9 September 2009

Leeds mutha'uckas!

Leeds. Was. Awesome. But that's stating the obvious considering the line-up, which was suprisingly unpopular with large chunks of the ticketgoers. But without further ado, here's a review of the entire weekend.

Fightstar - 12:45 - 13:15 - Main Stage
I think I prefer Busted. Seriously. You can't look at Charlie Simpson without hearing "Year 3000". Fightstar are what you imagine the metalheads/emo kids two years below you in school would make if they had a ion of talent. Not to say they were any good. Murky and muddy through most of the set, the only thing of interest was the growing size of the first mosh pit of the festival.

The Rakes - 13:30 - 14:10 - Main Stage
Last seen; supporting Franz Ferdinand, Manchester, Oct 2006
For all their great tunes, The Rakes have never really gotten "big". Sticking them on the main stage, this early probably won't help that. Considering the arena was still mostly made up of hardcore kids left over from Fightstar/still waiting for Enter Shikari, The Rakes were never going to be too popular. Alan Donohoe's vocals don't really seem to have the same effect live as they do on record, going from lively and cool to shrill and fairly annoying. That said, they still put in a pretty good performance, just it'd be much more enjoyable in one of the smaller tents.

Eagles of Death Metal - 14:20 - 15:05 - Main Stage
Josh Homme's other other band (after QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures). Although that is a slight fallacy seeing as he only plays on their records and never live. Not that it's noticeable, with frontman Jesse "The Devil" Hughes more than filling Homme's stage presence and acting the classic rock & roll frontman. Most people (including myself) only know two songs, but that doesn't matter as EODM make up for the lack of tunes with showmanship and a good-time feeling. An unexpected highlight if only for the phrase "I just want to shake my dick and make you all feel happy."

The Chapman Family - 15:00 - 15:30 - Festival Republic
Unfortunately I only caught "Kids", having forgotten their stage time and needing to get back to camp. But as expected, The Champans did not disappoint and were furiously superb for that one song. With a new single and tour this October, I can only hope I get to see an entire set.

The Courteeners - 16:00 - 17:15 - Main Stage
Oasis had broken up, but noone seemed to notice or heard at Leeds with The Courteeners doing a pretty good job of filling in. Not direct descendants of the Gallaghers per se, but with enough swagger to replace them, The Courteeners look to be going from strength to strength, especially with the confidence to chuck away their two biggest songs as set openers. Judging by the new songs on show, the second album should be a treat.

Ian Brown - 17:35 - 18:20 - Main Stage
Despite taking an age to arrive on stage, King Monkey provided the best set of the day so far. Okay, it wasn't a set for casual fans but the triple whammy of "F.E.A.R", "Stellify" and "Fools Gold" ("this one's good for boppin'. Whatever happened to boppin'?" went the introduction from Brown) made sure it left a lasting impression.

Maximo Park - 18:40 - 19:25 - Main Stage
A few may have been puzzled at Maximo's high billing as, like The Rakes, they haven't exactly reached Arctic Monkey status with the British public. But by the end of the set, there would have been few unconverted to the Geordies cause. Smart, sharp, fun, funky, and some fantastic dance moves from Paul Smith, the Park showed that they're more than capable of growing and growing to bigger things. The brass band augmenting the end of the set was a masterstroke.

The Prodigy - 20:00 - 21:00 - Main Stage
Bonkers before they'd even started setting up, there's less pushing in a ward of pregnant women. "Omen", which before now had been a minor chant amongst campers, turned into a full-blown festival anthem the minute it was played. Due to the fear of being crushed to death, I made a fairly swift exit. I managed to return for the closing "Out Of Space". There's little more fun than going mental in a field of other people going mental to probably one of the best dance tracks ever. I doubt it was as much fun on the front barrier though...

White Lies - 19:30 - 20:10 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; on the NME Awards tour, Jan 09
Having escaped death by rave, I managed to catch the last few songs of White Lies set. In the space of seven months, they've gone from doomy post-punkers to a rather epic rock band. In a strangely sparse tent, they still managed to bring the house down with "Death" and with a second album, they could definitely move swiftly to headliners of the NME stage or even high on the main stage. You'd be foolish to miss them.

Arctic Monkeys - 21:30 - 23:00 - Main Stage
Last seen; Manchester, Dec 07
The local(ish) boys return to...well, mixed reactions really. There were those who were only there for "Dancefloor", those who were underwhelmed by the performance and pissed off Turner's transformation to cliched arsehole rockstar and then there were those who thought it was a great rock show. I was pretty much in the latter group, having memorised the new album and pretty much every song that was played. Yes Alex Turner is too far up his own backside, coming out dressed in RayBans, leather jacket, awful hair and obviously pissed/coked up to the eyeballs, but that doesn't take much away from the live show. The new songs sound powerful and confident whilst older tracks are given a new breath of life e.g. "Fluorescent Adolescent" is slowed down with a new middle eighth. "Bring on the backlash" has been the Arctics attitude since they first appeared, and whilst the backlash is beginning, I don't think they give a monkey's.

Vampire Weekend - 17:05 - 17:50 - Main Stage
Yeah, considering VW were fourth from top on the second day, you can tell I didn't get around much. Anyways, the buzz band of 2008 lived up to my high expectations, what with them making my album of last year. Of course, the majority of people only knew "A-Punk" (in the words of my friends, "they should just play A-Punk for half an hour then get off") but for those who, y'know, actually like to delve deeper and listen to albums, the set was a treat. Perfect for a somewhat sunny afternoon and the two new songs have got me and probably a lot of others eagerly anticipating their sophomore effort.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 18:15 - 19:05 - Main Stage
The eternally hip band. In the mass-music-industry-fap over New York in the early part of the decade, the YYYs were almost gods, even compared to The Strokes and Interpol. But despite their elevated status in the world of indie, there isn't much that comes to mind that justifies a third from top billing on the Main Stage. But they do have the big songs. "Zero", "Heads Will Roll" and "Date With The Night" are all crowdslayers and a beautiful acoustic version of "Maps" should have brought a tear to the eye of even the most wasted reveller. The YYYs just seem like a tent band, they could have comfortably slotted in as headliners at the NME stage this year, and are a bit wasted on a field full of Radiohead fans.

Bloc Party - 19:30 - 20:30 - Main Stage
Or Radiohead Jr, as some seem to view them. Bloc certainly have a similar eclecticism and experimental side to them and can probably lay claim to the affections of an equal amount of indie kids' hearts, but they're an altogether more festival-y band i.e. you can dance around to them. And dancing was certainly the order of their set with only two slower numbers included. The segue of "Song For Clay" into "Banquet" in particular sent the place wild. Though despite all this, BP seem like they're forever consigned to penultimate band status. It's hard to envisage them making the step-up to headliners, seeing as they've played lower down for the last five or so years. But for now, I'll enjoy them wherever they are.

Radiohead - 21:00 - 23:00 - Main Stage
Reading gets "Creep". Reading got "Karma Police. Reading got "Street Spirit". Three songs I was pretty desperate to hear live on what was probably the only time I'll see Radiohead live. But this was the only complaint from a phenomenal performance. The lack of real hits dampened the atmosphere somewhat since your common garden Radiohead fan doesn't know "(Nice Dream)" or "A Wolf At The Door" so by throwing them into the set along with other less-known tracks won't exactly increase the bonhomie. But regardless, this was five outstanding musicians playing outstanding songs with an entrancing stage show. If only they'd played "No Suprises"...

Little Boots - 15:05 - 15:45 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Now you wouldn't imagine big, bold, shiny pop would fit in with rain-soaked, northern fields, but somehow Little Boots made us all forget the horror of barely-cooked beans and pissed-on tents for 40 minutes. Especially by bringing her monumentally wasted brother up on stage to play tambourine. On this evidence, it appears Ms Boots will stick around longer than her counterparts

The Horrors - 16:05 - 16:50 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; supporting Arctic Monkeys, Manchester, Dec 07
A very large jump from blatant pop of Little Boots to dark and moody shoegaze of The Horrors. The last time I had the "pleasure" of seeing them, they were awful, possibly the worst proper band I had ever witnessed. What a difference just under two years makes. No longer goading and insulting the crowd, the band have perfected their look and their sound to make for a superb set, which is slightly lost on the sections of the crowd who only recognise Faris Badwan as "that goffy fella who was shagging Peaches Geldof".

Jack Penate - 17:10 - 17:55 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
From pop to shoegaze and back to pop again. The ever-effervescent Mr Penate attempted to bring a little bit of joy after the gloom of The Horrors. Okay, it did feck all to brighten up a miserable day but it certainly made the NME stage a happier place. Crowd surfing, crazy dancing and a cheesy grin are all part and parcel of a Penate live show and it was no different here. Whilst his newer material may not have brought the carnival that Friendly Fires did later on, it was the best warm up they could ask for. Pity about him losing his shoes though, they were rather snazzy.

The Big Pink - 18:10 - 18:45 - Festival Republic Stage
The Glasvegas comparisons are going to come thick and fast for the winners of the NME Phillip Hall Radar award and it's easy to see why. For one, they've both won the aforementioned award, they both deal in moody, shoegaze-inspired indie, they're got a short frontman in a leather jacket, a creepily slim bassist, a female drummer who's pretty damn good and a tall one. So as you can see too many similarities to ignore. But whilst Glasvegas have been clumped into the lad-rock zone, TBP are much too alternative for drunkards to start hugging each other to. Droney electronic soundscapes surrounding what are essentially classic soul songs; hypnotic on record but blistering in the live arena. It's enough to make me want to start my own band. So you know they've gotta be good.

Florence And The Machine - 18:15 - 19:00 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; NME Awards Tour, Liverpool, Jan 09
Due to being blown away by The Big Pink in the Festival Republic tent and her being forced offstage, I was only able to catch a small part of Florence's set. In comparison to the last time I saw her (crowdsurfing, barefoot, running around the venue) she seems to have matured a fair bit, as well as being pushed into the whole "forest elf" look by someone at her label no doubt. Anyways, it was a good, if unremarkable few songs I heard. That's all really.

Friendly Fires - 19:20 - 20:10 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Last seen; NME Awards tour, Liverpool, Jan 09
If there's one band that deserves a proper summer's day to perform on, it's Friendly Fires. Unfortunately, they had to deal with a wet and miserable Sunday evening although it didn't put a dampener on proceedings. Racing through their fantastic debut, they're a band that you need to be at the front for, or at least nearby, just to join in with the carnival and dancing. A little disappointing that the Brazilian dancers didn't make a return, but they weren't really needed. FF are well on their way to challenging Muse for the 'best live band' tag.

Jamie T - 20:25 - 21:15 - NME/Radio 1 Stage
Okay, scratch that. Friendly Fires AND Jamie T are challenging Muse. Possibly the most energetic performance of the weekend from the "sexy" (according to some...girls are extremely weird) Wimbledon troubador and with only two tracks from his new album (admittedly two bloody great ones). Spitting out lyrics at the speed of a machine gun, he even manages to convince the metalheads who are here for Faith No More, and Faith No More only, to bop along at the very least. Even if you can't keep up with the rapid verses, every chorus is designed for a festival singalong and the crowd doesn't let up. An unexpected delight.

Kings Of Leon - 21:30 - 23:00 - Main Stage
As expected, the mass exodus to see the Followill clan began the second Jamie T dropped his mic, resulting in the biggest crowd of the weekend, stretching back to the burger vans and one awkwardly placed ice cream truck, eventually destroyed during "Red Morning Light". As with Radiohead, KoL are in essence a group of good musicians playing good songs, and what more could anyone want? Well judging by a few members of the crowd, "Sex On Fire" played 20 times apparently. Even so, the audience "blew Reading to hell" according to Caleb Followill, although that wasn't hard considering the crowd down south had been less accepting of the band. Suprisngly the songs from the fourth album sounded alright and actually worth singing along to, whilst every single older song seemed injected with a renewed passion and feeling. That fifth album may be a while away but my guess is it'll be worth the wait.

Notes on a festival
  • To guys: Stop wearing bandanas! You are not a hippie, you are not in MGMT. And anyways the craze for them was last year
  • To girls: Stop wearng flower headbands! You aren't Florence Welch, you're not a hippy, this is not woodstock!
  • Please don't walk around topless. Okay we get it, you're fit and tanned, stop making everyone else fell inadequate and burying your face in the toilets
  • Dropping heavy metal in a DJ right after The Streets "But You Know It" goes down suprisingly well
  • To those of you who suddenly started saying "I love dubstep, me", stop it. Just because Nick Grimshaw has been banging on about it this week, doesn't mean you should to! Stick to your white, middle-class unimaginative pap.
  • Avoid the Relentless tent, unless you love donk or one of those aforemention "dubstep lovers"
  • If you're going to start burning people's tents on the last night, be polite and ask first
  • People should know that shouting for a band to play something will never result in them playing it
  • The "Green Army!" shout only works when lads do it. This is a proven fact.
  • Half the festival were walking around wearing The xx t-shirts. They were getting given out for free during their set. I now regret missing them.
  • Campsite rumours: Oasis had split (true), Barry Chuckle was found dead in a brothel (false), KoL had cancelled and Kasabian were being flown in to replace them (false)
  • If you're going to go to someone's camp and make friends, don't blank them the rest of the weekend. It's a bit mean.
  • Bring spare sleeping bags. Somehow, people forget to bring their own.

No comments: