For several years now, All Points East has reigned as the unrivalled juggernaut of London’s festival calendar, and the Sunday of this year’s event sees Field Day festival celebrate its new home, as part of the APE family.
Operating as a day festival has allowed the Victoria Park event to curate each day as a separate entity, tailoring the mood and evolving with its clientele throughout the run of shows.
Much like every other corner of the music and events industry; All Points East 2021 has overcome a barrage of Covid-induced hurdles in order to take place this year: from booking overseas performers, to sharing the spotlight with Reading and Leeds Festival over the same weekend.
Compromises aside: this year’s event carried an overriding sense of gratitude and appreciation from 160,000 ticket holders who were unsure, just months ago, whether any festivals would take place in 2021.
The nomadic Field Day has been travelling around the capital for a couple of years now, struggling to fully establish an identity in one area. The day-festival has recently resided in Brixton’s Brockwell Park and The Drumsheds in East, before returning to its former home of Victoria Park this year as part of the All Points East setup.
However, as Sunday dawns and gates open on the E9 event space, there is a tangible atmospheric difference, in comparison to the hip-hop and indie-themed days which sandwich Field Day. Long queues at the toilets and bar, along with slurred calls from audiences, vanish to make way for the polite contingent of water-clutching shufflers, demonstrating the unrivalled sense of positivity and community that electronic gatherings tend to bring with them.
Off the back of their acclaimed 2021 album Isles, Northern Irish production duo Bicep headline the event, performing to their biggest crowd to date. Despite the immense following that Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar have garnered from the electronic community, translating a sound like theirs – with a reliance on mood curation and a hypnotic sense of control – to the setting of an outdoor arena is an unenviable task. From the beginning of their show on the East Stage, Bicep show a real confidence in stepping up to the role of headliner. Isles cut ‘Rever’ opens the set, with both DJs standing face to face, elevated on a scaffolded platform in the centre of the stage. Drowned in a sea of projections and kaleidoscopic visuals, Bicep’s performance carries a heavy focus on their more recent release – with ‘Opal’ and encore track ‘Glue’ acting as the sole representation from 2017’s self-titled album.
Harnessing the same energy that one may pack in a 3am club set and delivering that to a crowd of sun-stroked festival-goers isn’t easy. Bicep, however, are compiling a list of festival credentials that puts them near the very top of their sector: having brought their mix of Italo House, Disco and Electronica to Primavera, Coachella and – now – a headline slot to 40,000 in Victoria Park. Despite recruiting lasers and a mind-bending LCD screen, the duo’s audio element spoke louder than any of the show’s other components: with listeners at the very back of the gargantuan crowd showing as much engagement throughout the set as those at the front: which supersedes any compliment a review can offer.