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Dominated by its uniquely eclectic line-up, featuring welcome returns by some of the biggest names in indie and electronica, All Points East launched into its inaugural weekend at East London’s vast Victoria Park. Boasting headline appearances from LCD Soundsystem, a celebratory and emotional homecoming by locals The xx, and a mesmerising onslaught on the senses by Bjork, it has easily established itself as one of the most exciting events of the summer.
As All Points East continues into the week, delivering a programme of free events up until headline shows by The National, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Catfish & The Bottlemen this weekend, here’s a rundown of everything we learned from our East London musical adventure.
It’s all about the line-up
There is a lot going on at All Points East, but none of it can overshadow the incredible line-up that offered a feast of talent for any indie lover or electronic fan. There is also a smattering of gritty rock thanks to the likes of Yellow Days, and enough soul and RnB (Kelela is particularly impressive) to inject some serious diversity. The heavy hitters, so to speak, all deliver with ease.
The Friday celebrates a huge return to UK shores by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with frontperson Karen O commanding the sizable crowd with her trademark fire. The festival set includes their iconic hits Maps, Pin, and fan favourite Date With The Night to round off the twelve song mastery. It provides the perfect support for indie-electro kings LCD Soundsystem who offer a brilliantly fitting soundtrack to the evening.
Elsewhere the Friday welcomes atypical musical collective Superorganism, who demonstrate their tight blend of quirky pop to a jubilant audience. The production value on the show alone is worth noting, with unusual projections and lazers proving to be the name of the game. Young Fathers mirror the off-kilter sounds on the East Stage (the festival’s main stage) with their bass heavy, often hard hitting, tracks. Those looking for sheer joy are met by Glass Animals and their pineapples.
It’s Phoenix who storm the second stage, or North Stage, with their vibrant electro-indie. By the appearance of the euphoric 1901, frontperson Thomas Mars is adorned on the hands of the fans, elevated above the crowd. There are few parties like a Phoenix party.
The Saturday sees the crowds descend on Victoria Park once more, ready for the homecoming spectacle of The xx. The London natives deliver with ease to a backdrop of fork lightning dominating the East London skyline. As the heavens open during Shelter, never a more fitting moment, it does little to dampen the spirits. For Romy, Oliver and Jamie, it’s clearly a transcendent experience, as it is for the ecstatic crowds. Particularly credit needs to be given to the festival’s soundsystem, which matches the deep bass lines with ease.
Over on the North Stage, pop superstar Lorde delivers a festival set filled with the same energy and production as her own headline shows. Songs from last year’s phenomenal Melodrama sound absolutely huge, the album’s title in part reflecting Lorde’s on-stage antics. As she is carried around the stage on the hands of her backing dancers, it feels entirely right. By far the biggest pop name on the bill, her flirtation with electronic sounds effortlessly places her among the more experimental counterparts. Even as her music carries serious messages (see Liability‘s introspection or Perfect Places social critique) there’s an abundance of pure fun.
Elsewhere the Saturday plays host to the seriously sultry Rhye, one of a handful of acts bringing the trumpet back to festival stages. Popcaan delights the crowd with his dancehall rhythms on the East Stage, and Rex Orange County enthuses his fans, not least with summer anthem Loving Is Easy.
The Sunday has an altogether more chilled atmosphere, not least due to the imminent appearances of Iceland musical veteran and all round artist Bjork. Her set is underpinned by an incredible backdrop, and despite the occasional issue with the screen, it’s as immersive an experience as festivals can offer. The setlist pulls largely from her latest work, other than a rare appearance of the cataclysmic Human Behaviour. It’s fitting in a performance that brings together the festival’s urban landscape with nature, Bjork herself dressed as a bug-like creature. Just like The xx, she once again plays to a backdrop of thunder and lightning, although the rain thankfully holds off. The two come together in perfect symmetry for one of the weekend’s most memorable moments.
Father John Misty precedes Bjork with his soulful voice and powerful lyrics. As he croons of self-deprecation and social injustice, it’s enough to stop festival goers in their tracks. He’s joined on stage by a plethora of musicians, and although despite one well-timed quip, not the day’s headliner Bjork.
Friendly Fires celebrate their recent return to the live scene with an upbeat performance on the North Stage. The closing one-two of Paris and Kiss Of Life leave a lingering party spirit across the festival site.
Kelela brings serious class to the West Arena, the festival’s only live tent, donning a flowing white dress that looks simply stunning against the minimalist backdrop and production. Her unusual RnB is met by a plethora of die-hard fans, as she expresses her gratitude while delivering in note perfect style.
Sylvan Esso pull one of the largest crows to the West Arena, sitting somewhere between The Knife and Icona Pop in style. Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor brings his distinctive voice to the North Stage, all on a day opened by spectacular London DJ, producer and vocalist Kelly Lee Owens.
Rave has evolved
Presented by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and 2ManyDJs, Despacio dominates the back half of the festival site. A queue leads up to an ominous door, behind it a fully immersive DJ experience. A glitter ball hangs high above an almost pitch-black dancefloor. Speakers surround the floor, blasting electronic music from all sides. Those looking for the late night experience in broad daylight need look no further than this hidden gem.
It’s a set-up mirrored on the X Arena, a full surround sound immersive stage, this time outside. It welcomes some of the most exciting DJs, not least rising star Yeaji and Sunday headliner The Back Madonna.
All Points East proves itself as the forefront of electronic technology, bringing rave well and truly into the 21st Century, and looking towards the next.
Seriously good food
There’s been an obvious dedication to the improvement of food and drink at festivals in recent years, something that All Points East have fully backed. There’s a whole range of food and drink on offer, from top quality burgers (here’s looking at you, Patty & Bun), to award winning Mac’n’Cheese, Greek souvlaki and vegan curries. That’s just scratching the surface too. At the far end of the festival adjacent to the main stage lies Halloumi Fries, a piece of true culinary mastery.
There’s something for everyone too, catering to all dietary requirements across the festival. Frozen cocktails, spirits, craft beer and soft drink also dot Victoria Park.
Space to relax
Located in the heart of Victoria Park, All Points East utilises the space brilliantly. Rather than cordoning off the green spaces, there’s plenty of opportunity for a shaded sit down in-between the musical wonder on the various stages and arenas. There’s nothing better than grabbing a moment for a cold drink and a relax, and All Points East caters to both.
As Lorde sings on Perfect Places, “what are perfect places anyway?”. Well… All Points East is just that.
All Points East continues its free programme throughout the week before three very special standalone shows at the weekend. Find out all you need to know about things to come in our preview here. For tickets head to Ticketmaster.co.uk.