Friday (August 25) was indie day at All Points East, with The Strokes topping a bill heavy on guitar.
Those guitars ranged from the thrilling anarchic punk of Amyl and the Sniffers to the melodic Americana of Angel Olsen, but it was The Stokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs most people were here to see.
For a festival headliner, The Strokes are an unusual proposition. Even after two decades, their aesthetic still has some of the CBGBs/Indie disco (and Meet Me In the Bathroom) to it. And yet they rarely played the small stages in the UK - catapulted onto Reading’s main stage in 2001 with the debut album barely out.
But they have built up a collection of songs over the years.
At All Points East it takes a while for them to warm up, and the sound struggles at the start, with shouts of “turn it up” from sections of the crowd. Last Nite is a welcome early hit, three songs in, but the famous guitar solo is lost in this mix.
The sound improves as things go on and there is a ramshackle charm to the band. Singer Julian Casablancas has his nighttime shades on, as well as studded leather gloves, and he carries a permanent feel of “about to fall through a coffee table”.
With the band’s retro look and Casablancas’s vocal effect it is a bit like watching them on MTV on a wall of screens in an early ‘90s sports bar.
While tracks like Juicebox have the audience dancing and singing, and You Only Live Once is joyous, it is Soma that really lifts things, and the high point comes with a celebratory Someday.
The closing trio of Reptilia, Hard To Explain and Is This It are great tunes, and then they’re off into the next party in “foggy old London town”.
The Strokes setlist
What Ever Happened?
Adults Are Talking
Call It Fate
You Only Live Once
Meet Me In the Bathroom
Ode to the Mets
Ask Me Anything
Welcome to Japan
Hard To Explain
Is This It
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The reputation of Yeah Yeah Yeahs has grown since they first emerged, and a huge crowd was at the West Stage for their set. The band’s awkward, angular post punk and synth art rock is made pop by a couple of killer singles and an absolute, certified star in Karen O.
Zero is a disco banger and sees inflatable eyeballs thrown out into the crowd, Rich is great and, of course, Maps is an absolute classic.
In the early evening, Angel Olsen brought presence and songcraft to the East Stage.
The set was heavy on tracks from last year’s Big Time. Show opener Dream Thing is as pretty as on the record and Right Now, in particular, is gorgeous: “Why d’you have to go and make it weird?”