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Review: Leeds Festival 2015

Carrie Humphries


I often treat music festivals much like a sampling platter. Wandering around the various stages, checking out both new and old acts alike makes for an extremely enjoyable weekend, and it can often influence my gig choices in the future based on what I have seen. This is something that I fully took advantage of at this year’s Leeds Festival.

After an eventful Friday morning queueing for bag search and getting drenched through while setting up the tent, the sun came out in time to dry off and catch some damned great bands on the smaller stages. I have been following Bristol-based band Coasts since hearing their gorgeous track Oceans earlier in the year, and was happy to catch them on the Festival Republic stage that day. Their appearance clashed slightly with another set in a similar electronic indie-pop vein; Years & Years, who were playing on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. After popping over their for some of Years & Years’ set, I came to the conclusion that Coasts were putting on a much more interesting show and resorted back to see the end of their rather impressive performance.

Bury Tomorrow and We Are The Ocean are two bands who I have both seen and talked about quite a lot this year; but they are fun and I always enjoy watching them! Bury Tomorrow put on a brutally heavy and frenzied show in the Pit, which saw all round lovely front man Dani Winter-Bates encouraging the audience to cause chaos through circle pits and crowd surfing. Whereas, We Are The Ocean, put on a slightly tamer, but equally as fun and energetic show on the Festival Republic stage.

The final couple of acts that I caught on Friday were also on Festival Republic; Little Comets and Frank Turner. Although Little Comets’ live set was a little disappointing and somehow lacked the sparkle of their indie-pop music on record, Frank Turner’s solo set was enigmatic and charming as he performed stripped back versions of tracks from latest release Positive Songs For Negative People along with older gems. The magic about a Frank Turner show is that somehow you feel like it’s personal and intimate, even if there are thousands of people in the room. This seemed like a lovely way to end the night, so I resorted back to my tent.

After an early awakening on Saturday, I grabbed a delicious breakfast toastie in the village and was handed a flyer by a lovely man called Gareth who recommended that I went to see his band. I liked this personal touch, so I ended up going to the Festival Republic stage and watching Hunter & The Bear, and I was blown away. Their powerful country rock performance could have full well given the headliners for that night; Mumford and Sons, a run for their money. Next up, I watched Echosmith on the NME/Radio 1 stage who I’ve wanted to see since hearing Cool Kids for the first time last year. Although they are very young, they put on a polished performance with all the maturity of bands twice their age.

Panic! At The Disco are a band who rocked my latter teenage years, but I have never seen live; so I took the opportunity to watch their set on the Main stage. As they played old favourites such as Time To Dance and I Write Sins Not Tragedies along with newer songs, I was rather impressed; but perhaps the most impressive moment from the set was when front man Brendan Urie managed to pull off some Freddie Mercury-esque vocals while covering Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I followed this up by jumping around another favourite; Don Broco, back on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. As usual, their set was packed full of bouncy energy that makes it very difficult not to smile.

The pleasant surprise of the day came from Limp Bizkit on the NME/Radio 1 stage. Yes; Limp Bizkit. As a band who I always saw as very much love/hate as a teenager (and admittedly, I was in the hate camp), I was somehow drawn in to the NME/Radio 1 tent for their set and strangely enjoyed it! As Fred Durst yelled that he was going to make people “party like it was 1999” and launched into hits such as Rollin’, it was difficult not to enjoy with the party atmosphere in the air. With a hankering for yet more reminiscence, I ended the night at The Lock Up Stage watching yet another band from my teenage years; New Found Glory.

After late night partying around the festival site; some laid back sounds were just what everyone needed to ease them into the final day of Leeds Festival. For me, these came in the form of Walking on Cars on the Festival Republic stage. It seems very difficult to have gone anywhere in the last few months without hearing the beautiful anthem that is Walking on Cars’ Catch Me If You Can, and from their set at Leeds it seems that they have plenty more catchy folk-infused songs ready for everyone to hear. By the time Walking on Cars’ set was over, there were excited whispers escalating around the festival site; a band was playing a secret set in the NME/Radio 1 tent. That band turned out be the magnificent Foals; who had released their new album What Went Down that weekend.

Call me uneducated, but my first thought when people were getting excited about Alexisonfire‘s reunion earlier in the year was ‘Who are they?’ Of course, I had heard of the band, but I didn’t know any of their songs, and I didn’t have a clue why everyone was so excited about their reunion. Luckily I was talked into watching them on the Main Stage and it turns out that they are a Canadian post-hardcore band who put on one hell of a crazy show. Although I couldn’t appreciate their performance anywhere near as much as their super fans; I certainly enjoyed their ballsy, in your face set; especially when front man George Pettit crowd surfed in a rubber dingy. I followed this up with two brilliant performances from a couple of my favourite female fronted acts at the moment; Wolf Alice and Pvris.

After enjoying Alexisonfire so much earlier in the day, I was feeling open to suggestions; so when another friend mentioned that they wanted to see Swedish heavy metallers Ghost, I decided to tag along. I was glad that I did, as their show was littered with dark theatrics that verged on a supernatural experience to watch. The set that I watched afterwards in the NME/Radio 1 tent was quite the opposite, as Twin Atlantic put on a bright and bouncy performance to celebrate the end of their touring cycle for their album Great Divide. It was quite the party, and I felt the utmost joy as I sang along to favourites such as Heart and Soul and Brothers and Sisters. As streamers and balloons fell at the end of their set, I felt that it would’ve been the perfect way to round off Leeds Festival, but I still had one last act to see before I went home; Metallica. The metal legends closed Leeds with a bang playing classics such as Master of Puppets, Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters, accompanied by a stunning pyrotechnic and laser show.