Live Review: Erykah Badu at All Points East Festival, Saturday
Jungle may have been the headliner, but Erykah stole the show.
Last Saturday (26th of August), I made my way to Vicky Park in Hackney for the final day of the weeklong All Points East festival. Stormzy, Aphex Twin, the Strokes and Dermot Kennedy all made appearances throughout the festival.
On the Saturday Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland’s Jungle were headlining, but appearances from BADBADNOTGOOD and Erykah Badu were also expected, so the afternoon promised good music. The festival had two main stages, an East and a West, with a few smaller tents and stages dotted about in between, showing everything from ballady, operatic vocals, relaxed, jazzy, experimental bands, or out and out jungle.
I turned up in the mid afternoon, things kicked off at about three and I arrived sometime after that, ready for a day of music. Zeus, Thor, or whoever is running things up there these days had other plans, and I was met with a heaven-opening downpour that would have put Noah’s Flood to shame. People flocked under trees, opened umbrellas (does no one listen in primary school anymore??) and grouped together like penguins to try and avoid the manic thunderstorm.
It wasn’t cold, being August, and we were determined to get to BADBADNOTGOOD, so we pressed on. Unfortunately, the weather, and allegedly a man with a gun (unverified), caused some delays to the line-up, and several bands never made it on.
After some skanking away at a small, manic drum and bass stage we made our way to the main stage for Erykah. She was late, and we spent half an hour or so listening to her back up band click their fingers and bang some drums lethargically. It was not unpleasant – the rain had stopped and the sun was out, a rainbow shone overhead.
They were all dressed in Guantanamo-esque orange jumpsuits, standing tall and proud against the otherwise empty backdrop – I doubt it was in solidarity with the recently arrested former President. The crowd by this point was ready to burst, shoulders were pressed tight against each other. People’s patiences began to be tested. For the most part, peace held out.
Eventually, climbing the stairs came a towering figure in a huge wide-brimmed hat and overcoat, looking like Eek-A-Mouse in his prime. Gold grills sparkled out at us as Bag Lady rang out across the park and everyone joined in singing. The coat and hat came off, revealing a green bandana and a very Yves Saint Laurant style two piece suit with enormous shoulder pads. Medallions, medals, chains and necklaces covered her neck and chest. Her shoes were great big moon boots that she had covered in teddies and stuffed animals (don’t ask me why, but it worked). She had a fantastic stage presence, taking off an item of clothing every song or so and revealing an even cooler outfit below, like a fashionista Russian doll.
The songs were nostalgic but still great, they had a 2023 feel to them, as though she’d updated them for the times. Tyrone, Healer, Didn’t Cha Know all banged out across East London. She ended her set with a high note that could have split the heavens if they hadn’t opened for us already.
Jungle were hard pressed to follow her performance. Much like the BST concerts in Hyde Park, the speakers were turned down too low, and it had a detrimental effect on the gig. People were soaked, the night was soon to be over, Jungle did as best they could. For my part, Erykah was still dancing around my head for days after. Fantastic.