Surrounded by hyped up hormone fuelled adolescents in a field isn’t always the best start to any weekend, but this is Leeds Festival and as we step over them sprawled on the damp ground, we carry on and find out what is going on. Energised by all things music, Leeds Festival provides a monster mix of mainstream and unsigned delights. From tainted rock, faltered hip-hop, grime all coined a few gentle mosh pits full of skinny jeans types there is plenty to keep the addled music lover going for three solid days.
Off with a bang the main stage saw Pulled Apart By Horses kick ass and open the festival. The Leeds foursome have certainly shown some balls over the last few years and done themselves proud with their menacing form of onstage antics and deafening tunes. Dashing from stage to stage and a loss in time incorporating the sights, sounds and smells of festivals (some more pleasant than others) found Kaiser Chiefs. Ricky Wilson bounding around with his tambourine and his ruby, ruby, ruby…RUBY is enough to stick in your head for the whole weekend and yes it did.
It seems that right after the Kaiser Chiefs left the main stage someone let of a stink bomb of oxytocin that set the arena into a boob flashing frenzy; almost everyone appeared to be at it as Black Keys turned up the volume and all eyes were peeled towards semi-nakedness. It was left to the first headliner of the weekend, Foo Fighters, to bring about a bit of sensibility to the festival. An enduring two and half hour set saw them play pretty much the whole of their back catalogue including The Pretender, Monkey Wrench and ending on Everlong. As Dave Grohl roared his way through their set a quick dash was needed to catch the other two headliners of the night. Less Than Jake found people sheltering from the rain and having a little skank to their ska punk vibes, whilst Justice set the standard for late night raves at the NME/Radio 1 tent.
Fending off sore heads and once again having to step over the bodies littered around in an arena that slightly resembled a forgotten war zone, brought about Future of the Left with their Small Bones and Small Bodies and Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues early Saturday afternoon. It did seem a little too early in the day for acts of hedonism, but still what else is there to do on a bank holiday weekend at Leeds Festival? Then there was Crystal Castles, seems Alice Glass lacks the ability to stand up on her own two feet, clutching a bottle of JD she writhed around the stage, in the photo pit and in the crowd. Whilst their set consisted of a mere eight songs, all eyes were on Glass and her minor anime appearance which slightly detracted from the music. Showgirl win? oh yes.
One of THE bands of the year, so far, Alt-J played to a packed Festival Republic tent; whilst on BBC Introducing were one of THE hotly tipped bands of Leeds Festival, Wet Nuns. The twosome caused a stir in the loins of many with their equivocal blues punk sounds. Whilst some observing hadn’t got a clue as to what was going on with their banter and loose lipped jibes, the increasing crowd at the BBC Introducing stage found a force and a guy in a mankini to rage a mini mosh. A short but very sweet outing for the Wet Nuns, including a re-enactment of the fall Rob had the previous day at Reading, it seemed liked we all blinked and they were over, but we had witnessed something rather special in that 20 minutes and were contented in the chant that drummer Alexis had started their set off as we wandered chanting “men who look like goats who look like men….”
The orange haired Hayley Williams and her frighteningly short fringe energetically bounced about with her band Paramore we tied the evening up with The Cure.
Playing for two and a half hours, The Cure sounded impeccable. Front man Robert Smith, looking very similar to the late Elizabeth Taylor, brought back a heap of nostalgia to many in the crowd with their Goth anthems. A stunning and faultless 32 song set, including seven songs in the encore didn’t the faithful down. Having been slightly ridiculed by some as having The Cure as headliners, there wasn’t a glum face in Bramham Park as the lights went down.
With news on the final day that flash flood had closed Creamfields we waited with baited breath to see if the heavens were going to open over Leeds Festival. While we waited we also listened and watched as the party was still going on.
Early on the main stage Blood Red Shoes opened up and despite a few guitar issues, kept the audience spellbound, whether it just being because of the beauty of Laura Mary Carter I’m actually not sure but they are rather special. Over on the BBC Introducing stage there were plenty of great up and coming acts weaved throughout the day. Leeds bands Backyards, Black Moth and Hawk Eyes brought about different tones to the stage, from folk-pop, to metal and even a bit of drama, it’s safe to say, there’s something very extraordinary being made in Yorkshire music wise.
There was very little point in seeing the pixie like Grimes playing the dance stage, unless you got there first thing, so it was left to Odd Future or OFWGKTA to show what they had. Okay, so they bounced around the stage, they got the crowd hyped up, the ladies in the crowd then showed their titties but somehow it just didn’t seem enough of a performance from the alternative hip-hop crew. Disappointing? Yes.
With a Leeds Festival debut for Dog is Dead saw them step their performance up a level with added backing singers and showed why they deserve the hype. Playing Leeds for the second year running; now on the Festival Republic stage Don Broco have earned their stripes and demonstrated how hard work does pay off. Their epic performance saw lunges and leaps and a whole heap of noise from the Bedford four-piece.
For many Mastodon were one of the ones to watch having only heard a short bit of their set and a few sound issues many left and headed to either Lower Than Atlantis who were ‘happy to be at Leeds’ or rambled to the main stage for Florence and the Machine. Another sterling performance form Flo et al who still seems to be fashioning the witch-like-shoeless hippy attire, they avoided their cover of ‘You Got The Love’ and went a bit too Kate Bush like. In a stark contrast to all this were festival headliners, Kasabian . Known for their swagger they weaved in and out of a pretty alluring set complete with a Star Trek interlude into Swarfiga, a cover Fatboy Slim’s Praise You and a three song encore ending with Fire with Tom Meighan performing an a capella version of She Loves You. Whilst the main stage was rounding off with fireworks At The Drive In were finishing off at the NME/Radio 1 stage, a long awaited performance for many, they proved post-rock is not to be messed with and those in the crowd certainly weren’t.
So we didn’t get Green Day, and yes a lot of the bands do seem to be recycled year in year out, Leeds Festival once again knocked the haters and has kept itself quite confidently on the festival map, whilst it may be always seen as the poor relation to Reading it has a special place in many people’s heart.
Leeds Festival 2012 we loved you!