Music Festival Review: All Points East
- Credit: Jordan Curtis Hughes
Victoria Park was abuzz with music over the weekend. We take a look at Friday’s lineup.
Resplendently sat upon the spot that usually houses London festival stalwart Field Day, All Points East crashed into Victoria Park with a young pup’s brash fearlessness: primed and ready to grab the capital by the lapels to kickstart the festival season.
At the top end, the pedigree of artists was undeniably strong, including as it did the likes of Icelandic superstar Bjork, New York’s resurgent LCD Soundsystem and British purveyors of torchlight indie, The xx. Further down the bill though, it was more of a mixed affair and many observers would likely find the roster not so consistently rich. At roughly £70 per person, tickets were not cheap, and this certainly added an extra level of scrutiny on the perceived success or failure of the enterprise as a whole.
On the opening day, prior to the much-anticipated appearance of LCD Soundsystem, fellow New Yorkers Yeah Yeah Yeahs took to a London stage for the first time in five long years. Behind them, a backdrop stylistically harked back to debut Fever to Tell, and this very album dominated proceedings. Karen O, replete with makeshift spacesuit-of-sorts, stalked the stage, ever-compelling with trademark flair and eccentricity. Guitarist Nick Zinner, meanwhile, conjured a plethora of sounds; ranging from spindly melodic lines to frenetic tremolo and blood curdling distortion. They romped through their back catalogue, dispensing ‘Y Control’, ‘Pin’, ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Maps’ and the closing ‘Date With the Night’ with a firebrand’s intent and provided a timely reminder that we have all been poorer for their absence.
Over on the second stage where, it must be said, the sound was arguably a whole lot louder, clearer and, well, better, a party vibe was going down. Everyone’s favourite Parisian electro indie popsters plied their musical wares to a thronging crowd, plump in mass and ebullient of mood; with songs such as ‘Fior di Latte’ going down delightfully well.
After their valedictory lap in 2011, it looked as though we’d seen the last of LCD Soundsystem, but James Murphy had a change of heart and, since dragging his ensemble out of the dormancy in 2015, they found that their cache had matured exponentially. Like so many of their peers, it seems that breaking up is good for business. Their set drew heavily from last year’s lauded American Dream record and a mid-set digression into a cover of Chic’s ‘I Want Your Love’, prefaced a closing one-two of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ and ‘All My Friends’, which reverberated joyously around packed-out, and broadly inebriated, field of punters.
Even so, a feeling persisted that the main stage was not the place to convert the uninitiated. An act is only ever as good as their sound, and LCD Soundsystem’s propulsive beats were disadvantaged by poor volume levels. It is something that seems to blight outdoor gigs in the capital. Perhaps due, at least in part, to the residential surroundings that envelope the green spaces.
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Breathing new life into the capital’s festival calendar can only be seen as a good thing, but greater attention needs be paid towards the staging and timings. At a lower entrance cost, this would have not been as much of a quibble, but it rankled as things stood. Creases must be ironed out for sure, but all signs point towards a welcome new summer fixture in East London and a festival here to stay.