Sunday, 3 June 2018

National at Victoria Park

My second visit this hipster festival in Victoria Park - All Points East.

Annoyingly it took longer than expected to get in, and also the first band I wanted to see had their time moved back from 4pm to 3:45pm, so missed part of the set of Public Service Broadcasting. And we were miles back so could only see the big screens. But we had gathered 3 of our expected group of 5, and Andy is always late. So I thought we had done well. They were also advertising a date at the Royal Albert Hall in November. So intend to see them a little closer up on that one!

So David had agreed to meet his German friend Christopher at the back of the main stage, which we successfully did to make it 4 out of 5. And Christopher's recommendation was Cat Power, who to my surprise was very good indeed. Not riveting but a pleasant voice and nice songs. A definite thumbs up.

 After her we were joined by Andy (5 out of 5!) and worked our way closer to the front for Future Islands. They were a band new to young Tom, and he was pretty much blown away by how good a performance this was. As that is want you get from Future Islands, a band from Baltimore (supporting another American band in the National - this was a very American gig.)

The thing you have to give to the nonathletic tubby lead singer Samuel T Herring is he puts everything into his performance. Its a bit like watching one of those American TV evangelists. He almost works himself up into tears. It is odd, but brilliant too.

Note beginning of performance, nice fresh blue shirt.

 Two songs in and already Sam is shining with sweat..


A bit of twerking, as you expect from a tubby middle-aged guy...

 Sweat patch growing now....

 And by the end of his set, sweat patch collar to trousers. he gives it everything and it shows.

Now our little band faced a dilemma on which we split 4 to 1. The dilemma was whether to race back to the North Stage to catch the War on Drugs, or stick it out here with nothing but a video to watch before the National. The advantage of staying put was getting a spot close to the front. Christoper and I were definitely in the latter camp. Tom being a big National fan was in favour of that. Andy felt missing an entire act was too much of a sacrifice so he beetled off to see the very excellent War on Drugs (although hardly a dynamic live act). David thought he could do the best of both and grab a pint as well, which he quickly described as one of his worst ever decisions and managed to rejoin us.

Anyway, the four of us didn't regret it. Were about two people from the front, which is rather an achievement when there was eventually a crowd of 20,000.

Not easy to describe the National. Definitely a rock band, liberal, songs seemingly getting slower as time has gone on - they have been around for nearly 20 years. Lead vocalist Matt Berninger provides a strange stage presence compared to Sam Herring. Much more laid back, as is the vocal style, he seems just to wander around casually leaving the band to do all the hard work, but then briefly ventures into a passionate chorus here and there.

Matt finished up directing the crowd in singing Cry Baby. He didn't sing at all, but left the audience to do it all. Not sure I approve of this. I paid my money for him to sing, not me.

Anyway, this was a storming set which we wouldn't have wanted to miss. We left very happy (only marginally tainted by the 15 minute walk to Mile End tube taking nearly an hour to navigate with the crowd.)