All Points East has firmly established itself as a must-attend event on the London festival calendar. With its prime location in Victoria Park and a lineup that consistently boasts some of the biggest names in the music industry, APE has become an annual pilgrimage for music lovers across the city. This year, the festival delivered yet another stellar roster of artists, including Stormzy, The Strokes, Haim, Jungle, and Dermot Kennedy. I had the incredible opportunity to attend on Saturday, the 26th of August, a day that promised a UK exclusive performance by Jungle and the legendary Erykah Badu. Spoiler alert: it lived up to all expectations and then some.
With gates opening at a comfortable 2pm, festival goers have the freedom to kick-start their day without the pressure of an early start. For me and my group, the routine has become something of a tradition: we gather at a local Hackney pub around midday for a few jars and a bite to eat, and then embark on a gentle stroll into Victoria Park. This year, Mother Nature decided to keep us on our toes with some unpredictable weather, including a brief but intense downpour. Thankfully, our British resolve and festival-season preparation kept us in good spirits.
Upon our arrival, we were immediately drawn to the enchanting beats emanating from the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage. Despite the early hour, a small but enthusiastic crowd had already gathered to immerse themselves in the well-curated musical selection that this stage is known for. As we explored further, we stumbled upon the Kraken Rum activation, complete with a captivating bar and DJ setup, as well as engaging games and opportunities to win prizes. I am happy to announce I am the proud owner of a heavily branded Kraken vest – perfect to spice up my gym wardrobe!
I had the privilege of interviewing several festival goers, and while Jungle was the day’s headliner, it was evident that Erykah Badu held a special place in the hearts of many. Personally, I was keen on catching acts like Gabriels, a group led by the incredible Jacob Lusk, whose soulful voice and electrifying stage presence left an indelible mark on all fortunate enough to witness their performance. Each time they take the stage, you can't help but wonder when you'll have the chance to experience their magic again.
Other acts on the lineup that piqued my interest included Nia Archives and The Blessed Madonna. As the music flowed, we danced the afternoon away, swept up in the infectious energy of the crowd. All Points East's festival grounds strike a perfect balance in terms of size – large enough to accommodate a diverse lineup across multiple stages yet intimate enough to ensure that nothing is too far out of reach.
As the day wore on, the moment we had all been eagerly anticipating arrived. Erykah Badu took the stage in all her reliably eccentric glory. Adorned with a hat that could make Pharrell jealous and boots covered in teddy bears, if anyone can make it work it’s her. Badu treated the crowd to a memorable set that included some of her most beloved hits. Her rendition of "Tyrone," infused with jazzy improvisation, left the audience in awe. She playfully interrupted the song, only to transition seamlessly into the cool, sassy, and slow tune we all love to scream/sing along to. We hung on to the hope of an encore, but even without one, Erykah Badu did not disappoint.
As the sun dipped below the horizon and a gentle rain began to fall, the stage for Jungle came alive with a mesmerising glow. The atmosphere was electric, and the audience was buzzing with excitement. When fan favourites like "Casio" and "Beat 54" filled the air, the crowd erupted in pure euphoria. Jungle's live performance was epic, the perfect antidote to the daily grind.
All Points East is the escape that city-dwellers like us yearn for, without actually having to leave the city. Bargain. With the festival winding down at a reasonable hour, attendees have plenty of time to venture back into London and continue the night in a bar or club of their choice. Given that this particular weekend fell on a bank holiday, I knew I had ample time to recover from escalating things into a full blown night out.
In conclusion, All Points East once again delivered an unforgettable day of music, magic, and memories. It's a festival that effortlessly combines world-class talent with a laid-back atmosphere, all set against the stunning backdrop of Victoria Park.
Whether you're a seasoned festival goer or a first-timer, APE is an experience that should not be missed. So, mark your calendars for next year, and get ready to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of London's premier music festival, I’m already very keen to see who they manage to get on their line-up for 2024!