The inaugural All Points East festival took place over the weekend in London’s Victoria Park. Turfing out the long-standing Love Box, Field Day and Citadel, APE offered an equally left leaning lineup sprinkled with global mega-stars playing some surprisingly intimate stages.

A festival still to establish itself in terms of identity, it was top-loaded with a mouth-watering selection of indie’s elite. Friday saw diverse performances from award winning artists such as Young Fathers alongside cult heroes Hercules & Love Affair and promising newcomers Mellah and Yonaka. Phoenix brought a sophisticated party to Friday evening as the sun slowly set over the North Stage and the band’s rainbow backdrop illuminated the field. With under an hour onstage, the slick French quartet squeeze in a hit-filled banquet with ‘Lasso’, ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Lisztomania’ coming in quick succession. Thomas Mars’ charismatic frontman style proved popular with the rowdy followers of this cult outfit, and by ‘1901’ pints were skyward and spirits even higher. He then dived bravely into his adoring masses and celebrated the indie-love in to the aptly titled finale ‘Ti Amo’.

phoenix

The East London crowds were also treated to a double-dose of New York’s finest as Yeah Yeah Yeahs pulled out a charged set of their trademark angst-punk complete with crowd pleasers ‘Pin’, ‘Maps’ and student night staple ‘Heads Will Roll’. James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem closed East Stage in spectacular fashion, an acquired discography translated to universal rave thanks to remarkable visuals and lighting, accentuating electronic juggernauts including ‘I Can Change’ and the timeless ‘Dance Yrself Clean’.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs LCD Soundsystem

On Saturday APE did an admirable job to address the dire gender imbalance of most major festival lineups. As the site was soaked in sunshine, Stefflon Don brought the ideal soundtrack in her dancehall R&B. Accompanied onstage by an all-female dance entourage, the exciting performer celebrated both her style and sexuality with enviable confidence. Later Lykke Li showcased forthcoming LP so sad so sexy, with the ice cold ‘Deep End’ opening proceedings before delighting her adoring following with cuts from I Never Learn and an extended dance remix of ‘Little Bit’. The crowd erupted for ‘I Follow Rivers’ and listened with equal devotion to self-described new lullaby ‘Utopia’.

Pint-sized provocateur Lorde pulled a sprawling crowd to her North Stage headline set, and condensed her Ally Pally triumph into the confines of Victoria Park to tremendous effect. The propulsive ‘Sober’, sharp ‘Tennis Court’ and jubilant ‘Ribs’ barely gave the crowd a moment to reflect on the fanciful dance performance troupe interpreting these exhilarating numbers. ‘Liability’ offered brief reprieve before the New Zealander performed a giddying run of power-pop in ‘Perfect Places’, ‘Royals’ and ‘Team’. Arriving at the finale with gleeful faces and sore limbs, Ms. O’Connor urged the audience to dispel feelings of distain for the poppers-rocket anthem ‘Green Light’.

lorde

The xx closed the night with a refined set worthy of their headline position. Older tracks ‘Sunset’ and ‘Fiction’ have been given the Jamie xx treatment and satiated the Saturday partygoers with permeating beats offset against the rumbling of thunderstorms. A decision to perform more poignant, less energetic tracks such as ‘Replica’ felt like a misstep, yet the gigantic ‘A Violent Noise’ and reworked ‘Shelter’ combatted the quietness. The absolute rainbow extravaganza of ‘On Hold’ acted as fitting visual metaphor for the diversity and all-consuming nature of this band’s discography.

The xx

Sunday promised more guitar and less synth, with stellar main stage performances from the irresistibly smooth Tom Misch and the equally artful Father John Misty. The latter sauntered and swung through tasters of new album God’s Favourite Customer, before delighting crowds with ‘Holy Shit’, ’Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ and ‘I Love You, Honeybear’.

Father John Misty

Elsewhere, competing with Tillman for most exaggerated pelvic movement, was Ed Macfarlane and his Friendly Fires. Making a welcomed return, the band launched into a dynamic set of fan favourites and an early airing of ‘Jump In The Pool’. Drenched in sunshine, ‘Blue Cassette’ and ‘Hawaiian Air’ sounded even more wonderful as Ed and co disappeared triumphant beneath an explosion of rainbow confetti.

As bird song and electronic beats begin to be heard from the imposing East Stage, revellers descend to the anticipated end to All Points East, the global icon Björk. The delirious opening bars of ‘Arisen My Senses’ flooded the field as the Icelandic artist appeared, dressed incredibly, with a rotating forest as her backdrop and flute-wielding wood-nymphs her accompaniment. She followed with the soul-shaking ‘The Gate’ and heartfelt ‘Blissing Me’, the curious magic of her performance style and artistry clearly affecting each and every audience member stood watching.

The ingenious production brought together both the electronic and natural forces in a celestial, captivating manner back-dropped by an ominous full moon and striking thunderstorm. As the urgency of the seven-piece flute ensemble grew during ‘Courtship’, the looming lightning bolts seemed to mirror the onstage theatrics as though mother nature was willing on Björk and her troupe. An unexpected airing of the trip-hop ‘Human Behaviour’ seemed to remind our performer she was in fact headlining a major commercial festival, yet sadly fan favourites were thin on the ground during this utopian debut. Whilst the Hackney crowds missed out on airings of classic material, we instead witnessed the fully-realised, all-animated theatrical visualisation of her latest work. She breathed life into what was otherwise a very formulated festival and demonstrated creativity, bravery and freedom, traits this city and the area in particular are famous for.

Björk