All Points East Festival 2018 ends on a high note with Björk
All Points East Festival returns for its final day, with spectators slowly streaming through in the humid heat.
Electronic musician Kelly Lee Owens takes the main stage as the first act. It is a wonderful coincidence to hear her play Keep Walking while fans stroll towards the stage – serendipity at its finest. Throwing Lines is serene, with a steady beat and vocals strongly reflecting Grimes, alongside a nice addition of tabla effects. The elegiac number Lucid follows, the singer’s breathy vocals perfectly capturing the buoyancy of the track. The set picks up with Anxi, which is accompanied by geometric shapes and glitchy screen art aplenty. The artist’s music is an atmospheric start to the festival and it is heartening to see British Sign Language interpreters through her set.
Drake’s recently signed UK rapper Octavian takes the West Arena with his blend of rap and R’n’B playing new single Hands, while 100 Degrees is an example of the recent British rap and grime scene taking the music world by storm. At only 22 years of age, the performer has a bright future ahead, giving us a glimpse today of music which represents real London life.
Dance electronic threesome Benin City are undoubtedly one of Sunday’s highlights. Hosted in the sweltering Jagerhaus tent (lead singer Joshua Idehen exclaims he’s “sweating like a Brexit councillor”), the Londoners hype the crowd with their euphoric hooks, Afro-dance and hip-hop that are all equally affecting and fun. The frontman’s dancing and rapport with the audience is entertaining, and their tracks about nightlife in the capital have undoubtedly procured them some new fans.
North Carolina’s Sylvan Esso don’t disappoint either. With their sumptuous blend of pop and dance electronica, the duo give it their all at West Arena. Each song is a massive hit with the crowd and makes one curious to learn their composition process. Amelia Meath’s sharp vocals alongside producer Nick Sanborn’s popping electronics are enough to fill you with joy. Kick Jump Twist is insanely fun, while Dress progresses with its addictive beats, a delight live. Coffee, Die Young and new release PARAD(w/m)E are equally fantastic, leaving fans jubilant.
Kelela offers a welcome respite from dance with her chill and sultry R‘n’B, blended with genres like club and garage music. An enigmatic stage presence, the singer appears in fashionable white and gold couture, performing tracks from her debut LP Take Me Apart. With twinkling electronic beats by her gifted DJ, Loric, it is no surprise her work has been lauded by critics. Though the similarity to Little Dragon’s Yukimi was unmistakeable, Kelela’s music is nostalgic 90s R‘n’B soaked in cool electronic pulses, her vocal range consistently impressive.
Flying Lotus puts on a thrilling 3D performance. A cerebral experience evocative of the Intelligent Dance Music genre, Lotus stands at a tree-shaped pulpit while glitchy surreal graphics display – from an incredibly realistic oncoming spaceship to concentric circles from which jellyfish strands emanate. The set was an abstract affair: breath-taking computerised conceptual art boosted by the artist’s pounding experimental fusion of jazz and IDM, a perfect precursor to Björk.
Sufi poet Rumi’s words appear onscreen as a prologue to the headliner: “a world where nature and technology collaborate.” The Icelandic alternative icon appears in white wearing an orchid-style mask on a sumptuously decorated stage of flowers, where the wind septet plays on a rotating platform of florae. Arisen My Senses is a melodious enchantment, the harp illustrating the heavenly motif, while Blissing Me is an emotional journey of Björk’s marital breakdown. Delving into vintage and highlight tracks Isobel and Human Behaviour, with fans joyously singing along, the percussion encapsulates the vocalist’s earlier trip-hop tracks. The singer keeps the set mostly to Utopia, singing in Tabula Rasa, “for us women to rise, and not take it lying down,” which is joined by uproarious agreement. The accompanying musicians are less wearying than on the record, the nature theme pulling the piece together – backed by electronic rhythms – and proving Utopia is best heard live.
Returning with Futures Creatures, her ode to record shops (particularly Rough Trade East), the artist is charming as ever while chatting with the audience. Mother Nature plays a part, with stunning lightning striking through heavy clouds, making it an unforgettable and visceral show.
A visually stunning experience, today reaffirms Björk as one of the most original and imaginative artists making music today.
Photo: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
All Points East are running events at Victoria Park from 25th May until 3rd June 2018. For further information and future events visit All Points East Festival’s website here.