If you managed to stay standing as you sludged through the trail of mud leading to the left of the main stage at this year’s Leeds festival, you would have found the Jack Rocks Tent. Standing in its black and white striped splendour and drawing in crowds desperate to hear the next big thing in rock and roll, the rain was no issue for this sheltered dome.
BUT the power of This Feeling didn’t stop there with many of their spawned musical offspring showing Leeds what’s what at three other massive stages. This diffusion of talent, however, did nothing to stop the This Feeling family unit from storming from one stage to another when it was time to support their brothers and sisters.
Friday played host to a lot of This Feeling favourites, Carvella flew the flag for local talent, The Cupids injected a fresh rhythm to the tent and The Assist arrived for what would be their first day of many, sticking around to support other bands in true This Feeling spirit. April transitioned day into night with their catchy melodies rooted in heavy rock undertones that’ll get you dancing, albeit with a bit of head banging thrown in (catch them on their This Feeling tour beginning September 8th) and Hello Operator stood out as always with the juicy guitar riffs of ‘Stephanie’ and ‘Operator Hour’, a confident sound that follows through. Sisteray provided a dose of punk rock that lead seamlessly into Friday’s headliners, Trampolene. Fronted by Jack Jones, the raw combination of the spoken word united with a weightier expression of rock rhythm symbolised This Feeling’s manifestation of exciting new talent and paved the way for the rest of the bands performing at Jack Rocks that weekend.
By Saturday the word about the Jack Rocks tent in its secluded dip, known locally as The Zone, had begun to spread and people were piling down in their masses, raincoat on and JD in hand (I’d recommend the honey with ginger ale) ready for a daily dose of rock. The Blinders drew in a big crowd despite their early set and thoroughly impressed with a psychedelic sound rooted in political issues, Willow Robinson introduced all to his new musical image, now with band in tow, and The Jackobins screamed out indie anthems with band mascot, a giant cuddly racoon in a Jackobins t-shirt, sat in pride of place at the front of the stage.
In between bands the crew headed off to support This Feeling regulars The Wholls who set alight the BBC Introducing Stage and have since been heralded by BBC Radio 1s Huw Stephens, and Otherkin who animated the entire crowd at the Festival Republic tent during their blinding performance of ‘Ay Ay’. Jackals Rose then set the ball rolling back at the Jack Rocks tent for what was to be an incredible evening of live music. Cabbage stormed the stage drawing in one of the biggest crowds of the weekend and offering a quick flash of the knees at frontman Lee showed off his fresh tats (Shit written on one knee, Satan scrawled on the other) from a drunken night before (“I didn’t realise they were real”, I think was the line). Word has obviously spread about the spectacle that these guys produce because the photo pit was crammed with eager photographers and videographers desperate to get their shot of a dodgy backflip or climb up a lighting rig. Baby Strange captivated the crowds with snappy anthems, the catchy choruses to ‘Friend’ and ‘Pleasure City’ screamed back at them from the eager fans, and topping off the night The Barmines took indie rock to a new level with an performance rooted in passion and musical aggression.
Sunday introduced new music from The Strawberries and Dantevilles, both bands showing amazing promise and I’m sure we’ll see them climb up the set list in line-ups to come. Judas took things one step further and not only blew away the Jack Rocks crowds with their pop rock tunes but got whisked off in a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation to the Main Stage to play another storming set to a massive crowd. The Jack Rocks crew and family fans Abbie Clancy and Peter Crouch supporting from side of stage – what an advert for This Feeling and fresh new music!
Liberty Ship injected a sunnier sound to the tent, not dissimilar to the likes of The Vaccines but with a harsher, rock and roll edge and Paves gave an explosive performance of bluesy rock which by now is to be expected, they seem to smash the stage to pieces in a seemingly effortless fashion every time they perform. Bang Bang Romeo clearly meant business and the belting lungs of front-woman Anastasia drew in the masses, including new fan Abbey Clancy who tweeted excitedly after their performance. Broken Hands played an incredible, mesmerising set that will surely see them progress to the bigger stages sooner rather than later. Ditto Broken Witt Rebels who rounded off the weekend with their soul studded indie rock sound. To top it all off White Room stepped up following their earlier performance at the Festival Republic stage and played a secret set that drew in the crowds that’d had enough of The Chillies and wanted to see the night off with a bang of psychedelia and the vigorous shake of a tambourine.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this tent, these bands and everyone who is lucky enough to be a part of the legendary force that is This Feeling, are paving the future for rock roll music and rearing headliners to come. This won’t be the first festival to see one of the home grown talents that rock This Feeling stages up and down the country to own a Main Stage slot, watch this space.
Words & Pictures: Nina Almond