I feel it is only fair to pre-empt the following by informing everyone that, beyond a brief teenage flirtation with punk rock, I am not a die-hard hard rock fan. Did that keep me from having a great time at the second Friday of All Points East (a two weekend festival held in London’s Victoria Park)? Absolutely not.
With my best friend, and co-author of this article, in tow, and obscene amounts of glitter in our faces and hair, we made the trek to East London; both not entirely sure what to expect. Thanks to our sparkly appearance, we drew quite a few bemused looks on the way, which completely stopped once we passed through the festival gates. At first, I was expecting a few odd looks, as my outfit obviously outed me as an opportunity fan, rather than a metal ultra (personally,I would describe the look as aspiring "Instagrammer" hoping to get discovered at Coachella), but the reality was quite the opposite. Although they might seem a bit scary from the outside with their impressive all-black, leather outfits (props to anyone brave enough to go to a festival in ten inch plateau heels), we found the hard-rock fans at the festival to be an extremely kind and inclusive community.
This inclusivity was reflected by the festival in general, which should be commended for making a great effort to cater to a broad audience. Almost every food stall had vegan and/or gluten free options, with many being fully vegan. It was also an extremely family-friendly atmosphere – so friendly that we even saw quite a few infants being carried around by their parents, wearing huge protective headphones and, seemingly, quite enjoying themselves. We did not see anyone get drunk and belligerent, everyone just seemed to be there to enjoy the music in the sun, which brings me to the most important part of All Points East: the music.
As I mentioned above, hard rock and metal are not really what either of us listen to in our free time, but this absolutely did not stop us from enjoying the music, enthusiastically nodding our heads, and dancing along to screamed lyrics we mostly did not quite understand. A few bands really stood out to us and should receive honourable mentions. The first band we saw was Idles – a Bristol-born hard-rock band neither of us were familiar with before. Idles’ set was decidedly political, and included tracks addressing toxic masculinity, immigration, and feminism from their latest album, Joy, as an Act of Resistance. A definite highlight was singer Joe Talbot’s unique interpretation of classic love songs, culminating in a rendition of All I Want for Christmas Is You, which the audience enthusiastically joined in with. Next, we saw American hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, who had the audience bouncing, and finished with an emotional appeal to reach out to someone that might be having a hard time right now.
The day culminated with an energetic performance from headliners Bring Me the Horizon, aka the only band we knew before going to the festival. Complete with outfit changes, back up dancers wearing hazmat suits, and pyro effects, I can confidently say that the Sheffielders smashed their first major festival performance. Lead vocalist Oli Sykes managed to keep the attention of the crowd throughout his set, and almost everyone around us was singing along enthusiastically (the lyrics displayed on a massive screen on the stage certainly helped us). While we did stay away from the mosh pits, those who did indulge evidently had a great time.
All in all, it was a resounding success! We had a lot of fun, ate good food, discovered new music, and danced until we could no more. Also shout out to the festival team for the porta-loo maintenance which I would be remiss not to mention! If you were hesitant to go to All Points East this year, maybe because you did not know the bands, rest assured that this wouldn't stop you from having a good time!
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor