Last weekend I was lucky enough to go Leeds Festival to photograph for our wonderful friends at Safety in Sound (whose full review of the festival will be up in the coming days) and I took a whole heap of notes about bands that impressed me and things which got right on my moobs. So in what is likely to become a new feature here on  radio here’s my own personal wish list of things that I loved and hated about Leeds Festival 2014:
Alex Turner’s On Stage Alter-Ego – After Arctic Monkey’s headline set at Glasto this year Alex Turner took a fair amount of shit from the keyboard warriors of the internet, who accused him of talking in an American accent and being inauthentic, and I thought this was spectacularly unfair. Since the early days of the bands success Turner was obviously fairly shy – evidence of which can be found in regularity in which drummer Helder’s often does interviews – so I find it only logical that he’d want to don some form of mask or onstage alter-ego to combat this. In Turner’s case it’s a smooth talkin’, snake hipped lothario/drag queen who pulls the sort of shapes on stage that are enough to make any man hetro-man consider his sexuality.
Hayley fucking Williams. – After (finally) getting on board the Paramore bandwagon after the release of Ain’t It Fun and Part 2 from their latest album, I was fairly jazzed to watch Paramore’s headline set at Leeds and I have to say that goddess of emocute AKA Hayley Williams did not disappoint me. Free of the power failures which obviously hindered their performance at Reading, Paramore’s pop-punk set was entertaining and poignant. After the split which nearly broke the band entirely, you can tell it means a lot to the trio to have reach headliner status and even though things got a little preachy at times, this 33-year-old bearded cynic got swept along with the fun. I guess the my inner hipster will have to go cryin’ to his momma because it just takes too much energy to hate on Paramore; when it’s far more rewarding to just shout “take it to church Jeremy!”
The Circa Waves as the next big thing – Having only heard (and really liked) one track of Circa Waves before seeing them play, I approached their mid-afternoon set with fairly low expectations. Like most new bands still finding their audience this young band from Liverpool were tucked away on the Festival Republic stage, but it’s fair to say they won’t remain there for long. From the moment lead singer Keiran Shuddall walked onstage wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the cover of The Pains of Being Pure at Hearts debut album they had my attention. Their breathless set full of catchy indie-pop soon-to-be chart topping singles had the ferocity of early strokes, the British sound of Marr’s Smith’s era guitar work and the sort of chorus that would make a drums fan swoon. Add in Shuddall ability to turn everyday phrases – “My hands are tied,” – into something meaningful – “tied to you” – and you have the makings of a 2015 NME tent headliner.
The Toilets in Guest Camping – Normally the worst thing about going o a large festival like Leeds is that after like 0.005 seconds of the site being open the bogs look like something out of a Vietnam war movie “OH THE HORROR!” Whilst for fellows like me this doesn’t present too much of a problem when doing a number one, it rarely fills you with confidence when you need to doo a dooosie of an alcopoop fuelled twosie. So once again I’d like to thank the good folks at the Zeitgeist agency for not only my (SMUGNESS ALERT) guest camping, but the press area and all of the perks – like immaculate toilets – that go along with it.
Blink 182 not being shit – Having seen Blink on a few occasions before and even more times on the Telly they have never once impressed me with their live show until this years Leeds festival were they sounded great in more ways than one. Let me explain a little further, the thing that tends to annoy me about Reading & Leeds penchant for booking bands to fill their “legend” slot is that normally the groups in question broke up because they couldn’t stand the site of each other, but in Blinks case that couldn’t further from the truth. Onstage the trio are as pally and idiotic as ever; topics of banter rarely shift off subjects such as poo, willies, boobs and sex, making a refreshing change from the current generation of pop-punkers who all seem determined to take themselves so seriously.
Charlatan bands – I’m not referring to bands who love a bit of Brit-pop here, more bands whose music sells themselves as one thing but their live act is completely different. Step (pun intended) forward Vampire Weekend and Chvrches, who despite having the sort of music that makes you want to shake your money maker both delivered live performances that can only be described as functional and a bit dull. Must do better!
White Dancin’ – At the rip old age of the 33, I already consider myself to be a little old for the R&L festival and so tend to watch bands incognito; appreciating from afar and, if I can, heading home each night to a comfy pair of slippers and a shower. However, some middle agers seem determined to reconnect with their youth, which in itself isn’t such a bad thing but OH MY GOD their dancing has to cease. As the worst offenders I filmed these two myself and found my attention being taken up by their Britain’s Got Talent audition stage shitness. Please leave this sort of cringe inducing behaviour to Alan Partridge and Larry David.
Rabid homophobia during Simon Amstell’s set – As a bit of mid-afternoon break, I decided to take in the comedy of Simon Amstell and grab a few laughs whilst resting my welly worn feet. As a fan of Grandma’s House and his stand-up work I had an idea of what to expect from his set – sarcasm, ego, sex and awkwardness – but I didn’t predict what should have come as no surprise really. When Amstell starting taking about his male on male sex fantasies, which included descriptions of naked men lube, blow jobs and other such activities, there was a bit of an exodus from the tent. For fuck sake Leeds, are we really still so uncomfortable with hearing about about gay sex? Haven’t the storylines involving Ste and Jean-Paul in Hollyoaks or Maxi in Skins made you realise that you won’t turn gay if you happen to hear or see anything involved gay love? It would seem not.
Black Guide Ropes – On my own personal blogsite (on which I talk trash about things other than music) I’ve reviewed the Lazy Campers tents which were kindly provided to me for free by the company, which was great. I don’t want to sound like a spoilt brat but the fact that the bugger has black guide ropes means that any pissed passers by at stupid o’clock in the morning are going to fall onto your tent and after the fifth time it happens creates a tension that makes a good night’s sleep fairly unlikely.
Waaaaaay too Short Shorts – Last, but by no means least on my Leeds festival hate list are girls that wear waaaaaaay too short shorts. I don’t wanna be the fashion police (although it would kinda be fun to take part in that programme) but girls/ladies/females/women I know denim shorts are ‘in’ and as a strong independent woman you can wear whatever you like, is it too much to have a little more class and a little less arse showing?