Kano and Jamie xx bring pure joy to Saturday at All Points East at Victoria Park
After being postponed from 2020, All Points East returned to the grand fields of Victoria Park in East London this bank holiday weekend. Saturday had an eclectic and stellar line up, headlined by Kano and Jamie xx. The uniformly young and beautiful crowd came out in force for one of the first big all-day live music events in London after 18 months of lockdowns, cancellations and postponements. People were ready to see and be seen and let off some steam.
Unfortunately, there were some issues getting in. A lack of organisation with security at the entrance caused a bottleneck of people waiting half an hour or more to pass through, which was both unsafe and frustrating. One could hear drum’n’bass legend Shy FX start his set at the 6 Music stage next to the entrance but the crowds were still waiting, even after allowing what would normally be more than enough time. Quite what caused the delay was inexplicable, as no one seemed to be asked to show their Covid passes.
Luckily Shy FX played a long set, so the drum’n’bass itch was satisfied. He ran through his hits of his near 30-year career. It was a bass-heavy shot of adrenaline for the soul and those who like to shake their bodies, ending in his seminal single Original Nuttah, still sounding as live as it ever did, a full 27 years after its release. 99% of the crowd were younger than this tune but it can still make people go wild. “Get it all out of your system,” Shy FX instructed and they did. He deserves respect for his lifelong services to junglists.
Young Nigerian singer Rema brought some bouncing Afrobeat to the proceedings. Surreal and experimental band Jockstrap were a highlight on the Firestone stage; their idiosyncratic sound was satisfying to hear. Over on the main stage, Tom Misch’s smooth funk made the perfect soundtrack to the sun setting over the park. Slowthai brought his brand of incendiary, politically charged rap to the West Stage. Little Simz performed a standout set, slick and heartfelt, especially on Woman, with guest vocalist Cleo Sol.
Aside from the security issues, the festival was thoughtfully put together. The food choices offered plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, including enticing truffled mac and cheese. It is refreshing to see how normalised alternative, planet-friendly diets have become and that non-meat eaters are now catered for so well in the previously extravagantly meaty fast food industry. A “chickn” burger with the tastiest ever herby fries was a delight.
Headliner Kano performed songs from his acclaimed 2019 album Hoodies All Summer, accompanied by a gospel choir and brass orchestra, his 2005 hit Ps and Qs prompting a mass sing (or rap)-along. At the North Arena tent, DJ and producer HAAi, who has made some big waves in the last few years, dropped a pulsating, relentlessly hardcore set. Psychedelic, swan-themed visuals added to the show.
Closing act Jamie xx understands how to make joyous, festival-friendly music, his accomplished sound paying a homage to 90s underground rave culture while also sounding fresh. A cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes/Arpeggio sounded beautiful and his rowdiest tracks Gosh and I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) brought the house down – or they would have done had there been one. One couple in the crowd were dressed in full 90s-style raver hazmat jumpsuits, which added to the vibe. A group of exuberantly dancing Irish threw some mad shapes.
It would be three stars for the queuing problems, but Shy FX, HAAi and Jamie xx made it four stars for facilitating that particular, pure joy of dancing in a field with a cardboard cup of cider, possibly covered in sympathetic glitter that wasn’t there at the start of the day but got hugged on. That feeling has been sorely missed.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information about All Points East visit the festival’s website here.