Imagine this – the sun is shining, you are standing in a field, loud music is pumping through your ears and soul and everywhere you look are excited strangers dancing and cheering to the soundwaves. Life is easy. What seemed like the typical day spent at a music festival just two years ago, has turned into an almost miracle-like presence thanks to the still ongoing global pandemic. And while 2020 had us longing for nothing more than finally getting to hear live music again, this year has come to its very needed turning point, thanks to festivals like All Points East in London. Packed with high-rank acts like Foals, Caribou, Jorja Smith, Bombay Bicycle Club and Little Simz, the festival gave back what music lovers had been craving for so long and made up for eighteen months of silence.
Set in the capital’s Victoria Park, 2021 finally saw the fest return in exhilarating fashion after a year off, with three days of a phenomenal mix of genres and soundscapes and thrilled fans looking to savour every last ray of sunshine and pulsating beat before the season ends again as fast as it began. This and so much more didn’t just make this year’s All Points East a celebration of the festival’s return, but the comeback of live music in general. Coming to its peak on the last day, the finale brought an assembly of modern treats and nostalgia for the attendees, with the exhilarating Bombay Bicycle Club going back to back with crowd-favourites Foals, while up- and coming risers like Arlo Parks and Holly Humberstone were one of the first ones to set the day off and effortlessly bring their warm musical intimacies to the big stages, sunflower decorations included.
Later, it was time for some indie goodness, with The Magic Gang taking over the tent with their irresistible guitar-pop anthems, while Australian favourites Gang of Youths prepared the crowd for the main act to follow. It was then that the festival seemed to truly come alive, with alt-heroes Bombay Bicycle Club blasting through well-loved hits like ‘Carry Me’, ‘Lights Out, Words Gone’, ‘Shuffle’ and ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You’), while the elegant Rae Morris joined them for a cover of Selena Gomez’s ‘Lose You To Love Me’ and their own mesmerizing ‘Luna’. And by the time the four-piece invited the London School of Samba to the stage to add flair to a rapturous closing performance of ‘Always Like This’, it had become clear that this was the place to be that night.
Coming to a close with Foals putting an end to this year’s All Points East festivities and the bank holiday celebrations with a killer set of old and new favourites, it was hard not to feel optimistic about the future, with frontman Yannis Philippakis stating that “today we get to feel what it is to be human again”. Sending everyone into the night with full hearts and sore throats, it was the joy of live music finally being back that gleamed in everyone’s faces and made London feel alive once more.
Written and photography by Laura Weingrill