LEEDS FESTIVAL 2018
Friday 24th August
After a tiring first day and night partying for most back in the campsite takes its toll on Friday morning, everyone needs little encouragement to pull themselves from their tents and march down to the main arena for the first set of acts this bank holiday weekend.
It seems to be a little early for most still so The Joy Formidable (8) only pull a tiny crowd to kick off the day, but that doesn’t stop them from making the dauntingly huge main stage their own. The welsh three-piece sound brilliant as they play through a short but sweet set. ‘Whirring’ notches the set up to close with its pacey riffs drawing people out to the main stage only a little too late.
Amidst the sudden downpour of hail stones everyone flocks into the nearest tent as quick as possible. We passed through the Pit stage briefly to find Sleep Token (5) dressed in black cloaks and masks like something from the dark side of Star Wars. Their music fluctuated from metal riffs to calm peaceful music leaving a lot of people looking lost and confused, including us.
Equally intriguing, but much more interesting is Let’s Eat Grandma (7) over in the Radio 1 stage. The duo (Rosa Walton & Jenny Hollingworth) have been labelled one of the most exciting and creative bands around right now and with their mix of synths and saxophones it’s clear to see why. They brought a lot of personality to their set with each song having something different weather it being a guitar, saxophone or flute. A few minor problems were well overcome, including a collapsing keyboard stand which found Jenny continue to play from the floor rather flustered, but it was easily laughed off by the duo. Certainly one to look out for in the future, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on Let’s Eat Grandma to see what else is to come.
Usually secret sets at Reading & Leeds aren’t so secret. But one we almost slipped past was an intriguing gap on the Pit/Lock Up stage line up. Having only found out half an hour before, I quickly ran over to check out who it may be, and much to the delight of a packed-out tent, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes (10) wander out to the stage. The frontman has that glint in his eye, and instantly we know full well it’s going to be complete chaos. It was exactly that as Frank and the Rattlesnakes tear through a set filled with the likes of ‘Vampires’, ‘Lullaby’, and ‘Wild Flowers ‘with plenty of crowd surfing from both Frank himself and the crowd. Even a circle pit directed out of the tent into the arena and back in the other side of the tent kicked up a fuss, yup, it was as fun as it sounds! ‘I Hate You’ closes the set with everyone singing along with their middle fingers up in the air. “Some of these songs we just played you may never hear again. You wanna know why? “asks Frank, “It’s because our next album is fucking banging!” Well, if it’s anything on their last album we really can’t wait to hear it!
Back over to the Radio 1 stage and among the mist of blue smoke, Sydney’s very own Indie-rock band DMA’S (7) are certainly a crowd pleaser with their Brit-pop influenced music. The trio don’t need to do much on stage before they are faced with fans on the shoulders of others clenching onto flares with their sunnies on singing the likes of ‘In the Air’ and ‘Delete’ right back at them. They may not be the most excitable bunch, but they deliver their music perfectly well.
Milk Teeth (7.5) on the other hand are the opposite side of the scale in terms of excitable. “We’re Milk Teeth. let’s fucking have it!” They throw us all into ‘Nearby Catfight’ with it’s grudging bassline building up to a powerful pop-punk chorus which has the tent bouncing along. The British Punk Rockers are rowdy and rearing to go, and why wouldn’t you be after just winning ‘The Best Breakthrough Artist’ at the Heavy Music Awards!? The band are full of energy from start to finish, and front woman Becky Blomfield’s grungy raw vocals are well suited for their live shows. We’ve seen them before but they really seem to be growing quickly as a live band, and are sure to be onto great things in the months to come.
The Vaccines (8.5) are no strangers to Reading & Leeds Festival. The Indie rockers are the first band we’ve seen pull a huge main stage crowd so far today and it’s well deserved. Frontman Justin Hayward-Young is as mad as a bag of Weasels, and his blistering stare into the crowd is enough to keep us all following his word throughout the set. With huge tracks such as ‘If You Wanna’ ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘I Can’t Quit’, the West Londoners fly through their set with ease and sound fantastic. A solid set, and one that sets the bar high for those to follow this weekend.
One band who have reached new heights in 2018 is Don Broco (10) after the release of their incredible third studio album ‘Technology’. The lads had already stated their excitement to be back playing the Radio 1 Stage (in our recent interview here), and judging by the conversations we overheard throughout the day, there were many people incredibly excited to catch the Bedford boys live again. Considering a clash with Courteeners over on the main stage, the Radio 1 tent was impressively full, but as ever there is just enough room to open up a few mosh pits to the likes of ‘Technology’, ‘Pretty’, and the brilliant ‘Everybody’ which as ever is one of the highlights of the set, finding frontman Rob Damiani shouting and moshing on the barrier with the crowd to finish off the song. The 11 track set closes with ‘T-shirt song’ which is made for moments like this. It’s an incredible sight as T-shirts and various other items of clothing are flying around the air from the front to the back of the Radio 1 stage. Don Broco can’t be faulted, and surely the festival favourites won’t have to wait too long before they headline this very stage themselves.
It was 2009 the last time Kings Of Leon (9) headlined Leeds Festival, and we remember it incredibly well. They had just released their most successful album ‘Only By The Night’ and after the Reading Festival crowd left frontman Caleb Followill disappointed and underwhelmed, there were rumours of the band cancelling their Leeds leg to close the weekend. Obviously these were just rumours, and the Nashville rockers threw one hell of a show.
Tonight almost 10 years later KOL have released multiple albums since then, but they open their set with a string of golden oldies to take us by surprise. Instead of tracks from their recent hit album ‘Walls’ it was the likes of ‘Slow Night, So Long’, ‘King Of The Rodeo’, and ‘Taper Jean Girl’ that had everyone singing along from the moment they hit the stage. As you expect from Kings Of Leon, they are incredible live, however they always seem to lack something in terms of interaction with the crowd to get everyone rowdy. Caleb Followill doesn’t work a crowd, the crowd needs to work him. Luckily the Leeds Festival crowd are on top form singing their hearts out throughout. A 22 strong song set closes with the moving ‘Use Somebody’ before an encore featuring ‘Waste A Moment’ and the super hit ‘Sex On Fire’ closes the night out in fantastic festival fashion.
Whilst Kings Of Leon may be many’s pick of a headliner on Friday night, Tom Grennan (8) seemed to be a very popular alternative. The young man from Bedford has taken the charts by storm recently and we were lucky enough to catch the end of his set after Kings Of Leon. A packed out Festival Republic stage was in full swing as the main man had them eating from the palm of his hand delivering each track with confidence and a top vocal performance. Hit single ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ closes the set in the strongest possible way, before an accapela version of ‘Something in the Water’ left the crowd singing along as the festival pulled the plug on Grennan running past his curfew.
An incredibly strong day to kick off the festival, and one that has us raring to go for another set of fantastic acts on the Saturday!