The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Girl in Red and Angel Olsen launched the second weekend of east London’s celebrated music festival, Luno Presents All Points East 2023, in style.
For the last twenty-plus years, The Strokes have been the embodiment of New York City cool, influential beyond calculation, and tonight they returned to All Points East for a UK exclusive show to silence any doubters.
Declaring London their “second home”, the iconic group dug deep into their rich catalogue. Julian Casablancas, replete in leather waistcoat, single studded glove, and 70s aviators, unleashed his famed laconic drawl for an opening ‘What Ever Happened?’ from second album Room on Fire to an expectant crowd.
And while the signature song ‘Last Nite’ may have been dropped early, the crowd-pleasers didn’t stop. ‘Juicebox’ and ‘You Only Live Once’ made a potent one-two, while ‘The Adults Are Talking’, from 2020’s The New Abnormal, sounded like an evergreen Strokes classic. And whether it was the summery jangle of ‘Sometimes’ or the neon-lit shimmer of ‘Welcome to Japan’, the band shapeshifted with an ease that has long set them apart from their peers.
Closing their main set with the euphoric, driving charge of ‘Reptilia’, the encore featured a pair of songs plucked from their seminal debut album (‘Hard to Explain’ and ‘Is This It’) that sated all appetites. As they departed the East Stage, they did so in the knowledge that they still stand alone atop the indie rock pyramid.
Over on the West Stage, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs wanted to cement the moment for her beloved home city. “The Strokes are coming out next. New York City, baby!”, she cried. Having opened the trio’s set with the plangent synth strains of ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ from last year’s Cool It Down LP, Karen O, in spangly lycra suit, ski shades and cowl, prowled the stage with magnetic inimitable intent. To her right, Nick Zinner’s low-slung Telecaster summoned bruised riffs and pedal board sorcery as the band delivered a slew of indie anthems.
The likes of dance-punk tunes ‘Zero’ and ‘Heads Will Roll’ went down a treat, as did the gospel-infused throb of ‘Sacrilege’ and the insistent ‘Gold Lion’. Telling the crowd that ‘Soft Shock’ from 2009’s It’s Blitz! was written in “a ranch in El Paso, dreaming about London”, Karen O proceeded to dedicate ‘Maps’ to a number of artists on the bill, before pausing for a moment and saying, “This is dedicated to Sinead O’Connor.”
Elsewhere, Girl in Red put the festival chops honed on a high-profile support slot for Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour to good use, over on the East Stage. Bounding about the stage with an irrepressible energy, the indie pop artist delivered many of the songs that had long ago been carved in isolation in a bedroom in Norway. ‘Serotonin’ rumbled and popped, while the staccato strum of ‘I’ll Call You Mine’ elicited swaying arms. By the time ‘bad idea!’ rocked the audience to their bones, the young singer songwriter’s mission was complete.
Clad in a flowing floral dress, Angel Olsen’s tear-soaked folk cast a spell over The East Stage. Even a guitar strap mishap could only puncture the spell momentarily. “Letting go on stage is hard to do, one thing going wrong can ruin it for the performer. I’m going to try and hold onto my guitar,” Olsen candidly observed. She needn’t have worried. With composure locked and loaded immediately, a beautiful rendition of ‘Right Now’ followed. Complemented by violin, cello, drums and keys, the Missourian ushered calm contemplation in a classy set.
Amyl and The Sniffers blew away the West Stage, confirming their status one of the most exciting and visceral bands on the rise today.
It was predictable that the towering charge of mid-noughties indie anthem ‘The Rat’ would elicit cheers, but The Walkmen’s potent post-punk did the business to a heaving crowd over on the West Stage. This was a timely reminder of their undimmed appeal in a performance that hit the spot.
Earlier in the day, HotWax summoned the spirit of 70s CBGB’s New York for their lapel-shaking afternoon set on the West Stage. With a snarl and a scream, the group charging through a batch of punk tunes that grabbed the mid-afternoon sun by the lapels and shook it senseless.
Additional highlights from day two included Be Your Own Pet, black midi, VACATIONS, Picture Parlour, and more, while the day kicked off on The 6 Music Stage with the beguiling sounds of Goddess.
Saturday night sees London dance duo Jungle headline as a UK exclusive show, supported by the “Queen of Neo Soul” Erykah Badu, Folamour, BadBadNotGood, 070 Shake and more.
All Points East tickets are on sale now below.