Leeds Festival 2009
I’m sleep deprived, bored of the rain, my bank balance is low and my hearing is slightly impaired, this can only mean one thing: I’ve just experienced yet another Leeds festival. So as per usual let me inform you about all my shenanigans in the form of an not-as-informative-as-what-would-actually-be-of-use blog.
Due to work commitments my camping buddy couldn’t join me till the Friday evening allowing me to experience the utter joy of assembling and constructing a two man tent by myself. I’m aware there will be hundreds, nay, thousands of strong heterosexual males who are sniggering at my outdoor ineptitude and general disdain at the prospect of approaching such a task by myself and I have no excuse for this. Me and Ray Mears/Bear Grills were simply cut from different rolls of cloth, theirs: a rugged hessian mesh that is harsh on the skin but offers basic shelter necessary for survival and mine: a duvet. Anyhow, I wasn’t worried as I was aware that there were certain ‘camping buddies’ doing the rounds who were there to help me in my hour of need, this however soon became quite clear that it wasn’t going to be the case as these so called ‘camping buddies’ must have been informed by powers higher up in the hierarchy to only help attractive young females in denim shorts and big sunglasses and unfortunately for me I was only fulfilling one of these two prerequisites.
Anyhoo, after my herculean effort of erecting my shelter for the weekend I caught up with some old friends and planned my weekend ahead…
You can listen to all the songs I mention on this nifty little Spotify playlist here
After being tipped off by good old Fake DIY I chose to start my weekend by taking in the first ever Mariachi band to take to the Leeds festival stage in the form of Mariachi El Bronx, side project of Califronian quintet The Bronx and what a lovely way to start the weekend it was. ‘Cellmates’ (Spotify) being the highlight of a set perfect for the brief glimpse of sunshine that decided to grace the north fondly at that moment.
After that it was onwards to an artist that I’m confident will be climbing up the festival bills over the next couple of years: Delphic. These guys are getting a helluva lot of kudos from all areas of the industry at the moment and with songs like ‘This Momentary’ and the staggeringly good ‘Counterpoint’ (Spotify) under their belt it’s not hard to see why. Definitely ones to catch live if you get the opportunity.
Down to the Festival Republic stage next for a strong set by Newcastle’s up and comers Detroit Social Club who have some good people behind them so expect them to be raising their profile in the near future. Check out ‘Sunshine People’ (Spotify). Following them were Sentric’s favourites Baddies showcasing new songs from their debut album ‘Do The Job’ including the fantastic new single ‘Open One Eye’ (YouTube). These guys are touring like it’s going out of fashion so you’ve no real excuse to let them pass you by and after teaming up with the brilliant MusicGlue they’ve built up a rather nifty fan base within mainland Europe. The lead singer gallops around the stage with eyes crazier than your drunken great uncle at a second cousins wedding (you know that one I mean) and such enigmatic showmanship is whets giving them their well earned reputation on the live circuit. Lovely stuff.
After receiving a text the previous day from a music journo friend of mine asking “what’s that gap about on the NME/Radio 1 Stage between Patrick Wolf and You Me At Six?” I set off asking a few people who I know are in the know about these things and very shortly a friend of mine who knows someone who is in the know and therefore became in the know himself let me in on it to hence thus making me in the know. You know? Anyway, turns out it was the new Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones super group ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ and golly gosh was I excited about seeing them. I’m a rather big fan of all three bands (Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin for those who inexplicably don’t know) so knocking them all together on stage and seeing what comes out was an experiment I was happy to witness. It was quite simply balls out rock and roll leaning towards Queen of the Stone Age out of the three influences which, for me, was the best possible outcome. If they were to write music that sounded like the Foo’s or Led Zep I’d believe it would be too easily criticised and passed off as pastiche where as with Homme’s dark riffs, quirky time signatures and haunting vocal style it makes it unique enough to be accepted as original. Also, it might hopefully mean a whole new generation of Queen’s fans are born which is the least they deserve for being so bloody good.
From the sublime to the ridiculous; Ian Brown. Give it a rest Ian, eh? He managed to make one of the best indie songs of the past decade, F.E.A.R (Spotify), sound horrendous with his nothing short of indolent delivery. Everybody likes to reminisce and the majority of the crowd bopping along to Fools Gold will have no doubt been trying their best to day dream about their youth in dirty nightclubs off their faces on cheap whizz, but it’s hard to dream when you have a Mancunian so dangerously affected by past drug use mumbling into a microphone over the top of your hazy memories.
My misplaced anger at Mr Brown was soon dispersed anyhow when the delightful Maximo Park took the stage. Regular readers will now how much I care for the Geordies so I won’t bore you with that again but I have added the brilliant ‘Books From Boxes’ onto the playlist (Spotify). I will however regale you with a tale of the rather drunken woman set on ruining my singalong. That’s right, I’m a singer. If I’m at a gig and I know the words of a song I enjoy then I’ll be dammed if I don’t half belt it out as well and I make no excuse for this. I consider others around me: I always stand near the speakers so it’s good and loud to drown out my warbling and I always direct my voice up in the air rather than at the person in front of me because I’m a considerate human being who realises that not everyone wants to hear their favourite artists songs sung with a slightly northern twinge.
During one of my numbers this said woman looked at me, shrugged and mouthed the words “Who’s this?” at me. I duly ignored her. Twice more this happened out of the corner of my eye until she actually wandered over to me and asked aloud a matter of inches from my ear, apparently oblivious to the fact I was singing a full volume. I cracked, shouted “MAXIMO PARK! IT SAYS THEIR NAME IN MASSIVE LETTERS ON THE STAGE!” and continued singing, the transition of singing to shouting was so fluid it might have actually been part of the song. Anyhow, to cut a long story short this woman then told me Leeds wasn’t as good as V festival for two reasons; firstly I was informed the weather in V the previous week was scorching, when questioned how the current meteorological status of the festival was anything to do with the good folk of Festival Republic, she took a pregnant pause, decided to ignore the question and went on to point number two which was the fact that Leeds festival’s crowed apparently resembles that of a student union bar. She continued to emphasise her personal age related crisis by presenting the field to me with a sweep of her arms repeating the phrase “student union bar” on several more occasions. I made a swift departure.
I had to go fetch my camping buddy at this point so I missed out on The Prodigy unfortunately but I made sure I had my place for my hometown comrades The Arctic Monkeys. It’s been widely said that their third album (Humbug) is one that will alienate casual fans and if you were to couple that statement with this set list then they obviously only wanted to keep the diehard fans happy. A strange set list all things considered that included a large number of news songs, a Nick Cave cover and was missing in quite a few obvious festival pleasers. I didn’t mind however as I do fall into the diehard category mentioned previously so I was thoroughly impressed although I have only two criticisms. The finale of the brilliant 505 (Spotify) was rather flat and not delivered with the power and emotion it has been when I’ve seen it in the past and also, Jamie Cook really needs a haircut.
After failing to sleep on Friday night the first few bands on Saturday were always going to have their work cut out to impress me and it’s fair to say that Kids In Glass Houses probably weren’t the band I should have started with. I’m a fan of the energetic Welshman and their album Smart Casual was frequently on my stereo last summer but a lack of new material and a poor vocal performance from the singer left me a bit cold. I still sang along to Raise Hell (Spotify) though.
Noah and the Whale were up next and usually I’d have cleared off to see something a bit less whimsical but I was convinced by my camping buddy otherwise to stick around as he assured me the new album The First Days Of Spring had a few highlights on there. One such highlight is the beautiful ‘Blue Skies’ (Spotify) regarding his break up with Laura Marling which contains the rather cutting lyric “This is the last song that I write while still in love with you, this is the last song that I write while you’re even on my mind”. A rather fantastic song which is so far removed from the chirpiness of ‘5 Years Time’ you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for another artist entirely. The fact the set list didn’t include said summertime hit yet the audience didn’t demand it is a positive reflection on the strength of their new material. Oh heartbreak, it doesn’t half bring out the best in songwriters does it?
I then went to see much hyped The XX. They bored me. Too much hype methinks.
If you ever find yourself awake for 30 odd hours and you need perking up then ask the doctor of life to prescribe you a ticket to see Frank Turner. Easily one of the highlights of my weekend he played the majority of my favourites from his Love Ire and Song album including the moving ‘Long Live The Queen’ (Spotify) which tells the story of a close friend of his dying of cancer yet still makes you smile somehow. He seemed quite moved at the reception he received and the sizable crowd that came to watch him and sing-along at most tracks. His new album is out soon and he’s touring in October, I thoroughly recommend you go check him out. I can almost guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face.
Sentric Music’s very own Grammatics were up next with their new drummer tapping away on the skins. An accomplished set as ever from the Leeds quartet as they gear up for their biggest excursion to date supporting Bloc Party on their Bloctober tour. Hopefully if the hoards catch the set closer of ‘Relentless Fours’ (Spotify) at the bare minimum they should gain plenty of new fans. Their new material is also sounding strong with the new single ‘Double Negative’ merging the beatboxing of pop, guitar strumming of shoegazing and screaming of metal together to produce something rather wonderful.
I then went for a sleep.
Radiohead underwhelmed me somewhat when I caught them for the first time last year and they were up to their self indulgent ways again playing a very unfriendly festival set. A few hits at the end (including Just (Spotify)) were lost in an array of album tracks that although were easy to appreciate didn’t get the crowd going whatsoever, so much so that with every song they played, people were chipping off when they didn’t recognise the first 8 bars. One lady was so frustrated at this she even shouted “PLAY A F*****G GOOD SONG” at quite volume a few tracks before the encore vocalising what all us casual fans were humbly thinking. It was the quietest I’ve personally ever seen the main stage at Leeds festival after all the years I’ve attended which begs the question to be asked; would it have been so quiet if they had played more hits? Or do the young dwellers of Leeds festival simply not care about Yorke and co? If you are 18 then Kid A came out when you were 11, OK Computer at 8, The Bends at 6 and Pablo Honey at 4 so maybe their festival headlining days are gone?
Sentric’s very own Middleman started the final day playing to a home crowd of people secreting wanting to go home already. Not because of the music of course, simply because deep down, no one likes camping regardless of what they say. Middleman are a great band that sound something like The Streets, Pendulum and Klaxons fighting over who’s turn it is to have a go on the Moog. It was the single ‘Good To Be Back’ (Spotify) that produced the best reaction and hopefully some new material of a similar ilk will be on its way soon.
A lovely set from Middleman’s friends followed as Milk White White Teeth took to the BBC Introducing stage. Some lovely musicianship followed and with a bit of work on the harmonies they could become a stand out live act on the northern unsigned scene.
I couldn’t have timed my arrival at the Festival Republic stage any better if I tried as the Temper Trap began their brilliant rendition of ‘Sweet Disposition’ (Spotify) just as I entered the tent. And then naturally, once they finished that song, I buggered off with the rest of the tent who must have also heard the rest of the substandard album.
It was then time to finish the festival with a flurry as three of my current favourite artists were following one another with Florence and the Machine starting this musical ménage a trois. The NME/Radio 1 tent probably never saw a crowd quite like it all weekend as masses of fans came to hear here perform tracks of her Mercury nominated album. Rewind this time last year and I could have comfortably rotated a feline in the Festival Republic tent where she played in 08 and I also wouldn’t have had the gaggle of 16 year old girls stood directly behind me screaming their little faces off and singing out of tune at the top of their voices (they didn’t obey any of the previous rules I mentioned regarding sing-along etiquette, where are these kids brought up? It’s almost as bad as knife crime). There is no two ways about it: Florence Welch can sing. I mean really sing. Tracks such as ‘Between Two Lungs’ and her self confessed favourite ‘Cosmic Love’ (Spotify) exhibit it’s beauty and power astonishingly. I know of some who’ve almost avoided her due to the hype she’s received but the fact of the matter is sometimes hype is there for a reason; this woman has downright talent. If you’re a fan of music; you will (or at least should) appreciate the album.
Friendly Fires were next up bringing their much needed uplifting tribal rhythms to a tired festival crowd. These guys are simply a carnival on a stage and although the tracks have been doing the rounds for quite a while now no one seems to be getting bored of them any time soon. And in all fairness how could you get bored with something as downright funky as ‘Skeleton Boy’ (Spotify)?
And to finish, the mighty Kings Of Leon. I’d heard from outside sources that they’d walked off stage at Reading a couple of days previous, but I think on every single occasion when I’ve seen KoL there has always been rumours off them pulling out before the night itself so I didn’t let it worry me too much. Again, regular readers will know of my fondness for these guys so I won’t harp on too much about it but I will compliment one thing – his voice. The sound that man makes packs so much emotion in a single line that most artists managed to do in their whole set the entire weekend with the chorus of ‘Be Somebody’ (Spotify) being a prime example. A headlining performance worthy of the headlining slot, let’s hope album number five comes before they fall out for good.
What I’m listening to this week: the Spotify playlist I made of all the tracks mentioned here of course, and Minnaars.
What I’m reading this week: I’m trying to complete a full Guardian crossword by myself before the end of the year. I’ll keep you updated.
~ by Sentric on September 3, 2009.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tags: arctic monkeys, baddies, detroit social club, florence and the machine, frank turner, friendly fires, grammatics, ian brown, kids in glass houses, kings of leon, Leeds, mariachi el bronx, maximo park, middleman, milk white white teeth, minnaars, noah and the whale, Radiohead, temper trap, the xx, them crooked vultures