All set for Leeds Festival? Here’s our top tips on who to watch

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So you’ve dug out your tents, wellies (just in case) and glittery face paint, pre-ordered your booze and made sure your campsite flag is nice and post-ironic. You’re all set for Leeds Festival, which kicks off a week today, right?

Leeds Festival Main Stage

Photo: Tom Martin

But who to see?! WHO TO SEE?! Taking place over at Bramham Park near Wetherby over the August bank holiday weekend, the festival once again brings together a pretty eclectic mix of rising stars, big-hitters and (we reckon) the broadest collection of grime and rap acts the festival has ever hosted.

We’ve been scanning through the weekend’s line-up and we’ve lifted some cracking acts we think you should check out.

If you’re there Thursday night, head down to the Alternative stage (7.30-8pm) for local legend MICKY P KERR (he of Britain’s Got Talent fame) for some funny folksy tunes about socio-politics and bags for life. Then bob over to the Dance To The Radio stage (9.15-10pm) for dream-pop darlings ANTEROS.

FRIDAY

HOUSEHOLD DOGS – BBC INTRODUCING STAGE (12-12.25pm)
If you fancy some pretty heavy psychedelic blues to kick start your day, this Leeds lot are for you.

MARSICANS – RADIO 1 STAGE (12.50-1.20pm)
Our pals from Leeds have gone from strength to strength over the past few years. Their ridiculously fun indie-pop bursts with shimmering guitars, four-way harmonies and massive sing-along choruses.

LET’S EAT GRANDMA – RADIO 1 STAGE (1.40-2.10pm)
Stick around the Radio 1 Stage for this Norwich duo and their bold lo-fi electro-pop. The scatter-gun sounds from their new album, I’m All Ears will be an absolute joy to see unfold from that stage.

SAM FENDER – FESTIVAL REPUBLIC STAGE (3.20-3.50pm)
Named one of BBC’s Sound of 2018, Sam treads a familiar path to the likes of James Bay and Dermot Kennedy, with a solid smattering of rousing Maccabees-like spirit, giving the bleakness of escapism and isolation a beautiful twist.

LEWIS CAPALDI – FESTIVAL REPUBLIC STAGE (7.30-8pm)
This Glaswegian chap’s voice is magical. We went to see him at Oporto last year and he was insanely good – such power bursting through the tenderness of his lyrics. His between-song banter is cracking, too.

SLAVES – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (8.40-9.35pm) or THE BRONX – The Pit (8.55-9.35pm)
If you want something a little louder, faster, harder then either of these bands will hit the spot. Isaac and Laurie are back with a new album which sees them targeting bigger venues with a more accomplished sound, while LA punks The Bronx continue their reign of ‘The Greatest Punk Rock Band In The World’ (their words, not ours). Choosing which moshpit to hurl yourself round will be a tough call.

SATURDAY

SOUNDS LIKE A STORM – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (12-12.20pm) or TRANQUA LITE – BBC INTRODUCING STAGE (12-12.25pm)
Day 2 starts with a clash as two young Leeds bands kick things off. Both are Centre Stage alumni – Tranqua Life being this year’s competition winners.

RAE MORRIS – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (12.40-1.05pm)
We love Rae Morris rather a lot. The Blackpool lass has gone from the shy pop-balladeer who headlined the Introducing Stage in 2014 to creator of massive pop bangers. To be fair, we’d have expected to see her fairly high up on one of the dance stages this year, but we’ll be bopping down the front for this.

FICKLE FRIENDS – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (3.10-3.40pm) or THE EXCERTS  – THE PIT (3.10-3.40pm)
Yeah! Another clash! What to do? What to do? Fickle Friends are always a joy to watch. Their irresistible indie pop, peppered with plenty of hooks and sing-along bits should get the crowd bouncing, but next door in The Pit, alt-rock trio The Excerts will get a smaller, sweatier crowd just as hyped.

DREAM WIFE – FESTIVAL REPUBLIC STAGE (5-5.30pm)
This Brighton art-school indie-pop trio resurrect the riot grrrl noise of the mid-90s and give it a cooler edge. Lush harmonies flow under snarly, sassy vocals as chunky guitars beef up their punkish sound, giving Wolf Alice a run for their money. The tent should be bouncing.

FIZZY BLOOD – BBC INTRODUCING STAGE (6.25-6.50pm)
Last year, this Leeds lot opened up The Pit with their grungey alt-rock tunes. Ahead of the release of their new EP Pink Magic, the band return to Leeds Festival. You can catch them at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on September 19 for a special EP release show.

WOLF ALICE – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (10-11pm)
Leeds Fest boss Melvin Benn has touted this lot as future headliners. A few years ago, the four-piece took to the Festival Republic stage in a modest mid-afternoon slot, but this summer, they’re very much worthy of topping the tent’s bill.

SUNDAY

MIKE SHINODA – MAIN STAGE (2.30-3.20pm)
This will get emotional, as the Linkin Park founder steps back out on to the Main Stage without his pal Chester Bennington, who died last year. Shinoda’s solo set will see him draw strength from his loss through tunes from his new album as he brings his Post Traumatic Tour to Leeds.

SIGRID – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (4.10-4.50pm)
Everyone’s favourite Scandi indie-pop singer will make for the perfect precursor to Dua Lipa over on the Main Stage. She’s only pretty fresh on the scene, having released her debut EP last summer (her new one, Raw came out last month), but she’s very much a big deal these days.

DUA LIPA – MAIN STAGE (4.45-5.35pm) or PALE WAVES – FESTIVAL REPUBLIC STAGE (5-5.30pm) or REX ORANGE COUNTY – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (5.10-5.55pm)
If you can be arsed, you could catch bits of all three sets, but that’ll be a bit of a task. We’re likely to be heading to see Pale Waves again coz they’re lush, but whether we’ll get near the tent will be another thing. Rex Orange County, on the other hand, will provide the glorious pop in a much bigger tent. Hmmm….

N*E*R*D – MAIN STAGE (6-7pm) or BLOOD YOUTH – THE PIT (6.15-6.45)
Announced as the Special Guests this week, though rumours have been abound for a while now, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are heading to Leeds Festival for what will be one of the more anticipated sets of the weekend. If uber-cool hip-hop isn’t your thing, how about Harrogate hardcore outfit Blood Youth? Expect riffs, riffs and more riffs.

PENDULUM – BBC RADIO 1 STAGE (8.30-9.30pm) or SPRING KING – FESTIVAL REPUBLIC STAGE (8.25-9pm)
Aussie drum n bass heroes are back in action after eight years away (they headlined this tent in 2010). Expect serious bass and driving rock, their big-hitters like Propane Nightmares, Granite and more – and maybe a new tune or two? Or you can catch Macclesfield’s mighty Spring King as they round off their packed-out summer schedule before album number 2 drops at the end of the month.

KENDRICK LAMAR – MAIN STAGE (9.30-11pm)
Kendrick, innit.

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