Live Report: All Points East - Christine And The Queens, James Blake, Beach House
Following on from the previous day’s sound issues, the East London festival thankfully upped the ante and picked things up a bit. The stellar Sunday line-up, crowned by Christine and the Queens, had festival goers moving and grooving through the rain and grey skies, making for an exhilarating end to the first weekend of All Points East.
Toro y Moi (AKA Chaz Bear) played his first UK show of the year and treated the crowd to some fresh tracks from his new album ‘Outer Peace’. The combination of his subdued yet carefree moves, funky basslines and gnarly synth action had the crowd happily nodding and toe-tapping along to the playful beat. The more soothing, electronic infused R&B numbers broke up the set for a more laissez-faire, chilled out afternoon listen – easing you into the evening festivities.
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American dream pop duo, Beach House, mesmerized crowds with a hypnotic, interchanging backdrop of kaleidoscopic prints, galactic night skies and wilting eyelids. Their sultry, somniferous songs gently coaxed individuals into trance-like states as they swayed along to the melancholic melodies and lost themselves in a euphoric haze. Couples slow danced, gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, unaware of their surroundings, like a scene from some sick-inducing coming of age romcom. It was a bizarre sight to behold, but strangely heart-warming nonetheless.
Wandering towards the East stage elicited a sense of nostalgia as you approached the blissed-out, indie pop sound that encompasses Metronomy. Synths shoot and whoosh through the air as organs build up an electronic elation. You can’t help but be thrown back to the good ol’days of indie.
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Retreating to the warmth of the West Arena, it had evidently reached that point in the evening where punters had begun to embark on their drug-induced journeys across the East London musical landscape – erratic dancing and all. This could only explain the jubilant reception for Maribou State, who’s set played out like one long, drawn out mediocre dance mix. The duo, albeit talented boys, induced in me a mid-evening slump and would perhaps be better suited to playing in the early-hours, when you’re zapped of energy and on the comedown.
A slow amble over to the North Stage, is where you find James Blake, sitting relaxed behind his keyboard playing a combination of hits – both old and new. It was a surreal scene as the heavens opened and the crowd swayed slowly, zombie-like, into each other like extras from an early George A. Romero film. The celestial reverberations of ’Barefoot in the Park’ echoed around, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. The set slowly descended into something uncharacteristically upbeat and danceable, with a penetratingly deep and sludgy bass which stuck to your bones.
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As the rain became torrential and places to shelter grew increasingly sparse, there was no other choice than to embrace it and get absolutely drenched. What better way to pick yourself up and prepare for an epic headliner, than to throw some scary shapes to some seriously hard-hitting techno at the X Stage. Until finally, the time had come for Christine and the Queen’s first festival headline show in the UK…
The rain, still torrential, was perhaps appropriate for such an unequivocally theatrical act. Chris has been one of the most talked about artists for the past year or so. The shows are fast approaching an almost legendary status and are synonymous with an unexplained beauty that is as profound as it is magical.
Donning the infamous red shirt, loosely draped against Chris’ body, it moves and ripples with the body and back-up dancers. An unrivalled sexual tension builds and follows the enigmatic singer around the stage, as the dancers skulk closely behind. The athletic bodies ebb and flow in unison, breaking form and deviating occasionally, then returning to the herd as they faithfully shadow Chris - It was as if they all became one, in tangent with the gorgeously, intimate music surrounding them.
The slanted lighting rigs slowly move in the background, pyrotechnics set the stage ablaze with a small fire accidentally igniting to the side – kindly extinguished by the attentive festival firefighters. Chris triumphantly stalked up the stage for a stripped-down rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ much to the crowd’s surprise and delight. The set fluttered purposefully between danceable bops like ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘5 Dollars’ through to the more ethereal numbers like ‘Tilted’ and ‘The Walker’.
There was no better way to finish off the weekend than with this stunningly freeing and divine set. Chris has surely set the golden standard for headline performances everywhere.
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Words: Yasmin Cowan
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