24 May – 2 June 2019 welcomed back East London’s most hotly-anticipated music festival for its second year. BEAST magazine were on the ground to cover it all – from iconic headlining acts to eclectic artists, and not to mention the delicious street food and drinks that kept us going throughout. Here we look back on our highlights from across the two weekends, and look forward to next year…
Victoria Park is alive with music and chatter. It’s the second last Friday of May, and there’s a palpable excitement in the air. Perhaps it’s the fact it’s the end of the week, the sun is shining (or was initially at least!) and summer feels but a whisper away. But most likely it’s because it’s the first day of the ten-day extravaganza that is All Points East. Flanked by two weekends of star-studded lineups, including the likes of Christine and the Queens, Mumford and Sons, Bon Iver and The Vaccines, the park becomes a playground of musical flirtations. Pop met rock, techno 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.
Two months on, and we’re still reliving many of the festival’s golden moments. Take for example that first Friday, which saw a strong theme of rave nostalgia. Electronic duo Chemical Brothers headlined with a trippy set of their much-loved techno tunes – all accompanied by a mesmerising, almost hypnotic, display of visuals and even giant robots. Although the technically superb performance included tunes from their ninth album, No Geography, woven throughout was crowd-pleasing favourites such as ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’, ‘Swoon’, and ‘Galvanize – all of which produced an electrical pulse of sentimentality throughout an audience itching for an old-times-sake rave. Hot Chip and Primal Scream equally played to a crowd of mainly generation Xers with a day-pass from the kids. Sweat-soaked joy came from Hot Chip’s noughtie’s anthem ‘Ready for the Floor’ and ‘Over and Over’, and rain-soaked joy from Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, who, clad in a pink suit, played his 90s hit ‘Screamadelica’. Worthy of mention too was Spiritualized, who owned the West stage with their back catalogue despite the rain.
Sunday of the first week was a more indie-affair and welcomed the mellow melodies of Canadian singer-songwriter Mac Demarco, who brought his laid-back lyrical genius to his set – perfect for those of us lolling about with a drink in hand.
The day also saw Bow born-and-bred Honne offer up their sensational synth-pop anthems in “the park where [we] write most of our songs”. The stand-out star of the day was, of course, headliner Christine and The Queens, who arrived on stage just as the heavens opened and left the stage to a sea of affection and joy. Backed by pyrotechnics and a dance troupe, her amorous performance was nothing short of triumphant. Including a potent cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ and a sexy cover of Janet Jackson’s ‘Nasty’, she also moved and flowed her way through her own material with equal ease and expertise to the soul-touching finale of ‘Doesn’t Matter’. Later describing her APE experience as ‘incandescent’ (perhaps a reference to the fact some of the stage caught fire briefly!), we couldn’t agree more: Héloïse Letissier était en feu…
The next week saw Hackney’s own Dizzee Rascal transform the All Points East stage audience into ‘bassline junkies’, and you can be sure we all went bonkers for his iconic party song ‘Dance wiv me’. What started off as a quiet set of people hanging around on picnic blankets soon turned into an energetic mass of people dancing their way down memory lane. The Staves trio of sisters held the audience in the palm of their hands as they sang their angelic harmonies in the most enviable of outfits.
The headline slot had to go to Mumford and Sons, who provided a two-hour set of sunny, heart-filling musical magic as part of their Gentleman of the Road x All Points East takeover. Undoubtedly, the group 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 JägerHaus’s ‘All Points Passion’ cocktails and love – united by the music, but also each of us alone holding our own stories within the songs.
The final Sunday saw Bon Iver close with a deeply satisfying, psychedelic headlining set. His emotive folk classics ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘Flume’, from his debut studio album For Emma, Forever Ago, reminded us all of the power of the personal to resonate outwards to the universe – and that good lyrics are timeless. You could almost hear the collective sigh of past loves and heartbreaks ripple throughout the crowd. Justin Vernon also managed to drop two new songs in there, to much delight.
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.