Last week, Clash made our annual pilgrimage to Leeds festival.
Just one half of the yearly Reading and Leeds weekender, this year's bill prompted all manner of controversy, with some older - but definitely not wiser - heads arguing that it has strayed too far from its roots.
Yet with such riches on offer, Reading and Leeds remains closer to your average 15 year old's Spotify playlist than most events on the summer calendar.
Here’s our thoughts on what happened.
Leeds and Reading is the most diverse festival in the UK...
We’ve always admired European festivals for their varied line-ups. For instance this year you could catch Watain and Arctic Monkeys on the same day at Primavera. Or you could bounce between Eminem, Oh Sees and Four Tet at Roskilde.
Leeds and Reading are the closest thing in the UK we have to that sort of crazy scheduling. There’s always someone moaning that the festival has shifted away from its rock roots on social media and while that’s true, every year Leeds and Reading pull together a line-up that caters for pretty much everyone's palette. Where else can you catch metal, grime, indie, pop, dance and everything else inbetween?
Frank Carter is an architect of the mosh pit...
“Five minutes, that’s all we’ve got, five minutes” screams Frank Carter as he bounces onto the stage for The Rattlesnakes’ secret set. Of course the band play for longer than five minutes but it feels like it passes in the blink of an eye as they tear through monsters like ‘Juggernaut’, ‘Devil Inside Me’ and ‘Lullaby’. Those absolute pit beaters have taken the band to much bigger stages than this but right here, in a cramped tent in the heart of pandemonium do you get the full spit-in-the-face Frank Carter experience.
The highlight though comes when he orders a circle pit to plow out the left of the tent, round the outside and back in through the right side. When it starts to chuck it down in the middle of it however, Frank changes his mind. “Get back in here,” he orders. “It’s raining.” Awww what a thoughtful guy.
Grime and hip-hop are the future of this festival...
All weekend, rappers draw consistently big and enthusiastic crowds. London MC AJ Tracey packs out the tent with a rowdy crowd, Ocean Wisdom is a tongue-twisting highlight and rising star Suspect, delivers a dark and bassy set that includes the nightmarish ‘Say It With Your Chest’ and ‘One Way’, his collaboration with Skepta and Jesse James Solomon.
Sadly not everyone is as captivating. Lil Pump is loud, brash and cartoonish and his music is designed to rev hype like a chainsaw. It’s a shame then that his performance is so disappointing and lazy, letting a backing track do most of the work.
Over on the main stage however, Travis Scott fares better, bringing one hell of a visual show, and although his auto-tuned vocals feel hollow and lacking in emotion, he makes up for it with an energy that’s mirrored by the huge throng in front of him.
Fall Out Boy look bored shitless...
Fall Out Boy can drag choruses out from places there shouldn’t be choruses. After 17 years and seven albums, their shows are a case of turning to your mate and shouting, “I forgot this was Fall Out Boy!?”
The angsty electro-pop of ‘Last Of The Real Ones’ and emo-tastic ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ are stormers from recent album ‘Mania’ that solidify their headliner status and alongside the anthemia, they’ve got an eye popping visual display and Pete Wentz has got a flame throwing bass for God's sake.
So why do they look so bored? Only vocalist Patrick Stump looks like he’s actually enjoying the experience. Otherwise, there’s zero interaction between the band members, the usually bubbly Wentz doesn’t smile once and guitarist Joe Trohman looks like he’d rather be anywhere else.
Fall Out Boy’s music is loads of fun - their cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ deserves a special mention for its silliness - but when the band look like they’re going through the motions, it’s a buzz killer.
Slaves are future headliners...
Their shows in November, ending with a huge gig at London’s Ally Pally will be the test of this of course, but Slaves already look like seasoned headliners. The first time Clash saw Laurie and Isaac at Leeds, it was back in 2014 and they were making a steel toe-capped racket in front of a small throng in the Pit tent.
This weekend though, they draw one of the biggest crowds for a guitar-based band. The daftness of ‘Cheer Up London’ and ‘Feed The Mantaray’ balances out the seething anger of ‘Beauty Quest’ and new tracks ‘Photo Opportunity’ and ‘Chokehold’ spark massive sing-a-longs.
We predict Bring Me The Horizon will headline next year...
While we’re on the subject of headliners… Bring Me The Horizon’s secret set was proof that the Sheffield lads are now 100% ready to take the top spot at these festivals.
To be honest, they probably could have done it off the back of 2015’s electronic-led ‘That’s The Spirit’, but following the release of new single ‘Mantra’, which they open with and send everyone bonkers, there’s no question of their capability now.
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Words: Dannii Leivers
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