Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes at All Points East
For those wishing to start the August bank holiday weekend early, the third session at Victoria Park’s All Points East was calling. Three days off on the horizon to mark the last knees-up of the summer combined with arguably one of the most anticipated bills of the East London festival (featuring Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes) meant that excitement was running high.
The crowd was notably of a different ilk to the previous weekend’s Field Day: a decidedly more mainstream and mature-leaning demographic – to be expected perhaps, when the headliners were bands whose heyday spearheaded the New York City indie rock revival of the early 2000s.
Warming up the day, as festivalgoers were still knocking off work early and making their way to Victoria Park, were the likes of Angel Olsen, who brought her angelic Americana-tinged vocals to the East Stage on folk songs such as All the Good Times; meanwhile Australian outfit Amyl and the Sniffers over on West were a far more punk affair, lead singer Amy Taylor channeling Courtney Love with silver bikini, peroxide hair, red lippy and her contagiously free-spirited energy.
Fellow Aussies Vacations also made a splash on the E3 stage, the numbers of listeners spilling out (a signal they need a bigger platform next time), with nearly all joining in on the chorus of viral hit Young. Queer icon Girl in Red, aka Marie Ulven Ringheim, the Norwegian singer who writes, records and produces her music, was a refreshing force that had everyone dancing, her indie pop bringing a dash of Avril Lavigne-meets-Sigrid with the fun-loving Bad Idea! and Serotonin.
But the undisputed highlight of the day was the show put on by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The atmosphere was electric as Karen O took to the stage, the earlier rain leaving a freshness hanging in the air beneath the darkened sky – a dramatic backdrop to what was a display of the utmost theatricality, not least from the butterfly-esque caped costume the singer wore. This was a set that gave everything they had and more to the audience. All the biggest numbers made the list, each delivered with unadulterated passion, kicking off with Spitting off the Edge of the World, with Burning, Gold Lion and Y Control appearing alongside newer material. A poignant moment came when Maps was dedicated to the late Sinead O’Connor, the en masse “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you” taking on new layers of meaning, before the band moved on to mega track Heads Will Roll, the nostalgia hit undulating across the field of partiers, while also sounding edgily fresh as ever.
It then came as something of a letdown when the headliner arrived. With the crowd so captivated by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, almost all hung on until the very last note, then had to make a sprint over to the East stage for The Strokes. There was a second of panicked hysteria when Last Nite unexpectedly played just three tracks in: as one of their most well-known and loved songs, almost synonymous with the indie sleaze scene they were such an integral part of, one might think it would have been saved till last. The move in a way wrong-footed the crowd, reminding us that this is an act who have never gone out of their way to indulge their fans, their nonchalance a part of the brand. The rest of the vocals and between-song chat from waistcoat and sunglasses-clad Julian Casablanca (hints of recent Alex Turner perhaps?) seemed plagued by poor sound quality, the band failing to connect with the sprawling audience in a direct antithesis to Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That said, the vibe picked up with the latter tracks, Someday and Reptilia, and the encore numbers – the ever-brilliant Hard to Explain and Is This It – rewarded those who stayed to the last.
Still, it was hard to shake the idea of that final song being a question, and the sense that the YYYs deserved the final slot. Let’s hope such performances will finally put to rest the sadly still-repeated idea that you need male acts as headliners (we’re looking at you, Emily Eavis). All hail Karen O.
Photos: Jennifer McCord (The Strokes)/ Mike Garnell (supports act)
Watch the video for the single Last Nite here: