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Festival review: Leeds Festival 2013

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Friday

Our Leeds Festival started with the band you all loved in 2008, Hadouken! Being forced to beer bong a can of Strongbow upon arrival by our very friendly camping neighbours put me in the mood to dance along to hits such as ‘That Boy, That Girl’ and shout every word like my 14-year-old self would have. 

Leeds

Alunageorge have been riding a tidal wave of hype ever since their single ‘Your Drums Your Love’ filtered on to mainstream radio. The duo (consisting of Aluna Francis, vocals, and George Reid, production) were only beaten to the top spot of the BBC Sound of 2013 list by Cali girl band Haim. However, the live set was without the single that got them where they are. They instead finished on ‘White Noise’, a Disclosure song, featuring Aluna’s vocals. It's odd that they wouldn’t want to showcase more of the fantastic debut record Body Music. 

Next I had to deal with the most devastating programme clash of my entire life. How on earth do I choose between two of my favourite bands: Fall Out Boy or City and Colour?! I took several deep breaths, calmed myself down, and decided to go and watch all of Fall Out Boy’s set on the Main Stage. I was, of course, not disappointed. Welling up with nostalgia as they rattled through hits from all four records including ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ straight into ‘Dance, Dance’. A spectacular six minutes for any FOB fan.

Electronic duo Disclosure’s set saw one of the biggest crowds over on the NME/Radio One Stage. Opening with new track ‘F For You’ the duo led everyone to electro-dance heaven. The two massively talented brothers lived up to the hype with a relentless set packed full of chart topping collaborations. Sam Smith took to the stage to sing ‘Latch’ and a delightful surprise came in the form of Ed Macfarlane (Friendly Fires) joining them on stage for ‘Defeated No More’.

Nine Inch Nails returned to the Leeds main stage for a set of ‘greatest’ hits. Every period from their 25 year long career was covered. Despite the pouring rain at Branham Park to crowd watched in adoration of the industrial legends. With little words needed from front-man Trent Reznor they rattled through tracks from their back catalogue with perfect precision. A fantastic return to the live stage for NIN.

Azaelia Banks drew a surprisingly small crowd, and despite her music being unimpressive she did put on a fun show. Dressed in an amazing cat suit with her trademark flowing weave, she is fascinating to watch and in fact very talented.

Friday night closed in a rather disappointing manner. There is definite appeal in topless Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, but unfortunately not amount of chiselled torsos can disguise the fact that their music is nothing more than mediocre.

We left before the end, after sticking around for a good hour, to have a dance to Knife Party before heading over to Leeds’ famous Silent Disco tent. 

 

Saturday

Dry The River put on a fantastic early performance, before Newport reggae-metal veterans Skindred provided one of the weekend’s highlights. Front-man Benji Webbe was delightful to watch. His red and black suit and waist length dreadlocks made for perfect entertainment as he strutted across the stage pointing out members of the crowd. A particularly enticing moment was when they broke out into Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’.

Down rolled a banner saying ‘Pop Punk Is Not Dead’ as the stage was set for New Found Glory. Yet, I can’t help disagreeing, or at least arguing that NFG are not the ones to keep pop punk alive. 

Another band with a lot of hype around their debut release is PeaceIn Love is a fantastic record and translated very well to the live setting of the NME/Radio One Stage. Album favourite ‘California Daze’, a beautiful, slow track, echoed round the tent in ethereal majesty. With yet another cover of Disclosure’s ‘White Noise’, it was a solid set.

Frightened Rabbit didn’t bring the same excitement as Peace. Unfortunately the Scottish indie rock band couldn’t quite conjure any major emotions. Or maybe it was the tiredness that stopped me enjoying them, regardless, for most of the people around me they were unfortunately merely background noise as they waited for Bastille. 

Almost instantly regretting my decision of being closer to the front Bastille came on stage. Their set was laced with all their high energy tracks including new single ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ causing a rapturous sing a long from start to finish. I didn’t have a very good time amongst the sweaty teenage girls but Bastille never fail to put on a good show.

I never thought I would see an act such as A$AP Rocky gain such an enormous crowd at a festival such as Leeds. The 24-year-old Harlem rapper seemed surprised by how raucous this ‘England’ crowd appeared. The NME/Radio One stage was packed full, we only just managed to get inside the tent. Tracks from his debut record Long. Live. ASAP went down a storm despite clashing with the opening of Green Day’s set. 

After last year’s Reading Festival surprise performance, I wondered how Green Day could top it. Then they decided to play their classic 1994 Dookie album from front to back. The amazing moment when Billy Joe Armstrong sang the first line of ‘Basket Case’ made me understand why they are still around 26 years after they formed. 

After Dookie they played an array of their greatest hits. But perhaps the most poignant moment of the whole set was when the band paid tribute to British mod heroes, The Who, specifically their 1970 record ‘Live At Leeds’, with Billy Joe stating they were one of his favourite bands of all time.  

Nearing the end of a whopping 30 song set, the encore consisted of the full nine minutes of ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and, as predicted, ending on the beautifully stripped back ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’. 

Sunday

To Kill A King kicked off Sunday. The five piece have recently signed to Xtra Mile recordings (Frank Turner, Sonic Boom Six) and their performance at Leeds suggests they are definitely deserved of the gig. Playing a set consisting of tracks from their debut album Cannibals With Cutlery including new single ‘Rays’. TKAK are a new band that everyone should check out.  

Two parts of hip-hop collective OFWGKTA, Tyler The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt have performed a series of shows together this summer, Leeds Festival being one of the most fun I’ve seen. Like kids with all the attention they could wish for. Tyler abusing his power and making everyone in the crowd shout ‘NAAAASSTY’ over and over. This surprisingly never tired with the crowd obeying every command. Tyler has been in the spotlight for a while, however, Earl Sweatshirt is in the process of becoming just as well known.

The 1975 drew a large crowd to the tiny Festival Republic stage. We couldn’t get anywhere near the tent so listened to hits such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Sex’ from the outskirts. The size of the crowd was a definite indicator of things to come for the Manchester based indie/rock outfit. Front-man Matthew Healy is already becoming a heartthrob for the screaming fans eager to hear the long-awaited self titled debut record (due for release on 2nd September 2013). 

With Foals came the biggest disappointment of the festival. What used to be an exciting name on the bill now seems to be mundane. It was my first time seeing the live and I was initially very excited, but as the set went on, I was honestly very bored. Perhaps they suit smaller, sweatier venues rather than the open fields of Branham Park. 

Chase & Status, the first dance act to play the Main Stage since Prodigy in 2009 had some big shoes to fill. They did it spectacularly. With a surprise guest performance from Tempa T on the infectious ‘Next Hype’ they whipped through an amazing set preparing everyone for Eminem

The stage was set behind a white curtain leaving everything to the imagination, it dropped and out bounded Eminem onto the stage in a white vest and shorts as he performed new track ‘Survival’. The legendary rapper’s performance seemed a little sedated at first as he mumbled into the mic but he soon got into the performance performing tracks such as ‘White America’ and ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’. 

By far the most talked about moment of Leeds Festival was when Dido joined Eminem on stage for ‘Stan’. A magical moment finished with an embrace from the duo. 

As the set reached its end, and after a costume change from Slim Shady, he shouted at the crowd ‘Are you guys fucked up?!’ followed by ‘Let’s go back to a time when I used to get fucked up!’ before doing a medley of ‘My Name Is’, ‘Real Slim Shady’, ‘Without Me’. Around ten minutes of jumping around shouting every word led nicely into ‘Not Afraid’ and a ‘Lose Yourself’ encore.

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