All Points East 2021

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Having only begun in 2018, All Points East is relatively new to the London Day Festival scene, but it has quickly risen to the top of the summer calendar for alternative live music in a smaller and more intimate setting than many of its competitors. Usually a festival spread over a couple of weekends, this year they instead opted for 3 days over the August Bank Holiday weekend, with Friday headliners London Grammar and Jorja Smith promising an eagerly-awaited return to live music.

The festival is held in East London’s leafy Victoria Park, with 3 tube stations nearby public transport was easy and surprisingly painless - an impressive feat in central London. The site is well-signposted and even despite additional covid event pass scanning, entrance was quick and easy. Ease and simplicity seemed to be a running theme – with fairly-priced cashless bars, basic food trucks and portaloos lining every wall, you were never caught out standing around in a queues and re-mortgaging to pay for warm Red Stripes. While the food and drink on offer was in no way ground-breaking, offering cans of beer and wine at a fiver a pop meant the bars were incredibly efficient. All Points East is truly a music festival - if you’re looking for top class food and drink, or an endless list of activities - this is not the festival for you.

Friday’s alternative grime and hip-hop lineup included an admirable number of female black British artists such as Mahalia, Celeste and Jorja Smith. It was great to see the London festival scene finally embracing a more inclusive selection of artists - and it was these acts who stole the show.

23 year old alternative R&B artist Mahalia was the star of the festival, delivering not only unbelievable talent and perfect festival tunes, but an incredibly heartfelt and emotional set. Tunes such as ‘Simmer’, ‘I Wish I Missed My Ex’ and ‘What You Did’, coupled with her insatiable energy, unsurprisingly lit the crowd on fire. Other notable acts included Celeste and Loyle Carmer, whose jazz-infused hip hop style and emotive lyrics set a similarly impressive vibe.

An alternative choice for a largely grime and hip hop lineup, electro indie pop trio London Grammar closed the first day of the festival. It would have been difficult for anyone to top Mahalia’s show-stopping performance and while familiar hits such as ‘Let You Know’ and ‘How Does It Feel’ were delivered with the group’s signature eerie energy, the vibe just wasn’t quite there.

All things considered, I’m not surprised that All Points East has risen to festival fame so quickly. There’s a Hackney-esque ‘no frills’ simplicity, which was incredibly refreshing to find at a London day festival and didn’t make too many dents in the savings account. The focus here is on the music - even on a smaller site the staging, sound quality and pyrotechnics were impressive. You won’t find endless activities and Michelin-level gastronomy, but with such a talented, inclusive line up - it wasn’t missed.

Published on 14 September 2021 by Emily Bird

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