Bringing a handful of different line-ups across several days at Victoria Park, London this Spring, All Points East Festival is definitely going all out and ensuring music fans of all ilks are catered for.
One of these is headed up by Sheffield’s own Bring Me The Horizon, where they’ll be performing the debut main stage headlining performance of their careers. The mention of them headlining other festivals like Download and even Reading & Leeds has been talked about for a few years now, and it looks like this will be the test to see if they can step up to the plate.
SCARLXRD – 6/10
Leading the charge as the pioneer (dare we say founder) of the still bubbling trap metal genre, once-YouTuber-turned-enigmatic-artist Scarlxrd has the pretty hefty task of warming up the crowd nice and early, and it’s pretty safe to say that – save for the headlining act – he’s the heaviest name to be on the main stage today.
Accompanied by his off-kilter DJ Jacky P, who seems to be in absolute trance, they go through songs like ‘6 Feet’ and his biggest hit ‘Heart Attack’, which admirably sees Scarlxrd managing to make the stage his own and even sparks a mosh pit here and there. Still, with that being said, it’s hard to actually distinguish one song from the other after a while. With a bit more flexibility in his work, Scarlxrd could definitely soar. [ZR]
ALICE GLASS – 2/10
Moving into something that’s certainly very different, Alice Glass (formerly of Crystal Castles) is certainly a far cry from the metallic chords and riffs splice with trap beats of what we’ve seen on this stage thus far, but accompanied with her backing band, she delivers her set of obscure electro-pop.
While her showmanship and her continuous bursts of energy are certainly engaging and enthralling, at least to an extent, the redeeming features more or less end there. Glass‘ vocals are often incoherent and abrasive, no more so than when she pulls some Crystal Castle cuts like ‘Alice Practice’ out of the bag, to the point where it’s almost painful. Here’s to strongly hoping it was an off day. [ZR]
IDLES – 7/10
Things over on the main stage start to pick right back up again with British punk rockers Idles, who ironically have been far from idle since the release of their sophomore ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ last year, and today’s set is no different either. In fact, guitarist Mark Bowen is so excited that he’s wearing nothing but his underwear.
Songs like ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ are slices of classic punk with a modern edge that it’s hard to not bang your head and pump your first to, even if Joe Talbot‘s vocals certainly aren’t for everyone. It’s the message in their songs that holds the most weight, and thankfully they translate seamlessly even across the Victoria Park field. [ZR]
NOTHING BUT THIEVES – 6/10
By now over on the main stage, it’s quite clear that the eclectic line-up is similar to that of the varied sounds and influences that today’s headliners have instilled into their material in the past few years, and bringing a dose of indie tinged alternative rock are Nothing But Thieves.
‘Sorry’ definitely shows that there are plenty of fans there to catch them, many of them singing back the call-to-arm refrains, and the slightly more punk-laden ‘I Was Just A Kid’ even gets a mosh pit or two going whilst the sun blares down on the crowd. It may not be quite as an engaging set as what’s already been before them, but Nothing But Thieves slot in nicely into today’s line-up. [ZR]
RUN THE JEWELS – 7/10
Continuing on with the varied line-up comes hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, who come out onto the stage to Queen‘s hit ‘We Are The Champions’ blaring out of the speakers whilst their logo of two disembodied hands hovers behind them. It doesn’t take long into set opener ‘Talk To Me’ until the crowd starts bouncing and throwing their arms up and down to El-P‘s and Killer Mike‘s bars.
Throughout their 45 minutes on the stage, they manage to control the crowd throughout cuts like ‘Stay Gold’, and even the more chilled moments like their cover of ‘Nobody Speak’ by DJ Shadow. The two move to the front of the stage walkway, and offer a touching and moving speech to the All Points East audience about fighting depression, and encouraging anyone who ever has the urge to consider suicide to remember that there’s always someone out there who will be there for them, and wants them to stay with us before jumping into set closer, ‘Down’. [ZR]
BRING ME THE HORIZON – 9/10
It’s been in talks for a while now; are Bring Me The Horizon ready and in a position to be able to headline a festival’s main stage? There’s a lot that the band have to prove. Sure, they’ve got the songs at their disposal, but it takes a lot more than that to pull off such a feat.
‘Mantra’ leads the charge into their festival headliner debut, and it seems pretty clear early on that the Sheffield outfit are ready to take it to the next level of their careers. The chorus in following number ‘Avalanche’ sounds mammoth-sized as the field of fans roar it back to frontman Oliver Sykes, ‘The House Of Wolves’ ensures all of the fans of their heavier works are catered for early on, and ‘Medicine’ is an indisputable absolute bop of a track.
Thankfully the quintet have brought quite the stage show along with them too to celebrate this milestone in their careers. Of course there’s plenty of pyro flying here and there, including the cult-like mantra girls bringing their own mini flamethrowers during ‘Wonderful Life’, but they also come out in their off-kilter cheer leader outfits for ‘Happy Song’, and transform into ghosts during ‘Can You Feel My Heart?’.
It’s the additional special touches that make this such a set to remember, though. Dani Filth of Cradle Of Filth comes clad head-to-toe in his gothic and near-vampiric get up for ‘Wonderful Life’, Sam Carter of Architects makes an appearance for his part on the searing ‘The Sadness Will Never End’, and helping to bolster up and up-and-coming name in the world of heavy music, Sykes brings on Jamie McLees of Lotus Eater to add an extra layer of beef onto the rebellious anthem ‘Antivist’.
Closing off with a one-two of ‘Throne’ and ‘Drown’, it’s unquestionable that Bring Me The Horizon are primed and prepared to take a stranglehold of main stage festival spots across the world from here. If tonight’s spot at All Points East was a proving ground, they’ve triumphed with great aplomb and forced all of the doubters and haters to eat their words whole. [ZR]
EMPLOYED TO SERVE – 7/10
The unmistakeable crunch of ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, the title-track from their stonker of a third album, signals the arrival of Employed To Serve. There’s a palpable unity to this band, right down to their matching emblazoned windbreakers, and it’s this sense of community that stretches right through the crowd, seeing fists raised from front-to-back during the likes of ‘Force Fed’ with its staccato drum intro from Robbie Back.
Vocalist Justine Jones is a real powerhouse, but occasionally drowned out by the crushing guitars – though this is more a sound issue than any fault of the band, and the set is brutal and invigorating nonetheless. [LC]
YONAKA – 8/10
Brighton’s Yonaka make their appearance at the festival slap bang in the middle of their UK tour. In fact, they played an acoustic set at Rough Trade London just before coming here. Despite this, they look fresh faced and ready to win fans left, right and centre.
Their moody yet irresistibly hooky alt-pop is a breath of fresh air, with the weighty chorus of ‘Creature’ and the thumping groove of ‘Death By Love’ causing arms to sway and heads to bob. In fact, it’s all so infectious that even the sun has made its way out of the clouds to have a look. Fantastic. [LC]
SLEEPING WITH SIRENS – 6/10
Sleeping With Sirens have been quiet for a while. Having released no new music since 2017’s ‘Gossip’, the former kings of the post-hardcore scene have all but disappeared off the radar. However, diving straight into the set with the massive ‘Do It Now, Remember It Later’, they’re clearly here to remind us of the hits that got them there in the first place.
Kellin Quinn still has vocal chops, as he nails the high notes on ‘Better Off Dead’ and stand-out banger ‘If You Can’t Hang’. Closing the set with a live debut of new track, ‘Leave It All Behind’, the band leave fans in hope that perhaps they won’t be quiet for too much longer. [LC]
WHILE SHE SLEEPS – 8/10
The sun is high in the sky by the time While She Sleeps take the stage. In fact, the only thing that’s more blistering than the rays is the breakdown of opening track ‘You Are We’. The brutality won’t let up as a wall of death explodes during ‘Anti-Social’, and it’s clear that vocalist Lawrence Taylor and co. are here to deliver the heavy.
Thundering riffs and blast beats bookend more melodic moments, like the soaring hook of ‘The Guilty Party’. So killer is the set that even man of the moment himself Oliver Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon can’t resist making an appearance, as he leaps on stage to join the band on ‘Silence Speaks’. It’s no wonder, as While She Sleeps sound better than they ever have, and are snapping at Bring Me The Horizon‘s heels. [LC]
ARCHITECTS – 8/10
That said, it’s Architects who are probably closest to being future festival headliners. Opening with the cathartic ‘Modern Misery’, frontman Sam Carter‘s distinctive gut-wrenching growl stirs the crowd into a frenzy.
The set is heavy on material from latest album ‘Holy Hell’, which is by no means a bad thing – ‘Royal Beggars’, ‘Hereafter’, and ‘Doomsday’ all shine as some of the strongest material the band have ever written. The fans respond as warmly to these as they do to the likes of modern classic ‘These Colours Don’t Run’, as well as the dynamic scream-along that ‘Gone With The Wind’ induces.
It’s an emotional set – a sincere speech from Carter about the passing of guitarist Tom Searle three years ago is undeniably moving, and the tears from fans in the crowd is testament to the connection that Architects have with their audience. Sadly, at points, it can be difficult to hear Carter‘s otherwise outstanding vocals due to the undeniable sound issues that have plagued this stage all day, but Architects won’t let that stand in their way. With courage and aplomb, they deliver a consistent and confident set that cements them as UK metal’s brightest hope. [LC]
A full photo gallery from the event can be found here.
Written by Zach Redrup [ZR] and Lottie Cook [LC]
Photos by Dev Place