Across the first ever All Points East, London’s Victoria Park has seen all manner of eclecticism come through its gates, from the opening night’s one-two of LCD Soundsystem and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Saturday’s hammerblow courtesy of The xx and Lorde.
The intensity doesn’t let up on day three, though introduced by a calming, promising set from Yellow Days, aka youngster George van den Broek. He’s followed by the first punch of energy that the Sunday sees, courtesy of Sylvan Esso. On record, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn’s music is certainly danceable, but feels understated. On stage, this restraint is thrown out of the window; the set is a simply huge journey of rising and falling beats, coming to head with brilliantly euphoric closer ‘Radio’, and greeted by one of the best reactions the West Stage sees all weekend.
On the outdoor North Stage a few minutes later, Django Django offer up an early evening set of weird but danceable alt-indie creations. The giddy beat of ‘Hail Bop’ and harmonising, sing-along chorus of ‘First Light’ are particular highlights, with frontman Vincent Neff’s enthusiasm more than making up for the slightly sparse crowd.
Kelela then plays a captivating and moving set over at the West Arena, full of sleek, emotional R&B from last year’s breakout debut album ‘Take Me Apart’. By keeping the set-up minimal - she’s joined on stage by a DJ and spends most of the set in one place behind her microphone - her vocals are allowed to really shine, soaring in a seemingly effortless way through the crowd.
Friendly Fires, meanwhile, are in their element on the North Stage. Jumping straight into ‘Lovesick’ from their 2008 debut, Ed MacFarlane and co smash through summery bop after summery bop, with new cuts from an expected upcoming third album promising more of the same, punctuated with blissful horns. “There’s more to come - this is just the beginning,” he says after a euphoric rendition of ‘Paris’, and to be honest we can’t wait for it to continue.
One thing that makes the festival slightly different than its array of other competing London city festivals is the X Stage - a DJ-dedicated stage where artists perform from a circular booth out to a 360° audience - and NYC-based Yaeji draws an impressive crowd with her high energy fusion of hip hop, pop and house, punctuated by the punchy, triumphant ‘Guap’ and ‘Raingurl’. She’s followed by The Black Madonna, who sees the X Stage off for the weekend with a brilliantly energetic, passionate two-hour set, fusing techno, house and disco without a hitch.
Things are getting significantly weirder back over in the cavernous West Stage tent with Flying Lotus and his new 3D live show, whose celestial set of erratic beats and thumping bass is completed with extremely trippy visuals, made all the more immersive by the 3D glasses handed out at each entrance.
Father John Misty then takes to the festival’s cavernous main stage. Josh Tillman is on a roll right now; only days before he releases ‘God’s Favorite Customer’, his second album in just over a year, the singer rolls through ten cuts from his discography with utmost confidence and swagger, before a simply huge rendition of ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ caps off a set that continues to paint him as one of the most special songwriters around.
If one were to employ a team of science boffs to plot out the many varied genres and styles on show today, Beck would sit somewhere pretty near the centre. The weirdness, the beats, occasionally heartfelt, often funky: there’s not a touchstone he’s not made contact with. It’s Party Beck that’s made his way to a similarly celebratory Victoria Park this evening, though, as he flits between banger after banger. ‘Debra’ is given the solo acoustic treatment - and a distinctly British take (“I’m gonna take you down to Nando’s”) - before shimmying into a cover of Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’. Technical hitches after opener ‘Devil’s Haircut’ are overcome with the harmonica and a stomping ‘One Foot In The Grave’.
‘Colors’ cuts ‘Wow’, ‘Up All Night’ and the title track are received almost as well as the punked-up ‘E-Pro’ and ‘Girl’, but it’s obviously ‘Loser’ that’s his calling card. “I think this is one of our best London shows we’ve ever had,” Beck remarks, before the all-too-short second billing set closes with an epic ‘Where It’s At’ via hat-tips to Chic and Talking Heads.
Things are - predictably - a little less straightforward for Björk’s headline set. Beginning the world tour for new album ‘Utopia’, the show dodges convention, for better and for worse. As with The xx’s show the previous night, the set is punctuated by stabs of lightning in the night sky, and it just adds to the intense, immersive atmosphere. Listen closely, and tracks from ‘Utopia’ - which make up almost the entire set - become worlds of their own, worlds to get lost in.
The set struggles as a headline performance though, with little punch or immediacy to capture the imagination of those beyond the dedicated throng at the front. Joined by a seven-piece flute section(!) and all manner of foliage on stage - along with otherworldly visuals on the huge screens - the show is wonderfully ambitious in scale, but doesn’t quite have the attention-grabbing punch that a headline set in such a huge space needs.
Photos: Emma Swann / DIY
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