Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leeds Festival Day 3

Surf-pop five-piece, Surfer Blood, kicked off my final day at Leeds festival. Entering the grounds on Sunday it was clear both the people and the festival itself were suffering from a two day bender. Under foot the grounds had turned to almost mud, despite hardly any rain, and I could have sworn the entire site stunk. Perhaps it was the port-a-loos (Australia - be thankfully, the things we get are luxury compared to festivals in the UK) or just the fact that of many of the punters had not showered since Thursday night. Either way today was slow and messy start.
I do feel sorry for the first three bands playing at the NME stage because although their sets were good, hardly anyone could be fucked to lift a foot to dance, or a hand to show appreciation. They were all still asleep!

Fronted by singer and guitarist John Paul Pitts, Surfer Blood opened the final day the NME tent with Floating Vibes, a song that brought about just that. Having only released one album the band was seemingly limited to tracks off Astro Coast, although towards the latter half of the set the guys introduced us to a fresh tune titled I'm Not Ready. Thick with echoes and distorted pedal groans, this new song sounded along the same vain of the bands previous work.  From the latest addition to their musical repertoire to the first, the quintet delivered the much anticipated Swim before closing with Anchorage. Don’t be put off by the fresh faces of these youngsters, Surfer Blood put on a powerful performance with impressively mature vocals and larger than life guitar riffs.

Next up – London new-wave four piece, New Young Pony Club, who on Sunday returned to Leeds for their second time. Since releasing Fantastic Playroom back in 2007 the band had been relatively quiet until earlier this year when they gave us The Optimist. Despite a number bands coming out dung the new wave movement NYPC are one of the few who have managed to stick around. Since having slightly matured in sound, although still maintaining their pop sensibilities and unique sound thanks to vocalist Tahita Bulmer, the band are back on rotation on dance floors across the UK, US and home. Sadly their performance on Sunday was flat and poorly received. Perhaps it was because flat seemed to be the vibe all round as people struggled on the final day.  Mixing up old and new material in equal measure NYPC only managed to get a few people dancing. Not even Ice Cream made all that big a difference when it came in to fruition mid set before the group closed with  the equally danceable, The Bomb

Making our way over to main for gypsy- punk outfit, Gogol Bordello who truly are a outstanding group (and still up there in best acts I have ever seen live!). With a line up that currently sits at nine members from counties including Russia, Ethiopia, Scotland and the Ukraine, its clear how Gogol Bordello have evolved into a highly theatrical collective built upon an eclectic selection of world music styles and instruments. The energy at Leeds was infections and people were up and dancing manically. Playing a selection of tracks of their most recent album – produced by Rick Rubin! The New Yorkers put on one hell of a spectacle. Dancing across the stage, red wine in hand, frontman Eugene Hutz was incredible to watch. The rhythm of this performance was truly relentless and if you had of been front and centre you will know what I mean especially during Wonderlust King!

Irish indie-electropop trio, Two Door Cinema Club put on yet another energetic performance on Sunday. Not straying far from their sounds at Splendour in The Grass this band are somewhere between Franz Ferdinand and Delphic. The power pop hooks of Undercover Martin and I Can Talk were crowd favourites as per usual and finally, by 3pm, did we witness the first glimpse of life from the horde at the NME stage. Moving as one to the enthusiastic beats this energetic set made way London electro-rock duo The Big Pink consisting of Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell.  .

Although turned off by their name they share Bloc Party’s producer and Coredell runs Merok Records (early home of Klaxons and Crystal Castles) so I was compelled to check them out. And besides, who isn’t a fan of Dominos? On stage the two multi-instrumentalists with their power chords and pop hooks received a massive response. Although breaking mainstream with their infections choruses and pop sensibilities their set was a more band orientated change in pace. Playing with a full line up including guitars and drums it was the synth sounds of MGMT mixed with the shoegaze of The XX that made for a distorted, lo-fi, 90’s electro pop performance that was mesmerizing!

Missing Yeasayer (FML) after a detour through the campsite in search of more alcohol to smuggle in we arrived in time for the second half of Delphic’s set.

The Manchester indie-dance outfit played a invigorating selection of tracks from their 2010 album Acolyte in front an absurd backdrop of what looked like satellite dishes.  Thankfully the band saved the festival favourites – Halcyon, Counterpoint and Acolyte until the very end so we were lucky enough no to miss much of the hypnotic instrumentals that ever so successfully marry together the better elements of rock music and dance music. But then again you could only expect as much having been produced by Berlin based DJ/genius Ewan Pearson

Of all the acts here this weekend, Queens of the Stone Age were my most anticipated. Warming up the stage for Guns N Roses, QOTSA appropriately opened with Feel Good Hit Of The Summer. Only moments in to their set lead singer Josh Homme announced he wanted his music loud “so turn it up for these mother fuckers. I’m sick of this quiet shit”. Josh’s between song repartee continued much the same tone through out the bands hour and a half set. Playing only six or so well known hits Queens set was truly one for the fans. Powerful with raw energy the set list covered song from R Rated all the way through to Era Vulgeris and included Sick Sick Sick, Long Slow Goodbye, Misfit Love and of coarse Little Sister, Go With the Flow and No One Knows. The bands killer riffs and heavy bass lines made for an explosively loud performance. Couple that with the seductive vocals of Homme and you can see why this band are one of the best live acts around!
Despite initial rumours that Guns N Roses were going to pull the pin on their Sunday night Leeds performance after a spat with festival organisers, they arrived onstage 30 minutes late and after some desperate pleading for the audience to take a step back  avoid crushing fans at the front. Tainted from the previous disputes surround Reading Festival (GNR came on one hour late and as a result ran past the festivals curfew, to avoid paying penalties organisers cut the sound during the bands encore) the audience were hesitant about whether another dummy spit would follow. Having watched opening anthem, Welcome to The Jungle, we slunk out in search of LCD Soundsystem who were playing to a not so big audience but were thankful to those who chose them over the Gunners. 

Charming as always frontman James Murphy put on an extremely lively performance with a set list that was identical to Splendour. With mischievously quirky lyrics and vibrant hooks the NME was brought to life for the final time this weekend.

Returning to catch the end of GNR’s set we managed to see Night Train, and extend guitar solo and final track, Paradise City, which delivered lighting, fireworks, confetti and Axl Rose  shouting “from the crowd to the promoters – Fuck you”!

Jumping on a last minute festival ride before heading out to the campsite to watch the riots and party at Piccadilly (blogs below) Leeds festival was by far one of the best festivals of MWT. Although the location and surrounds were far from the beauty of Latitude or Coachella, the atmosphere was incredible and the people were so much fun. Leeds was probably the most like home (aside from the fact we don’t burn shit and blow things up on the final night)

Bec Clark 

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