Saturday 25 May - the return of All Points East Festival to Victoria Park, right in the heart of east London. All Points East is billed as a ‘10 day festival’ with headline sets from Chemical Brothers, Christine & The Queens and Mumford & Sons, but we’re here to see The Strokes, on the second day of the festival. Ransom Note have enlisted me to visit the festival for a very important reason - a mum’s point of view.
So here we are - and high excitement, we’re on the guest list! My friend and I wander up to the “VIP/Media” box office feeling quite important until…
Box Office Woman: "Hi, which list are you on?"
Me: "Hi! We’re on the press list."
Box Office Woman: "Yes, but for who? Which publication?"
Me: "Err...very good question…"
Panicked few minutes while I scroll through WhatsApp - I have to admit I’m not (yet) a regular Ransom Note reader...sorry Wil.
Once we’ve proved we’re not blaggers and we’re into the hallowed ground, it takes a while for me to get my whereabouts. I walk my dog around Vicky Park and this all looks so very different. I’m used to fitness fanatics running, roller blading, cycling and a few dog walkers - not crowds of beer-swilling festival goers!
The site looks great - it’s a far stretch from the festivals of yesteryear - clean looking food outlets and bars everywhere, but dare I say perhaps a little too perfect. You could perhaps say it was slightly more Bluewater than Woodstock but hey, you can’t complain about a well-run festival. My friend and I are surrounded by happy faces and everyone, including staff seem very friendly, with lots of Strokes fans wearing literally their hearts on their old school t-shirts.
First lesson of the evening - listen to instructions from the lovely lady in the box office and head to the “VIP/Media” area. We head over towards main stage, weaving around the queues and happy groups in various states of inebriation, in the direction of the “VIP” - the sign over there says so. No - we’ve traipsed to the wrong side of the stage so begin fighting our way back once again through the queues and happy groups to get to the other side.
As we’re traipsing about The Raconteurs are on stage and we decide that we’re more OAP than VIP, so instead catch the tail end of their set 'out front’. The band, fronted by Jack White, sound pretty good and they’re met with tumultuous roars of approval as they rattle off song after song, including tracks from their latest album.
So with drinks in hand, we await the arrival on stage of the band we’ve come to see - The Strokes, due to appear at 9.30. While All Points East bills itself as a festival you could certainly argue it’s much more about the headliners than many festivals and this certainly felt the case as the band arrived on stage. Lead singer Julian Casablancas even asked, as the band started, “is everybody in now?” - it appeared as though the festival site was rushed with fans at the last minute.
As the field got busier and busier we went with it and tried not to swim against the crowd. Almost carried along we find ourselves in a perfect place, right in front of the stage but about 40 rows back - superb view if only we weren’t two short-arses with the tallest people standing in our way - good job the side screens were easy to see!
As the show gets started, oh my word, I am in heaven! The Strokes still look pretty good - time has been kind to them. Kicking off with Heart in a Cage, these boys do not disappoint. A number of fans railed at the lack of decent sound which wasn’t great at certain points, but not too problematic.
The songs are all the familiar ones - 12:51, Someday, Reptilia - have us both jumping around. As they return for their encore we sing along to another favourite - Last Nite, which of course had to be on the set list!
All in all, despite it feeling more like a Strokes gig than a festival at times, I have to say All Points East was a great festival - whether you’re a mum or not. What’s not to like - sound issues aside - and to be fair, you can’t have it both ways - a great festival that’s easy to get to (no trudging through muddy fields) in a residential area you’re always going to have to tone the levels down.
Photo courtesy of
Tom Hancock — at All Points East.
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