In truth, the fate of Liberty State Park’s two year old All Points West festival has been in doubt ever since the first drop of rain fell on Fleet Foxes sometime on Friday afternoon, early on day one of the festival’s second year. Your festival is not going well when you have to remind your putative crowds via Twitter that despite the lightning storm currently perched overtop Coldplay, the show will go on. And it did, in muddy misery–still potentially an upgrade over 2008’s edition, where inept ferry piloting and draconian drinking rules overshadowed a rare Radiohead performance on this coast. Attendance figures dropped in 2009 to levels far below the type of business Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo regularly do, and in the aftermath APW promoter Paul Tollett essentially told the New York Times that the future of his festival was very much in doubt. “I’d like it not to rain,” he said.
Yesterday the NYT‘s Ben Sisario returned to survey the lay of the festival land, and found the AEG Live execs–who put on All Points West–just as despondent as they were six months ago. APW has yet to nab even a single headliner–pretty much the determining factor in the success or failure of any festival. “There is no question that our biggest challenge is finding suitable headliners, and it has been more challenging this year than in the past,” AEG talent buyer Mark Shulman told the Times. “No final determination of any kind has been made for 2010.” That’s bad, since most of the other festivals and the bands that will be playing them have already made summer arrangements. Sisario cites heavy competition for talent among festivals and New York’s jaded cultural consumers–who after all pretty much can see whoever they want, whenever they want–as further bad omens for a festival that has seemed cursed from the beginning. And no one involved in promoting the thing sounds even remotely enthusiastic. “I don’t know how great an experience it was for the fans,” AEG affiliate Skip Paige told the paper. It was indeed a pretty lousy one. Maybe we can all save our sneakers this year and just go ahead and call the whole thing off now?
Outlook for All Points West Festival in Jersey City This Summer Is in Doubt [NYT]