Last week Victoria Park in East London became the home for All Points East; a music festival run by AEG which runs over two weekends showcasing a line-up of international names. I was fortunate enough to attend the last day of the festival headlined by Bon Iver; spending my day running between the East, North, JägerHaus and Firestone stages and trying my best to see as many artists as physically possible.
Wanting to make the most of my day; I unexpectedly arrived even before the gates had opened as we took in what seemed like it was going to be a beautifully (sunny) day.
Exploring the festival site I found out quickly that All Points East works well to not feel too small and to give each stage some space to stop any serious sound leaking. Perfect to try and catch as many acts as possible I thought as I prepared to attempt our strict itinerary for the day and festival-goers flooded in.
Beginning with the silky vocals of Jazz/pop artist Eloise; she welcomed an arriving audience to hear playful melodic writing that was a lovely introduction to the smaller open Firestone stage. The stage welcomed artists including Nathan Ball and if walking between the perfect place to discover artists you don’t know.
Only moments walk away from here was the beautifully decorated JägerHaus stage, which was more like its own Bauhaus architectural sanctuary; containing Jäger cocktails and an intimate stage inside a cabin space held a diverse line-up of acts throughout the day.
Acts on the Jägerhaus stage included female fronted band Los Bitchos who played a storm of guitar driven alt-rock, Gently Tender (who I was lucky enough to interview with their folk driven storytelling tracks), Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi who played a hectic DJ set, Westerman whose mesmerising set started with a solo vocal acapella section and more acts including Gwenno and Bill Ryder-Jones.
The North Stage held some of the line-ups top acts including Snailmail and Julien Baker, who was one of the many artists who played solo on the day which is a testament to their own bravery and talent. Ry X was mystical with glimpses of sunlight between the clouds as he told the audience, “you look so beautiful” up until Mac De Marco who played an upbeat headline spot since his new album release.
Having spoken to many strangers and bumping into people I know; many people hadn’t even come just to see the festival line-up but instead mainly to see the headliners Bon Iver. The East Stage was the largest stage at the festival and acts that I saw included Charlie Cunningham and John Grant who completely owned every space on the stage.
Bon Iver was astounding. Frontman Justin Vernon is better than you could believe live and if a crowd of thousands of people becoming silent isn’t enough to tell you how good it is then I’m not sure what is. It seemed like many people in that audience had waited for their whole lives to watch the set and it did not disappoint.
Retrospectively the festival had a MAJOR line-up but there was the odd occasion where that line-up was not complemented by the festival team. The sound in many of the acts would cut out or a microphone would be faulty such as when John Grant began his set or for Snailmail. Festivals can be difficult to deal with for some technicians as the changeovers are very quick but All Points East is a big festival and that isn’t an excuse.
The East London festival provided what it needed to; with an impressive line up of international names, the small things that brought it down didn’t falter that which brought it up. If the festival can deliver the same next year with a refined technical team and perhaps more opportunity to see acts like Westerman on a bigger stage; then I will certainly be in attendance and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone.
Re-live these moments in your own mind by listening to my playlist here. You can also check out the full lineup.
Read my interview with Gently Tender.