Despite not being faced with the difficulties of navigating travel with the strikes (which I support); Thursday’s All Points East started with heavy downpour – not hugely enticing or putting any Londoners in the upbeat festival spirit. Despite this, festival-goers rocked up, filled with excitement and anticipation for Tame Impala to rock out later in the day.
Just like on a cloudy day, the sun pops out now and then and peaks through – this is what energy levels were like; some stages and wondering around Victoria Park felt dull and low energy, but certain stages did give a beam of light – notably Firestone stage and the North stage.
We kicked off our day stumbling across the Firestone stage and being enticed in by the groovy tunes of Elujay. Throughout the set the crowd grew, clearly festival goers had been lured in. Elujay has a wonderful soulful voice but joked about how he “needs help with [his] English accent”. Despite this being his first overseas festival (originally from Oakland) and him openly admitting to being nervous, this was not portrayed at all in his performance.
A highlight of this set was an instrumental break where each band member had a specific moment to shine and show off their skills and talent. This was a truly appreciative moment and unbelievably wholesome to watch.
The whole band throughout the set were incredibly in sync and harmony. Elujay was getting on the crowd’s good side with his chatting between songs – especially with the comment that “this is way better than America”, unsurprisingly receiving a huge cheer.
The tracks themselves also flowed seamlessly from upbeat to slower, calmer moments, before returning to the funk and groove. Without a doubt Elujay is being added to multiple playlists of mine.
Now we have the highlight of not only the day, but my entire week – Montell Fish. I happened to stumble across Montell Fish on the All Points East app and recognised the name, only to realise it’s the man that always singing sad songs, in headphones, on my TikTok For You Page.
He was performing on the BMW Play Next stage, and before his start we could hear the East stage. I was a bit concerned at noise overlapping however, once he started, the entire crowd was mesmerised and did not lose focus. The crowd was strong, with hardcore fans at the front of the barrier who’d assembled early before his entrance to the stage.
In contrast to other stages, this stage had a host who introduced Montell, but almost too much, to the point he said, “I don’t know what else to say but hi!?”. Montell creates his best music going through heartbreak, writing and producing everything himself. It almost feels like we enter his mind and thought when he performs, even when you listen by yourself. His tracks are so vulnerable, not just lyrically but also instrumentally. He came across extremely humble and modest, with frequent comments such as “give it up for yourselves” and “you guys sound so good, SING”.
Just like we see on TikTok, he also wore big headphones on stage. In the middle of his set, he asked the crowd if they liked aspects, and of course shouted out his DJ, stating “he’s killing it”.
Starting his set with ‘Destroy Myself Just For You’ and following on with ‘And I’d go a thousand miles’, he consistently encouraged the crowd to “help me out” and sing along – to which they did. ‘Wings’ had much more of a beat than the previous tracks, a good progression to keep the crowd engaged.
Another factor than made this set was Montell would tell the crowd the lyrics before and so everyone could sing along, something I know was appreciated, especially as many Londoners may have never properly listened to this American artist.
He then mixed it up and appeared in the middle of the crowd, with a mosh forming around him. This track was a more angry, fiery rap – a stark contrast to the emotional vulnerability of his usual songs. He then brought “it back down, this song is ‘JAMIE’”, with many crowd members and fans saying they were about to cry. This was met with the almost comical timing of Montell then saying, “get your tears ready”.
The song was especially raw. You could see all of his emotions come through, not only via his physicality and facial expressions, but also his voice. He was transparent, as is his music, something I can only applaud. He also clearly showed his talent and skill, picking up his guitar to perform the final track of his set ‘Talk 2 Me’ – a song about you making more effort than them, a song that means a lot to him.
He ended with the crowd singing by themselves, acapella, and he took in the moment wholly and fully, admiring and appreciating all his fans. The end of his set received huge applause and cheers, but also admiration and respect.
The Blaze in the North tent sounded so enticing that we ended up leaving Omar Apollo to go back to watch the end of the Blaze’s set. The tent was packed out with a high-spirited crowd matching the energy of the music and strobe lighting. The production was exciting with several interactive moving images and videos on the backdrop – including a car on fire, or a blaze if you will.
Their beats and electronic feel to their alt/indie tracks fuelled the crowd, and the tent played to their advantage – the production would have been impossible without it and the tent naturally brought in even more people due to the dull London weather.
Following on, FKJ graced a packed-out tent, all eager for his entrance. Teasing us with rainforest sounds before a beat, the lighting then showing a blue light, then drums, all building whilst the crowd eagerly cheer. FKJ then adds keys, with the original rainforest noises still in the back of the layering introductory track. This introduction to the stage really showed off his talent and skill; the production of the music and watching him layer and loop different instruments was magical. This long intro was then met with “How you doing London, it’s probably been three years since I played this city”.
It was almost as if he was a conductor on stage, moving around consistently to different instruments. In comparison to the Blaze, this time the tent added intimacy to his performance. The production of the music and tracks was met with the production of the performance, with pictures, backing visuals, and lampshades on stage – further adding to the intimacy of the performance as if we are his home watching him at work in his element.
His skill was further demonstrated when he decided to “remix something”, again allowing us to see his thought process and how he creates tracks by building and looping the instruments. At one point the backing visuals was a live stream camera from behind the stage – of him and the crowd! The crowd were in awe of his set, regularly clapping him in appreciation, and the sound system in this tent was excellent, especially for a festival, especially given the later disappointment (keep reading…), especially for All Points East…
He returned to the slightly elevated stage in the centre and the word magician came to mind. The use of his saxophone made the tracks seem older and more soulful; we could feel the music flow through our bodies.
The only critique is the beauty of ‘Ylang Ylang’ was slightly ruined by the loud DnB coming from outside the tent, but that is not the fault of the “Parisian self-taught kid”.
Headlining the day was Tame Impala. The crowd was so packed, meaning us ‘shorties’ could not see anything except the taller humans’ backs – but we are here for the music not the view. However, the overall outcome of this set was strained ears trying to listen due to the unbelievably quiet speakers. This was similar to Gorillaz’s set the week before. I guess we can take the positive that everyone in the crowd was singing along regardless.
At first it felt as through the crowd were holding back from screaming the lyrics in fear of overpowering Kevin Parker, however as the night went on people became less nervous and sang to their heart’s desires. A lot of people were complaining about the sound and, all in all, the set was, unfortunately, very disappointing. This is not the fault of Tame Impala, but All Points East let Parker down.
The lasers and strobes were colourful and active, and if you could catch a glimpse the visuals on the back screen, you’d see psychedelic and incredible imagery.
Despite the struggle to hear him, a highlight came when Parker asked to turn the lights to the audience to have a look at us. He went on to say that he’s seen some “pretty cool signs before” and followed on with reading out one – “Kevin’s b*tches”, before making clear he was reading a sign and not making a “dodgy comment”.
He left the stage and came back on for an encore, although there were limited “one more song” chants – I almost feel because an encore is so predictable nowadays, the crowd no longer participates in this empty aspect of the show. He returned with ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’, ending with strobes and colourful confetti flying across Victoria Park.
My final comments from this day at All Points East was that it seemed a lot busier and chaotic than the previous week, and I really hope All Points East invest in their sound for next year, and the years to follow. Especially as the festival has such potential – it attracts such a diverse crowd and incredible artists to headline and perform, it’s a shame we don’t get to experience their talent fully.