The Leeds Festival has for years been my festival of choice, with it been on my doorstep and the stellar line up it creates each year, it takes precedence in my diary every August bank holiday! The line up pleased me plenty, I was eager to see all the headlining acts but I couldn’t help noticing that over the years that the type of bands they have playing has moved slightly to the commercial and indie side from the rock/metal that it once used to rely heavily on has been slimmed down.
Arriving there on the Friday afternoon I was pleased that there were no traffic queues to contend with, the early bird opening of the site on the Wednesday and opening the festival to the rest of the people at 4am on Thursday morning worked well. Although leaving the site on the Monday morning did prove to be more of a struggle.
In the guest area there are campsite attendants on hand to help put up/take down your tent, unfortunately I didn’t see any around when I arrived and as I was on my own I didn’t want to leave my stuff whilst going in search for them. This meant I had to grapple with putting up my huge 4-man tent myself. This was hard work fighting against the wind and took me quite some time, although I did feel like I had earned a Girl Guide badge once I had finally erected it.
The first thing I noticed as I entered the main arena was how many people were there, having spent my summer at small/medium sized festivals this greeted me like a smack in the face and to be able to fully enjoy this festival I would have to get used to the constant pushing/barging and influx of people everywhere.
First port of call was to the main stage where The Courteneers were due to play, I was gutted that I didn’t arrive at the festival earlier as there were a few bands that I wanted to see that I unfortunately missed: Eagles of Death Metal, Our Fold and Ellen and the Escapades were included in this list.
The Courteneers were a great 1st band to watch, they opened their set with ‘Cavorting’ which the crowd lapped up and in return danced around and sang along to the array of songs they energetically delivered. Next up was Ian Brown who was a great act to watch and received a hugely warm reception, although not the greatest of singers he knows how to perform and got the crowd joining along, I was buzzing to hear ‘FEAR’ and the Stone Roses classic ‘Fools Gold’.
Onto the NME/Radio 1 stage which throughout the weekend when I visited was rammed to the tent seams, I decided I would watch The Maccabees from the outside, taking advantage of the huge screen placed in front of me. For part of their set the London indie band were joined by a brass band which added a different sound which was welcomed. ‘Love You Better’ was the final song of a well received set.
Between performances I decided to visit the new toilet addition which came in the form of women’s urinals. Well what a shock I was in for as I entered the tented area, troths were fitted around the side, although I did not see one woman attempt to use it. Instead it looked like I had stumbled across a squatting party with half a dozen ladies dotted around the area, a very strange sight for my eyes. I really don’t think this urinal worked – maybe if they handed out she-pees or something similar to aid the process, the troth would have been more than a quarter full!
The vibe at Leeds wasn’t as relaxed as the other festivals I had attended this year, the people in attendance were made up of a lot of excited teenagers who had a ‘whilst the cats are away attitude’. I don’t think it helped that I have been to 3 other UK festivals this year where the atmosphere was friendlier and more chilled and barring Hop Farm festival there was other entertainment to be involved in. Even though the sounds from each tent often carried to another stage it took an age to get to each venue due to the thousands of people flitting in the same direction.
Prodigy ended up been the band of Friday for me, the crowd as far as the eye could see were bouncing around, dancing like mad folk to hits such as ‘Breath’, Firestarter and ‘ Smack My Bitch Up’. I really enjoyed singing along to ‘The Omen’ and watching Keith Flint and Maxim taking it in turns to rile the audience. The set from start to finish was highly energetic and got the response they deserved showing why this band have been around for a duration and can still pull in a crowd.
I was thinking that The Prodigy would be a hard act to follow for the Arctic Monkey’s and unfortunately my statement was correct. Alex Turner and the band came on the stage and immediately delivered songs from the new album ‘Humbug’ understandable that they wanted to showcase their new tunes but judging from the crowd reaction it didn’t go down as well. It was hard trying to get involved with the new material, when you don’t know it, there were loads of slow songs and in between tracks Turner rarely spoke to the crowd, instead we were left with a lull as their guitars got ready for the next track. When they played material from their previous albums 'Brainstorm', 'I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor' and 'They Say It Changes When The Sun Goes Down' the crowd reaction was great and people seemed to be satisfied. I finally admitted that I was bored and left almost half way through, tonight they just didn’t do it for me, I wasn’t the only one to leave as hundreds more decided to exit the area.
It was a very strange sight in the arena without the usual array of flags that usually bobbed around, it was good that you could see the stage easier but it lacked the atmosphere of previous years and made finding friends that little bit harder.
I ended the evening dancing along to the DJ in a guest bar as he played some fantastic house tunes, feeling rather weary I decided to call it an evening and went back to my lonely tent – shivered and finally got to sleep.
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