’s not for public knowledge.
Oh well, it was worth a shot. What’s one of the best times you’ve had at one of these festivals? For me, that was Roger Waters this year at Coachella. It was really something I’d never seen before. The show really kind of blew my mind.
Do you guys already have plans to do All Points West again? We would like to. Most of your work is in the first year; the heavy lifting. So if you can get it going that’s exciting. But the future is unwritten.
Do you think you’d be able to implement camping next time? I don’t think we’d go down that path. I think it’s close enough to big cities and Jersey and Manhattan, that it will always be a commuter.