There was considerable expectation when AEG Presents won a five-year deal with Tower Hamlets to deliver All Points East (APE), thanks to the promoter’s West End success with British Summer Time Hyde Park.
Team AEG Presents puts incredible line-ups together, from production resources like Loudsound and LarMac Live, to suppliers, to agendas, to performers, and the 10 days of All Points East is no exception.
With a mix of festival, headliners’ LCD Soundsystem, The XX and Bjork, a sequence of midweek community events, ‘In The Neighbourhood’, and standalone concerts from Catfish And The Bottlemen, The National and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, the inaugural All Points East put a proper marker down.
“The Stones opened BST Hyde Park in 2013 and it sold out because it was the Stones, but now pretty much every date there sells out,” Ian Greenway, the ‘Lar’ in LarMac Live, tells Event Industry News on APE festival day one. “That’s the maturity of what the programme of shows is about and the fact the experience is nice. You’re not just going to a bunch of tents and a dirty stage at the end of the field.”
East is East
Opening on May 25, All Points East is at the threshold of one very long, very hot summer. SFM stewards marshal madding crowds from Mile End/Bethnal Green/Stepney Green tube stations to Victoria Park, as they did for Field Day, at the same site in years previous. G4S is the first ‘new face’ on show, managing the APE security effort, which is significant, scanners and sniffer dogs at the entrance, but the company keeps the line moving and the punters smiling.
“LarMac used to do Field Day here, which is a real advantage,” Greenway says. “On any London show the geography is critical. Every square inch is at a premium so you’ve got to know where you can hide stuff and how you can bring stuff in.
“There is only one place you can do shows in Victoria Park, so by default the site has a very similar flow, but a very different dynamic because there are much more creative stages. The site guys and Loudsound have done an amazing job in creating a premium experience, then we come in and overlay it with the show.
Star Events supplied the four principal platforms at All Points East. From left to right across the site/the compass, that meant the tent-based West Arena, a weekend one only venue, with a state-of-the-art lighting rig and Outline C12 line array; the X-Stage, an ambitious in the round experience, with a hovering DJ platform, about which more later; the Orbit roof North Stage, fitted with scenic skins serving as concentric arches, which give it an amphitheatre feel, and the 20m VerTech East Stage, replete with Martin Audio’s ever remarkable MLA system.
“What Star does in Hyde Park was fundamental in the birthing of British Summer Time, because there were so many custom structural elements, from the entrance to the Great Oak Stage,” Greenway says. “So we, and AEG, knew Star Events was able to deliver a really creative project.
“The main stage [at All Points East] is a bit more traditional but there are some really quirky things here, the X Stage a prime example. It’s like nothing else. It’s indoor/outdoor, it’s in the round, so it’s a really interesting DJ experience.”
Star Events’ design team joined two 5m wide/38m span arches at the apex to bring the X Stage to life, using kit from the yard together with ‘specials’ built for the project.
Alongside its stunning lighting capacity, each leg of the structure houses an inward facing speaker configuration, which delivers a truly immersive audio experience.
“With a lot of work behind the scenes, the X Stage came together brilliantly,” Gavin Scott, Star Events’ Project Manager, says. “There were significant structural challenges, everyone involved with the design played a part in bringing it to fruition, and it’s a great achievement.
“AEG Presents, Loudsound and LarMac Live have been a pleasure to work with. The vibe on site was really good, a collective of people working to achieve something special, and safety levels were noticeably high, which is great to see.”
“Our All Points East role is quite different from what we do at British Summer Time,” Greenway continues. “Here, we [look after] technical production across the entire festival and we are also managing the artist liaison. Typically, the technical team has one conversation with the act and the artist liaison has the other. There can be a lack of information sharing because it’s two separate groups of people, so we’re trying to find a way of gluing those threads together, making it easier for us/the client/promoter, but also for the artist.”
There are distinct pros to that initiative, to having a single level of chat in that context, especially on a show like this one, at the top of the season, when not many bands have a clue what they’re doing.
“We have to be very careful how we split the detail but it’s been working quite well,” Greenway nods. “There are some acts playing tomorrow we still don’t have riders for and you’re able to pick up on little bits of information that put some light on the jigsaw.”
Just looking at the line-up you can tell AEG Presents was determined to establish All Points East as a high-end event capable of competing with festivals across the capital, never mind the East London music scene. It’s a balancing act, of course, committing considerable budget to a new project and depending on a famously fickle public. AEG Presents knows its audiences though and with way more people through the Victoria Park gates over the 10 days than even the loftiest prediction, it’s rising in the East.
From the opening Jesus Alone to the closing Push The Sky Away, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ seismic setlist, shaken up from the recent arena tour, pushes all the festival’s battery of buttons on the main stage.
In perfect conditions, the sound and the light show is as strong stage left and right as it is through the middle, the performance sweeps the audience, stretching right back through the park, up into Nick Cave’s maelstrom, which was born in Melbourne but brought up in London.
The first show to sell-out and the last band on at All Points East 2018, the Bad Seeds feature a Kylie Minogue guest spot, a stage invasion/invitation and a real sense of elation.
‘And some people say it’s just rock and roll, Oh but it gets you right down to your soul…’ One astonishing turn then and one perfect finish for All Points East Mk 1.
N2O’s festival activation, All Out Beauty, debuts at All Points East
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