New London mega-festival All Points East had its inauguration weekend over the Bank Holiday. The 10-day event has taken over Victoria Park, up till now the home each summer to Lovebox and a personal favourite, Field Day. We headed to All Points East on the Sunday, with Bjork set to headline.
Once through security and enjoying a first laze in the sun waiting for Khruangbin, we were intrigued to notice a run of shops flanking the main stage: the Hereford Brewing Company – sounds intriguing! A vinyl shop, well why not! And a barbers! On closer inspection all became clear, the signage was mere decoration, above what was in fact a very long bar, selling Red Stripe and not much else. Once over the initial disappointment, we drank.. er, Red Stripe and rose (at £13 for a half bottle).
If you want to lie on the grass soaking up the sun, Texas 3‑piece Khruangbin (photo at top) deliver just the right musical backdrop: a sensually flowing Latin /global mix with a film soundtrack quality. But there are also touches of The Grateful Dead and Love, hints of something more sultry which give this band an extra edge. Khruangbin may suit sunbathing sessions in the park but then again, they would be perfect to accompany that last drink in a late night bar.
Layout-wise, APE didn’t seem to have come up with anything different from Field Day: there’s the same winding route from one major stage to the other, setting the food stalls in the middle, plus All Points East have added a giant spider-like dome for DJs.
Part of the reason for heading to APE was to catch the first UK appearance of Mattiel. The Georgia native appeared on the teeny Firestone stage (stage sizes at APE were either huge or toytown sized, nothing in between). She appeared nervous and commented on the heat but as the set got going, the crowds grew, the applause increased and Mattiel relaxed, even taking off her boots and socks half way through, to strut barefoot around the stage. Her material is a mix of rockabilly, southern rock and Americana, with highlight tracks Whites of Their Eyes and current single Count your Blessings. Recently being picked up by the Heavenly label hopefully means she’ll return to these shores. Her only other appearance in the UK is at The Lexington this week and has long been sold out.
Alexis Taylor delivered a shimmering, standout set in the afternoon, with a few numbers from Beautiful Thing, the title track, Suspicious of Me and Oh Baby. The sound was impeccable and the set was uplifting and upbeat. Next up on the same stage were Django Django: for some reason their sound was muffled. Rebecca Taylor, now performing solo as Self Esteem, joined them on stage for the catchy Surface to Air, which she sings on their most recent album Marble Skies.
Father John Misty was the perfect early-evening main-stage choice, and he attracted an adoring crowd as he delivered a ‘hits heavy’ set, complete with orchestra. The main attraction of the night was Bjork: this was a powerful and beautiful set, a dreamlike piece of theatre into which you could almost dive headlong. Bjork’s voice soared over an orchestral accompaniment of elvish figures. However it was not necessarily the best way to end a festival: much of the tired, woozy and sun-sozzled crowd seemed more interested in chatting. Despite the dramatic outdoor setting, with lightning sending pulsing waves through the clouds for added effect, the show would be much better suited to an indoor seated venue.
All Points East was smooth running – from the brisk airport-style security to the mega-efficient queue-free bars and clean toilets. There was an adequate if not imaginative choice of food plus free water points. All the stages were outdoors so there’s no shelter in case it rains. The event was a bit thin on music choices throughout the late afternoon – I could see a case for adding an extra stage – maybe something a bit more experimental, but on the whole, this was a promising start to a new addition to London’s day festivals.
Did you attend All Points East? What did you think?