Now that we’re all just about (hardly) recovered from the Leeds and Reading festival weekend it’s about time that I did a review on my experience there. This year stood out for me a number of reasons, mainly the rain and mud (So. Much. Mud.) that resulted in a mini river being created in the campsite, god help those who bravely decided to pitch their tents at the bottom of the hill.
This was my second year in attending Leeds Festival and one major comparison in what I did this year and one previous was that I did not go to the Relentless stage or any of the dance tents at any point during the weekend. Yes I’m disappointed in me as well, I’m only twenty years old, I have no excuse!
But this year also marked the first time that I attended a signing (more on that later) and that I spent most of my time in The Pit/Lock Up Stage as opposed to the main stage or NME tent.
So before I end up giving the whole details of my weekend away in the introduction here are my ratings of the bands I saw;
On the Friday morning I woke up early from excitement, and probably due to the lack of comfort from sleeping in a tent, because today was the day that my sister and I would see Waterparks again and we were both determined to get front row. Obviously due to how they weren’t on until 2:30 we would have to watch three bands before they came onstage, but for me a major part of going to a festival is having the opportunity to check out new bands so I was quite excited to see what these artists had to offer.
First up was Fighting Caravans (6/10) a local alternative-rock band from Leeds who had only released their first EP, “Beasts of England”, last year, so it fills me with pride that a band from my area is having success and getting on the line-up for a major rock music festival. Their set was nice to listen to, however, I personally got bored during their set, I mean it might not have been for me but I just founded it slightly repetitive after a while. Following them was Strange Bones (7/10) a rock band from Blackpool. I had no idea what to expect from them but I loved every moment of their set, all I can say that it was fun, loud madness where lead singer, Bobby Bentham, constantly jumped into the crowd, kept encouraging circle pits and made sure not a single person in the tent was standing still. They were certainly a surprise favourite of the weekend.
On a more calmer note was Greywind (7/10) an upcoming band from Killarney, Ireland consisting of siblings Steph and Paul O’Sullivan. I was quite excited to check them out this weekend as I had previously read about them in the exposure section of Rocksound in May/June time based on how they were recommended to fans, and compared to, PVRIS, Paramore and Tonight Alive. While I wouldn’t say that they’re like Paramore and Tonight Alive, based on what I saw that day, I can definitely see the PVRIS comparison as Steph’s stage prescence and sophistication reminded me of Lynn Gunn. Their set was lovely to listen to and I think that Steph has a stunning voice, so I will look forward to their upcoming debut album, “Afterthoughts”, which will be released on October 21st.
It was then time for Waterparks (9/10) the main reason why my sister and I were here in the first place. For those of you who don’t know, Waterparks are a pop-punk trio (well duo today as Geoff Wigington had recently broken his hand, so they had ex-bassist of My Chemical Romance, Mikey Way, fill in) from Houston who recently were taken under the wing of the Madden brothers who helped to produce their third EP, “Cluster”, and who also had them as a support act for their tour in the US and the UK. Now lead singer, Awsten Knight, and my sister know each other and have a “beef” (long story) so before and during their set were funny moments where they constantly roasted each other. It all started with my sister giving him a Harry Styles doll (again long story) and him taping it the mic stand which then escalated to him telling the crowd to crush her and my sister heckling him (you had to be there it was so funny to watch). Anyway their set consisted of a 4/5 songs from “Cluster” including single “Crave” and songs from previous EPs like “Silver” and “I’m A Natural Blue”. There was not one dull moment during their set and I just know that they will blow up as soon as their debut album, “Double Dare”, drops on November 4th, mark my words.
After a quick food break I went off with my friend to see Tonight Alive (7/10). I will admit that I don’t know much about them so this will be a first impression type thing; there is no question that Jenna McDougall has an incredible voice and stage presence, she was determined to spread her strong message about self-empowerment and assurance by getting the crowd to chant, “My expectation, my reality”, non-stop. Their setlist were mainly songs from their recent album,”Limitless”, which I have been told by other fans is their weakest album, and previous singles such as “Lonely Girl” which got the crowd excited. We also briefly caught upcoming pop-punk band ROAM (8/10) from Eastbourne, UK, and despite only watching three songs (remember the signing I previously mentioned?) I enjoyed it immensely and I do plan to check them out properly.
Now what happened next was a surprise to us that morning; Good Charlotte, the band I grew up with, was doing a signing at Leeds Fest! There was no question that we had to go. I have no bad things to say about them, they are some of the most sweetest people I have ever met. Shout out to Benji for complimenting my Good Charlotte shirt! And also to Joel for one recognising my sister from Waterparks (he was watching from the side) and praising her for roasting Awsten because, and I quote, “he deserves it”. You’re a legend!
It was now the end of the day and time for the one of two headliners that night; Fall Out Boy (9/10). Pete Wentz had promised in a previous interview with Kerrang! that the setlist was going to be planned especially for the Leeds and Reading weekend and it certainly did live up to his promise. Filled with all of their greatest hits ranging from “Under The Cork Tree” to “American Beauty / American Psycho” there was not one moment where I wasn’t dancing and singing along loudly with my sister and friends (sorry to anyone who was next to me and had to endure that). There were points where I could barely see the stage but I just didn’t care, I was having the time of my life. With an also incredible stage show and presence from Patrick Stump and Pete, with Wentz’s constant reminders to the crowd to never let the “fire” inside of you be put out by others, there was no doubt that Fall Out Boy was one of the best acts of the weekend.
Now a bit of a change of scenery from the vastness of the main stage to being cramped in the Lock Up Stage, it was time for Good Charlotte (10/10). Like I’ve said they’re my childhood, I was lucky enough to have seen them back in February when they opened for All Time Low (I legitimately cried when I saw that they were opening) and based on what I saw back then I knew that during the next hour I would have the time of my life. And they certainly did not disappoint. Playing a range of songs from “The Young and The Hopeless” to their recent release “Youth Authority” there was not one dull moment as the crowd went absolutely insane as everyone moshed and sang along loudly to all of their hits, I was completely exhausted by the end but I just didn’t care. Having got back together last year after a nearly six year long hiatus I’m so happy that they’re back, they were most certainly missed!
After getting a somewhat decent night sleep it was time for day two of Leeds Fest. The first band of the day was Creeper (10/10) who in the past year have experienced a massive surge in popularity after supporting the likes of Neck Deep and Andy Black on tour, and will later on this year support Pierce The Veil on their Misadventures Tour, (I’ll look forward to seeing you guys then!) Their set was filled with hit songs such as “VCR”, “The Honeymoon Suite” and “Misery” which got everyone pumped with circles pits happening left right and centre (also thanks for pushing me to third row!). Frontman Will Gould has great charisma and is a strong lead vocalist, I’m genuinely excited to see what this band has to offer in the future, seriously watch out for them!
Heading to the main stage, up next was Lower Than Atlantis (8/10), this was the first time that I got to listen to their music properly so this will be another first impression review. Their setlist contained catchy, hit singles and they also played new song “Work For It” which had only been released the previous week. I’d like to give credit to Mike Duce for helping to create one of the funniest moments of the weekend when he forgot to encourage the audience to create a circle pit during “Work For It” and so asked them to create one during their next song which happened to be “Words Don’t Come So Easily” (for those of you who don’t know it’s a slow love song) and there’s nothing more funnier than watching a bunch of rock fans prancing around a circle pit to a slow song. They ended their set perfectly with major single “Here We Go” where there was not one single person who didn’t lose their mind.
Then things took a weird, but brilliant, turn with Die Antwoord (7/10). I was not told anything about them asides from them being a dance act so when I saw a DJ booth being set up I thought it would just be like a regular DJ/producer act…boy was I wrong. What I experienced was a rush of loud, colourful madness and craziness with images reminiscent of horror films and 90s raves. I saw a duo consisting of a buff guy covered in tattoos and a small girl looking something out of a sci-fi show running and jumping around the stage while shouting and rapping to get the crowd going bonkers. Never in my life have I experienced something like this, but I’m sure as hell glad that I witnessed it. Following them was grime collective Boy Better Know (5/10). I only stayed for about four songs and I will say that it’s not overly for me. I didn’t mind the music but I just found the crowd (at least in the area I was in) to be quite rough and aggressive which made me feel really uncomfortable and anxious. I just wanted to get out of there fast.
Heading to the NME tent I went to see The Neighbourhood (7/10) an indie-rock band from California who had previously supported The 1975 back in early 2014. The best way to describe them to someone who has no idea what they sound like is that they’re quite chilled by mixing rock with a nice R’n’B sound. They were quite relaxing to listen to and I’m happy for my sister being able to see them live after several failed attempts in trying to go and see them whenever they came to the UK.
We decided to stay at this stage to wait for Twenty One Pilots to perform when I had the displeasure of having to experience Crystal Castles (2/10) who were easily the worst band of the weekend. An experimental electronic band, the music was alright but it was completely ruined by the lead singer, Edith Frances, who I recently found out to have been the replacement of previous lead singer, Alice Glass, so that might have been the problem but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even call her efforts “singing” it was just non-understandable mumblings and failed screamings into a microphone (it turned off a few times, thank god). At first I thought it was just me not getting it as it’s not typically the genre of music that I would listen to but pretty much everyone else looked just as bored and confused as I was so I think it’s safe to say that they were just terrible.
Finally it was time for Twenty One Pilots (10/10)…I don’t have the words to describe them, they just completely blew my mind. But before they came on there was some tension in the air as everyone worried how the set might be affected after what had happened the previous night at Reading, and if it would happen again. In case you didn’t know Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun interact with the crowd a lot during their performances like kneeling on them, standing on them to play the drums etc, but the previous night saw disaster where the crowd had decided to be vile and pull Tyler into the crowd during “Car Radio” where they proceeded to rip his shirt and mask off and apparently throw piss at him whereupon they cut their set short. Thankfully the crowd was respectful and their set went by without incident. Opening with “heavydirtysoul” and then going straight into “Heathens” it was clear that the audience was immediately on their side where there was no one who wasn’t singing along. Their set was filled with a mixture of songs from their albums “Vessel” and “Blurryface” and even included a cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. All of their crowd interactions went by without a hitch and I especially loved the moment during “Guns For Hands” when Tyler went over the crowd in a zorb ball and came quite close to where we were. Another highlight for me was when during “Car Radio” after Tyler came off the scaffolding in the centre of crowd and I got to high-five him (yes I’m still screaming on the inside). I just didn’t want their set to end, they lived up so highly to my expectations of them and I feel so privileged that I got to see them live.
At this stage it had started to rain quite heavily outside and I think it was safe to say that I was now in a low mood, originally I was planning to go and see Asking Alexandria but I just didn’t feel up to it so I went to go see headliner’s Disclosure (7/10). It was a fun, upbeat set featuring their major hits like “White Noise” and “F For You” and also songs from their second album, “Caracal” like “Omen” and “Jaded”. We left their set early as it started to rain again and I believe that some people were warning us of a possible incoming thunderstorm. I’m upset that we missed Latch but to be honest I was exhausted at that stage and I just wanted to go to bed
The news that I woke up to the next day put me in an amazing mood; You Me At Six were doing a secret set in The Pit that day! So you can guess where we went to straight away. We were able to catch Big Spring‘s (7/10) set, an alternative-rock band from London who have recently been dubbed as the “best new band in Britain” by Daniel P Carter, host of Radio 1’s Rock Show. I found that I got quickly into their music so I do look forward to what else they have to offer. Next up was Dead! (8/10) who were at, but I sadly missed, at Slam Dunk so this time round I promised myself that I would not miss them again. A band from London who were inspired by 90s rock, they delivered an enjoyable set where Alex Mountford sealed himself as a confident frontman who helps to make them one of the most exciting new rock bands of this decade. Watch this space, you’ll be hearing from them soon. On a more darker note was Ghost Town (8/10) from Los Angeles. You may remember that I had seen them support Simple Plan back in March so I was excited to see them again. There’s no arguing how unique they sound in comparison to most upcoming rock bands of today, a blend of electronic rock and electronicore, you seriously need to check them out!
At this point more and more people were coming into the tent after the news of You Me At Six’s set started to get out, this is where I felt bad for Heck (6/10). A hard rock/heavy metal band from Nottingham who for me were a little too much in terms of their sound and the stuff they did with the audience. They went into the crowd to create several circle pits, crowd surfed, put their microphones leads around people to sing into their faces, you name it. It was entertaining to watch and I did feel a bit bad for them when they realised that the majority of people at the front were there for You Me At Six and kind of toned down the stuff they did, but it was all good fun.
Soon The Pit became packed, it was time for You Me At Six (10/10). You have no idea how excited I was, I have been waiting for them to rise from the dead for over a year now. As Josh Franceschi promised it was a set where they would play a lot of the songs that we already knew, they opened with with “Room To Breathe” going straight into “Loverboy” and playing fan favourites like “Underdog” and closing with “Bite My Tongue”, it was an unforgettable set which confirmed to them how much they had been missed over the year. They also played new single “Night People” and “Plus One”, also a new song off their upcoming album. It was everything I could ever hope for and I’m so excited that they are now back. I’ll see you guys in October in Leeds!
Heading over to the main stage in order to get a good spot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers later on I got to watch Manchester band The Courteeners (8/10) at my friends request. I already knew of them but I had no idea what to expect, but I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Playing a set of upbeat rock songs that seemed to put everyone in a good mood, and now knowing that a year ago they held a major hometown gig at Heaton Park which sold out in under an hour, I can definitely see why they’re so popular. However it was around this time that there were warning signs of what would happen later on; every so often there would be a random surge of people pushing forward that would get worse each time, I was struggling to breathe at some points.
But before things got too bad I was able to enjoy Imagine Dragons (9/10) I was able to see them last year in Leeds on their Smoke + Mirrors Tour, I loved them back then and they certainly didn’t let me down whatsoever this time around. All I can say is that they were absolutely amazing, everyone was just having the time of their lives and were singing along to every word, frontman Dan Reynolds just knew how to work the crowd and went so far as to claim that Leeds and Reading is the best festival in the world (yes man!). Their set was similar to their show in Leeds last year and they even played my favourite song “I’m So Sorry” which I was so happy about, in fact the only thing I can criticise about their show was how no one was bouncing around during “I Bet My Life”, oh, and the idiots at the back who kept pushing surges of people forward, like what are you doing?! Seriously.
Soon everyone was waiting for the final headliner of the weekend; Red Hot Chilli Peppers (7/10). However, like I just mentioned with the surge of people pushing forward, it got really bad, I could barely breathe, my friend and I were originally 4th/5th row but we had to leave due to how inconsiderate people in the crowd. So I’d like to thank the inconsiderate dicks who didn’t seem to care about other people’s welfare, I hope that you’re satisfied. But anyway, regardless of that I did enjoy their set. RHCP have been going on for three decades now, that night they proved they still had it in them and they are far away from throwing in the towel. Anthony Kledis proved to be the ever charismatic frontman and bassist, Flea, talked about his Yorkshire heritage (aye!). A setlist filled with classics such as “Bridge Under Water” and “By The Way” along with new songs from recent album, “The Getaway”, such as “Dark Necessities” it was an unforgettable night for all. I will admit that I’m not a major fan of RHCP so I didn’t know all of their songs but I’m grateful that I got to see them, I mean they’re such legends. They finished their set with an encore of “Goodbye Angels” and “Give It Away” leaving everyone on a high as the Leeds Fest weekend came to a close.
So that’s it for this year, only 359 days to go until next year! Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and recover from post-festival flu. See you guys next time!