The chaos began the moment I arrived at London’s Victoria Park. There were three of us but only one ticket for the All Points East Festival. The other two had to fend for themselves. It just happened to be the only day that sold out and we were New Yorkers in London.
Even if we knew someone who could get us inside, we had no way to reach them.
We couldn’t find scalpers or find a way to buy tickets legally without standing in never-ending lines. Finally, after waiting in two different lines for 45 minutes each, we reached the box office and entered the festival. The crowd stretched out forever. Fortunately, as a veteran concertgoer used to maneuvering through tough NYC audiences, I was able to squeeze to the front.
The second we got in the stress melted away. A half bottle of wine was only £12 (about $15), unlike festivals in the U.S. where a Budweiser is almost $20—I’m looking at you Governor’s Ball—and food trucks were plentiful. The park was lush and large with tons of space to explore. And all four stages allowed for good views no matter where you stood.
I caught some of my favorite acts like Fat White Family, Amyl & The Sniffers, Miya Folick, Yak and The Raconteurs—and, of course, fellow New Yorkers The Nude Party, Parquet Courts and The Strokes.
I’d caught The Nude Party a couple of nights earlier at a pub show on the night of my birthday, so it felt like I was back in NYC despite being so far from home.
The Nude Party made the festival much more comfortable, which was welcome after the drama of getting inside. I bumped into percussionist Brose in line for the bathroom and watched Parquet Courts with guitarist/vocalist Sean. And later I hung with drummer Connor, who convinced security I was his sister, saying, “are you really going to separate blood?” so I could watch The Raconteurs from a V.I.P. area.
Hours into the festival, my feet felt like they were ready to fall off from standing all day. We decided to sit in the back for The Strokes and gather our energy. We’d already seen them a bunch and they’re an NYC band, so we knew we’d catch them again. But the moment they started their first song, “Last Night” we were up front dancing and singing along like early 2000s brokenhearted teenagers.
It was almost as hard to leave as it was getting in. There was only one exit for the thousands of people there, so we played it slow and watched drunk festival goers pass us by.
These English festival-goers were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. People were passed out on the ground all alone, there was piss and barf all over the place and drunks carrying other drunks. U.S. festival crowds get fucked up, but at least the festival medics deal with it quick. Who’d have thunk that would happen in classy old London?
After we finally left the festival we decided to wait at a corner pub for the roads to clear and catch a cab—but apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had that idea. The pub was packed with the people who had survived the entirety of the festival. So, what else was there to do but sit around and have a few pints until the coast was clear?
I’ve never experienced such chaos at a major festival but I’d go back in a heartbeat.