REVIEW: All Points East – Victoria Park, Saturday & Sunday – 25 & 26 May 2019

or how Henry learned that day festivals suck (AGAIN)

Thanks to my own initiative (a competition on Dice), I’d bagged entry to All Points East: London’s premier-early-summertime-day-festival in Victoria Park

I was now able to attend performances on both Saturday AND Sunday, which meant I had the chance to see at least two headliners: the Strokes AND Christine and the Queens.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t know who Christine and the Queens were (probably a French Queens of the Stone Age cover band). I’d finally won tickets to something and two at that!

Like a toddler that hadn’t been changed all day, I felt the urge to roll around and share the glory of my own majesty with everyone.

And what was the easiest way to do that? Reminiscing, stupid!

So I thought back to last year’s All Points East. Oh yeah, I went to that one too and what a time we had!

There was that duet between Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. It was magical.

Then I remembered feeling totally inspired by Patti Smith’s wail to action. It was also magical.

And as I made sure that the memory was spread evenly across the carpet of my mind, I remembered that everyone had sung in a field of roses, roses without thorns and it was absolute bliss.

Why you should always think a little harder than you actually do

As the memory hit its climax, I remembered Patti Smith calling out to the audience:

Rise up, oh rise up my young flowers, if we all sing together we’ll break the machine and be free to love each other forever. It’s the sixties all over again. Yeah, we changed the world and it’s great now because of us.

Wait, the world isn’t great now, is it?

I then learned that everyone else had won tickets on Dice too.

Then my girlfriend said she didn’t want to come on Sunday.

Then I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to rub anyone’s face in the fact that I’d finally won something.

And then I started to remember that no, last year’s All Points East hadn’t been that good, had it?

I looked on the internet to confirm my suspicions. Reading this review on Resident Adviser just confirmed that people who write for RA take too much ecstasy (it really damages your brain).

Yep, it was confirmed. Last year had definitely been awful.

But I tried to not get myself down. I mean, it was going to be sunny. Maybe I could still drink too much and have a fun time?

Turns out I was wrong. Just like I had been wrong last year.

Having definitely experienced this before and now having absolutely no desire to experience it again, I decided to write down exactly why All Points East was an awful experience (AGAIN) and why I never want to go back, EVER AGAIN.

Henry’s list of things that you should definitely read before accepting tickets to go to All Points East

1. The people often suck

Why do a lot of the people at day festivals suck?

Because they’re the types who think the best place to see Foo Fighters is from the seated bit at the back of Greenwich O2.

It’s not. The best way to see Foo Fighters is sticking your head down a u-bend screaming Monkey Wrench.

I don’t need to labour this further. No, someone provided me with the perfect example while I was queuing on Saturday.

Get comfortable and I’ll set the scene:

To the left there was a poster boasting that Mumford & Sons’ latest LP was the Daily Telegraph’s 2018 Album of the Year. Even though I don’t think it was?

Ahead, there were swathes of white people and despite the overpowering scent of sun block, the back of everyone’s necks and ears were piglet pink.

All Points East - Entrance
I think Instagram invented ‘English people filters’ that help mask all the pink – All Points East: the queue

And get ready, because behind there stood the most disingenuous couple I have ever had the pleasure of eavesdropping on, EVER.

The mysterious couple’s All Points East queue conversation

The girl, “Oh, you know that babe that I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram? Yeah? Well she’s in Majorca and it looks so LUSH. She just looks so LUSH. She’s SO beefed right now. It’s really inspiring me. You know what? I’m gonna go beefer.”  

The guy, “Ah, babe this is why I love you so much. It would be my absolute pleasure to go beefer with you.

The girl then responded, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH [BEEF] BABE.

Lucky for them, everyone’s cattle prods were confiscated at the entrance.

2. The bands don’t have a very good incentive to play well  

If someone wrote you a check for £50,000 and then said all you had to do was jump around the stage at the petting zoo, would you put on your best performance?

Probably not.

This year, it’s already been reported that the Strokes sounded like underwater karaoke. Look, it’s in the Independent.  

For some reason though, the Independent didn’t get in touch with me for a quote.

It’s a shame because I actually spent most of the Strokes’ performance standing to the right of the main stage – exactly where it sounded bad. I’m afraid that I need to testify that while the Strokes were hard to hear (and there was one hell of a lot of booing), it did not sound like underwater karaoke.

All Points East - the Strokes
Proof that I definitely saw the Strokes. Actually, it does look a little like underwater love – All Points East on Saturday

But I can tell you that it’s a shame it wasn’t underwater karaoke. If it had been, all the people who were singing, “nah-na-nahh-na-nah-nahhhh-nahhhhh,” to that guitar bit that everyone knows in 12:41 would have probably swallowed a little too much water.

3. The blatant commercialism

Is there anything more rock and roll than new tires, credit cards, electronic cigarettes and an inability to seduce someone in person (Tinder, I’m looking at you)?

Apparently not.

All Points East’s website describes the companies that sell all of these great things as partners not sponsors.

You know that’s the corporate way of saying ‘I’m with the band’.

And I hate to labour the point, but the adverts are so hard to ignore.

Here were my favourites:

  1. The Logic Vape tent (how is it ok to advertise vapes but it’s not ok to advertise cigarettes? All those vape adverts just remind everyone that they used to smoke real cigarettes. I mean, if I was working in Marlboro’s advertising department right now I’d just invent a vape that looks like a pack of Marlboro Reds and plaster that everywhere)
  2. The Huawei spying platform (yes, Huawei had a platform directly opposite the main stage, where else would it be?), and
  3. The totally Radical American Express card holders wristband that granted an ever so exclusive set of people access to an ever so exclusive tent at the side, filled with other people who also had American Express cards.

Can you imagine a tent full of people who only have two things in common: an Amex card and a desire to only hang out with other people who have Amex cards?

I bet the Amex tent’s great.

Who doesn’t love spending time at concerts comparing their Experian credit rating (by the way, it’s 300 (that means good 😉 ). How about you send me some money in the post?).

4. No one seems to be angry that it’s blatant commercialism

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, at All Points East there was a Tinder Van.

Everyone walked past the Tinder Van and said, “Oh, sweet, it’s really useful that there’s a Tinder Van at All Points East. You know, somewhere you’re able to change partners when you fall out of love for forty minutes and both no longer want to see the same band. It’s just great that you’ll still have someone else’s back pocket to keep your hand warm in.

Then, when Interpol started playing Henry’s girlfriend went up to the Tinder Van and said, “Oh please Tinder Van, can I exchange this Henry for someone who doesn’t want to see Interpol?

And then the Tinder Van lady said “Oh no Henry’s girlfriend, I’m afraid not, this van is just for beer, but if you pull your top down a bit I’ll set you up with a new profile.

And in the end poor little Henry got abandoned at the carousel that looked like it was dancing to the end of the world.

Have you worked out what’s strange about that story yet? You guessed it, no one’s angry that I was abandoned.

All Points East - Tinder Van
The usual suspects at the Tinder Van @ All Points East

Want to hear something else people weren’t angry about?

There was this All Points East app that was meant to tell you when and where your favourite acts were playing. But it’s like they made sure it was completely web-based on purpose.

Of course it wasn’t going to work.

When have you ever had mobile data at a festival?!

The organisers clearly knew it wasn’t going to work. That’s why they hired a bunch of people to stand around with physical guides on really cool lanyards that cost £5 each.

My point here is that no one seemed to care that they were being ripped off. Or angry about anything. It was just kind of like everyone there wanted vanilla icecream and everyone got vanilla icecream.

5. The hypocrisy

I really wanted to see Parquet Courts on Saturday and I did. It was great. I think Parquet Courts are ace.

But, despite a solid performance of Tenderness, no one seemed to take the lyrics to heart.

All Points East - the Apocalypse
#plasticfree @ All Points East. It really looks like the apocalypse, doesn’t it? Were Parquet Courts not just singing about the end of the world?!

And like that magnificent band from New York City, this weekend, I too was left without a fix of a little tenderness.

Excerpt from Parquet Courts’ Tenderness

Nothing reminds the mind of power

Like the cheap odor of plastic

Leaking fumes we crave, consume, the rush it feels fantastic

But like power turns to mold, like a junkie going cold

I need the fix of a little tenderness

Redemption

But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any good bits.

I mean Jarvis Cocker somehow managed to convince the Hamburglar to join his band.

All Points East - Jarvis Cocker and the Hamburglar
That is definitely Jarvis Cocker and that figure circled in red is definitely the Hamburglar. You believe me right? @ All Points East

Personality of a Sandwich

Imagine; you’re in the dead zone, somewhere between Monday and Friday.

You’re probably at work and to set the scene, I’ll start with something believable: there’s nothing decent to scroll on BBC News.

But look up. The clock on the wall opposite screams salvation.

Finally, it’s lunch!

But something’s wrong.

This giddy hour used to inspire joy, but as you lean forward, arms outstretched, you feel nothing.

And somehow, it stings.

And you, just as I, play out a scenario in your head.

Maybe today’s the day we can say it in unison. 

London, I’m sorry, but you just don’t excite me anymore.

[grab the city’s hand – it’s insecure]

You and these never-ending sandwiches, they’re just so predictable. You need someone less, how do I put it, challenging?

And now the city’s looking back at you, it’s heart shattered and it tries to mouth, “But you could get sushi from Itsu!” but you press your index finger against its lips and you can see a new found understanding in its eyes.

Cutting it short, London mouths, “I understand.”

Wow. I’m surprised at how that scenario played out too. I mean, I didn’t think this city had dignity.

The whole experience is a revelation and naturally,  you want to share it.

Peak over your soundboard.

Meet the blank stare of your colleague and relish the realisation they also haven’t done any work since arrival.

Yes, finally I know what’s wrong! It’s the sandwich that’s the problem.

Momentum builds and you try and speak it out, but suddenly, your boss returns from their noon-time excursion.

They cast aside a paper bag from Eat and clutching a plastic wrapped baguette they announce with fervour to the desk bank, “I got chicken salad!

Breathe_In_and_Out
It’s wonderful that eateries provide anxiety relieving devices with every purchase. I mean, most of us have two hands, so what else could they be for?

And deep down, you know, it’s not safe to share this epiphany. Maybe it won’t ever be.

So, as my single protest of the day, here’s a list of everyone else’s failings as defined by their choice of sandwich.

1. Homemade Monstrosity

If you managed to make your own lunch, commendable effort. I applaud you.

It won’t be very good (compare it to mine and weep).

best_sandwich
This one’s complicated. If you want to try and recreate it, please check with your parents before you use the sharp knife.

As I understand it, only the following truly count as homemade sandwiches:

  • Peanut Butter. A rough staple. Apparently a layer of margarine will prevent you from gagging on it. But hell, no one likes peanut butter and margarine, so please muffle the choking.
  • Spaghetti. It only counts as a sandwich filling if it comes from a can. A single, lonesome can. The bread will be sodden. I’ve tried it and yes, cannot wait for the apocalypse.
  • Crisps. The lunch of the pauper king. Combine the two most important staples of the English diet to become the  turbo-carbohydrate-based-killer you’ve always wanted to be. (NB: To think this was a good idea, you’d probably have to be high. Supporting the widely robust theory that eating sandwiches at work normalises drug abuse)

After consuming nothing but a smattering of these sandwiches for lunch, I know definitively that only person who would eat any of these is one of the following:

  • Idiot savant
  • Wants to be in a nu-metal band (probably Korn)
  • Hasn’t dry-cleaned their suit trousers, despite their mother’s protests, since purchase

Advice: Avoid eye contact. 

Pro-tip: Colleagues who make their own sandwiches sometimes express their personalities through the pictures on their lunchboxes. Dora the Explorer means that they’re crudely progressive. A picture of a cat is generally a reminder that they regret eating their cat. Don’t ever talk to them about it.

2. The Tesco Triangle

People buy sandwiches at Tesco because they’re misinformed.

I can help with that.

Value_Sandiwch
This diagram was smuggled out of a Tesco sandwich making factory. The instructions help inspire employees to be more productive

The first pitfall encountered when buying a sandwich from Tesco, is that in London, you could have always gone to Sainsbury’s instead. It’s the same entrance fee and normally better. But I understand, sometimes an extra fifty meters is too far to waddle.

Ingeniously, Tesco dropped the shock white & blue that helped the common man and woman recognise their value range. But, really, has anyone ever been misled by their new sandwich packaging? There’s only so much that a cellophane window can hide. And, true to value, when you gaze in, you’re probably looking at a sandwich built out of ingredients that were chemically treated to meet the standards necessary for human consumption.

Delicious.

Advice: Never, ever, ever talk to someone who willingly buys Tesco triangle sandwiches for lunch. They’ll copy your work and take the credit, then they’ll suggest that everyone gets together tomorrow to eat triangle sandwiches on the park bench outside the office, while they look for diverted buses that don’t belong on the routes they are travelling.

Fucking horror show.

3. Supermarket Sandwich in a Paper Bag

It’s in a bag. It’s in a really fancy bag and that bag is on the top shelf of the freezer section. The bag’s a different colour to the flat-packed triangle sandwiches! And the bag carries the subtitle; ‘Wild Boar Pulled Pork from the Everglades: Taste the Difference’.

IT’S IN A BAG! It is so, so sophisticated. Only the most sophisticated people eat sandwiches from bags.

Keep lying to yourself.

All manufactured sandwiches were made equal.

That sandwich in a bag was made on a conveyor belt. The same conveyor belt that someone was paid to watch. The same conveyor that mayonnaise dropped down onto from tubes above. Mayonnaise that fell at exactly the right time to catch the flight path of bluebottle, dousing it and forcing it onto the ‘mature’ cheese below.

Damn, they have so much extra packaging too. Do the people who buy these sandwiches think that their extra £1.40 gives them the right to more packaging? Probably.

These sandwiches are like that colleague, who has always earned the same as you, but rather than going to parties, they lived at their parents’ until thirty, then bought a house. Is owning things an achievement? Totally. So’s eating a sandwich bought in a bag.

Advice: People who eat these types of sandwich buy the bag, not the sandwich. Under their breath they whisper to you: “Yes, I eat well. My waistline says it all. But no, I wasn’t fattened on value corn chips. I’m privileged. I eat only the finest snacks. At least that’s what the guy in the off-licence tells me.” Talk to them, but only in a condescending manner. Don’t worry, they don’t yet comprehend that bags should be reusable, so they won’t be offended by your tone.

4. Pret Baguette

Pret-a-Manger openly admit that its ingredients have aspirations.

Their posters show the collective efforts of:

  • A bagel, a slice of avocado, and some olives trying to making a friendly face
  • Some wraps building a tepee
  • The unlikely trio of a baguette, a block of edam, and skewered olive sinking like a groovy submarine

And yeah, I’m onto them.

It’s all a cruel joke.

It all starts when the ingredients are sourced.

The Pret wholesale buyers head out to the fields in the morning.

On arrival, they don their leather gloves and start scouring the fields for a certain type of ingredient.

Tomatoes with that particular twinkle in their eyes, beetroots destined to sing and chickens who want to explore their sexuality in the city, away from the judgements of the countryside.

The buyers then play on their victims hopes and dreams. “Yes Tamara Tomato, hop into my van, I’ll show you the city. We’ve got plenty of veg like you that wants to be something more than you could ever be here on this bleak farm.”

And as those naive vegetables, chickens, and assorted tubers tumble around in the back of a van, they don’t for one second think that they’re about to be asked to strip naked and told to stand on the head of another young thing to form strange shapes, as a seedy photographer snaps away. Nor do they anticipate that after such humiliation, they’ll be dragged into the kitchen and ground into a ‘Super Club’.

 

tamara
Behind the counter at Pret-A-Manger. Haven’t you ever wondered if that tomato had dreams?

Shattered dreams – is that the cost of having no best before labels?

Advice: Knowing this, I hope you, just as I, are shocked. Too shocked to speak to anyone who has ever been into Pret-a-Manger ever again.

Anyway, now you know this, I hope you enjoy your lunch.