Alright, I realise it’s much, much too late for this, as it is almost mid-October, but I got a bit bored, so I thought I would FINALLY write my review of Leeds Festival 2015. Thanks for waiting.
This was the first Leeds Festival I’d attended after spending the whole weekends at 2010, ’11 and ’12. In those three years I went to University and left University, achieving a relatively good degree. I’d also crossed the Atlantic to spend the summer of ’14 in the US of A. It turns out when me and my boys returned to our beloved Leeds Festival, a LOT had changed!
Upon arrival, we eventually all agreed to camp in Orange Funfair, where I had camped for my previous three years of attendance. For those who don’t know, Orange Funfair used to play host to the famous ‘Tango’ ride. This ride was the absolute bain of our lives when staying there. It would continue well into the night until around 5am playing around 20 seconds of a song then suddenly switching to a recorded ‘T-T-T-TAAAANNNGGGGOOOOOOOO’, swiftly followed by some Star Wars interval music. This would happen on average 50 times an hour. As I’m sure you can all imagine, it did become a tad annoying. Well, this had gone for 2015, so no more Tango. Thank God you say? Maybe. Maybe not.
Going into the arena on the Thursday evening to watch a stellar RedFaces, Bohicas and Pulled Apart By Horses perform, the whole setup had been altered, mainly due presumably to the addition of the Radio 1 Dance stage and 1xtra stage a couple of years prior, (both awful, needless to say). This meant that the entrance had moved further into the village, leaving that less space and the NME/Radio 1 stage, playing host to headliners Deadmau5, Knife Party and Rebel Sound throughout the weekend, had to be downsized. It doesn’t need a critic to say that this was a dreadful move by organisers of the event, Festival Republic. Our plan to watch Catfish & The Bottlemen as a foursome on the Sunday evening before Metallica came quickly to a halt, with there being far too many people having the same idea, thus cramming the tent to its nooks and crannies. The band came on late due to security having to ask the audience to all move back. This quite frankly showed a massive lack of understanding by the festival organisers. It’s pretty damn clear to most people in the country that Catfish have absolutely blown up in the last twelve months after building a huge fanbase and selling thousands of copies of debut album, ‘The Balcony’. Maybe if FR read the NME next time they’ll know to put them on the main stage.
That’s it for the logistics of the event. Onto the actual music, which was, for the most part, phenomenal. Friday was probably the best day for me personally as it was very indie and alternative. Acts such as Lonely The Brave, Ghostpoet, The Skints, Spring King and The Maccabees got my weekend off to a fine start. From watching the terrific sounds of the Maccabees rattle through fan favourites and new cuts from strong fourth ‘Marks To Prove It’, we stayed at the main stage for Jamie T, a guy I’ve never been able to catch, mostly due to his lack of touring in the past and break from music before third effort ‘Carry On The Grudge’. It’s safe to say he and his band were great. The crowd capacity then grew for the next man, Mr Kendrick Lamar. Making a rare appearance at a UK festival, people knew this was a ‘now or never’ scenario. Coming on to a rampant ‘Money Trees’, Kendrick played for an hour or thereabouts. With the sun setting and beer flowing, it was simply perfection, everything a rap show should be. The crowd were great, all well up for it and actually knew the words. It was my performance of the weekend by the end, and I would go on record to say that it’s in my list of top 5 gigs ever! Friday’s music then ended with a slightly disappointing Libertines. Don’t get me wrong, the songs were well played and it was a classic Libs setlist. Annoyingly for me though, they pretty much played my favourite songs in the first half hour, (‘Horror Show, ‘Time For Heroes’, ‘Breck Rd.’) etc. About an hour in, it got a tad bland, with members of the crowd checking the time and making any excuse to get to the bar. Improving on the encore, the performance overall remained somewhat old-fashioned and turned out to unfortunately be one of the weakest performances of the weekend. Also, without sounding too horrible, Doherty is really ugly in person, I mean, bloody hell, the man is ugly.
Now, Saturday. After feeling extraordinarily worse for wear, I somehow managed to scramble myself into the arena for my first band of the day, The Districts on the NME/Radio 1 stage, (great comedown music I must say). The majority of the rest of the afternoon consisted of us having many ‘well-needed sit-downs’ in order to get our breaths back. The night before was heavy. The music was still top-draw though. It was great to see local Yorkshire boys, Drenge on the main stage, as well as the quite frankly sporadic Parquet Courts over on NME/Radio 1. The rest of the evening was spent at that very stage for Swim Deep, who drew in a real bouncing crowd, and Peace, who were fantastic. I’d already seen them once in Birmingham for the NME Awards Tour 2013 and they had seriously upped their live game during those two years. Frontman Harrison Koisser’s singing was massively on point also, with the band being one of the highlights of the weekend. I then waited anxiously in the tent for one of my most anticipated acts of the festival, Run The Jewels. Knowing that it’d be a rare occasion to see them, I made well sure of getting near the front and I can tell you, the illustrious rap duo did not disappoint. Despite not being able to understand what they were rapping about in a live surrounding, the bass and atmosphere compensated. It was simply an early party, and it was brilliant. We then looked forward to sub-headliners Limp Bizkit, who I was about to see for remarkably, the fourth time. Yes, the FOURTH time. And in all honesty, it wasn’t my favourite time I’ve seen them. Limp Bizkit fans are way too crazy these days, especially after a few jars. The moshpits became that raucous that at one point, my mate actually proceeded to push someone who was already bent over. This is a sin in a moshpit, but looking back, it was hilarious. He was a fat fuck, and a dickhead, so deserved it quite frankly. Other than these in-crowd goings-on, the band themselves played very well, constantly keeping us all excited and pumped up, playing great renditions of ‘Nookie’, ‘Hot Dog’ and many more. We were all then very fired up for the last act of the day, Knife Party.
I literally have no idea where to start with Knife Party. First of all, it was busy, very busy, very very busy. The term, ‘packed in like sardines’ could not have been more appropriate to use in this instance, it was silly. Therefore, it was hot, very hot. And lastly, everyone was completely off it, as I’ll further elaborate on soon. This was all before the DJs came on stage, bare in mind. Eventually, Rob Swire and co. pressed play and the place erupted. All four of us lost each other within two minutes and I had never heard so many chants of ‘YOU WHAT? YOU WHAT? LEEDS’ in one period of fifty minutes. Take it from me, this became bloody annoying. It was all fun enough though until something terribly frightful started to take place. Some irresponsible girl in her late teens, clearly on enough Class A’s to feed West Yorkshire, thought it would be a bright idea to climb up the scaffolding, central to the tent. The band kept playing for about ten minutes until she got higher, and higher, and higher. She must’ve got to about 40/50 feet before security thought; ‘actually, we should probably do something about this’. After being told to get down several times and refusing in her own stripper-like way, Knife Party had stopped playing and everyone in the crowd were furiously biting their nails, including me. At this point I was very close to leaving and going back to camp. I felt physically sick and didn’t think I could cope with the potential post-traumatic stress that would come after seeing someone fall from a scary height into a crowd full of innocent people, it just wasn’t for me. Thankfully, she did come down after about ten minutes, mainly due to many in the crowd booing. I mean, we hadn’t even heard ‘Bonfire’ or ‘Internet Friends’ yet! When we did, it was sick but I also felt extremely terrified at the same time – that strange feeling that comes when standing in the middle of a moshpit. Looking back on Knife Party however, we felt it was just a normal DJ set and nothing particularly special. It was also a tad redundant in a way, because I couldn’t actually see any of the band for the entirety of the set. I hate being short.
The last fun-filled day of music ,(Sunday), comes around and I feel like death again. This is OK though, I’m welcomed into the day by the strong new British indie-rock sounds of Nothing But Thieves. A proper band one might say, who are very grateful for the support and put on a good show. I then head over to the Main to see other anticipants of mine, Fidlar, fronted by Zac Carper. Award for best tee of the weekend goes to him for the sad but true, ‘wake up, jerk off, cry’. You know what they say, honesty is the best policy. The NME was calling again after their set as rumours were spread around that Foals were here, and they were going on stage at half past one. Well, they’re one of my favourite bands, so if this is true this is mega! We had a window so we rushed over to the opposite end of the arena and the tent was the busiest its been at that time of day for years. They were coming on. After not seeing them since 2010 at the very same stage at the very same festival, this put the icing on the cake for me. The band were on top form and all was well, I couldn’t help feel that the crowd were somewhat sedate however, something that strangely resurfaces later on. We stayed at the NME for Slaves and Spector, cleverly noticing in the meantime that frontman of Spector, Fred Macpherson, is these days an absolute spitting image of Amy Farrah Fowler, awkward yet lovable girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper in ‘The Big Bang Theory’. This was one of the shouts of the weekend by Huw, turning into one of the laughs of the weekend, top work. Alexisonfire and Royal Blood were our next viewings, bringing into action my thought of this Sunday sedateness that the crowds were for some reason supporting. Royal Blood for example, I honestly thought it was gonna be nuts, but it turned out to be pretty chill. However, maybe this was because both members (Mike and Ben) were gurning off their bonce, they’d started early. Despite this, they performed a new song entitled ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ which was incredible. I hadn’t been that excited after hearing a new song for a LONG time, fab stuff. After seeing and kind of not seeing Catfish & The Bottlemen at the same time, I was very excited to have my weekend finished off by the mighty Metallica. Two and a bit hours of awesome metal is difficult to sum up here, but basically, it was thrilling. My favourite song ‘Sad But True’ was everything I ever wished it to be, it was just perfect, and I was with my fave people, and it was all just perfect. Although, I’m still adamant that the performance of the weekend goes to Kendrick Lamar. It was ridiculously good and showed a world-famous rapper on top of his game loving life to the max. Fantastic.
My ever so fun weekend came to a close the next morning when we were met by constant rain and a five-hour battle through traffic, hunger, tiredness and illness. Well, we were spoilt for the whole weekend after all. Maybe see you next year Leeds!