Monday, 8 September 2014

Leeds Festival 2014

Like many people of my age group, I am definitely no stranger to music festivals.

I have always been heavily into music of all genres and I love having my own little bucket list of bands and artists that I can tick off when I've experienced one of their live shows. So for me, music festivals are great.

I'd like to say I'm a fairly experienced festival-goer, as I have been to Leeds Festival twice (2009 and 2010) and Download Festival once (2012) before. However, unlike most festival-goers, I don't get incredibly inebriated with drinks and drugs whilst there. I'm by no means tea-total, I often indulge in a bottle of wine or something a bit stronger when I am in the mood for it and I do drink at festivals, but the thought of opening up a can of warm cider at 10AM is a sickening prospect for me personally and I have never done any drug in my life, so I never go crazy. I also don't judge anyone who does either of these, especially not at a festival, where let's be honest, it is kind of expected.

For me, festivals are all about the music. Seeing my favourite bands and discovering new ones, is something I really enjoy, and that is also one of the reasons that I never go too crazy, because I want to be able to remember seeing them all and be able to recall these experiences for years to come.

So introduction and disclaimer out of the way, I'll get down to the day-to-day running of who I saw and what happened. This could be a long one!


On Wednesday morning, Jade and I woke up, had one of her mum's delightful bacon sandwiches and beautiful cuppas and slowly but surely after catching up with the latest episode of Geordie Shore got showered, dressed, packed up and ready for our trek to Leeds. Jade's family spent the morning looking at our pile of stuff and looking back at us as if to say "you are taking far too much" but we were adamant that we needed it all and didn't actually have that much, in comparison to what other people would be taking. Crikey o' Reilly we couldn't have been more wrong.

We then embarked on the long trek through to Leeds, driven by Jade's mum and accompanied by her sister, while we both napped in the back. After about an hour, we arrived at Bramham Park, where we then had the mammoth task of strapping all our stuff to our backs and struggling up to our chosen campsite whilst moaning and huffing and puffing. It was at this point, we decided, we actually did have too much stuff. Nevertheless, in less than an hour, we were through all the gates, wrist-banded up and had successfully pitched our huge tent all by ourselves. I couldn't have been prouder!

Pitching our tent and carrying all our stuff through the gates was thirsty work, so at this point, I did actually indulge in a drink or two, but they were much much needed after the venture into the camp!

A snapchat I sent to those who might've doubted our pitching skills!
After we had got settled, we went for a walk around the park, looking at the stalls in the village and what foods were on offer, before going to get our Over 18 wristbands. During this walk, we encountered some interesting characters to say the very least and Jade came to terms with the harsh reality of the long-drops and almost had a breakdown.

Later on, we headed back to our tent and rifled through the huge bags of shopping we'd brought to find something to eat. We decided on spaghetti hoops and bread rolls, with the help of my solid fuel stove. This was a task that we initially thought would be quite easy. Ten minutes later, we needed the fire brigade. The instructions to the stove stated to use '1-2' tablets, so I placed two on to the stove and let Jade light them. Within a few minutes flames were incredibly close to setting our tent on fire, and panic set in, we were trying like idiots to blow the flames out, only for them to get worse and then I was ready to bolt for the water point to extinguish the raging fire that had ensued. It was quite an ordeal to say the least. In the end we ended up tipping the spaghetti off the stove and covering the whole thing with a mess tin, to put the fire out. It wasn't a total disaster though, only half of the spaghetti hoops ended up on the floor.

The end result of our first cooking attempt!
After our near-fatal cooking attempt, we went off on another walk and spent the rest of the evening, drinking our drinks whilst watching the fairground on the hill and laughing at the crazy drunk folk on the rides, before heading back to camp for a well needed sleep.


With the first night over, we woke up and decided to head into Leeds to pick up a few things and treat ourselves to a McDonald's after our failed attempt at cooking the previous night. So we went for the shuttle bus into Leeds where we spent a few hours shopping, before our two other fellow campers joined us for the rest of the festival. Whilst in Leeds, we gorged on McD's and I also met Helen Melonlady, a blogger and YouTuber which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Her channel is one of my absolute favourites and despite looking like a total tramp in a dodgy 80's Oxfam jumper and muddy wellies with scratty hair, I decided to go over and ask her for a photo. She was more than happy to oblige and was as lovely as I expected, and I actually felt a little star-struck afterwards! It was a great start to the weekend.

Not my most photogenic or best quality picture, but look, its Helen!

When we got back to the camp we ended up having to up-route our tent which we had done so well at pitching, because a gang of young girls had put their tents so close to ours, they were practically inside it, despite there being plenty of room around us. In a bit of a rage, we decided to move which took a fair bit of effort but thankfully it wasn't too bad and we ended up in a better spot. Especially as a Hannah Montana/High School Musical sing along later ensued, right near our original spot. It was actually a blessing in disguise, because I would not have coped being smack bang in the middle of that karaoke session.

We spent the night chilling in our tent, listening to the hilarious conversations some of our neighbouring campers were having and laughing our heads off. We also managed to successfully use the solid fuel stove properly, meaning we wouldn't go hungry for the rest of the weekend!

We sussed it!


We started our morning, by putting our faces on and daubing ourselves in UV paint, as you do. Before demolishing a few pasta mug shots and heading over to the arena for the first day of music.

Me and Jade excited on the first day of bands

Unlike other festivals I've been to, where I've kind of gone along with everyone else's band watching agendas, this year I had my own and put myself in charge of organising who we were seeing and when. To begin with, I dragged Jade to the BBC Introducing stage where a band from my home-town were playing. While I've never seen Allusondrugs before, I knew of them and knew that they hailed from my hometown of Castleford and had been doing really well, getting gigs left right and centre, and I had generally heard a lot about them, so I decided to head over and show my support, regardless of the fact I'd never heard/seen them before. Needless to say, I really enjoyed them, I recognised a few faces in the crowd too. It was clear that the compere guy had a lot of love for the band and backed them 100% and I could easily see why. I liked their sound a lot and the crowd clearly did too. The first band of the weekend, and I wasn't disappointed.

After their set, we headed over to main-stage for Young Guns and Papa Roach. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Papa Roach are one of my favourite bands, and I have seen them before at one of their own gigs, but they were astounding again this time round. Jacoby had everyone's attention and those who were familiar with their songs were singing away and it was a great atmosphere, and for me one of my favourite acts of the weekend. We stuck around for Sleeping With Sirens, who niether of us had heard of before and quite frankly don't want to hear again. It was so confusing. The singer didn't really look like he fitted with the rest of the band and his voice was somewhat baffling, Barry White one minute, Pinky and Perky the next. Not my kind of thing, and to be honest, I think Papa Roach should've had the higher slot, but that's just my own opinion, they clearly appeal to many other people, but it didn't do anything for me.

Papa Roach killing it!

A Day To Remember were the next band on the bill and although I'm not a huge fan, I do like a few of their songs and therefore wanted to see them in action. It was a good set, and unlike Sleeping With Sirens, I think they actually warranted their place in the line-up. After ADTR, was You Me At Six, who I'm not a fan of. Lots of my friends like them, but I've have never got on board. Having said that, I've seen them more than many of their fans might have, just due to the fact, they often support bands I do like, or I often stick around during their festival sets in order to get a good spot for the next band. However, luckily for me, Jade didn't mind missing them, although she is a fan, she had seen them before and wanted to go catch a glimpse of The Kooks on the NME stage instead, because her mum is a huge fan.

A Day To Remember

So we ditched YMAS for The Kooks, and although I don't particularly like either band, The Kooks were interesting to see, as I remember their songs coming out while I was in school and it was kind of nostalgic to hear some of their songs again. After The Kooks we bolted back to main-stage for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about. The placement of their set within the line-up baffled me somewhat, as it always does when a band or artist shoots into the limelight, despite having only a few well-known songs. However, in order to get a good viewing spot for Blink 182 afterwards, I gave them a go. Before seeing them, I was a total noob. I didn't really know any of their songs and actually thought the DJ guy was Macklemore and the rapping guy was Ryan Lewis - my bad. Despite the fact that the bass was incredibly loud and they played 'Can't Hold Us' twice, I genuinely really enjoyed their set. Macklemore engaged with the crowd massively, at one point even taking one crowd member's fur coat and wearing it himself. At times, it seems as though the rapper might be slightly vain, but then it becomes apparent that he is also not afraid to make fun of himself whilst donning a Rod Stewart style wig and dancing like a buffoon. Overall, the apprehension I felt about seeing this set quickly diminished and it was possibly one of the most fun sets of the whole weekend.

The Kooks

Macklemore in his acquired fur..

..And without

As aforementioned, Blink 182 were at the top of Friday's bill. A band which defined my teenage years and a band which I am fortunate enough to have seen live three times now. I never saw them live during their hey-day but instead, after their hiatus and after they had settled their differences. Nevertheless, for me personally, Blink 182 shows have always pleased. Since returning from Leeds, it was made apparent to me that the band received a lot of criticism about their live performance at the Festival. Now even though they are one of my favourite bands, I won't lie, they are not the best in terms of their live performance, but I don't believe that anyone who goes to a Blink show expects a 100% polished performance. The attraction of seeing them live, for me anyway, is more about nostalgia and taking you back to your pre-pubescent angst ridden days but doing so in a humourous, light-hearted way. There's no doubting that their shows aren't perfectly played and executed, I think they even know that themselves, hence Tom's not so subtle habit of throwing in an inappropriate joke when he messes up or improvising crude lyrics when he forgets the real ones. But in my book, the novelty of seeing a Blink show and singing along to every song like you're still a spotty mischievous teenager much exceeds the need to see a pitch perfect and instrumentally perfect show.

Blink 182 headlining

Why hasn't he married me yet?


Saturday began with a trip to the NME tent to sit in the sun and watch Gerard Way. I'm not by any means a fan of his really, but as a 14 year old, I was a huge My Chemical Romance fan and as I never got to see them live, I thought I'd head over and see him as the next best thing and to see what he had to offer. It was slightly surreal to see a man who hand fronted a band who headlined main stage at this festival only three years ago, opening on the second stage. He took it very much in his stride though, and loads of old MCR fans were there supporting him. I thought his songs were alright, I don't think he'll be massive but they were definitely listen-able. I loved the fact he was so open and honest saying things like "This is another one you definitely won't have heard but thank you for coming anyway and I'm sure you'll like it!" He knew people weren't familiar with him as a solo artist yet but it didn't phase him at all, he was really positive and happy and I genuinely think he's a great frontman, with band or without.

After Gerard, we headed back to main stage to see what was occurring over there and we were faced with the noise that is Crossfaith. That was bizarre. We'd been warned that they sounded a bit crazy but had no idea. Definitely not my cup of tea and it actually threw it down during their set so luckily for us, we managed to escape and went and sat in the Festival Republic tent to chill until it brightened up a bit. After about 10 minutes, it did and we headed back over to catch Blood Red Shoes. Blood Red Shoes are a band that I recently got into and had been listening to a lot in the run up to Leeds Fest, so I was excited to see them and I was very pleased with their set. I knew a fair few of the songs that they played and even though not many people watched, I loved it. Definitely have a new found girl crush for Laura-Mary Carter after watching them,

Blood Red Shoes
We stuck around for a bit of Deaf Havana afterwards and didn't expect to like them but they were actually alright. I'd never heard them before so wasn't sure what to expect but they were pretty decent. After them, we went over to the NME tent to catch Mallory Knox and Twin Atlantic, who I'd recently heard and liked the sound of. We did end up missing most of Mallory Knox because we found an awesome stall that sold cheese and ham toasties but they were delicious so it was kind of worth it! The bit of Mallory Knox that we caught was good and I took a bit of a shine to the singer. Twin Atlantic were great also, but having seen them a few times before, I knew they would be. Not a huge fan of theirs but I know a few songs and love the lead singer's voice. Crowd loved them and it made for a great atmosphere.

We left Twin Atlantic slightly early to dash to main stage for Enter Shikari who I've also seen a number of times but they're a band I will always go see because I liked them a lot when I was younger. Anyone who has seen Shikari will know they go a bit crazy, Rou tends to give a few philosophical speeches in between excerpts of their songs mashed together with the wildest of sounds and mental circle pits and general carnage. Who wouldn't want to see that again and again?!

Enter Shikari creating chaos as per.
Vampire Weekend were after Shikari and although I'm not a fan, I stuck around because I wanted a good spot for the next band. I have seen Vampire Weekend before briefly and kind of just stood there a bit embarrassingly until A-Punk, which is kind of what I did this time as well, but I did recognise a few more songs and generally did enjoy it, which I wasn't expecting. The lead singer is also somewhat adorable especially in a matching grey tracksuit. I never thought I'd find anybody adorable in a tracksuit.

Next came the band I'd be waiting for most intentively, Queens of the Stone Age. I love QOTSA and am lucky enough to have seen them before, which is why I knew that they would be fantastic. But they even surpassed my expectations and were better second time around. Josh has such, dare I say it, 'swagger' (cringe) that even though he's old enough to be my dad and he's quite ginger, I find him incredibly attractive. I can hear the "ewww"'s echoing already. But seriously, he has such stage presence and I love it. Even though Jade said he looked like he'd fallen out of Emmerdale in his quilted coat and scarf. We were at the second barrier for their set which coincidentally, is where I was last time I saw them and I got a good view. The only thing that put a slight dampner on it for me, was the gaggle of very musically uneducated girls behind me who kept squawking "I'm only here for Paramore, this is shit, etc etc". That was of course until they spotted Hayley Williams watching Queens from the side of the stage, at which point they screeched something along the lines of "OMG OMG Hayley's there" to which I dryly replied, "Yes, that's because she likes real music." It angered me that they didn't appreciate QOTSA. Each to their own of course but they are very lucky that they left with their faces still attached, because for me, Queens were possibly one of the best bands of the whole weekend, if not the best. It had been raining throughout the day and the sun was setting and the sky was such an amazing shade of red at one side and grey at the other and it was just the perfect setting and the perfect atmosphere. I enjoyed it so much that I only got one photo, so you'll have to trust me on this one!

The one photo I got of QOTSA, Troy looking serious

After Queens of the Stone Age, I was done for the weekend day. I've seen Paramore a number of times and so wasn't too fussed about their set. We stayed and caught a bit of their set and it wasn't at all bad, but having seen them before and not being a massive fan of theirs, we decided to get pizzas and head off back to the campsite.


We decided to leave on Sunday night rather than Monday. Cop outs I know, but Jade had work the next day and we wanted a McDonald's and a bath (not together..). So on Sunday morning, we packed up the tent and took our stuff to the car to save ourselves a job later that night. As there wasn't really anyone we wanted to see that day until Royal Blood, we took our time and chilled a bit. We took some chairs down to the arena with us because it was a sunny day and we just fancied a comfy day by the side of the NME tent. We got there in time to catch a bit of Marmozets, who I thought were great, and from West Yorkshire, so equally great. Becca Macintyre is a crazy front-woman and the rest of the band certainly follow suit. I have seen them before and they were so mad I was a little scared! They were slightly more tame this time, but still as kickass.

Royal Blood were next and they were a band who everyone seemed to go see. They've had massive success and loads of plays recently and I think because of that they were one of the most anticipated bands of the whole weekend. The crowd for them was huge and so was their sound. I love their music, I first heard 'Little Monster' on an advert and looked them up, only to find a select few other songs on Spotify which I loved equally as much. With only a few songs actually released, everyone has been waiting eagerly for their album to be released and shortly after Leeds Fest they released it and it shot to number one. I can only imagine that everyone has seen their sets at festivals over Summer and seen how great they are. They were definitely as good as I hoped and everyone else seemed to think so too.

Sticking with the NME tent for the rest of the afternoon, there was only one other band I wanted to see which was Lower Than Atlantis, who I think fitted right in with the rest of the bands that day. Like Royal Blood, I'd heard one of their songs and was instantly intrigued. I enjoyed their set and then we stuck around for Cage the Elephant and Don Broco but was a little more focused on devouring the footlong hot dog and curly chips we bought rather than taking any notice of what was going on band-wise. After eating we resorted to people watching as we weren't huge fans of the bands playing at that moment in time. We definitely saw some characters, one woman was entirely on her own, entirely off her face and doing some sort of hilarious interpretive dance during Cage the Elephant which was highly entertaining.

Later, we went over to main stage ready for Arctic Monkeys. We sat towards the back of the arena for a while as we weren't too fussed about Imagine Dragons or Jake Bugg. I actually enjoyed Imagine Dragons to say I'd not heard much from them but still just wanted to chill towards the back, so we perched up by a load of other people on their chairs and just sat back and relaxed for a bit in the sun. In between Imagine Dragons and Jake Bugg, the hilarious woman from before reappeared and had us a load of others around us, in absolute stitches with her dance to 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash which was played during the break. At one point she even made us cry laughing, when she took it upon herself to sit in a spare chair which belonged to a group of women in front of us. We all just looked at each other in hysterics before a song by The Kinks came on and she bolted upright and started her comical dancing again before running down to main stage. It was arguably the funniest moment of the whole weekend, but I'm sure you had to be there.

I've never jumped on the Jake Bugg bandwagon. I appreciate the fact that he's slightly different to other people around at the moment but I'm not a huge fan. Everyone around us seemed to really enjoy his set but for me, it sounded like one long song. I was just waiting patiently for Alex and co later on.

Arctic Monkeys, I have to say are absolutely one of my favourite bands. Ever since my dad handed me his copy of 'Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not', I was hooked. I loved their sound, I love Yorkshire and I love everything about them other than when Alex dons those dodgy Americanisms. But, the first time I saw them live, in 2009, they did really disappoint me. Alex was clearly inebriated on something and generally messed it all up a bit. That might sound contradicting after what I said about Blink before, but it was an actual shambles and I was a bit peeved about the whole thing. However, since then, they've released some massive songs, various new albums and experimented with all sorts of sounds, all of which I've loved. They even partnered up with the man I spilled my feelings for earlier on, Josh Homme, which was a match made in heaven, if you ask me. After watching their Glasto set last year, I knew that they had upped their game and I didn't think they would disappoint me this time. I was 100% right. Of course Alex was a bit merry but he didn't screw up and spent the whole set declaring his love for us White Rose's. It was everything I expected and more. Everyone was singing every word, and it was a brilliant end to the whole festival. I'm so happy I can say I've seen them properly now, without being let down. AM was in my opinion, a top album and to hear some of the songs from it live, was great. Arctic Monkey's, I genuinely love you.

Arctic Monkeys ending the weekend in style

Just look at that silhouette!

And that was my Leeds Fest experience. It was a great weekend and I saw some great bands and really enjoyed myself. Did not expect this post to me this long and I would be surprised if anyone actually read it all but hey, I promised it so I did it!

Aaaand breathe!

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