Since its advent in 1999, Leeds festival has grown to become a festival that pulls in a crowd of many cliques – there’s the teenagers, fresh-faced with their GCSE results in one hand and plastic tubes of neon paint dappling the other. There’s also the music enthusiasts, a clientele who congregate nonchalantly in the sidelines, tucking highlighted itineraries in their backpacks and bumbags. Then there’s the parents with mini-rockers in tow ready to experience their inaugural festival, the gaggles of hen do’s in pristine pink Hunter boots, and the lager-necking, 30-something guys, who always look a little lost in a festival where animal costumes and emo kids take precedence.
For the crowds that the two-site festival attracts every year, a swarm of unknown bands descend to the sites, hoping to triumph rather than topple on their most pressure-filled performance of the year. Bands and artists like Jake Bugg, Paramore and Jimmy Eat World have all grown from small-stage, line-up fillers to arena-conquering powerhouses, having climbed their way to the top of the Reading and Leeds bill over the years. With that, we headed to Bramham Park to check out three bands on the Leeds bill who are tipped for sonic success, and perhaps, might just grace the top of that famous poster in a few years’ time.
For those keen to get their Saturday up to a raucous start, nascent American teenagers The Districts were encumbered with that rather unenviable task at 2.30pm, a time when half of Leeds’ denizens have barely made their weary way through Piccadilly Circus. Still, the rock ‘n’ roll spirited teens were able to sweep those upstanding off their feet, and prick the ears of those wallowing in the outskirts. The band ripped through ‘Rocking Chair’, ‘Long Distance’ and a handful of tracks from their debut album ‘Telephone’, before inspiring more than a few breathless highs with anthemic closing song ‘Lyla’.
“Lucky, lucky Leeds”, lead singer Ellie Rowsell muses as she wanders on stage. Wolf Alice’s mid-afternoon slot at the Festival Republic stage on Sunday pulled in a crowd that without a doubt were desperate to mosh to the beastly-named band. Whether punters were warming themselves up for Arctic Monkeys, or making the most of one of their few remaining chances to head-bang at the festival, energy levels were incredibly high for day three. Even bassist Theo Ellis encourages a “run around in a circle” 10 minutes into their grizzly set. It’s easy to see why Wolf Alice were named the most blogged-about band of 2013, as they howled their way through fan-favourite ‘Bros’, a primitive ‘She’, and a rendition of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Games’ halfway through ‘Blush’.
Drawing influences from the warm scuzz of Ash and Supergrass with their sound, Happyness were introduced on stage with the instructions, “When I shout ‘Ha’, you say ‘Penis’”, at their Sunday evening slot. Their youthful lyrics follow suit from their toilet-humour intro, with lines like, “I see people come in twos, just like breasts do”, and songs that go by the name of ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same’. Their set is a lo-fi, pitting dreamy harmonies over muddy guitar riffs – all delivered with a proper passion.
By Zoe Williams – Relentless Energy Drink’s Here to be Heard blogger winner. Here to be Heard is a competition set up by Relentless to seek out the best emerging creative talents in the UK, to give them a platform to showcase their work and passions