The first festival of the year for me was All Points East. A last-minute decision to head down meant I didn’t get to spend as much time at Victoria Park as I’d have wanted, but I packed the hours I did have with some great music. The weekend lineups were quite a bit more chilled than the rock-heavy Friday bill topped by Bring Me The Horizon, with Mumford and Sons headlining on Saturday and Bon Iver Sunday.
On Saturday I was accompanied by my photography protégé: my seven-year-old daughter, Phoebe. It was her first festival, so I was keen for her to enjoy herself. The security were great from the start, high-fiving her as she went around the park, with one even stacking some blocks up at the stage railings so she could take some photos of Delilah Montague while she performed. The weather was incredibly hot, so it was a brief stay, but long enough for us to take in some of the great acts on a fantastic and fun lineup, such as the incredible Jade Bird, The Vaccines, and Dizzee Rascal.
On Sunday, the first act for me was Kokoko! from Democratic Republic of Congo who play on extremely interesting instruments made from up-cycling materials such as metal, cans, engine parts, and plastic containers. They sound great and start the day off with a real party atmosphere.
Victoria Park is a reasonably small festival site – when it’s quieter you can walk end-to-end in under five minutes – but packs plenty in. If you wanted to avoid queueing for food and drinks, you could upgrade to VIP and chill out in the small private area behind the main stage where there were comfy seats and picnic benches to relax on without the crowds, which was ideal if you just wanted to hear the main stage all day and sunbathe in peace.
The good weather was briefly threatened by a few drops of rain as Julien Baker walked out onto the West Stage. She thanked everyone for coming and said she didn’t mind if nobody stayed to watch her, but the American indie singer needn’t have worried. Her brilliant and enthralling performance was enjoyed by a huge crowd.
Opening with one of my favourite songs at the moment, Restless Year, Ezra Furman’s set was one of the most impressive of the weekend. His vocals remind me of Jack White’s at times as he screams down the mic. Ezra has a UK tour booked for November this year and, with his new album Twelve Nudes due out at the end of August, it will be great to experience his new material.
The Tallest Man On Earth is one of my favourite performers. Having seen him in the intimate setting of Union Chapel, I was interested to see how he would take to a more open area. It didn’t take him long to make his mark, as the man born Kristian Matsson ran out into centre stage to welcome the crowd with a big jump. He sounded great throughout his set and was a brilliant choice for the chilled evening line-up on the main stage.
Mac DeMarco’s laidback stage presence was great to watch as he wandered around, cigarette in hand, swinging and catching his microphone, while banging out some funky jazz tunes. He was well loved by the audience as evidenced by the signs and banners they waved around. Not sure what his hand stand and roly-poly were all about, but it was entertaining to see!
To me, John Grant was less so. I didn’t really get what he was trying to do. I think his performance is supposed to be a bit kooky, but it just came across weird and a little boring.
Bon Iver were much more impressive. Their set was a lot more “arty” than I was expecting, as the dark stage didn’t shine much light on the performers, led by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. They spent a lot of time behind keyboards, but the show looked good, sounded great, and was well deserving of a headline slot. After they’d finished their performance they treated fans to two brand new songs pumped out over the PA system as the crowds headed home, exhilarated after another long day of music.
Coverage of All Points East at Victoria Park, London on 1st and 2nd June 2019 by Paul Lyme and Phoebe Lyme.