Monday morning has rolled around again, but this one feels undeniably different. I’ll tell you why at a later date. Last week was a busy one, full of work, interviews and general stress (although I suppose it was my choice to support Derby County). Regardless, as I was sat polishing what felt like the thousandth wine glass of the week yesterday, my mind wandered back to what I was doing exactly a week prior; a much more pleasurable affair. I can’t remember the last time I just wrote a diary sort of post, so let’s try and capitalise on this reflective mood, shall we?
Allow me to set the scene. It’s a few months ago, Dan is still living in Ilkeston and generally stagnating, when the All Points East line-up is announced: Courtney Barnett is there, with The Strokes headlining. Oh boy, the chance to strike two names off my need-to-see list in one afternoon, it’s a no-brainer really. Only problem is it means a weekend stay in London. For most people, this would be an added bonus, the chance to be a tourist for a change and just switch your brain off for 72 hours. Dan though? Oh no no no, as if it could be that simple.
London has never really taken my fancy, being crowded, expensive and easy to get lost in. Admittedly this is probably my own fault, only ever spending at most a day in the capital at a time, usually for some music or sporting event that I just want to get to instead of milling about with all the other day trippers. So, I was determined to make this time different. Of course, since booking the tickets I have moved down to Falmouth, meaning Ben and I could take a lovely Friday road trip East instead of getting separate trains (which I hate, but that’s a separate issue).
The trip takes us eight hours total, two hours to drive through London itself alone, during which time I offer to fight about a dozen bus drivers for pulling out on me. Not the best start. Still shaking with rage, we check into our b’n’b and catch the bus to Shoreditch as we are meeting Ben’s friend in a newly opened restaurant; thankfully it wasn’t a driver I had yelled at earlier. We’re the first to arrive, so I order myself a drink in an attempt to relax. Six pounds and fifty pence. Breathe Dan, you don’t want Ryan’s first impression of you to be flipping tables and throwing a temper tantrum. Extortionate drink prices aside, the food and company is wonderful (I finally have someone to talk about football with!). We head outside, eyes brimming with hope, the night is young after all. As soon as a foot hits the pavement, it pisses it down. God laughs.
Our next stop is mini-golf, because we’re the raddest kids in town, so we race through the rain in a futile effort to retain some sense of style in one of the most fashionable areas of the country. Needless to say, we arrive more as drowned rats than cool cats. Throughout the evening so far, Ben and Ryan have been filling me in on their supposedly epic, ongoing mini-golf battles. Having been friends since secondary school, this decade long feud has lead to many a stalemate but an overall proficiency for the crazy game. Apparently, I’ve got no chance, and stand to face a battering over the next hour.
Dan wins by six strokes. It’s not even close. Honestly, it was so embarrassing for the pair of them I think they might have been forced into an early retirement. My mood has improved. For the rest of the evening, we drink and laugh and I ultimately forget that I’m giving the barman a note every time my glass is empty.
Day two begins with a big decision. Shorts or jeans? Will this weather hold up, or am I doomed for another day of the fresh out the shower look? Wait, if I wear shorts I can show off my leg tattoo and everyone at the festival will know how indie and cool I am, why didn’t I think of this before? We meet a very very good friend from uni for a classic Spoons breakfast to set us up for our long day and it’s just like old times, I get a small taste of the lifestyle I miss so much. Thank you Darnell, it’s always a pleasure.
Shopping break! Covent Garden and the surrounding area surprise me by being uncharacteristically accessible, so we grab a seat in a sunny alley cafe and drink iced coffee and peppermint tea like the white girls we are. Then it was time. A short hop, skip and underground journey take us to Victoria Park and before we know it we’re taking photos of the All Points East sign for the Snapchat story because oh god I’m in too deep I’ve gone full tourist someone send help please…
In the moment, I found it surprisingly hard to get excited for the evening that lay ahead of me. Since the festival basically lasted for the afternoon, it meant we were only getting to see four acts, not the kind of commitment a day festival usually required. Here’re my thoughts:
- First up, Parquet Courts. A hell of an experimental album from earlier in the year had me intrigued to see how well it would translate to a live performance but, a few strained vocals aside, I was pleasantly surprised. 7/10.
- Courtney bloody Barnett. My word, this was a feel good set. Humble yet brilliant, she walks around stage with a look of disbelief, as if she’s saying “why have so many people come to see me?” Then she plays Depreston, followed by Elevator Operator and convinces me that my next tattoo absolutely has to be a lyric of hers. 9/10, only because you could tell she didn’t have her full setup with her.
- The Raconteurs. Never really grabbed me, but seeing Jack White live was nothing short of miraculous, easily the best guitarist I’ve ever seen live (sorry Joff from Wolf Alice). 6/10.
- The Strokes. Holy shit. Possibly the best set I’ve experienced firsthand, just effortless and cool and crowd pleasing and technically superb and funny and joyous and celebratory and raucous and rocking and special and I never wanted it to end. 10/10.
Starving after our religious experience, we grab some cheap pizza on the way home and I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. Sorry for snoring, Ben.
Okay, let’s wrap this last day up quickly, because I’m conscious I’ve rambled on at you for over a thousand words again already. Still shattered and hungry, we check out of the b’n’b early and drive over to Westfield for a spot of fancy breakfast and a walk around the Olympic Park; one of the places I previously actually liked in London. Stadium in sight, much to our delight, we see a line of electric scooters parked off to our right (yes I’m a rapper now, yo). London has never seen anything as sexy and stylish as the two of us cruising past dog walkers at what felt like fifty miles per hour, getting back to the car felt dumb and lame in comparison. The journey back is much more bearable, as we somewhat enjoyably went mad listening to stupid sketch comedy podcasts and are welcomed home by fish and chips very kindly supplied by Sophie. A perfect contrast to how hectic yesterday was.
We’re not going to talk about Monday, with the aforementioned football heartbreak putting a downer on what was a pretty spectacular bank holiday weekend. It was just another example of those times I just want to document, to remind me that sometimes I don’t have to be constantly stressed and bummed out. So there we go, I just did that and you just read it I guess.
‘Til the next time