From iconic headlining acts to eclectic artists, not to mention so many fun activities, great spots to hang out, drinks and delicious street food that kept us going throughout, All Points East rocked East London…
Victoria Park was alive with music and chatter, excitement was in the air and the sun shined on. It was a ten-day extravaganza flanked by two weekends of star-studded lineups while the park became a playground of musical flirtations. Pop met rock, electric met folk, and synth met indie, not to mention the week of free activities – ‘In the Neighbourhood’ – sandwiched in between. It’s no wonder then that this multi-flavoured music festival has become a firm diary fixture for the East London community and beyond.
Week one saw a strong electric theme with Gorillaz headlining on the first night. Other highlights were Bristol band IDLES, Californian indie-popper Remi Wolf and Hip-hop legend Pusha T who had the crowd bouncing.
Gorillaz, as always, came full of animation and life. Having seen them recently at Boardmasters we were curious to see how the set would differ at a slightly more intimate event, and we were not disappointed. It’s not a surprise that the animations were as eye catching as ever. Even from further back in the crowd, the mixture of colours and lights lit up Victoria Park. Damon Albarn was in full force, captivating the crowd with his antics. There was something for both the newer fans and the old school followers; and for someone who had not been exposed to their newer releases, it was great to hear what they’d been developing recently.
A starring moment would have to be Gorillaz collaboration with Tame Impala, who received a fantastic response from the crowd, for their new single New Gold, alongside Bootie Brown. As Damon put it, it truly is a “mad song”, hitting all the craziness that we would associate with Gorillaz.
For us though, the animations have always been so integral to the identity of this band, and once again it personified the political undercurrent in their work and desire for change. Whether the comments are directed at warfare, global warming, or other topics, they were as poignant as ever, and set a bar for all those in the spotlight to use their position to show the world where we can do better.
‘It personified the political undercurrent in their work and desire for change’
Saturday brought APE’s Field Day – one of the biggest dates for all electronic fans with its feast of visuals as well as sound. A legendary lineup of Kraftwerk and The Chemical Brothers attracted young and olds fans alike. Kraftwerk have commanded headline slots for 50 years, and this year was no exception. With a set of their much-loved techno tunes, including The Robots, Numbers/Computer World and The Model, all accompanied by a mesmerising, hypnotic display of visuals – with complimentary 3D glasses in the mix. The Chemical Brothers closed the festival with an incredible sensory performance – Block Rockin’ Beats and Chemical Beats set the pace and when Galvanise finished the set, the crowd were left wanting more.
After the first monumental two days of music, All Points East’s IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD (The NBHD) returned on Sunday 21st August with an incredible three-day programme of the biggest and best free activities and entertainment in London. With so much to choose from: outdoor cinema, creative workshops, theatre and music sessions, plus sport and wellbeing activites from Saracens Rugby, West Ham FC and Tower Hamlets Tennis – we were spoilt for choice.
‘Crashing kaleidoscopic waves, giant red lips, alien abductions, you name it’
The second week was a more indie-affair at APE and Thursday 25th August welcomed back Tame Impala who made a bold return to London’s live music scene with a trippy, multi-sensory headline show that delivered.
Lead Kevin Parker’s last headline London performance was paused back in 2020, just after the launch of album The Slow Rush, so it had been a while in the works. “I can’t tell you how fucking long I’ve waited for this” he said, when finally back on the stage in Victoria Park. No wonder, then, that there were some big expectations for this comeback.
The day’s All Points East line-up was strong, with standout sets from multi-instrumentalist FKJ, and Catherine Polacheck – the preliminary act to perform on the East Stage, dressed head-to-toe in black and impressing with powerful, acrobatic vocals. But preceded by a morning downpour and drab afternoon skies, crowds were a little sparser than expected – and in need an extra boost of energy. It wasn’t until Tame Impala took to the stage that things really got going.
With the park filling rapidly and suddenly surrounded by crowds, a dystopian pharmaceutical ad played on the screens. We were introduced to Rushium a mock drug said to alter time – and which aptly set the scene for the show. The vocals began with two tracks from the latest Tame Impala album, One More Year and Borderline. As the show progressed, the visual effects became increasingly more spectacular.
The artistry involved was impressive. We were shown crashing kaleidoscopic waves, giant red lips, alien abductions, you name it. Rock anthem Elephant riled the crowds, with vivid strobing lasers probing from the stage at each drop. A visual experience – which made up for the iffy sound quality further back in the crowd. A truly notable moment was during Let it Happen when a giant, strobing halo descended on the stage, emitting colourful rays of light – before exploding with rainbow confetti, to the delight of the now-euphoric audience. “There’s a drop coming in. Are you guys ready?” From those words on, there was no turning back.
True to its promise, the show delivered a transcendent, time-altering experience. Vocals were excellent – but it was the spectacular visual effects that fuelled the crowds.
‘Mogwai’s melodies brought a gentle vibe – perfect for those of us lolling about with a drink in hand’
Friday 26th welcomed American band The National, performing to a crowd who’d waited a long time to see them live. A high point was their new single Weird Goodbyes, joined by Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold who had also played with his band at All Points East earlier that day. Playing favourites like Bloodbuzz Ohio and Day I Die pleased the fans, and smiles were beaming all round when they closed on About Today.
The mellow melodies of Mogwai brought a gentle vibe – perfect for those of us lolling about with a drink in hand. Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, held the West Stage earlier in the day with his usual poise and songs like Other Side and Queen.
An amazing line up on Saturday unleashed some of the best in alternative dance music. Fred Again drew in the London crowd with a set of music from his first and second albums: Actual Life 1 and 3, including I Found You and Faisal. His recent hits Jungle, Lights Out, Turn On The Lights kept the beats coming and dance floor driven. Legendary figure Mike Skinner made a surprise performance when he emerged as the explosion of orange balls were fired into the sky. Other highlights from the day saw the lively pop princess Charli XCX, H.E.R., James Blake, Shy FX and Joy Orbison with some UK funk and house tunes.
Dance-legends and headliners Disclosure made their APE debut with a euphoric set of energetic dance floor bangers – opening with White Noise moving through tracks to When A Fire Starts To Burn against a stage lit with deep red strobe lights. As fireworks exploded behind the stage Sam Smith emerged to throbbing excitement and the crowd went wild. The night closed with rocketing streamers and a brass band for the African-inspired Tondo, designed for the dancefloor.
‘A euphoric set of energetic dance floor bangers’
The final fun-filled day of All Points East festival saw an act for everyone, from Sleaford Mods and Party Dozen to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The first time Cave has performed in the UK with his most accomplished backing band in more than four years. Spotted among the crowds of Nick’s fans was actor Rami Malek and his girlfriend Lucy Boynton, and actor Damien Lewis, a devoted Cave follower.
A highlight was watching Thom Yorke’s new band THE SMILE from the impressive vantage point of the ferris wheel. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds closed the festival with a powerful performance of upbeat rock and moving ballads, while interacting with the crowd and ad-libbing amusing lyrics, such as the repetition of “Hannah Montana Miley Cyrus in a fucking swimming pool”; Cave was born to perform. His emotive rendition of Into My Arms was stirring – you could almost hear the collective sigh of past loves and heartbreaks ripple throughout the crowd.
‘Cave’s emotive rendition of Into My Arms was stirring’
Undoubtedly, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds band attracted one of the largest crowds of the day, even possibly the week. Thousands stood illuminated by the stage’s glowing golden lights, which perfectly reflected the giddy warmth of everyone there. We swayed side to side, fuelled by cocktails and love – united by the music, but also each of us alone holding our own stories within the songs.
With the final song sung and the last of the crowds heading towards Mile End and the reality of the Central Line, All Points East wrapped up for another year. Nice work APE, see you next year.
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