It felt strange walking through Victoria Park sampling the delights of what had not gone before. There were now household brands providing food and entertainment, coupled with huge acts that were sure to draw a crowd. My first impressions were safe, efficient and chilled. Getting in early allows us to explore without the hustle and bustle certain to appear as the afternoon progressed.
Upon entry, you see the x stage, a 360-degree podium featuring almost all the speakers facing inwards. This was to house the DJs and more stripped back acts of the weekend. Just around the corner was one of the most talked about features of All Points East - Despacio. The pitch-black tent featured a bespoke 80,000-watt sound system from McIntosh, with eight-hour vinyl-only sets orchestrated by Soulwax and James Murphy. Both showed tremendous energy levels by performing additional live shows.
On our way to the East Stage, the focal point of the event, we stopped off to grab a beer. All bartenders were armed with nifty tablet-like machines that contained contactless card readers, making every transaction speedy and effortless. It certainly helped to reduce the queues you experience at most other festivals. On top of this, they had a decent selection of beverages. We chose an IPA by Maltsmiths, which went down very nicely in the sun. There were bars either side of each stage and everywhere in between, which again kept things stress-free.
Once settled, we watched K Á R Y Y N deliver a mesmerising set, accompanied only by a violinist, who also played synths. Introducing herself by jangling the bells draped around her neck, not even the sunshine could ease the haunting and sorrowing nature of her sound. We were left moved and silent for a little while afterwards. Next up on the large indoor West Stage was the contrasting BadBadNotGood, who never fail to disappoint. Frantic yet refined, every member brimmed with energy, with it pleasing to see a drummer leading crowd engagement. Alexander Sowinski laid complex rhythms under the array of ever changing instruments played by Leland Whitty.
Now craving the outdoors, we took the short walk to the similarly named North Stage, which surprisingly featured viewing screens, something not usually associated with a supporting stage. Perfectly timed with our need to sit down, Rhye drew in on-lookers by singing in that instantly recognisable falsetto, with Last Dance and Taste proving most well received. Highly percussive and well suited to sunshine, Milosh didn’t miss a note, successfully drawing out our festival spirit. Shortly after, we took a quick trip to the ever present JägerHaus and made sure we sampled Punch Meister and Purple Stag and others that were created especially for APE onsite by Jager’s top mixologist.
Next up was Lykke Li, who I’m pleased to say, attracted a crowd large enough to fill up the West Stage. Opening with the recently released deep end, she looked almost un-recognisable, performing songs very much a departure from her previous three albums. The new R&B styled tracks were boosted by the backing of a live band, providing encouraging signs for so sad so sexy, which will be released in June.
In-between acts, we decided to grab some food. The filthy vegan burger stall satisfied our curiosity, with the Jackfruit-based meal proving better than expected. In fact, the variety of cuisine was sure to satisfy any foody. From bao to burgers and churros to chicken, you could easily go the whole weekend without having to eat the same meal twice.
Feeling full and ready for the evening’s offerings, we headed back indoors for Justice. Whilst not the headline act, they came prepared with an astounding light show, accompanied by a raucous electro heavy set. A newer Safe and Sound was constantly teased in between classics such as D.A.N.C.E. and We Are Your Friends. Well-practiced in keeping every audience member moving, the set didn’t lose momentum, unmistakably arranged accordingly by Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay.
With the day almost at an end, the main stage filled up instantaneously in preparation for The xx. Very much playing to a home crowd, the set was well balanced, with crowd pleasers Island, VCR and Angels spread evenly throughout the show. Now a staple headline act, they were anthemic in their delivery and kept watchers engaged amid the thunderstorm rumbling in the distance. It proved a suitable ending to an enjoyable day, with All Points East sure to return next year and for many more years after that.
Article by Ben Knight
Photos by Tom Hancock