Leeds Festival 2016.
Leeds Festival is personally my favourite festival of the year. Having one of the greatest lineups covering every single aspect of music, Reading & Leeds always delivers and still holds the title in my books as the best live music event. This year we had headliners and co. headliners, Fall Out Boy with Biffy Clyro, Foals with Disclosure, with the final day being an American rock classic, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
After the down pour of rain which occurred on the Thursday it meant that the arena could almost have been mistaken for Download Festival. Rivers upon lakes of mud and dirt meant that unless you had wellies then it was likely that your feet would not last the weekend. Still, the weather did very little to less then mood of the people as a majority if them, despite the lack of sunshine still paraded in shorts, vests and occasionally the odd pair of flip flops.
To start the day main stage opened with the American Pop Punk band, State Champs who came all the way from Albany, New York to play for their first time at Reading and Leeds. With their most recent album ‘Around The World and Back’ being released in 2015, and their huge growing fanbase, meant that their set drew a relatively large crowd for an opening act. Playing some of their top hits such as ‘Secrets’ and ‘All you are is history’, the loud and energetic music meant that the crowd were on their feet dancing and jumping from the start.
(Above: State Champs)
Another pop rock band which was an act not to miss this Friday at Leeds were Waterparks who again were another band from America, this time Austin Texas. With their quirky charm and sweet talking lead singer, they were definitely a bunch of characters who like to have fun. Having recently finished Warped Tour in America, their popularity has also been on the increase with their frequent media coverage in a lot of the most popular music magazines such as Kerrang and Rock Sound. These guys will definitely be an act to catch, but with no tour dates as of yet in the UK, if you happen to be from American they will be touring with the bands Sleeping with Sirens, Tonight Alive and State Champs, who all played Reading and Leeds this weekend in the End of Madness tour this November in America.
Leading on to Tonight Alive who were noticeably higher on the bill this year on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Also having been on Warped Tour and recently realising their album ‘Limitless’ earlier this year, the Australian rock band produced an outstanding performance. Their lead singer Jenna McDougall who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly in the press area shortly after their set said it was “amazing to be back” since their previous performance on main stage back in 2014.
(Above: Tonight Alive)
As it got to later in the day, the mud was still holding strong and but luckily the weather was clearing up. One act who has been hugely gaining popularity in the British music scene, known for his huge impact on the Grime scene who I have worked with and become friends with was Big Narstie. Originally known for his comedy and Youtube sketches, Narstie grew in the Grime industry and now with the huge collaboration with Craig David on his single ‘When the Bassline Drops’, it was definitely going to be a huge act.
One of the most anticipated acts of the evening, other than the co headliners, Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro, The 1975 were the next biggest band playing that evening. And undoubtably the did not disappoint. With their huge stage presence and beautiful stage setup with digital cityscapes, the band were not one to miss. Performing from their new album ‘I like it when you sleep…’ as well as their 2013 self titled album, the Manchester based band enticed the crowd who were on their feet singing along and dancing like crazy to the overly energetic and charismatic lead singer Matt Healy.
(Above: The 1975)
Then it was time for the huge co headlining acts, which personally were my favourite headliners out of the weekend. Fall Out Boy had been on the verge of a split back in 2010 and took a break for several years until their surprise reformation back in 2013 with their album “Save Rock and Roll’. Since then they have produced another huge selling album which meant that they thoroughly deserved that top headliner spot. I could see the love and the energy in the crowd as they performed some of their true classics such as ‘This ain’t a scene, it’s an arms race’ as well as new songs such as ‘Uma Thurman’. I have never seen a crowd be brought closer together by a love for a huge and somewhat nostalgic performance. With some people describing their performance as a resemblance to a ‘Motley Crüe’ set their wild use of dancers and firework displays could be the reasoning behind that. After a number of energetic songs, Patrick Stump chose to use the middle of his set to take it back to some of their slower songs, whilst also using their single ‘Save Rock and Roll’ which originally featured the vocals of Elton John was used to pay tribute to the death of David Bowie.
For the final act of the night, I can honestly say that I have never been moved by such an outstanding and emotionally provoking set from witnessing Biffy Clyro. Whilst I can say I was perviously apprehensive about their performance, I was hugely mistaken to believe there was any hint of doubt as they were one of the best acts I have seen live in my entire life. With their recent release of their new album ‘Ellipsis’ back in July, it was no doubt why they were given the headline slot. With their aggressive and reckless stage presence they played songs from their 2009 album, ‘Only Revolutions’ such as ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Captain’ it was ‘Many Of Horror’ which brought me as well as many of the crowd to tears as their music brought chills. Unbeatably the best act to finish a perfect first day at Leeds Festival.
To begin the second day of the festival, main stage opened up to Frank Turner. Now being his 10th consecutive year at Reading and Leeds Festival, it is almost like his second family. Bringing me and a lot of my recently found festival friends who include other photographers, journalists and radio presenters, Frank Turner was a very special act for me to watch. HIs energy and motivation to wake up the crowd with is rock and alternative music meant that it was the perfect way to start the second day at Leeds.
With more acts covering across all genres of the festival, we had comedy from the Russell Howard, dance music from Hannah Wants, the heavier rock music of Asking Alexandria and Crossfaith as well as electronic synth music of acts Crystal Castles, Chvrches and headliner, Disclosure.
(Above: Crystal Castles)
Following Frank Turner, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes were next to play the main stage. Considering their angsty reputation and crazy crowds even Frank had himself saying “they probably won’t let [him] play main stage again”. With attempts to create a circle pit around the sound desk and throwing a GoPro into the crowd to film their fans, the Rattlesnakes definitely woke up and quickly removed the lingering hangover everyone had from the night before.
If they weren’t crazy enough, nothing compared to the set of Die Antwoord. If you haven’t head of this crazy duo, they recently appeared in the film Chappie and also accused the new Suicide Squad film for stealing their image. Ninja and Yolandi Visser definitely had the crowd questioning their performance as they had one of the weirdest and strangest sets of the weekend.
(Above: Die Antwoord)
Saturday was definitely the day for the more obscure and wacky acts. Heading over to The Pit stage I managed to catch Crossfaith, a Japanese heavy rock act whose heaving bass and eccentric guitar playing meant that mud was being kicked around by the crowd left right and centre in the many mosh pits.
One of the most anticipated acts which were performing on the NME/Radio 1 Stage on Saturday were the multiple chart holders Twenty One Pilots. The american duo have been around for a few years in the alternative rock music scene but recently drew huge popularity by featuring on the new Suicide Squad soundtrack with their song ‘Heathens’. Their performance didn’t fail to impress with their seemingly dark stage presence and heavy bass and drums. There have bee rumours that the dark duo will be returning to the UK soon which will be a gig you do not want to miss.
To follow this already excellent act we had the duo Diplo and Skrillex who performed in their collaborative stage Jack Ü. Never have I seen the tent so full. The crowd were bursting out the sides of the already huge tent desperate to hear the popular act. Performing many of their own individual songs such as ‘Cinema’ by Skrillex, they also played covers as well as hit tracks ‘Where Are you Now’ featuring Justin Bieber, and a new song which will be released soon.
Headliners on the Saturday were Foals and Disclosure. Foals brought the rock element to the relatively electronic lineup, once again drawing a huge crowd which only grew bigger for Disclosure. The electronic duo have been playing their fair share of festivals across the world have flown up the bill to reach the headlining spot after gaining increasing popularity over the last few years.
With the festival on it’s last legs with the amount of mud reaching far above the ankles, the crowds still had high spirits which only grew as the clouds started to disappear and the sun started to shine. Starting off the day with Fatherson, the folk rock band was a warming wake up.
Just like Y Not Festival, if there was one band which I had to see, it was HECK*. Since I reviewed Y Not, Matt Reynolds leg is now fully healed which means their set was ten times as crazy. Scaling the scaffolding, kicking over amps and throwing just about everything that could be found on stage they once again did not disappoint.
After this there was a mysteriously long gap between Heck and the following act Milk Teeth, and this could only mean one thing, a secret set. It was unsure who was going to fill this slot from the start of the weekend but since the news was let out the previous day at Reading Festival, it was announced that the set will be filled by the British rock band, You Me At Six. After just releasing their new single ‘Night People’ only a few days ago, it was a surprise that no one could guess this before. After photographing and watching acts such as Milk Teeth and Vant, to which Vant have been announced to support You Me At Six on their upcoming tour, it was clear that even though the festival was drawing to a close on its last day that spirits were still high.
The next act which really stood out was Jack Garratt. The solo artist had the stage presence of twenty men, with his huge drum setup and almost spider-like lighting setup surrounding him, he performed with huge confidence and drew a crowd which echoed his songs almost just as loud right back to him. You could see by the look on his face that it was an incredible experience for him as well as the crowd which stood in front of him.
Headlining on the final day of Leeds festival was the classic rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Whilst their setlist seemed to be more of a great ‘Californiacation’ and ‘By The Way’.
With an amazing end to the weekend, Red Hot Chili Peppers definitely energised the crowd. However, i’m sure Reading Festival had an even crazier Sunday with the closing set of Biffy Clyro. The Chili Peppers were an act which every generation could enjoy. We had teenagers climbing the ice cream van to get a better view of the miraculous stage design and the slightly older generation rocking out. It has definitely been an incredible weekend which a lot of people will remember, and the memories and stories from the weekend will be taken back home with them along with copious amounts of mud stains on just about every item of clothing they own.
Photos and review by Jade Hill.