In late August 2021 social media was set alight with posts from the hottest (London) event of the Summer, All Points East. Boasting an incredible line-up and the chance to enjoy the sun whilst rammed firmly in the clutches of a festival crowd, Hermione and Pia joined in to report on back on all the hype!
After the chaos of the last year, walking through the gates to All Points East was an almost surreal experience. Awash with the sound of music and laughter, surrounded by hoardes of people and with the thumping bass of speaker systems resonating through bodies, there was a collective sense of realisation regarding how much we have all been missing out on.
With a stellar line-up across the board, APE made an undeniably triumphant return to the scene, booking a splendid variety of acts and spread across a range of stages. I quickly got the impression that organisers had carefully considered the enjoyment of each and every audience member and the different tastes they might have to cater for. In many ways, my biggest gripe was simply not being able to see all of the artists I had wanted to see perform as there was always something good going on! For instance, the 6Music Stage and the Tikki Bar were particular faves of many of my friends more inclined towards dance music, whereas I seemed to find myself running between the East, West and North Stages constantly…and when I say run I mean it, my step count went through the roof!
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEKEND
The first day of APE kicked off with some absolutely stunning performances, particularly on the smaller stages which were rife with talent. Some of my highlights included Eloise’s set on the Firestone Stage which was frankly stunning. As someone who has enjoyed her music on streaming platforms for the past few months, I was hugely impressed by her live vocals and the effortless sound of her performance, especially in her closing track ‘Hungover’.
An absolute pleasure to watch with arguably more stage presence than many of the larger acts I watched over the weekend. Definitely worth a listen to- she’s destined for stardom.
Another highlight for me from the Friday was the revelation of Kojey Radical who I know I am HUGELY behind the times on but I think that there are some artists you have to watch live before you really understand their presence. Kojey’s performance was absolutely magnetic and his ability to interact with the crowd and musicians on stage was masterful. His set was bursting with energy and I honestly haven’t stopped listening to his music since! If you are still yet to listen to his 2019 album Cashmere Tears, do yourself a favour and get on it ASAP.
Mahalia was another artist who shone for me in terms of performance quality. Bringing her positive message as always, I loved the way she chatted with the crowd about the inspiration behind each song. Her honesty and sheer likability as a human completely elevated the set. Having seen her live several years ago, it was incredible to witness her growth as an artist and to hear anthems such as ‘Wish I Missed My Ex’ and ‘Sober’ sung back at her with full pelt by an entranced audience. Absolute belter of a set!
The Saturday was a slightly more laid-back affair but similarly as impressive a lineup! With the likes of Tom Misch, Arlo Parks, Little Simz and Slowthai performing, there was a brilliant sense of occasion and excitement with so much great music surrounding us at all times!
A cautious highlight would have to be Slowthai’s set. Brandishing a glass of tequila and fresh from his performance at Reading Festival earlier that day, there was something unhinged and unpredictable about his live performance that a crowd desperate to be back in the jaws of a mosh pit absolutely revelled in. Definitely worth a watch live if you don’t mind the potential bruising!
Monday was perhaps the most frustrating day for me in terms of wanting to watch absolutely every single performer and it simply not being possible! It felt like a really empowering day for women in music with so many fantastic female performers featured on the bill, something that was especially refreshing considering lineups elsewhere.
Throughout the day, many of the performers remarked on how happy they were to be performing music they had released during lockdown finally. Holly Humberstone was particularly amusing for this, often ending her songs by simply saying ‘sick’ and seeming to be in a state of disbelief that she was actually in front of an audience- it was thoroughly charming and a feeling I’m sure all the performers were also having.
A massive standout for me was watching the radiant Lianne La Havas having listened to her 2020 album on repeat for so many months. For anyone who is yet to listen to this incredible performer please give her a listen, her whole style, vibe, presence etc etc EVERYTHING is just undoubtedly delicious at all times. Similar to many of the artists I saw over the course of the festival, watching a solo show of hers would likely be a more rewarding experience musically (the same very much went for Tom Misch) given that her setlist choices often including slightly more downbeat tracks that didn’t hit new audiences as successfully however, the whole experience was a joy to witness and be a part of.
Nostalgia really kicked in for me watching The Magic Gang live having seen them conquer festival stages for several years now. Despite a couple of technical issues during their set, the group were wonderful as usual, lighting up the tent with a brilliant feel-good set that really got everyone moving. They always strike me as the nice guys of indie with their collaborative approach making for great chemistry on stage. I would love to see these guys on the bigger stages in future years.
Olivia Dean and Liz Lawrence were similarly standout performers earlier in the day, both showcasing their unique talents and displaying huge potential now that the music scene is beginning to get back to normal. Olivia in particular has been a consistent presence in my playlists and if her live performance is anything to go by, an exciting performer to keep an ear out for. Her latest EP ‘Growth’ is nothing short of stunning.
APE couldn’t have ended any more perfectly than with a set by the inimitable FOALS, a band who never fail to impress with a searing live show and unmatched spirit. Filling their headline spot, FOALS excelled all expectations, proving their uniquely electric formula, honed and ready to rock. With all band members capturing the perfect balance and frontman Yannis Philipakis back on stage where he belongs, it was a set that encompassed everything we have missed about live music. Sweaty, otherworldly mayhem! Indeed, I have never seen quite so many crowd members being carried over the barrier of a gig before, many of whom were not expecting the intensity of a FOALS gig however, surely this is all just part of the fun?!
A huge thank you to the whole team at All Points East 2021 for making our return to the festival scene such a rewarding and gratifying experience. Live music is an utterly unique way of enjoying sound and a sensation that I will certainly not be taking for granted again any time soon!
Words by Hermione Kellow
Photos © Hermione Kellow