Review by Cain Suleyman with Photography by Bianca Barrett

Victoria Park is a place that the locals of the area visit for lovely runs, dog walks and picnic dates. It’s a truly tranquil and enjoyable place that people come to relax. So it would have been a bit of a shock for those on their daily dog walk to see their path cut short by the large installation that is All Points East. In the festival’s first year running, the opening weekend went down a storm. Today, Victoria park was jam packed full of festival goers ready to see the incredibly popular Catfish and the Bottlemen.

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The first instalment of the day came from the Scottish Indie band Neon Waltz. They entered the stage with a cool nature about them to deliver a fantastic sound that perfectly matched the vibes that surrounded this sun soaked day. Soft and eloquent vocals mixed with the summery upbeat instrumentals filled the North stage as most spectators sat down to enjoy the summery music of the young Scottish collective.

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Next up was a complete contrast to the former band. When most people think of ladybirds, they picture a small and sweet bug that is often a word used to name children nursery places. When you ask me, I think of the punk fuelled, energetic and strangely charismatic, Lady Bird from Tunbridge Wells. A packed out Jagerhaus greeted the trio with screams, cheers and instant mosh pits as the connection between the artist and fans came way before they started playing. Opening with ‘Leave Me Alone’, everyone watching flew themselves towards the stage and started a mosh pit so intense, even Frank Carter would have been impressed.

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Recently signed to Girl Fight Records, Lady Bird have managed to successfully capture the essence of what punk, in 2018, needs to be. Loud, dirty and adrenaline rich music. Everyone loves a mosh pit and a lot of artists need to command an audience verbally to urge this on. Not Lady Bird. Their music is incredibly well composed, with perfect dynamics throughout, that it flows through every spectator to orchestrate an incredible energy without being asked.

The Jagerhaus was a perfect venue situated in the festival and Lady Bird conquered it in a mere 30 minutes. Their music will resonate with old and new punks and rockers to surely cement their place in the world of music. This is a band that are fast on the rise so be quick to catch them while they’re playing the more intimate venues.

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If there was ever a band to perfectly set the main stage alight, it’s The Amazons. Their catchy guitar hooks and vocal melodies in ‘Black Magic’ perfectly clashed with the loud cymbal heavy drums and muddy distorted guitar patterns that made it impossible for the audience to stand still. Their thick and powerful sound completely filled the space to hit every spectator no matter whether you were at the very front or back. This is a band that have been gaining a great momentum over the last year with big slots at Glastonbury and Reading. This main stage set will be sure to help their case for going onto bigger and better things as they continue to dominate stages across the UK.

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One aspect of today’s festival culture that is a shame is the lack of female artists on the bill. People often make the excuse that there aren’t enough bands with female members, but today there were two artists that made a very strong case that they deserve these festival slots just as much as male musicians.

Girli came onto the Firestone stage full of energy with a playful middle finger in the air as she plays the perfect set opener ‘F*** Off Back To LA’. An extremely comical scene of curse gestures aimed at the singer throughout the song was visible as a formerly still crowd of people bounced, danced and grooved along to this perfectly upbeat summery tune.

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Girli is known as a feminist and her music perfectly reflects this. Her lyrics contain many lines that promote female empowerment, especially in relationships. As a male audience member, it was incredibly interesting to see how much her music resonated with each girl in the audience to create an atmosphere that most people would like to see outside of this festival setting. 

In any gig, everyone is equal. That’s the great nature about music and it’s an important reason why people enjoy going to gigs. This feeling was ever present for Girli’s set as she finishes with Hot Mess, alongside a cheeky crowd surf.

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The second band that helped the case for more female artists at festivals was The Big Moon. Having only been exposed to their music while watching the 2017 Mercury Prize, I was intrigued to experience their live sound in person and they didn’t disappoint. An all female Indie Pop band with slightly heavier rock undertones make a perfect fit for this day filled with a reasonably wide range of genres.

Having only been on the scene since 2014, it’s incredible to see an extremely mature stage presence about them as they deliver songs from their sole album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’. As they say in ‘Cupid’, “I’m gonna get this perfectly right” as they pull out a fantastic set to close down the Jagerhaus stage for the day.

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If you were to head to the front of the North stage at around 18:30, you would have been helplessly trapped in a hurricane that was especially ordered as a 1st class package by the mighty Frank Carter. Sirens blared from the speakers as an instant indication for the seas to part in preparation for the incredibly popular ‘Juggernaught’. It felt like a scene in a typical viking movie with two armies charging towards one another. A cheeky grin from Carter confirmed his seal of approval before beginning the song that would cause many to wake up with a number of bruises in the morning.

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It’s an amazing experience to witness Frank Carter in action. He’s a pretty small guy but the energy that’s held in his frame seems to be endless and unstoppable. Crowd surfing, stage diving and handstands on top of spectators all seem to be strong hobbies that are consistently shown throughout his performance.

Perhaps the best moment of the set was the eagerly anticipated circle pit that Frank is known to command, especially during his festival slots. A circle pit to surround a mansion wasn’t nearly good enough as we are given clear instructions to run around the sound desk, situated a fare way back from the stage. In no time, the North stage turned into the scene from the Lion King where Simba ran from the stampede of Wildebeests.

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The final installation from The Rattlesnakes was their titanic anthem ‘I Hate You’. A song that’s full of hate, anger and rage. No matter how loud the band could have played, it would have failed to match the noise coming from the voices of the crowd. This is such a big song by the band that everyone who sees them always looks forward to this closing of their setlist. It’s safe to say that Frank ruined many people’s voices that were maybe preparing for the main headliner of the day.

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The penultimate act on the East stage came in the form of the Stockport band Blossoms. Their perfectly fitting festival sounds filled the audience with energy that caused a mass scene of dancing around Victoria park.

With their first album being released in 2016, the 5-piece have see a quick rise to fame with hit singles in the form of ‘Honey Sweet’ and ‘Getaway’, both of which were met with thousands of screaming fans reciting every lyric perfectly.

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It was a great atmosphere to be around. Even during the calmer songs such as ‘My Favourite Room’, everyones attention was darted towards the East stage to observe the orchestration from frontman Tom Ogden.

As their set came to a close, there was a quick lull about the audience before the synths for ‘Charlemagne’ hit everyone like a shot of adrenaline. A quick round of smiles spread on the five faces on stage as they closed one of their biggest festival slots to date.

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I find it difficult to think of many bands that have had the capability of headlining such a big festival after only 2 albums. Moreover, I find it difficult to think of any band that could have done this with any degree of success after their second album. But tonight, one band proved that all it takes is a couple of high class records to gain that headliner spot that most bands only dream of.

Catfish and the Bottlemen completely owned the stage as they opened with favourites, ‘Homesick’ and ‘Katheen’. Their impact was instant. A loud wall of sound, made by their clean cut rock, surely overspilled out of Victoria Park as frontman Van McCann screams “It’s been too long”, directly referring to it being almost a whole year since the band’s last gig in London.

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The band had the energy that any headliner should have. A full force of music that causes a crowd of thousands to bounce and groove to their old and new songs. It’s almost as if the band specifically wrote their music to tailor the summer festival vibes. Songs like ‘Twice’, ‘7’ and ‘Cocoon’ all went down a treat to get the whole crowd on their feet and moving.

All Points East is a fantastic festival. With a lot of festivals failing to capture the sound quality of an indoor gig, the noise at Victoria Park restored my faith in outdoor gigs. Not only was the sound fantastic but the overall set up of the festival couldn’t have been put together any more perfectly. This is a festival that is sure to make a return next year with bigger bands, stages and crowds.

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See the complete photoset from APE Presents on 1st June here.

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