Leeds Festival, it’s never going to be the warmest festival and it is usually overshadowed by Reading. However, armed with a few layers of thermals, Impact sought out the charms of the festival located in a field just off the M62. There is little disagreement that Arctic Monkeys stole the show, performing in their home county, with Alex Turner sporting the iconic Yorkshire white rose. However, alongside the Arctic Monkeys, Leeds Fest could boast a spectacular line up. Here are a few you may have missed…
The Glaswegian quartet deafened the Saturday afternoon crowd with their energetic opener, ‘I Am An Animal’. The song had a Biffy Clyro likeness, it was not just the two band’s Gaelic connection. The confidence and ease of Twin Atlantic’s performance could have been as much at home on the main stage (where Biffy Clyro played a year earlier). By their second song the NME Tent was crammed full of hungover festival goers ready to start Day Two on a high. Frontman, Sam McTrusty’s thick Scottish accent shouted anthemic lines over the sound of three screeching guitars. Their latest single ‘Brothers and Sisters’ from Great Divide, their third album (out this week) was met with a crazy fanatic reception. The crowds drowned the sound of the band by chanting back the lyrics.
Penguin caught up with Twin Atlantic after their outstanding Leeds show and shared their more intimate show with Impact.
Since releasing their debut album Sun Structures, Temples have had an insane Summer. After being featured on Coachella’s line up poster among some ridiculous names, Leeds Fest can only be a step down. No matter, the boys didn’t treat rainy Yorkshire any different to their California fans. They played with their same nonchalant cool demeanour that the people of Cochella received. James Bagshaw’s vocals sound like a strange sultry moan. His lyrics aren’t said with much force nor passion, just a matter of fact tone. This works well as the three strings are given more limelight. The spangled psychedelic sounds aren’t really sing along tracks. They’re more enjoyed with a cold beer, sun and an occasional nod. That seemed to suit the laid back afternoon crowd of Leeds just fine.
Catching Crybabycry at Leeds Festival can only have happened serendipitously. The band are very much unheard of and played a daytime slot on BBC’s introducing stage. However, if you did perchance pass at this particular time, Crybabycry were hard to miss and even harder to merely walk past. The soulful, bluesy guitars lulled some beautiful intros, this quickly turned into energy packed choruses with frenzied drum beats from female drummer Nici Todd. The bass and lead guitars played pass the parcel between Jonny Firth and Rosie Doonan, both displaying their undeniable talents. The two also took turns in leading the vocals. This mixture of band dynamics created a unique set, leaving the continuously growing crowd stunned.
Band Of Skulls
Having never listened to much of Band of Skulls I had no real expectations. Twenty minutes in to the set I had learnt something very new about myself: Band of Skulls are my all time favourite band live. The three looked the ‘Rock N Roll’ part, donning cowboy boots, leather jackets and block fringes. Their Southern blues sounded the ‘Rock N Roll’ part too. Singer-guitarist Russell Marsden broke into skilled, riffs, creating fuzzy feed back by huddling close to the amps. Over the musical commotion bassist, Emma Richard harmonised with Marsden’s raw, gruff vocals. The entire set exuberated energy. The light show was hyperactive, the crowd was electric, encouraged by the band who zig-zagged across the stage. ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ and ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ made a spectacular ending for the hundreds of chanting fans packed into the Festival Republic Stage.
The Brighton duo that make up Royal Blood could not have anticipated that their 2 o’clock afternoon slot would be jam packed. Impact certainly didn’t when we showed up 10 minutes before the band were due to play and still had to stand outside the tent watching the set from a big screen. The unexpected interest in Royal Blood could have been due to the release of ‘Figure It Out’, the single from their self titled debut album – out today! It could have been from Arctic Monkey’s support, Alex Turner wore a Royal Blood t-shirt during his 2o13 Glasto set. Radio 1 could have had a part to play by hyping them up religiously on their drive time shows. Whatever the reason, Royal Blood are the newest buzz and this felt very present at Leeds Festival. ‘Hole’ was blasted from the amps accompanied by Ben Thatcher’s furious drumming as their opening song. The boys retained an extraordinary level of skill and concentration throughout the set, they could really play their instruments. When they did look up from their task, lead singer and guitarist, Mike Kerr looked genuinely surprised to have people singing along. In disbelief he shouted down the mic: “I can’t say what it means to see so many fucking people here man, what the fuck?”
Their last song ‘Out of the Black’ was insane. Kerr cranked up the volume for some heavy guitar riffs followed by a lot of feed back. Thatcher abandoned his drum kit to join the frenzied crowd. This is the point where the sound techs cut them off, to the disappointment of the growing mosh pits. This could have been Royal Blood’s rock star moment but was quickly transformed to a booing crowd (presumably towards the sound technicians not the band).
Hozier, best known for his single ‘Take Me To Church’, is still relatively unknown. Unfortunately the majority of Leeds Fest was unaware of what was happening at 5.00 in the Festival Republic Stage. Whilst many festival goers were probably eating their dinner from burger vans, Impact managed to shimmy to the front of Hozier’s performance.
The Irish singer was joined by a small band including an electronic cello. Andrew Hozier-Byrne looked quite daunted about playing a large stage having played a lot of small festivals this Summer. Luckily, his ethereal vocals carried through one of Leeds’ bigger tents. The drumming was particularly restrained adding only a pitter patter to Hozier’s tracks. The cello and female backing vocals produced the opposite effect. They contributed to soaring crescendos when the lively choruses came in, ‘From Eden’ was a favourite example of this. Hozier’s cover of Amerie’s ‘1 Thing’ would have sat comfortably on ‘The Best of Live Lounge’ compilation. The RnB song was completely transformed to a ghostly gospel eque cover. Hozier could not be accused of failing to give 100% effort, as he finished the gig by joining in the charity craze of tipping ice water over his head.
Keep posted for interviews from Leeds Festival including Circa Waves, Nico Vega and Wolf Alice and more…