Leeds Festival 2011; A Documentation Of A Good Weekend.

Leeds Festival, a bringing together of people who enjoy the same kind of music and general fun banter.

Before you read this, remember that it’s a documentation, not a review. Well a review of my weekend so to speak.

I had arrived on the Thursday around 2pm into our already made camp, named Camp Floozy (soon to be renamed Camp Nollie) thanks to our friends (Early birds) already setting up tents and what not, so there was no hassle of trying to find spaces and what not.

Thursday, I would presume would be the day to settle down into your tents, make friends with neighbours and what not. When I arrived, I set my chair up with the rest of camp and just chilled in the current blazing sunshine. I had briefly spoke to the friendly local Leeds lads next to my tent. (I never did learn their names) However I did know they enjoyed banter, especially football banter between Derby County and Leeds United and also quoting 300 at a very loud pitch for everyone else to enjoy. ( I joined in, I admit). The night was very lack-luster however, through a full day of travelling I probably speak on behalf of everyone else at our camp, it had worn us out. I was genuinely gutted though as soon as I had gotten comfy in bed, Tek One took to the stage at the Piccadilly Party.

I must admit, before I say anything about the live bands, I never saw the headliners. Reasons being, I’ve never really listened to any of the headliners. I was more gutted about the fact that OFWGKTA had pulled out due to Tyler’s nomination for a VMA (which he won – Congratulations to him)

Friday. It had rained heavily through the night, and decided to continue it’s lashings of rain throughout the day, which made adventures up to The Village, into the arena much more fun. Friday was also the day where the first of the bands took to the stage. Admittedly I didn’t see many bands on this day, it was much more just chilling out, walking around in the mud of the arena and deciding which bands to see.

We went into the arena around noon considering none of us were in any rush to see any bands. We, being me, Amy and Ollie managed to see the last part of Taking Back Sunday, a band who I’ve enjoyed before during my phase of enjoying rock music more than anything. From what I saw, I thought the band were very good, however due to the pouring of the rain it made everything much more sadder. Overall, I would give the band a solid 6/10 for their performance. Frank Turner then took to the stage and certainly livened things up. With his lively style of music it had certainly changed the moods of the crowd. He was fantastic and played a great set and got everyone moving (me and Ollie had started grooving at this point) and he got everyone to join in in his singing, which was great for everyone in the crowd I found. A very strong performance from Frank Turner would definitely put him up there in my top acts of the weekend.

This is where things got a bit more depressing, as the rain intensified and no more bands really interested us. We tried to get into see Cage The Elephant, however everyone wanted cover causing the tent to be packed. So us doing the same took cover in the Festival Republic Stage where we saw the band ‘Fight Like Apes’. I would call this band a very disjointed techno nightmare. Of course, their fans will argue with me about that, but it’s my opinion. It was just a lot of techno mixed in with keyboard, guitar and drums. And with songs like ‘Lend Me Your Face’ it didn’t really take my fancy. We then left to go to the BBC Introducing Stage and waited for the next band.

And boy was it a shock. The rap collective of Murkage, shocked me and my comrades. The stage was set up with drums and a mixing deck and expecting just a DJ set, mixed with some drums we expected drum and bass. This was all blown away when four people ran onto the stage about a minute after the beat had started. Although their set was only around 15-20 minutes long it was definitely in my top 3 of Leeds purely because of the energy exploding out of them and that they put into their performance and also their interaction with the crowd and getting everyone to join in.

For me, I enjoy it more when a band not only plays songs, but also interacts with the crowd and get them involved.  Although catching possibly the last few songs of Interpol and relatively merry on £4 beer, I started to jive along to the sounds of Interpol. Who played a good set, however, Elbow (of the half hour I saw of them) were much better. The lead singer, Guy Garvey’s voice was unfaultable for me, as Elbow played a brilliant set that was just so moving for the crowd and so relaxing. I think I’d definitely be seeing them again. Unfortunately it had to be cut short, for an appointment with Mike Skinner, as The Streets took to the stage to play their last ever concert (bar Reading of course). For me, my Leeds highlight would be the Streets, because of Mike’s interaction with the crowd was fantastic, telling everyone to ‘get skanking to this tune’. Playing many Streets tracks new and old, he was certainly looking to put on a show that nobody would forget. Cliché I know, but Skinner went out with a bang for me. It’s just a shame he wasn’t headlining as I’m sure things would have gotten even more rowdy as Skinner tried to tell the Leeds crowd that he ‘came here to get rowdy’. It was certainly rowdy with a circle pit to ‘Going Through Hell’ with the vocals provided by Robert Harvey, who comically looks like Jonjo Shelvey (The Liverpool midfielder for the non-football fans out there). Google them, you’ll see what I mean.

Saturday morning was interesting considering I was woken up by someone preaching about Jesus and Gospel singing and of course people yelled abuse at him telling to go back to bed. Usually I would be pissed off, but it was quite hilarious purely because it would only happen at a festival! Saturday was more hectic band wise, as there was a period where I had run from main stage to NME tent, which takes a good 5 minutes walk considering the mud. (I had invested in wellies at this point) A bigger group of this us time went to see Architects. Considering two out of the seven of us were not really into their type of music they put on a great show, however due to the early time, the crowd was not very big for them. Then The Blackout took to the stage, and I did not enjoy their show at all. I have a picture that sums up my feelings towards their performance.

That is my friends finger, and it summed up all of our feelings towards this band. In reality, they were okay, it was just that guy (in the picture) revolted me. He spat on his own hand and licked it and on another occasion spat up and caught it again. It was quite sickening for me to watch.

After this, we disbanded as half of us wanted to see Bring Me The Horizon, and me and Elliot not being into their music headed for the NME tent to catch the end of Miles Kane, and Mona’s whole set. Mona was a band I’ve not heard of before, and after a really good live performance I am sure I will look forward to hearing more from them. I thoroughly their set because it was not what I expected (not as much as the shock from Murkage). I plan to listen to their album and finish my already good impression of Mona.

After Mona, The Naked and Famous entered on to the stage. This band were not even heard of this time last year and their first album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, made good reviews. They deserved a spot on the Reading and Leeds line up in my eyes. They impressed, however possibly due to their inexperience, not as much as the likes of Elbow and The Streets. As I said I prefer bands that interact with the crowds, unfortunately TNaF did not do this. But not to be a humbug, they were really good live, as I doubted whether they’d pull off the techno, which sounds so good on their album. With time, I believe that The Naked and Famous will be a fantastic band live, and they are definitely my ones to watch in the future.

Then it was a travel back to the main stage to meet my friend to rock to Rise Against, a band I have seen before and thought bloody brilliant, so I would have to see them again! They were just as good as the first time and Tim McIlgrath spoke about the recent riots in London and put his view across, which was greeted with cheers from the crowd. Rise Against have been known for their political views, as well as being active members in PETA, they include political messages in their videos, such as Prayer Of The Refugee and Make It Stop. Awaiting the Deftones I got very annoyed as some people were talking about/singing another band during the band and I was thinking why wouldn’t they go and see said band! (they were on at the same time) Deftones, although I hadn’t really listened to them, were fantastic live. A lot of energy and playing some songs that chilled my spine and terrific bass that rattled my teeth, they were definitely a great band to watch. I will probably (all being well) see this band again, of course after getting into them a bit more!

Here is where things got a bit tricky for me. As The Vaccines and The Offspring both clashed. And I’ve seen them both before. However, I opted for The Offspring with a bit of unease as last time I saw them play, they played a lot of their new songs, which was displeasing for me as I think (and probably others would agree) that their older music is much much better. That said, they played a great set which got everyone moving/bopping to the songs like Hit That, Pretty Fly (For A White Guy). Their set was very enjoyable for me and many others and their first impression live, was knocked out with the second time. (I always can see The Vaccines again too). This was night that that me Ollie and Elliot attended Piccadilly Party and resulted in me having a dance off with a man dressed in a flight suit. He won unfortunately, due to doing the worm in the mud (I for one didn’t fancy that). So kudos to him. In my intoxicated state, I also managed to teach some people my killer moves (somehow). Also I entered a mosh pit and got elbowed/punched in my jaw. That was fun, considering it killed for the next day. The party was fun in the end. I never did see those nice people again in which I had dance offs with.

I realise that I’ve not really offered anything to keep you entertained, but if you have made it this far, thank you and as it says on the tin, it’s a documentation of my weekend at Leeds. Although, thank you for reading this far.

Sunday called upon the departure of the early birders, because of the weather (even though it did brighten up when they left) which resulted in a rename of the camp. Thus Camp Nollie was born (Nathan + Ollie together incase you couldn’t work that out). Waking up around 8am for the fourth morning morning, we decided it’d be a main stage day above all else, as it was The Joy Formidable, Pigeon Detectives, Seasick Steve, Two Door Cinema Club and Madness. (Again not really interested in seeing the headliners). All were brilliant, aside from Two Door Cinema Club. There was something about their slot that didn’t appeal to me. It might be the fact that I don’t listen to them much and it was so cramped I was in a weird position. But due to our non-enjoyment of this we decided to go and get food and stand at the back ready for Madness.

Madness played a very enjoyable show where they played the classics, such as One Step Beyond, Night Boat to Cairo, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love. I got into a skanking pit at the back with my friends which was just so much fun. A good 20-30 people were in this pit and as much fun as it was, it was tiring. But the atmosphere for Madness was incredible, everyone was enjoying it, dancing and singing along. The Joy Formidable were also a fantastic band, considering that I had never listened to them before, where we saw the lead singer smash up her guitar in an extended session of their last song. Certainly making her place be known opening the Sunday on the main stage. Pigeon Detectives were another great band live, being from Leeds they were certainly looking out to do something special, their energy was brilliant and thoroughly entertaining. However, the highlight of the day was definitely Seasick Steve, a musician known for being a former homeless man and also a man who makes his own instruments, such as a guitar out of two morris minor hubcaps and a broomstick. His set introduced us to many of these instruments, such as his famous diddley bo and also shocked the crowd when former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones came onto the stage to jam with Steve. It was very enjoyable for myself and for the rest of the crowd, especially when he got a girl up onto the stage to sing a romantic song to her. He definitely played a set to remember, seeing as the drummer decided to destroy his cymbal. So with us leaving at the end of Madness it signalled mine and Ollie’s end of listening to the live bands and we left to go back to the camp and drink some beer and eat some more food.

Whilst our friends enjoyed The Strokes/Crystal Fighters me and Ollie had the pleasure of watching people destroy their tents and throw foods at other people’s tents. In which called upon the welcoming a stranger from a camp up from us, seeing as she was alone and trying to make a fire we decided to welcome her and share our warmth. She also offered me more to drink, containing the new already mixed stuff in a can (favourite being the malibu and cranberry juice drink). This is was at the point of the night where it started to get cold, so Jess (The new recruit to camp Nollie) and the rest of the camp that had returned decided to burn anything to help us stay warm. This resulted us in burning a suitcase that was not needed, plastic, food, chair. Anything. Admittedly it wasn’t our best idea afterwards considering it started to get out of hand so we had to get a water steward to contain it!

It was this warden that told us about a bonfire that was going to be lit in red camp, full of branches and what not, so we said our goodbyes to Jess and some of our camp decided to stay behind and four of us, me, Elliot, Jimmy and Ollie set off in hope of trying to find this bonfire. It was this adventure that got me in a slow motion sword fight with my makeshift staff with some Liverpudlian pirates. I lost one fight and came back to challenge them and won the other. We stood for a good hour talking to them. But when I say we, I was challenging random strangers to limbo under my staff with the help of a kind stranger and this cause some competitive edge from one of the Liverpudlian pirates and the now famous (in red camp) the Limbo King! Considering that we couldn’t actually find the bonfire we decided to make do and head off around The Village and we saw an rave tent. But it did not seem as though people were not enjoying themselves, instead we made friends with a tea lady who looked rather bored at 1am. (Making friends get you a free muffin) It was entertaining considering we tried to bring in some costumers (successfully may I add) and also the fact Jimmy and Elliot got pretty much stalked by a man who was either drunk, or really high off pills. Maybe it was both! However, he became very threatening towards us and even swung for Jimmy. Security did the correct thing and stepped in and took him to be evicted. Luckily, we didn’t see him after that. We were done with The Village so we decided to head back to Camp Nollie, but through blue camp and this is where we heard the story of the once famed Tent City!

Some people dragged us off the path to talk to us (friendly people, I liked that) and they told us about how their encampment once thrived of about 10 tents, but that night it was apparent that some had disbanded considering that there was only 3 tents there! The people that occupied tent city were very friendly, much more friendly than most people around Leeds, considering they were about fifth group of people who were friendly enough to talk to us!

Monday morning – This was probably the least fun day of festival considering I had gotten up at 8am and I had to wait until 1pm for the coach to actually leave. With the extreme wind that affected us, we were cold (Me less cold than others due to my awesome new sheepskin coat – £10 = Bargain!) The winds were that extreme we often saw tents flying off in the wind. Which brought on the jokes about that they were migrating to a better place and they would be back next year. I reckon that was one of them ‘You had to be there moments’ though. Eventually we packed up our things and left for bus. And that was that, the end of our Leeds Festival.

Highlights: Leeds was a great festival. And thoroughly enjoyed by everyone I was wish, and everyone I met. Aside from the weather of course. I have many highlights, musically, and non-musically. My top 3 musically are (In no order) The Streets, Murkage and Seasick Steve. Non-musically it would be, the grafitti that said ‘Eddie Murphy Is A Good Actor’, the once great Tent City and seeing the Limbo King!

I am very sorry that the latter half of this post seemed rushed, but it’s mainly because I didn’t want to bore you readers considering it’s a good 3,000 words! But anyways, if you made this far, thank you for reading. And I hope you had fun reading about my experience of Leeds Festival 2011.

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