Emma Boyes Leeds Festival review for Safeconcerts
With a full press pass and 3 days filled with stunning performances plus a chance to interview and review Crazy Arm here's Emma's review.
In all the festivals I’ve attended I’ve never witnessed traffic getting into Leeds like I did on Thursday afternoon. Somehow it took a full hour and a half to crawl across York alone, a clear sign that we where heading towards something of epic proportions. Instead of arriving at 5pm as planned we pulled into Leeds coach station just after 7pm alongside the other stragglers. Unlike the other festivals I’ve attended this summer, Leeds was a lot more organised and due the sheer scale of the festival it didn’t really have a choice! The shuttle bus, while expensive at £5 for a single trip, it was regular, reliable and offered a weekend long wristband for £17 that could be used on any shuttle bus and for an unlimited amount of times. Which while still a bit steep turned out to be good value, the banter on all the shuttle buses was worth it alone, complete strangers became comfortable with each other in minutes, passing round cans and talking about the bands we couldn’t wait to see, unfortunately this didn’t translate into the actual festival site due to the sheer size of the event, any community spirit was well and truly lost, I think this was partly due to the fact that Leeds caters to so many musical tastes that that ‘like-mindedness’ was lost somewhere in-between 80,000 people.
It never fails to surprise and shock me how the state of the toilets and
showers plummets from pretty decent to in-humane in the space of a day
It never fails to surprise and shock me how the state of the toilets and showers plummets from pretty decent to in-humane in the space of a day. Friday filled me with hope, the toilets where well stocked with paper, and soap etc and then BAM- Saturday night came around and all the handles that flush the toilets had been broken or even worse, some party animals had been in, missed the toilet, and been sick on the handle or even the floor…….Brilliant. But come on, its all part of the festival experience, it happens every time and there’s not much the festival organisers can do about it. There where a decent amount of toilets spread out around Leeds this year which makes a nice change and of course there was the old favourite alternative for the men (and some of the women) , the walls of posters that surrounded the main field and the ‘Village’.
The food on offer was surprisingly of a good standard, there where some more quirky stalls in between the usual ‘Posh pizza’ and ‘Posh fish and chips’ stands present at most festivals. My first meal on Friday afternoon for example was an ostrich burger! Of course it was really popular with everyone because of the novelty factor and the fact it came complete with ‘Jack Daniels’ onions, a staple rock and roll beverage turned into a food was never going to prove unpopular.
Generally the atmosphere throughout Leeds festival was really friendly and laid back, I can’t remember witnessing a single fight or argument and although as I mentioned the festival didn’t have a real ‘family’ vibe everyone generally just went about their business and had a good time….. Until the final night when suddenly we found ourselves in a place that resembled downtown Baghdad. Tents were slashed open and thrown onto fires all over the campsite and the arenas, it was absolutely mental and was something I’ve never experienced at another festival and I was genuinely shocked by it. Perhaps it is down, again, to the lack of community sprit present at such a large scale festival.
The Futureheads kicked off Leeds festival for me, the second band on the main stage and as a fellow Mackem I was hopeful that they’d put on one a hell of a show and do the North East proud….. they didn’t disappoint! The majority the Set consisted of material from their new album ‘The chaos’ with ‘Hounds of Love’ thrown in plus some older tracks from their first album. The interaction between frontman Barry Hyde and the crowd was effortless, putting us in high sprits and setting the standard for the rest of the day. I managed to grab a few minutes with bassist Jaff, later that day who was ecstatic with how the set turned out, ‘the crowd really seemed to love it which is amazing and all you ever want, I just hope we get a similar reaction at Reading!’
Soon after, 30H!3 tore onto the NME stage with a energy packed, electronic based set that felt like a slap in the face after the slower paced bands that we’d witnessed thus far. A huge crowd forced itself into the NME tent and somehow managed to find the room to dance along to ‘My first Kiss’ and ‘Don’t trust me’.
Of course the band on everyone’s lips all Friday wasn’t headliners
‘Arcade Fire’ but ‘The libertines’ instead, with their first organised
show in six years we all expected trouble from the band… and the crowd
Of course the band on everyone’s lips all Friday wasn’t headliners ‘Arcade Fire’ but ‘The libertines’ instead, with their first organised show in six years we all expected trouble from the band… and the crowd. The hour long set was exactly three songs in before safety concerns were sparked for those lucky (or not so lucky) fans at the barriers which seemed to giving in with the pressure. Doherty and Barat left the stage left the stage to the dismay and general confusion of the crowd but they soon returned with Doherty asking his legions of fans to ‘Look after each other…don’t go standing on anyone’s head or anything’ and launching into ‘The last post on the bugle’. The hour long set really was a highlight of the weekend, reducing some die hard fan’s to tears, ‘It really makes you proud to be a libertines fan, I bought a day ticket just to see them and I’m leaving for Reading to see them again tomorrow!’ gushed a particularly moved fan that we spoke to.
Wanting to experience some of the more alternative music Leed’s fest had on offer we headed over to the dance stage just in time to catch the beginning of a set by ‘Holy Fuck’, after a painfully slow start the rest of the set didn’t really pick up and seemed bizarrely disorganised and without any real ‘wow’ factor. Needless to say they didn’t hold the crowd’s attention for very long and before the end of the set we headed over to the main stage.
As was to be expected ‘All time low’ drew in a crowd largely made up of ‘scene’ kid’s and I was a tad apprehensive about what we old fogies (i.e. anyone over twenty years old) could expect from the set. I was, in fact, pleasantly surprised. The set was energetic and well performed and was enjoyable despite the odd semi-frequent downpours that had sprung on Leed’s all Saturday. Up next was ‘You me at six’ which followed on smoothly from ‘All time low’ their set however was slightly heavier, not by a lot but the whole band’s interaction with the crowd ‘I want to see circle pits, crowd surfing and I want them now!’ helped to gear us all up for craziness that was Limp Bizkit descending onto the stage.
‘I want to see circle pits, crowd surfing and I want them now!’ helped
to gear us all up for craziness that was Limp Bizkit descending onto the
Fred Durst is well known for being a bit of a pretentious dick and as a Placebo fan (for those of you unaware, Durst and Molko have had quite a few bust up’s in the past) to say I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the set was an understatement. So when a backing tape of ‘Que sera sera’ floated through the air, filling us with a false sense of security, the impact of the 90’s NU metal legends taking to the stage and tearing out a heavy rendition of Rollin’ was so crazy I knew they had me from the start. It was the bands first appearance at Leeds festival in ten years and bloody hell; did they show us what we’ve been missing! The crowd went crazy for the more aggressive tracks ‘Break stuff’, ‘Eat you alive’ and ‘My generation’ and just two songs into the set I’d been elbowed and kicked too many times to count and received a bottle of coke to the back of the head.
Weezer’s set well and truly put the following performance by Paramore to shame, frontman Rivers Cuomo whipped himself and the crowd into a frenzy, manically darting around the stage, into the crowd, jumping on a trampoline and even climbing over the supporting fences and running into the crowd causing a stampede of fans to run over towards the left side of the field leaving the rest of us starring with disbelief at the huge screens on the main stage as Cuomo barely made it out with his glasses intact. As well as singing their hits ‘Beverly Hills’ and ‘Pork and Beans’ they sang a version of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus which left the lesser informed members of the crowd visibly confused ‘Isn’t that a Wheatus song? I must have gotten them mixed up’ and various other statements could be heard throughout the crowd. The band later performed a mash up of ‘Kids’ by MGMT and ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga, complete with Cuomo donning a blonde wig causing an uproar of laughter from the crowd.
My experience of Blink 182 was tainted by the fact that somehow I’d
managed to make it quite literally to the front of the crowd, and was
northing short of crushed, unable to move anything from my neck down
My experience of Blink 182 was tainted by the fact that somehow I’d managed to make it quite literally to the front of the crowd, and was northing short of crushed, unable to move anything from my neck down, this may have been down to my decision to spend the whole day at the front of the crowd on the main stage instead of reviewing the festival. When Blink came on the crowd completely lost their minds and the experience was horrific, whilst Blink themselves really put on an amazing show receiving a great reaction from the crowd, it was hard for anybody that was anywhere close to them so enjoy it due to the large number of people who’d fainted or just panicked and were being dragged over the top of the crowd to the barriers. Half way through the set a large surge of people from the right cause around twenty people to fall to the floor in a strange staggered manner causing the situation to become genuinely scary with more and more people being pushed to the ground and onto the people already struggling to get up. Eventually the events security just about contained the situation and the set carried on without to much drama. Travis Barker’s drum solo was a main talking point after the set had long finished, with a revolving drum kit that even went upside down with Barker strapped in, it was everything the crowd hoped it would be and I well and truly regressed back to being a 13 year old kid screaming my heart out.
A must see for many on Sunday afternoon was internet sensation ‘The Midnight Beast’, famed for their parody of Ke$ha’s ‘Tik Tok’ and their more recent original material. As a fan of the trio myself I was intrigued to see how their You Tube and MySpace success would translate into a live performance. The answer?.... Really well actually!
The Alternative stage area was jam packed of people from all ages and although ‘Lez be friends’ wasn’t perhaps the best song to start with (a pretty childish song that doesn’t really sum up the trio very well and caused a few walk outs). They soon stepped it up with ‘Ninja’s’ a song about being a skint student and ‘House party’ a parody of the recent UK elections. We bumped into Stefan from the group later that afternoon who said he ‘couldn’t believe how many people showed up for our show, it’s mental really’.
‘You sexy bastard! Take your pants off!’. It was everything you come to
expect from a Biffy Clyro gig, energetic , sweaty, full-on rock
Biffy clyro drew in a huge crowd on the main stage and frontman Simon Neil looked every inch a rock and roll frontman sporting skin tight neon pink jeans and his newly dyed peroxide blonde hair and beard which caused a bit of a stir and was very distracting! But it did lead to some good banter from the crowd with one heckler near me shouting ‘You sexy bastard! Take your pants off!’. It was everything you come to expect from a Biffy Clyro gig, energetic , sweaty, full-on rock. I can’t believe what an amazing voice Neil has live, it was one of the few sets at Leeds you’d have been mad to miss. After Biffy and yet another amazing set by Queens of the Stone age who where undoubtedly brilliant and talented enough to have been Sundays headliners, came Gun’s and Roses with one of the summers most controversial performances.
Ever heard the saying ‘what a difference a day makes’? Well Gun’s and Roses surely will go down in history as the word made flesh after this years Reading and Leed’s performances. After living up to their not so fabulous reputation at Reading of tardiness, arrogance and general lack of talent, by God did they turn it around for those of us present at Leed’s fest!
if I’m honest it was clear that everyone in the crowd was there to
either watch a once great man sing the classic GnR tracks we all love,
or to watch him cock up yet another show with a ramshackle band of
musicians (proven by the odd chant of ‘Where’s Slash?!’ coming from the
back of the crowd).
After the last Guns and Roses performance at Leeds back in 2002 and this years Reading rumours that had already crept into ‘Camp Leeds’, its no surprise that the general consensus was that GnR properly weren’t even going to turn up and if they where it wasn’t worth missing Marina and the Diamonds over-bad times. So as thousands of festival goers strolled around Braham Park, come Sunday night, casually checking out stalls, but at 9:45pm, only fifteen minutes off schedule, the first few bars of ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ ripped through the air….. and we just couldn’t help ourselves; hundreds of weary festivalers made their way towards the main stage to be met by Axl Rose himself tearing up the stage with a nearly note perfect rendition of one the hardest rocking songs of all time. What the hell was going on?!
I don’t even want to know what caused Axl to drop the prima donna attitude, and shatter the illusion he can strut on stage pretentiously and proceed to, half heartedly, bash out a few classic tracks and still be deemed a legend, but thank god something did. We were well and truly taken back to a time when Axl Rose was clearly passionate about what he did and tried to but on a memorable performance.
However if I’m honest it was clear that everyone in the crowd was there to either watch a once great man sing the classic GnR tracks we all love, or to watch him cock up yet another show with a ramshackle band of musicians (proven by the odd chant of ‘Where’s Slash?!’ coming from the back of the crowd). So the ten minute long guitar solo’s by a slash wannabe and the following drum solo by another unknown did nothing but kill the atmosphere. However, on the whole the set was a triumph, the usual suspects ‘Sweet child of mine’, ‘Paradise city’ etc where brilliantly performed and had the whole crowd singing loudly along with cheesy grins on our faces. Of course Guns and Roses can probably never regain their former glory, and be as they once were, decades ago, but it was the closest thing we could ever get to a stellar performance from a broken-up, once great band that’s had more line-up changes and new members than anyone can keep track of.
It was anarchy, madness and one hell of a party.
Every year the antics at Leeds fest are discussed for months to come and this year obviously will prove no different. For a veteran festival goer such as myself my first ever experience of Leeds festival blew me away, I’ve attended some of this years biggest heavy Rock and Metal festivals including Download and Sonisphere but a weekend at Leeds fest was undoubtedly the heaviest, hardest and out of control music event I’ve witnessed in a long time!
A festival that attracts a predominantly younger crowd equals a crowd full of students to whom parties and obscene drinking is a way of life and geared up teenagers with Strongbow cans and bags of wine taped to their legs. It was anarchy, madness and one hell of a party.
As always we witnessed some controversial and news worthy behaviour but how can you expect anything less with Pete Doherty, Axl Rose, Fred Durst in the same place in the space of three days? Leeds festival truly gave us something special this year, with the newly reformed Blink 182, Limp Bizkit’s first appearance in ten years and The Libertine’s first organised gig in six years, we where all on our toes to say the least.
The atmosphere was that of excitement and hope, without any trouble to speak of, apart from the notorious Sunday night where everyone seems to go mental to put it bluntly. There we go, Leeds festival 2010, a weekend that will be impossible to forget for all the right reasons. Feel sorry for the organisers of Leeds 2011- they’ve got a hell of a lot to live up to. Please feel free to contact Safeconcerts if you are thinking of using Emma Boyes as a reviewer.