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Girl Talk, New Pornographers, Mates of State Keep it Upbeat at All Points West

August 8, 2008 9:12 PM ET

All Points West — the new rock fest at New Jersey's Liberty State Park — immediately demonstrated why it's not exactly the "the East Coast Coachella" on its first day Friday, when a spritz of rain came down during Mates of State's afternoon set. It was ironic that the only precipitation arrived during the sunshine-sweet indie couple's performance, but Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel kept their composure, rocking out drums-and-keys songs from "Jigsaw" to "The Re-Arranger." With their eyes intently locked, the pair's harmonies came easy, like they were second nature.

The clouds parted by the time Canadian power-poppers New Pornographers took the stage before a large crowd of true fans and others camped out early for headliner Radiohead. The band was noticeably missing Neko Case and Dan Bejar but kept the energy up, punching out hits like "Spanish Techno," ending with a cover of "Don't Bring Me Down" by Electric Light Orchestra. A.C. Newman began their set by quoting the Canadian cult comedy Strange Brew, then joked about Cloverfield and the nerdiness of the crowd: evidently 20 percent of the audience was a record-breaking glasses-free.

Greg Gillis a.k.a. Girl Talk, stuck close to his laptop during his set, rhythmically convulsing while pumping out his mash-ups of rock classics and hip-hop anthems. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania DJ was completely surrounding by dancing fans tossing inflatables, glitter and toilet paper that was being dispensed from leaf blowers. The set climaxed as Gillis threw himself and a blow-up mattress into the audience, and jumped up and down as though he were on a trampoline.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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