The idea that a bit of rain won’t ‘dampen the spirits’ of an outdoor music event gets thrown around an awful lot. Arriving on-site at Bramham Park on Thursday afternoon however, certainly put this notion to the test. Not only were our spirits damp, they were completely soaked to the bone.
Despite surviving the worst weather to set-up camp in, the unofficial post-GCSE result celebration offered-up performances and new musical discoveries to make-up for the torrential rain and mud baths. Welcome to Leeds.
THE 1975 SET SIGHTS ON FUTURE HEADLINE SLOT
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“The amount of times I’ve whitied in this field – it’s ridiculous” Matt Healy admitted to the NME tent crowd, as he strutted across the stage with pop prowess, in satin shirt, backed by screens of fuchsia pink and city skyscrapers. “We’re headlining, ‘ave some of that!”
Though it was the band’s biggest slot to date - with a crowd that rivaled crazed fandom and screams of a One Direction show - Healy was already looking towards bigger and better things in the band’s future, making his sky-high ambitions perfectly clear: “People say there’s no future headliners coming-through - that’s ridiculous - we’ll see you back here when we’re headlining!” And he means it.
Friday evening’s high-production set showcased cuts from both number one records, from the indie bounce of ‘Chocolate’, to the slick pop ballad of ‘A Change Of Heart’ and set highlight ‘Somebody Else’. They have the songs, stage set-up and fanbase in place to follow in Foals’ footsteps and make the leap to the top on the next record.
CHVRCHES BATTLE THROUGH TORRIENTIAL RAIN
Martin Doherty’s reverse rain dance during the appropriately titled ‘Under The Tide’ wasn’t enough to bring a stop to the torrential downpour during the electronic trio’s Saturday night slot - but Chvrches powered through – thanking the crowd for celebrating the end of the Every Open Eye album cycle with them.
The first time we saw the band at Bramham Park, it was pre-debut album, when an almost mic-shy Lauren Mayberry and co headlined the Festival Republic Stage in 2013. Now two albums in, Chvrches were given the space their sound deserves - and the moment the euphoric ‘Clearest Blue’ reached its Depeche Mode-esque climax wouldn’t fit anywhere smaller than a festival main stage.
THE JAPANESE HOUSE SOOTHING EARLY SUNDAY SET
Early risers who took to the Dance Tent on Sunday were eased into the final day of the festival with the soothing sounds of Amber Bain’s Japanese House. “I hope you’re not all horribly hungover, cause it’s probably really depressing if you are” Bain grinned, aware that it’s not the typical sound for such venue.
No one needed convincing though. With layered vocals echoing Imogen Heap set against a backdrop of gentle guitar and synth samples, the unique sound of the The Japanese House washed over the crowd, showcasing the best of her EP releases so far.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS’ FLEA TRIES TO TELL US HE’S FROM YORKSHIRE…
Despite dreaming of Californication and possessing a back catalogue that sings the praises of the Chilies’ LA roots, bassist Flea declared he has close family links with Yorkshire while closing the festival on Sunday evening – who knew?
The Chillies are of course an original member down since they last topped the bill at Leeds back in 2007, with guitarist John Frusciante playing his last ever show at the festival in fact. With focus now shifted to the eccentric quirks and slap bass of Flea, (so much so that a second bassist is now part of the band) RHCP played a two-hour career-spanning set with cuts from Blood Sugar Sex Magik to the recently released The Getaway.
JACK ROCKS TENT SHOWCASED BEST IN NEW MUSIC
Although it was easy to miss on the journey to the main stage - if you made a detour down the hillside, you will have found a hub of whiskey and new musical wonder, in the form of the Jack Rocks tent.
Exclusive to the Leeds site and tucked-away from the from the main arena, the newly-introduced area played host to a crop of acts most-likely to break-out onto the bigger stages in not too distant years to come.
Highlighting the importance of such stages for young bands trying to break- through, Liverpool and London-based Judas made the jump from the smallest venue on site to the biggest in the space of 45 minutes, filling-in for a last minute cancellation on the main stage.
Saturday saw Manchester band Cabbage bring their blend of politically-charged angst and chaotic, trouser-dropping live show to the tent. The band are all set to support management buddies Blossoms on their tour this autumn… it’s not a live show to be missed.
Donning fringe-suede jackets and feathered shoulder pads, Bang Bang Romeo not only looked the part, but brought gothic Stevie Nicks theatrics to the stage on Sunday evening. The power behind lead singer Anastasia Walker’s vocal and performance was almost too great to be confine to the stage, as she broke-free into one of the busiest and most captivated crowds the tent had seen all weekend.
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