If your wellies gave you blisters, clap your hands. If your hair was 95% grease, clap your hands. If you’re losing your voice, clap your hands. If you had the energy to clap your hands for any of the above then it’s safe to say you probably weren’t at Reading or Leeds this weekend. I was, however, and I’ve picked out some of my favourite bits from Leeds festival to tell you about. Sixteen hours sleep and three black coffees later, I’m hoping this will just about make sense. Wish me luck…
Friday 22nd August
It’s Friday afternoon and I’m feeling relatively fresh despite having slept on a rock the night before. I’m not that Naïve to believe I’ll be feeling this great come Sunday, but I’m definitely ready to Listen to The Kooks. I’m also trying way too hard to incorporate The Kooks’ song titles into my sentences, but I’m sure you’ll Forgive & Forget that, eh?
The tent is pretty packed out as we wait for the Brighton band to take to the stage and we’ve managed to secure a spot that means we can watch the stage instead of the big screens – no mean feat when you’re a midget like myself. It’s a short but sweet setlist that leaves the audience happy; interestingly the band relies predominantly on the iconic ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, ‘Seaside’ and ‘Junk Of The Heart (Happy)’ as the driving force of their set. The latter is my personal favourite, although 2014’s releases ‘Around Town’ and ‘Down’ definitely climb their way up in my estimations after hearing them both live. I leave the tent geared up for the rest of the weekend, simultaneously wishing that I had Luke Pritchard’s barnet to use as a pillow for the rest of the festival weekend. Alternatively I’d take James Bagshaw (Temples)’s hair, instead…
Saturday 23rd August
For just two lads, Drenge don’t half make a helluva lot of noise! The Loveless brothers’ live performance was far heavier and engaging than I was anticipating and despite playing fairly early on in the day the tent was boasting an impressively sized audience. ‘I Want To Break You In Half’ was a fast paced, slick anthem from start to finish and Eoin’s vocal was exactly the same as it sounds on record, not easily achieved when your performance is so energetic.
‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’ elicited the best response (seconded by ‘Bloodsports’) from the audience – circle pits formed at several places in the crowd and the chorus rang out from the front to the back of the tent. ‘Nothing’ was nothing but brilliant, from an instrumental perspective, Rory carefully controlling the songs pace with his drumming. With their performance, Drenge managed to raise the question of whether or not the NME tent will be big enough to contain their mammoth sound and fanbase at Reading & Leeds festival next year.
Having seen Vampire Weekend in Leeds as part of their ‘Vampire Of The Modern City’ tour it was nice to be able to see them in a different setup. Open air gigs are far harder than enclosed venues in terms of being able to sustain the atmosphere and keep your audience captivated, yet Vampire Weekend’s Leeds Festival slot on the Main Stage Saturday afternoon demonstrated their ability to do just this. Their set opened with the past faced ‘Diane Young’ which had everyone singing along with Ezra Koenig as he drawled “baby baby baby / right on time”. Amongst the tracks that elicited the best audience response was ‘Unbelievers’, thanks to its comparatively slow tempo, ‘Cousins’, thanks to its simplistic chorus and ‘Oxford Comma’ thanks to its staccato melody.
Dressed in a full tracksuit, Ezra seemed at complete ease as he chatted to the audience, telling us about their Reading set the day before. We were deemed responsive enough to hear ‘California English Pt. 2’, before the band ended on ‘Walcott’. There were people on shoulders across the audience, singing along bedecked in flower headbands, waving alcoholic beverages around. Overall Vampire Weekend put on a slick, laid back performance that showed the effects of their extensive touring. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what they produce upon getting back into the studio, hopefully soon.
Headlining the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage are Courteeners – the band that if you have any sense whatsoever, you’ll have bailed on Paramore and Queens of the Stone Age for. Liam Fray and his merry men look as slick as their stage setup does and the tent is thriving with the energy that accompanies the audience of every Courteeners gig. ‘Are You In Love With A Notion’ opens the show and this Pulp-esque track from the 2013 released ‘Anna’ has every single person shouting along with a “woah-oh-oh” here and a “woah-oh-oh” there.
Then the band jump to ‘Cavorting’ and ‘Acrylic’, two older tracks that have the audience going mental. There are drinks (and bodily fluids!) flying everywhere, people singing along atop unfortunate shoulders and flares being waved left right and centre. Considering the band have only released their fourth studio album ‘Concrete Love’ six days previously there is no shift in the atmosphere as the band play ‘How Good It Was’ and ‘Summer’ – demonstrating that the band have an extremely loyal fanbase with an excellent capacity for learning lyrics. I can still hear the audience shouting “PLEASE DON’T / PRETEND / THAT WE’LL / STAY FRIENDS”, the simplistic chorus from ‘Please Don’t’ and the chant of “you’re not nineteen forever / so pull yourselves together” from ‘Not Nineteen Forever’; two tracks that are the overwhelming favourites of the night.
Whilst I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to hear ‘Has He Told You That He Loves You Yet’, my favourite song from the new record, I can’t really complain because I’ve recently received the news that the band will be touring the UK this autumn and I’m sure I’ll be able to hear this track then. One song from Concrete Love that does sound mega live, though, is ‘Small Bones’ which has an repetitive hook “as she’s asking me to dance” that had everyone in the tent going wild. Whilst at first I felt Courteeners were holding something back in their most recent release, I’m most certainly not disappointed with their performance at Leeds festival, it’s fair to say the Mancunian lads gave it 110%. A shitload of confetti ensured that Courteeners ended their set with a bang that not even headliners Arctic Monkeys could rival, too.
Sunday 24th August
We Are Scientists
‘With Love and Squalor’ is a meaty rock record that’s been on my iPod from the day I discovered good music, so I was grateful that Leeds festival gifted me the opportunity to hear the classics from it ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘It’s a Hit’ live. I hadn’t listened to much of the bands recently released ‘TV En Francais’ but this didn’t really matter because despite not knowing the words to a couple of tracks, the general atmosphere in the Festival Republic tent ensured that I enjoyed a cracking show regardless. The chorus to ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’
My body is your body
I won’t tell anybody
If you want to use my body
Go for it, yeah, go for it, yeah
was truly spectacular to hear as the crowd chanted along to this catchy anthem. A further two highlights were ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘After Hours’, the latter of which boasts an equally as catchy chorus.
We Are Scientists merit the title for the best interaction over the course of the festival weekend as Keith and Chris attempted to get more people on shoulders than there were standing. They didn’t manage it, but they certainly came close and the tent was alive with energy from the start of the set right through to the end. For a band that gave another of my favourites (The Pigeon Detectives) their first support slot, it was nice to see they can put on a raucous, feel good show that’s definitely left me wanting to go away and listen to their most recent record.
These are just a few of the cracking live acts that I got to see over the course of the festival weekend. I wish I could talk about everyone I saw in great detail – Royal Blood, DZ Deathrays, The Hives, Peace, Borgore and Annie Mac are all worthy of a mention – but I’m not wholly sure you (or me!) would be able to stay awake for that long.
One thing that I’m sure you’ll agree with (if you went) is that Leeds Festival 2014 was well and truly amazing, and that the lineup next year will have to be well and truly amazing to even come close to the plethora of talented artists we were able to see this time around. I won’t miss the Airmaxx woman harking on about rides at four in the morning, and I certainly won’t miss the toilets (if you can even call them that) but I will miss being surrounded by fellow music lovers. However, I’m sure I’ll see some of you again next year, so until then – adieu!