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WPGM Reviews: All Points East Festival 2022

Over the span of two weekends in August, the reliably great All Points East Festival returns to Victoria Park in terrific style. With ideal weather, great organisation and a line-up with something for everyone, All Points East 2022 is another reminder of the best that the festival format has to offer.

Though the weekend slots are significantly more popular than the weekdays, the lineups are just as notable. On the Friday, after the muscular indie rock of Balthazar and the warm tones of Lucy Dacus, Kurt Vile takes to the East Stage for a laidback demonstration of his typically woozy, country-tinged rock. As fans of the ex-War on Drugs guitarist will expect, the performance matches the music’s chilled nonchalance.

If this style doesn’t suit some attendees, soon they are treated to a wonderful, expressive performance from Perfume Genius. This is one of the highlights of the day, Mike Hadreas captivating the audience with his slinky dancing.

Fresh off the release of an ambitious new album, Ugly Season, Hadreas is on top form here, returning for the most part to the well-known tracks from his older records. Though the whole set is terrific, tracks like “Wreath”, “Describe”, “Slip Away”, and “Otherside” are particularly terrific.

Much like his dancing, Hadreas’ voice has a unique capacity for restrained, delicate introversion on the verses, and soaring but gentle power on the choruses. “Otherside” showcases this vocal and corporal duality better than ever; physically Hadreas is contained and fragile in the verses before slowly unfurling his arms when the pummelling chorus begins.

It’s a brilliant demonstration of Hadreas’ fascination with modern dance. The closer, “Queen” is perhaps the best moment of the set. Hadreas brings out a wedding dress and proceeds to wrap himself in it, roll around in it, and drag it across the stage. Aided by the song’s dramatic retro synths, Hadreas achieves a fitting end to a magnificent performance.

Later, Fleet Foxes – touring their album Shore – take to the Rayban West Stage for a set of typically expansive chamber-folk. Any fans of the band will be familiar with their penchant for group harmonies. When heard live, this almost hymnal style becomes even more powerful, the songs’ communal tone fitting perfectly with a festival crowd.

It helps that Robin Pecknold’s evident joy to be performing these tracks is infectious. Their final track of the night, “Helplessness Blues”, is a beautiful send-off and a striking affirmation of that song’s power.

Closing out the Friday, The National headline on the East Stage with their brand of stern, slightly dour rock. Throughout the set, Matt Berninger staggers across the stage, often seeming to act out the songs’ tales of emotional crisis.

When a rare moment of optimism strikes in the refrain of “This Is The Last Time”, the crowd joins Berninger in his reassurance that “I won’t be vacant anymore”. Though the slightly depressive tone of The National might strike some as a surprising pick for the closer of a festival, the crowd is with them all the way.

On the Saturday, in the late afternoon, Freddie Gibbs appears on the West Stage ahead of his upcoming album. It’s a difficult time to perform; the crowd is less focused than later in the day. Nevertheless, alongside intermittent calls of “f**k the police”, Gibbs dispenses his “coke rap” with abundant style and charisma.

Gibbs’ frequently raps acapella before the beats by the likes of Madlib and The Alchemist boom through the speakers. It’s a great performance in a slot that is difficult to fill.

We then get a highlight of the festival. H.E.R. proves to be the perfect mid-day act, knowing exactly how to get the crowd excited. Though big hits like “Best Part” garner a huge reaction from the crowd, the audience is enraptured by her vocal and instrumental performance on lesser known cuts as well.

As is typical for R&B, H.E.R. and the terrific backing singers showcase intense vocal runs to a captivated audience. But H.E.R. is not just a gifted vocalist. The highlight of the act comes when H.E.R. swaps her acoustic guitar for an electric guitar and proceeds to solo brilliantly over the next three or four songs.

As the sun goes down, and crowds prepare for the progressively dance-oriented headliners, H.E.R. proves to be a terrific entertainer.

Later on the East Stage, Charli XCX brings hyper-pop to her adoring fans. Pop hits like “1999” and “Beg For You” are highlights for the crowd.

James Blake brings a great mix of tracks from across his catalogue. Alongside newer, melancholic cuts from his latest albums (“Say What You Will”), there is some terrific EDM (“CMYK”), and some beautiful, stripped-back covers of tracks by Frank Ocean (“Godspeed”) and Joni Mitchell (“A Case of You”).

Nonetheless, the melancholia of Blake’s set soon gives way to the energetic, party-oriented hits of Disclosure. Here, the ground in front of the North Stage transforms from concert area to open-air nightclub. The crowd nearly extends to the food vendors that skirt the outer edges of the venue.

It’s a testament to the success of Disclosure’s set that masses of people continue to dance when the music is significantly less audible. The two DJs – despite being reduced to near-undefinable figures in the distance – maintain their grasp on the crowd.

Over the two days covered here, All Points East once again proves its appeal. The lineup is stylistically diverse, the organisation clear and easy to navigate, and most importantly, the artists are just as happy as the fans to be there.

Register for updates for All Points East 2023 here.

Words by Noah Sparkes // Photos provided by Outside Org

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