All Points East 2022

APE back with strong lineup despite challenges

By Raph Pour-Hashemi | Published: Thu 1st Sep 2022

General Crowd

Saturday 20th to Sunday 28th August 2022
Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, Greater London, E9 7BT, England MAP
varies, around £70 a day
Daily capacity: 40,000
Last updated: Fri 12th Aug 2022




All Points East, very comfortable in its now-established home of Victoria Park in East London, is back for a solid 2022 roster of all things alternative. A word as post-modern as ‘hipster’ has lost all meaning in this new abnormal, post-pandemic world, but it’s safe to say this is as close to a mainstream-hipster-festival as things can get. Think BBC 6Music playlists and albums that score a 6.7 on Pitchfork, but still chart in the Top 10 due to physical media sales as opposed to streaming. The festival is already a set-in-stone chunk of the summer circuit.

APE, unlike many of its festival peers, managed to clear its cobwebs in 2021 - a full year earlier than most, featuring a mostly British crop of artists and adhering to all the covid limitations it could handle. 2022, in comparison, was the festival’s chance to launch a show on its own terms and with as much control of the environment as circumstances allowed. Alas, right off the bat, the current cost-of-living crisis inadvertently threw a huge spanner in the works, with public transport unions opting to  strike on the first and second day of the festival. If you didn’t live near East London, or couldn’t conceive of a creative way to reach Victoria Park, chances are you would not be able to get there and back without encountering a huge ordeal.

Whilst no-one is debating the merits of any union striking, particularly in the current economic climate, it did mean that the audience numbers for day one of APE, with Damon’s popular cartoon collective Gorillaz headlining, were much reduced compared to usual. Those fortunate enough to be able to reach Victoria Park were loving it - bar queues were usually zero; there was space to breathe and sit down at benches with your pals; and the crowds never felt too rammed - in other words - everyone had room to dance during Feel Good Inc. and other massive Gorillaz hits.

Again, a huge shame, because the undercard featured a really strong set of names, some that surely will only play bigger stages from now on. In the blistering sunlight in the middle-of-the-afternoon, Self Esteem, undoubtedly and justifiably one of the most en vogue artists of now, wowed musically, fashionably and aesthetically. Such was the strength of the lineup that there wasn’t much time in between acts to catch a break. Remi Wolf, the brilliant counter-cultural indie-pop star jumped and jumped through all of the Juno album’s huge numbers in the North Tent - which also acted as shelter from the pounding sun. Pusha T, the NYC rap star delighted the big crowd and packed out the big decibels, whilst the extravagant Yves Tumor captured the Ray-Ban West Stage and dominated with loud rock abandon.

It’s easy to spot when IDLES, post-punk’s infamous lovechildren, are playing any festival - the middle-aged dads in black band t-shirts all jump out of the woodwork a couple of hours before stagetime. Suddenly, the crowds become boisterous, throwing beer and crowd-surfing - stressing out the security teams and feeding the active-aggressive-energy of lead singer Joe Talbot. Musically, the band have to stop at one point when their guitarist joins / is swallowed up by the delighted fans in the most pits at the front. IDLES are as much a staple of early-evening festival circuits as Self Esteem, and eagle-eyed fans spotted alter-ego Rebecca Taylor bopping amongst the IDLES die-hards. Both acts will only get bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s a privilege to catch them still on the way up.

Victoria Park is one of the most popular green spots in London, and the two-week takeover by AEG and All Points East places heavy emphasis on the wider-community appeal that the festival can help generate and not just the musical schedule. During the off-days in between weekends, where no ticketed musical events are taking place, we sampled many free activities that helped the park to not just sit dormant throughout the week - ranging from children’s theatre popping up on the park bandstand to There She Goes, a riotous musical act likely to pop up anywhere around the place and break out into song. It feels on brand for APE’s / East London’s values to witness the free More Yoga sessions in the early evening or learn all about fire safety at the London Fire Brigade pop-up! The organisers have pulled out all the stops in an effort to ensure a sustained engagement with the locals - and that spirit carries over into the musical weekends.

Back to the first night headliners, Gorillaz, and it’s a really fun night with aligned crowd support. Albarn claims that this is the most local gig he’s ever played as “he was born ‘round the corner” - it certainly has the gravitas of a special night, with the myriad of guests brought out to duet - ranging from Shaun Ryder to Popcaan and Mos Def. Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker stole the headlines of the night, however, duetting surprisingly with Albarn on new collaboration New Gold. A world premiere for the festival, and an hors d'oeuvre before Kevin and Tame headline APE on the Thursday. A special first night back for All Points East, and dare we tempt fate by suggesting that festivals have their MOJO back? 

Throughout the rest of the two weekends, the lineup was startingly strong and the music flipping loud. Nick Cave delighted the August band holiday sunday audience with an energetic and passionate deliverance - mostly performed amongst the crowd - whilst Tame Impala cemented their reputation as heavyweight festival headliners despite minimal theatrics. Seeing Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood's side project The Smile perform in broad daylight in late afternoon felt strange - mostly because Radiohead have only headlined events for arguably the last twenty five or so years. Their set ended abruptly, but the music was first rate and they even blessed the faithful with a new song. The National playing East London feels like a home away from home for the American indie-rockers, and they are joined by members of Fleet Foxes who packed out the Ray-Ban West Stage earlier. Jehnny Beth was a blistering highlight of the two weekends - filling the North Stage tent with numbers rivalling the main stage. Even without her band Savages, Jehnny is full-on musical force and the quintessential frontperson. 

Considering All Points East's reputation as an Alternative Band (TM) festival, It would be hard not to notice the contrast in audience numbers between the "bands" and the "dance acts" throughout the two weekends. The APE banner has now encompassed Field Day, back in its spiritual home of Victoria Park - and that specific day, headlined by The Chemical Brothers and Kraftwerk (in 3D) was packed out. Absolutely rammed. So too, was the Disclosure day the following Sunday. Meanwhile, the days that had specific instrumental bands or artists playing were noticeably less busy. Is this to do with the changing social trends we are experiencing? Netflix has already reported that most users have subtitles on to allow them to read a line of dialogue and then rush back to their cellphones - so are we experiencing something similar to festival days? A mostly dance lineup allows a level of disengagement from the main act; audiences can dance and chat to their friends and still feel a part of the main festival aura. Meanwhile, on the days when bands are headlining, you didn't need to go far from someone asking a member of the audience to "shut up" due to loud talking - marring the experience for others. Who can say? But surely this dichotomy must factor into the programming for next year's APE. Whatever the outcome, the music and the lineup were top-notch. 

You can read our exclusive interview with All Points East festival organiser Jim King here

Photo Galleries can be found here


review by: Raph Pour-Hashemi

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