Festival report: All Points East, London, Sat 25 May
- Arusa Qureshi
- 6 June 2019
Anna Calvi reigns supreme on a guitar-heavy day headlined by The Raconteurs, Interpol and The Strokes
Once the location of popular summer festivals like Field Day and Lovebox, London's Victoria Park is now home to just one, and arguably the most popular of the capital's new major events. In its second year, All Points East presents two weekends of impressive and varied line-ups, with headliners including The Chemical Brothers and Christine and the Queens, and free community events on site in-between.
On the festival's second official day of music, headliners The Strokes in many ways set the theme for the day; indie rock, guitars and plenty of anthemic sing-along moments. It's a line-up and formula that works for diehard fans coming primarily to see the New York band for their first UK gig in four years, but the stand-outs of the day undoubtedly turn out to be those on the smaller stages, with many people let down by the sound issues that plague the big finale.
Earlier in the day, Australian rockers Amyl and the Sniffers bring a heavy dose of punk and glam to the main stage, ripping through tracks from their fast and frenetic debut album like the chant-worthy 'I'm Not a Loser' and thundering 'Some Mutts (Can't Be Muzzled)'. Reading band Valeras similarly impress on the smaller Firestone Stage, with the Latin-inspired melodies on recent singles 'Intentions' and 'Ricochet' melding perfectly with their grunge-heavy guitar lines. In the JägerHaus, Jägermeister's mammoth festival installation, psych-rockers Psychedelic Porn Crumpets tear up the stage in typically raucous fashion, their fuzzed-out guitar riffs and epic crescendos sprawling all across the jam-packed venue.
Elsewhere, Courtney Barnett plays a storming set on the North Stage, her deadpan vocals and crisp lyricism sounding suitably weighty among the hazier parts of the instrumentation. There is a clear confidence here in terms of her connection with the audience, as they scream back the well-known hooks of tracks like 'Everybody Here Hates You' and 'Need a Little Time'. But Barnett also displays real intimacy in her tracks that seems wholly natural and in no way forced.
The three main headliners, The Raconteurs, Interpol and The Strokes, all offer that blast of nostalgia that the day has promised. And although the three bands play predictably terrific sets (albeit with annoyingly terrible sound in The Strokes' case, resulting in boos from the crowd), none come close to providing the blistering energy and effortless exuberance of Anna Calvi. Taking over the North Stage in the late afternoon with a set that is simple yet dynamic, she tears into her guitar in true Hendrix-style; the instrument becoming like an extra limb that she controls with aplomb. Tracks like 'Don't Beat the Girl out of My Boy' and 'As A Man' go down a treat with the audience, who are collectively transfixed by the ebbs and flows of Calvi's arrangements and her visceral movements. In person, she is reserved and calm, but on stage, her passion and fearlessness are unmatched. While The Raconteurs, Interpol and The Strokes play unquestionably crowd-pleasing sets, Anna Calvi's performance is the true highlight of the day with her mastery and finesse shining through the otherwise understated staging of her live show.