All Points East is back after a strong first year that saw, amongst others, Nick Cave bring on Kylie, Bjork tame the lightning and LCD wow the hipsters in East London. The Shoreditch equivalent of BST Hyde Park. It's already well-established and in a hugely oversaturated London market APE has certainly muscled in.
Compared to old school festivals in the park like the awful Finsbury Park gigs last year and old school bashes like V Festival (RIP), there’s a touch of modernism to APE. Spending £20 at the card only bars will get you a free bottle of water (as long as you use your American Express) and you won’t have to walk a few metres before seeing the many Halloumi Fries stalls or Vegas noshes. Hipster location carries with it Hipster sensibilities. APE often faces criticism of being soulless - but it curates strong lineups that clearly try and cater for the alternative Indie crowd. In terms of scheduling and lineup, it now competes directly with Primavera in Barcelona. Though London seemed to mix the sunshine with some abrupt downpours! Other branding booths featured Tinder, a decent Jaegermeister hut and an AMEX fast-track VIP lane. Anti-corporation it isn't; though it's easy to take for granted how difficult festivals are to run, and APE is very slick.
The Strokes day is a huge sellout. Even if the lineup could be Reading 2010. At 40,000 capacity - it almost feels like too many people are packed in. It certainly took ages vacating the festival after. Casablancas and co haven’t played in UK for four years - since that sunny Hyde Park gig - and they set the crowd into riotous mode as soon as they open with Heart In A Cage. Riotous because of the music, and because large portions of the crowd can’t hear the sound mix properly. The backlash has been strong, but at the front you could hear perfectly (whilst being mauled).
It’s an interesting mix of a set from the NYC indie idols - only their first three albums are covered. And they barely play more than a seventy mins set including a three song encore including Last Nite. Effortless cool even when phoning it in - The Strokes topped a memorable Saturday of APE despite the subsequent complaints.
Earlier, Jack White’s moonlighting band The Raconteurs played a rocking, sweltering set to the rapturous crowd delighted to see them. They were big and loud and put everyone in a good mood - helped by the weather. It had poured the day before for The Chemical Brothers. It wouldn't have mattered if it rained during The Raconteurs - everyone loved them and it was flipping LOUD.
Jarvis Cocker whilst no longer in Pulp, is very much still Jarvis. And his tongue-in-cheek no act JARV IS cheerfully and amusingly is bonkers from start to finish. The only Pulp song is B-side His N Hers, and the rest of the set is that weird fusion of spiritual and crazy-as that we've come to adore with Jarvis. What a frontman, and the crowd in the sweltering West Stage tent love his every move. At parts, he's even part of the crowd, like a messiah in twee.
Johnny Marr delighted the indie crowd with hits old and young and even teased and rewarded with The Smiths’ Charming Man. “Calm down you Indie Heads”. Marr keeps his head down and delights fans whilst his ex-band-partner Morrissey seems to have the opposite agenda. Marr is perfect early evening festival billing.
Anna Calvi is captivating musically and visually whenever she plays - even in the sunny clones of the North Stage arc where she arrives and delights like it’s the biggest thing ever. She belongs on the East Stage next time high up the bill.
Provocatively named Amyl & The Sniffers celebrated their debut album with an arresting set very early on the East Stage. They certainly intended to make a name for themselves and frontperson Amy Taylor arrested the crowd with her in-your-face aura, complete with Mad Max mullet.
And woke rock emergents Dream Wife certainly put the pow into a 15:00 set time.Thirty minutes of Punk and Rock and Pop and attacks on gender conformity all stir the earlybirds for the day ahead. It's a strong saturday lineup all round.
The Sunday of APE was emptier in terms of crowd numbers and more diverse in terms of acts. The brilliant, shapeshifting Toro Y Moi delighted the East Stage with funk, pop, soul in a rare London date. It's a crime that Toro Y Moi isn't much more popular in the UK.
Kamasi Washington effortlessly jazzy and effortlessly powerful with his Saxophony of space funk on the North Stage. A treasure trove of musical ideas, Washington's funk odyssey delights during the odd touch of rain.
Beach House bring their dreamy indie to the West Stage tent and whilst they are mostly in blinding oxymoronic darkness, they certainly delight their core fanbase inside.
And heart-throb James Blake headlines the North Stage to a packed crowd all singing his every lyrical word. Whilst it's not the most animated of sets, Blake preaches to the converted and his strong voice dances on a tightrope between vulnerability and electronic discord.
The main act, and easily the most impressive of the weekend, is new headliner Christine And The Queens. Full of startling dance ambition and tremendous pop hooks, Christine has arrived to a new Headliner crown among the London elite. With tremendous glittering pyrotechnics to just incredible choreography, this was a bill-topping set to rival many a jaded rock headliner. Credit to APE for feeling brave enough to give them the chance. The heavens opening minutes before she arrived was wet but didn't deter in the slightest, and before long the sunset was back as a new star had risen.
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All Points East 2019 review