Festival Review: All Points East - Bring Me The Horizon, Victoria Park 31/05/2019

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Whilst it’s always nice to say that you were amongst the first of something, being second isn’t always a bad thing. It allows time to work out the kinks and to take notes from those who came before you, and succeeded. In festivals it’s a similar kind of thing. All Points East is split over two weekends, at Victoria Park, and after the first weekend encountered a few hiccups such as sound issues and fires on stage, things seemed to be going a little more smoothly for round two. 

Strolling toward the gates of the festival, there was a notably more relaxed crowd than the previous weekend. Whilst there were still hoards heading to their mass, there was less of the glittered-face and brand-new ASOS gear and more neon-coloured hair and ‘clothes-as-black-as-my-soul’. I’ve always found festival crowds fascinating, as subconsciously or not, the fans really do emulate their favourite musicians. Given that the day was curated by Bring Me The Horizon at their festival headlining debut, it was a real treat for those who enjoy the heavier side of alternative music.

Kicking off the day with some of the earliest mosh-pits I’ve ever seen was the trap-meets-heavy-metal genius of Scarlxrd. His set-up was incredibly simple, but intense nonetheless – visceral screams and high energy headbanging was enough to get the crowd going, but having DJ Jacky P in charge of the backing tracks and jumping around the stage, riling up the crowd with his amusingly grotesque facial expressions meant that there were dust clouds from all of the moshing and circle pits. All of this, just before 2pm, and I was questioning if we would make it through the next 8 hours. 

Employed To Serve brought their gritty black metal to the North Stage, but the unbalanced sound meant that vocals were often drowned out by the hammering of guitars which felt like the nauseating drop in your stomach that you get when falling out of the sky in turbulence. In need of a little grounding, we went to check out Black Futures at the Firestone stage. Their matching boiler-suits perfectly suited the stage which looked like an old-style car garage, and their doomsday synth-rock was just a little too big for the stage they were on which worked in the favour of the crowd, as the guitarist enjoyed a spot of crowd surfing. 

After missing them at The Great Escape festival, Squid were big on the hit-list of the day. Their experimental-jazz-punk-fusion was perfectly suited to the tiny Bauhaus venue called JägerHaus – which filled up almost instantly. Taking advantage of the balcony for us ‘media-types’, we sank a few Jäger Mules (who’d have thought that would work!?) and let Squid take us on a journey of scatty vocals off-set with conversational melodies and colourful intonation that felt like Joy Division-meets-Ska. To say we were on a buzz when heading over to the East Stage for IDLES, is a massive understatement. 

IDLES are known for their no-nonsense approach to life and music. Whether celebrating the power of feminine energy; proving that showing emotions does not affect your masculinity; or warning the crowd that reading The Sun gives you cancer; frontman Joe Talbot is a charming force of power, and IDLES is a name on everyone’s lips for a pretty damn good reason. ‘Mother’ ‘Samaritans’ and ‘Danny Nedelko’ were delivered with riotous effect, which in turn made it all the more comedic when Talbot and guitarist Mark Bowen – in his skimpy stage outfit of Calvin Klein briefs – serenaded each other with renditions of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.

Nothing But Thieves brought the sun with them for what was one of only a few live shows, whilst they focused on recording their third album. Despite lead vocalist Conor Mason saying that playing after the “best band in Britain” was hard to follow, the band made a triumphant return and seemed incredibly re-vitalised after taking some time away. Whilst their set was dominated by tracks off of the ‘Broken Machine’ album, they still made time to throw in old favourites like ‘Ban All The Music’ and ‘Wake Up Call’. In all honesty, if we were to have called it a day at this point, it would’ve been nothing short of perfect – but alas: there was more music to be heard!

What surprised us most with the day was the amount of people going back and forth between stages. Even though each stage had the perfect set-up where you could just spend the entire day there, most people felt the need to soak up as much as possible. Compared to our venture at the North Stage earlier in the day, the sound seemed to have improved which was a welcome change for the intricacies of While She Sleeps’ sound. With the beers flowing and the sun shining, there was a noticeable elevation in the mood of Victoria Park. 

Emotions were rife during Architects’ intense set. November 2018 saw the release of ‘Holy Hell’ – the band’s first release since songwriter, guitarist, and founding member Tom Seale, died after battling with cancer for three years. There was a cathartic purging that emanated from the masses of bodies slamming into each other in the pits, and an electricity that lingered in the air, given that half of their set was dedicated to these new songs. ‘Nihilist’ and ‘Doomsday’ attracted roars from the audience and with simple stage theatrics of fire and smoke canons, Architects proved that the power is in simplicity.

In direct contrast to this was the stage set-up of headliners, Bring Me The Horizon. Multiple costume changes, intense light production and saccharine neon videos that played across the screens was a bit of a synthetic shock to the system after watching Architects. There was refreshing honesty from frontman Oli Sykes about how far the band has come, and how much they’ve changed along the way: “if you ever made a band you’ll have people saying you’ve sold out” but it felt as though there was a lack of connection with the crowd, and that they were relying on theatrics to carry them through. Bringing out Dani Filth for ‘Wonderful Life’ and Sam Carter for ‘The Sadness Will Never End’ were just among the few highlights of their set, in which Sykes seemed to be out of breath and letting the crowd sing along for the most part.

Giving credit where it’s due, this was Bring Me The Horizon’s first ever headline slot at a festival and their two hour set was the longest they have ever played, so good on them for pushing boundaries; but given that by the time they played ‘Shadow Moses’ – which is one of their best songs in my opinion – there were more and more people leaving, something seemed to be off. Considering that it was a Friday night in London where there are now more late-night tube options – we couldn’t help but wonder whether it might’ve been best for the band to play a normal length set, but play it with all their might.

Words by Tyler Damara Kelly and Photography by Joe Dick