PREVIEW: Leeds Festival
By Emma Howe on August 17, 2012 in Music
On 23rd August I will take my first and hopefully dry steps back on to a site where I left sodden and full to the brim with post-festival blues, and the performances of the Cold War Kids and LCD Soundsystem still fresh in my drunken rays of summer haze of 2007.
A few years worth of trotting the globe and arriving back in the UK to re-build the bank account and get back in to the flow and joys of the real world, it was 2009 before I was able to contemplate my next trip down the A19. The draw of change, the inability of friends to appreciate mud + music and the lure of Glastonbury have meant that as if from nowhere I will be arriving at this year’s Leeds Festival at the cynical, youngish age of 26. More than happy to accept the press ticket and contemplating my plus one, a colleague made a comment that raised a rather depressing question, am I too old for Leeds Festival?
It’s a kids game these days, a chance for marauding teenagers to pop their festival cherry. For the youth gone wild to piss in their first portaloo and find the experience liberating. Am I still part of the demographic, or am I literally ‘kidding’ myself that there is enough still on offer for this weathered mardy arse?
As expected there is a feeling of indifference to those taking up most inches on the garishly bright lineup, but acclimatising the eyes to take a backward approach and reading down to up, there are plenty of gifts on offer to appease my only mature tastes in life.
Festival organisers have played a blinder offering a free drink and breakfast bun each day to every camper, a perfect ploy to lull you into an immediate state of belly full submissiveness. I am more than happy to start my day on a positive note with a FREE breky bap (as long as there is no fat on my bacon).
It just so happens that Thursday night will welcome one of only two North East acts on the bill, and who better to help set the tone for a teeny weekend than the Little Comets. My deck chair will be placed nice and early at the Dance To The Radio stage, to take in the danceable tikes as well as the fantastic Various Cruelties, what a way to get the weekend off to an unavoidably happy clap.
Friday see’s the biggest act on the bill take to the main stage. It is 20 years on from Dave Grohl’s final appearance behind the drums for Nirvanah’s last UK gig, and there will be an inevitable air of nostalgia in his Foo Fighters which I suggest you pre-empt with a swift dose of dark, dense and shoegazey utopia from S.C.U.M.
Rochester quintet, Polar Bear Club will present a more refined melodic punk to their American counterparts and are sure to be one of the most compelling and anthemic acts of the weekend. Like a gently fizzling Dip-Dab, the post-dubstep SBTRKT are a must see. Warped and tribal-like, their manically bashful beats will see their performances a highlight for most of the UK’s festivals this year. Befriending Grohl’s beard might be the most sort-after picture of the weekend in VIP but a trip to the main stage a little earlier to round off your opening night would be more worthwhile to catch the polished swampy punk of the Black Keys. With one of the albums of the year in the bag, Patrick Carney’s enormous beats are sure to drown the young’ns, before they are thrown armband-like riffs of timeless blues.
Saturday will see stages littered with bands in the throws of their third or fourth appearance at Leeds. Why not kick it off with a couple of acts who are sure to achieve the same, predictable feat. Genre defying pop-alt-rock outfit ALT-J will draw one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, and rightly so. Their rise amongst pop’s breakthrough acts has been well deserved and there will be nothing catchier on offer all weekend, aside from the urge to display uv paint on some unnecessary orphus. Friends are Brooklyn’s latest darlings and their fruity weird pop should help to erase Friday induced haziness. If that doesn’t do the trick, the brutal bludgeoning of a Crystal Castles set will be the alternative, less sympathetic treatment. The Maccabees will headline the NME stage, much to the delight of the topshop gang, and admittedly me. But I am afraid nostalgia is sure to cause the only major clash of my weekend as long time heroes (are we allowed to use that word in music after the Olympics?), The Cure are one begging to be crossed off the ‘must see before they clock-it’ list.
Sunday gifts us with a day garlanded with appearances from some fine dance acts, a punt Leeds have got spot on in the last few years .There will be plenty of pre-finger-pointing-stretching before leaving the tent to take in the spunky diva delights of Azelia Banks, followed by mash-up ninja Jaguar Skills. Despite the lacklustre response to Swedish-American production trio Miike Snow’s second album this summer, for me they are still a stand out in the over subscribed electropop genre and one act I will be making a marked effort to section off individual ground/dancefloor space. Moving on from the embarrassing uncle moves and back with the kids, Leeds outfit Post War Glamour Girls should be in for a grand reception on home soil if the locals are as enticed by their worldy introspective, visually effecting music as I am. My hope is that by the time Sunday arrives and I settle my old bones to enjoy Metronomy, the relaxed air which was the residing characteristic of triumphant third album, The English Riviera, provides the perfect finale to reflect a weekend of sun kissed tales.
Saying all that, my desired line-up would do nothing to suggest an old fuddy-duddy who will be shouting at the kids to put down their pints of piss. But I know and you know, I will most likely be drawn in by the nostalgia of the Foo’s and dragged along to see Florence do her best Kate Bush turned ginger zombie impression. Ah well, you cant teach an old dog new tricks!
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