Take the time. Tell everyone you love them, cry if and when you need, write, write with a pen on a scrap of tatty paper, draw, draw the faces of strangers on trains, dance in your kitchen, dance in your bathroom, dance with friends, dance with strangers, drink water, eat apples, watch films, read, feed your soul, allow your soul to feed others but never let yourself be consumed by anything other than love.
Music festivals have become something so much more than just a collection of bands. Now they’re an experience, a place where people escape to and spend days lost in this haze of noise and excitement. It’s become a place where social conformity isn’t enforced and people are focused on merely enjoying the next ten minutes of their lives rather than all the things that hold us back. This is especially true, I found for Leeds festival as it has become the festival for 17-25 year olds. We are the people who escape best, ignore everyday life and let go of life’s restraints.
This year Leeds and Reading’s headliners split people massively. From The Libertines to Mumford to Metallic it was like they were trying to cater for all degrees of rock and to me it felt like they were over achieving. No wonder they only sold 25,000 of the 100,000 tickets going when each day was so different that to many a day ticket seemed to make more sense than a weekend.
The Libertines headlined Friday at Leeds. That main stage collection seemed most fitting for Leeds and the image it goes for with The Cribs, The Maccabees and Jamie T all opening the main stage. Though I do believe that The Cribs were slightly misplaced as they seemed to struggle to fill the main stage and truly captivate the audience in their music and need to try so hard to act as rock stars. This is perhaps highlighted by the acts of their frontman who at the end of their last song threw his guitar about a meter behind him, knocked over a stand and then promptly proceeded to go pick it up and set right the mess he’d made behind him. Perhaps he’s only a part time rocker. The Maccabees I found to be the perfect music to relax to, sitting in the sun listening to their incredible new album be played live in front of me was one of the best ways to kick off the music of the weekend. Jamie T of course was incredible with the crowd being completely engaged and in love with his performance and every song he sang was a success. An odd one was then thrown in the mix with the inclusion of Kendrick Lamar, not the most obvious choice but an amazing performer who owned Leeds for the entirety of his set and deserves all praise he gets for his performance. Friday night ended with The Libertines who in my view performed even better than they did at Glastonbury a couple of months beforehand. They seemed much more at home on the stage and more engaged with the performance they were putting on, a very good one at that. ‘Don’t Look Back into The Sun’ brought the crowd together in a way no other act had so far and it was the strongest song of their set and potentially the day.
I began Saturday with Drenge and Palma Violets who once again seemed slightly misplaced on the main stage. I think something that truly let Leeds down this year was the predictions of the success of artists that were made at the time of booking. Saturday also brought the start of the incredible NME/ Radio 1 stage with Swim Deep and Peace. Both performed brilliantly but it was Peace who truly made it that day with their unquestionable charisma and ability there only let down was nothing to do with them but the crowd who reacted with violent mosh pits (I managed to receive a punch to the face). As much as I love jumping around and getting fully involved in a gig I wouldn’t say Peace would be my first choice for suitability. Meanwhile on the main stage Alt-J provided an oddly calming set, contrasting massively with every other aspect of the festival. A pretty dead crowd they were better enjoyed sat down with some food. The headliner that night was Mumford and Sons who, although I dislike their new album, put on a brilliant performance with the most famous of their songs creating this incredible crowd of noise that travelled across the whole of Leeds Festival. This was also the day of the secret set which this year was Foals, a brilliant choice and one that visitors probably should have worked out beforehand from the amount of promo posters dotted around.
The final day was the oddest of choices for the main stage with the unusual booking of the terrifyingly cute Babymetal who left most bemused not helped by the couple who dressed as the girls; I’ve never seen a cuter looking guy. NME/ Radio 1 stage was where it was at for me all afternoon, starting with Slaves and ending with Catfish and The Bottlemen. Slaves were astounding, they were by far the most engaging and entertaining band with their in between song quips and energetic performance, they could have easily handled a bigger stage. Spector followed and were also very good choosing to perform mostly songs form their new album minus a subtle cover of The Vaccines’’If you Wanna’ combined with their ‘Chevy Thunder which felt brilliantly right for their performance. Then came Circa Waves who sound exactly the same on their album as they do live giving great props to their abilities. Wolf Alice were a huge success gaining a large crowd who were utterly engrossed in every moment of the performance. Everything Everything was the least popular of the list but the frontmans incredible and unique voice made up for that. Finally came Catfish who were so popular that security had to request people stopped trying to enter the tent. The owned the NME/ Radio 1 stage that day and I’ll be incredibly surprised if their next album doesn’t land them a booking on the main stage next time. Royal Blood made an appearance on the main stage putting on a great show which formed a never pausing mass of movement in the crowd The final headline closing the festival was Metallic, another odd choice it brought in crowds of dedicated fans but left everyone else heading elsewhere, many to see The Wombats which was a very good decision.
But as I said it isn’t just about the music anymore, there are so many factors involved in making the festival as great as it is. There was constantly something to do with all night DJ sets, bars, Oxygen lounges and food vans, there was never a quiet or dull moment. This helped provide the escapism, for a whole weekend we didn’t stop, we didn’t focus on anything outside the festival and it created this almost tangible buzz of an atmosphere that was everywhere and included all. We were all dirty, drunk, excited and happy together and nobody gave a fuck. Everyone just wanted to have the best time they could, make friends and get pissed to good music and for three days that was all the mattered. It was the atmosphere that made it for me, that made me never want to leave and instead to live in this place of a constant high. I fell in love with it, it’s so much better than everyday life and it’s an addictive place to be, and not just because you can’t walk five steps without hearing the word ket.
I first met plaza in a magical shed filled with good vibes, a smoke machine, fairy lights and many funky people where they played and also sold me their ‘fire mixtape’. Now almost a year later they have released their debut ep PLAZA which includes 6 of their own original tracks (available here https://wernotplaza.bandcamp.com/album/plaza). We talked to Bradley, frontman and vocalist of the band about the future of Plaza, dreams, influences, favourite artists and more…
What would you say are the pros and cons of being in a band?
Yeah there is obviously a lot of ups and downs of being in a band, I think the thing we enjoy the most is just travelling around seeing some great places, meeting new people and just showing them our art, in my opinion there isn’t anything much better than going new places and showing complete strangers your music, and then if they appreciate and enjoy your music, it is a bonus. Downside, there isn’t really much to be honest, obviously you get the whole grafting and constant practising and going over the same song multiple times to ensure everything is perfect which can be quiet stressful, sometimes, but to be honest, I wouldn’t even class that as a downside because its all fun and games isn’t it?
How’d you find working together?
Love working together, what is better than just chilling and creating musical fusion with five best friends? It’s great, everything just seems to fall into place whether we work on a song or idea for a day or a few months.. We all share the same acquired music taste, obviously branches off into separate genres or whatever but its a great thing, one of us may interpret something in a complete different way, which creates another path to travel down.
What do you consider to be your best success so far?
I’m not really sure about that, we have played some pretty cool shows and met loads of people, made new friends and released a 6 track mixtape, which is pretty good and interesting from our perspective. I think pretty much just playing around performing our own representation of art to people is a good success, considering when we first got together having a mess around in Matthew’s summerhouse, we didn’t even think we would be at the stage we are now, which is pretty cool.
What’s your dream?
Complete cliché answer haha, everyone who performs music wants to take it up and do it as a career, otherwise why would you even bother in the first place? I think we all want the same outcome, but just as I said, its great travelling and talking to new faces and appreciating the people that like your band, that’s what we want.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
A huge variety: The Smiths, Tame Impala, Pond, Mink Mussel Creek, Joy Division, Foals, Queen, Tangled Hair, Colour, Lovepark .. List is endless
If you had to pick a favourite artist, who would it be and why?
I need to pick two here.. I think id have to say Joy Division. I love Ian Curtis and everything he’s done. Nick Allbrook, ex tame impala bassist and singer of Pond, Crazy good, I went to see Pond live in Manchester and it was the best gig I’ve been too, his songs and musical interpretation is unreal, then his stage presence is just crazy, which is what I love.
Who is your favourite up and coming artist?
Oh man, such a hard question, there is so many unreal up and coming artists, it’s scary how many bands/singer songwriters there is.. Blaenavon are my favourite though, trio from Hampshire, all my age, I found them around 2 years ago and I’ve needed to see them for so long, they were going on tour with only real in April but then the tour got pulled which i was gutted about.
What is your favourite song and why?
I can’t answer this question, there’s way to many: Joy Division: Disorder, The Smiths: Ask, Pond: Midnight Mass, Eric Prydz: Call on Me, Morrissey: Lucky Lisp, Foals: Red Sox… Nah I can’t answer this properly there is WAY too many..
Who are some artists you wish you could hear live now?
Joy Division Hendrix The Smiths Queen Nirvana What would be your ultimate festival line-up be? Everyone from the previous question. I’d pay a lot of money.. I’d gamble my moms mortgage for it tbh.
Where would be your favourite venue to play?
Probably some sweaty underground DIY in the middle of Thailand, were everyone is crazily insane and doesn’t know the meaning of life anymore.
Any future content on the go?
Yeah, we’ve got a few new tracks demoed on my mac, we’re going to record a single at the back end of this year, which I’m really pleased with.. Also MAYBE have a little surprise for everyone around OCTOBER or NOVEMBER, but I’m not allowed to tell.
What do you hope to achieve in a years time?
Pretty much just building a bigger fan base around and about, travel a bit more, see more new people and hopefully sickened myself of Tame Impala//Currents.
And finally, Who are some of your favourite local artists?
Future Horizons, Schultz, Charlie Dancer, Lisbon, Figmennt
Filtering from the Shoreditch high street – all the flares and beads are brought together in the first headline show by the effervescent Flo Morrissey. The tiny Courtyard filled with the family and friends heckled her in the best possible way, nervous and shy Flo took to the stage and showed exactly what she is made of, she is fit for the stage and this album launch was perfect for her. This was the first time she had headlined a show and the first time with the band, an electric guitar and a cello – Flo produces everything with classic beauty.
Opening the show Flo donned her acoustic guitar teamed with ribbons and fabrics – she is oozes good vibes and she is the epitome of tranquility. Starting with ‘Betrayal’ Flo thanked everyone for coming, stating that she was nervous when she moves her microphone (there was no need to be nervous, she pulled the show of perfectly).
Seeming more comfortable with the small crowd Flo began to sing the dreamingly fairty-tale esque ‘Sleeplessly dreaming’, the song is a combustion of everything that would be in a lullaby. Flo’s voice was something else, almost better than when it is produced – her vocals presumably pushed the crowd into worship and everybody in the crowd seemed to be tranquilized by her beauty, in both vocals and lyrics.
After a slight mishap, the first time she has had a band and played somewhere on her own, Flo packed the interval with covers of her favourite tracks. With an awkward opening to the track, Flo whimsically claimed that she “wished she wrote this song” – the forward rhythm of ‘Irish Blood English Heart’ by Morrissey crammed the space with something that wasn’t so hippy. With the crowd shouting for their love and appreciation of Morrissey, the crowd seemed the perfect concoction for Flo, friends, family and appreciating fans. Perfectly creating the immense cover, the crowd swayed and there was a genuine desire to hear Flo all night, simply stunning on all levels.
Moving into the next stage of the gig, Flo played the main tracks from her album and some of the first she had ever written – meanwhile stating that this was the first time that she had changed guitars and even though it “cringes” her out, she made sure the crowd were having a perfect time (and they sure were). ‘Pages of Gold’ the first single of Flo and the track that created her musical career ‘If You Can’t Love This All Goes Away’ (the original version including the tinkling of the piano, played by Flo herself), created a buzz amongst the crowd which was hardly like anything else I had ever witnessed. It was so comforting to hear such a beautiful voice live and a crowd that definitely wanted to support a young women’s music career, rather than the heckling of huge bands (who don’t often sound that great live).
Coming on from her encore Flo played ‘Women of Secret Gold’ echoed out through the Courtyard, without her guitar and the band Flo stood on her own – the most vulnerable she had looked through the whole of the gig. With the rises and falls of her vocals Flo showed an innocence in the music industry which has been left behind for a while, a women who can form so much more for young girls out there and a true beauty.
My earliest musical memories are formed by hazy lazy sunny summer trips in the car with my mum, dad and brother in my childhood. Even though the destination was nearly always Scotland, so not that sunny (sorry Scotland it’s just fact) the mood in the car was always cheery and happy, because mum would put on all of the top songs from ‘the good old days’ that she and dad used to listen to.
Whilst to me these songs were indeed very ‘old’, they were also very captivating; my taste in music is very varied but the one thing that has stuck with me is a collection of favourite songs from the past that have resonated with me throughout my nineteen years of living. Some I learnt at a very young age, others I have found through curiosity and most notably ‘The Boat That Rocked’ – one of my favourite films.
If you are in the mood for a retro sound, give these a listen… they are some of my faves…
With A Girl Like You – The Troggs
In The Summer Time – Mungo Jerry
All Day And All Of The Night – The Kinks
Hey Jude – The Beatles
Hi Ho Silver Lining – Jeff Beck
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
Elenore – The Turtles
Killer Queen – Queen
Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
Groovin’ With Mr Bloe – Mr Bloe
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
I Was Made For Loving You – Kiss
Judy In Disguise – John Fred & His Playboy Band
I’m Looking Through You – The Beatles