All Points East was meant to be one of the highlights of the summer. When it came down to it, however, the festival was… kind of lacklustre. Under fluffy grey skies, I seemed to spend more time queuing for drinks, stumbling to the portaloos and searching for friends than actually witnessing any music.
The magic of festivals, however, is in their little unexpected moments. My friends and I were at the dance stage on Monday afternoon, and I won’t lie, I wasn’t feeling it. The music was upbeat, sure, but not disco or funk upbeat, you know? It was what I like to call ‘Nothing House’. You two-step, you drink your warm cider, but there’s not exactly much joy.
So: I decided to go for a little stroll and see what was about.
I got so lost, so often at All Points East (I blame poor festival planning rather than the consumption of alcohol) that I couldn’t even tell which stage I was at when I heard Jade Bird take to the stage. I can tell you what I was doing though: standing in muggy a portaloo trying to get the damn hand sanitiser to work. It was then, in the midst of my frustration, that I heard a crystalline voice slice through the summer air.
Emerging from my toilet, I followed the mellifluous sound towards the stage, like a Looney Tunes character floating after the vapours from a hot pie. There didn’t seem much point in cramming into the front few rows; instead I sat off to one side and rolled a cig as 23-year-old Jade Bird launched into the chorus of Uh Huh.
There’s something thrilling about the simplicity of her setup: an acoustic guitar, a backing band, dainty verses and air-punching choruses. Jade’s vocals are astonishingly potent, with an enjoyable Kurt Cobain-style rasp to them that comes out when she belts out those massive choruses. And they’re all massive.
Tracks like ‘I Get No Joy’, ‘Headstart’ and ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’ blew my socks off, even on a first listen. In fact, the composition of her tracks put me in mind of Nirvana as well. Swap the heroin and ripped jeans for rooibos tea and a jumpsuit, and I Get No Joy might be Lithium’s summery cousin.
Jade’s set was only short, but it totally recharged my battery. Everything from her chipper stage-chatter to her hair-blowing guitar solos was a thrill, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn the sun shone a little brighter for the rest of the day.