Bramham Park // Sunday, August 25, 2013
It seems like we kept the best til last, weather-wise and band-wise. Things had gotten a little treacherous underfoot, but with the focus on new music, we carried on regardless. Besides, the sun was out now…
THEME PARK‘s sun-kissed guitar-pop was a wicked way to start the suitably sunny day. Jamaica and Tonight got the crowds dancing (and singing) for a fun-packed half-hour. Is it just me or does singer Miles look a bit like TV’s Michael Underwood? Anyway…
TO KILL A KING are practically a Leeds band, like Alt-J. They studied here (with Bastille’s Dan Smith), therefore they’re ours. And they’re a welcome asset to the city. We only managed to catch a couple of cool alt-folk tunes, but that was enough for us to fall for them. The comparisons to the Mumfords are common-place, and kind of deserved. Watch this lot go far.
SKATERS are a real good fun band. From Boston, New York and, erm, Hull (guitarist Josh Hubbard used to be in The Paddingtons), they kick up a right punk rock fuss without being too snotty or bratty. To label them pop-punk paints the wrong kind of picture, but their playfulness is as punchy as their riffs.
THE 1975 were a massive highlight of the weekend. If not the highlight. And not just for us. Thousands crammed into the Festival Republic tent, and when that was full thousands more edged as close to the action as they could get. We were lucky enough to be side stage for our favourite band and it was one hell of an experience.
To see the huge crowd in front go wild when Matty, Adam, George and Ross stepped out onto that stage was just awesome. Standing next to Matty’s hugely-proud dad, I couldn’t help but feel so very proud of them, too. From their first show in Leeds last December to 40-odd people to this – a packed tent with thousands singing along to their radio hits (and some really excited guy at the front knew every word to every song, and this is before their debut album lands).
Predictably, Chocolate, The City and Sex got the biggest reaction, but when Adam broke into the wailing intro of Robbers, I got a bit emotional. Such a beautiful song. Matty announced to the crowd they’d waited ten years for this, and at the end of their set, he clambered up one of the pillars to take a video the adoring crowd. He’d better get used to this many fans at their shows…
By the time we’d finished catching up with a very sweaty Ross backstage, we’d missed a fair bit of WHITE LIES, which was a shame as their new album is amazing and it seems a good few tunes from Big TV were aired on the Main Stage.
FOALS were a bit of a disappointment for me, unfortunately. I was really looking forward to them, as Holy Fire is one of my favourite albums of the year. I have no idea what went wrong, but I thought they were so flat. Must just have been me, though as everyone was loving it. Maybe it was because I was really busting for a wee and it was distracting me from the Main Stage math-rock debut.
We braved the mud and were treated to a look around behind the scenes of the festival, thanks to Lizzy at Festival Republic. The magic of the backstage area was slightly dashed – no rock star antics or red carpets – just a lot of trucks and Portacabins and very busy people. Was very cool to see some of the action behind the Main Stage as CHASE AND STATUS were playing. Even Leeds Festival head honcho Melvin Benn popped along in his buggy to check them out. They were sounding HUGE from the side of the pit.
Last time EMINEM headlined Leeds Festival he was shocking. Very little in the way of rapping, but a lot of grabbing his balls and swearing while his D12 boys took to their mics a lot more than they should. Not what you want from an artist at the top of his game. So it was with trepidation that we checked out the first part of his return to the Main Stage in 12 years. Seemingly a lot had chanced in that time. Dressed in a white tracky outfit and box-fresh kickers (not sign of mud – not a speck), he was on fire, blasting through a set which cherry-picked the best bits from seven albums. Seven! I had no idea…
But it wasn’t long before we had to head over to the far side of the arena for the last act of the weekend, LONDON GRAMMAR. They arrived on stage quite a lot later than planned, as roadies fiddled with leads and checked connections for AGES. Eventually there were thumbs up and the flashing of torches, and the hot London trio graced the stage, bathed in cool blue lighting. Short but utterly stunning, their ethereal synth-pop set was so haunting, mainly due to singer Hannah’s vocals, which were met with whoops of delights from the growing crowd as people made their way back towards the arena exit.
What a great way to end a great weekend. This has been one of the best Leeds Festivals for a good few years, despite the rain and mud. The thick of the action was to be found away from the Main Stage this year, and the new bands we saw were so exciting and so much more fresh than the muddy conditions would usually allow.
Same time next year? Why the hell not. It’ll be my 13th. Unlucky for some? Nah…
There are early bird tickets for Leeds Festival 2014 on sale now from HERE at this year’s prices (with no booking fee). Worth buying them now before you know who the headliners will be? Of course. As this year proves, it’s not about the headliners anyway. But we’re putting our money on ARCADE FIRE, PEARL JAM and maybe (dare I say it?) DAFT PUNK. Or ARCTIC MONKEYS to be a little more realistic.
Who would you like to see as next year’s headliners?