It’s August. It’s a bank holiday weekend. It’s festival season. This means only one thing. The best festival in the world in the form of Reading and Leeds 2014, is about to open its gates to thousands of festival goers for a weekend of sun, rain, mud, tents, booze, parties and bands. This year, I chose to go to Bramham Park in Leeds, to catch all of the action.
Opening up the main stage at Leeds on Friday are The Story So Far . A Pop-Punk contingent from the U.S, who seem to be more Punk than pop. With the band sounding pretty tight, the only thing that lets them down is front man Parker Cannon’s less than impressive “shouting” rather than singing. However, they provide a fitting opening to Friday’s proceedings, and deserve their spot on the main stage.
Next up is Australian rock outfit, Tonight Alive . With the sun beaming down on a hung-over Leeds crowd, Front Woman Jenna McDougall has fans old and new eating out of the palm of her hand. Ever humble, she thanks the crowd as the band effortlessly glide through a powerful, riff-laden set. Expect to see this band climb up to the heights that Paramore are at now in the next 5 years.
The first band to really make the crowd bounce arrives in the form of Young Guns . After nearly 2 years away from the U.K, the band burst into their set with the new single “I Want Out”. The die-hard are jumping, the new fans are jumping, and the band glide through classic belters like “Weight of The World” and “Dearly Departed”, before closing with the one song everyone sings along to, “Bones.” Having Young Guns back is just what the British Rock scene needs right now.
Veteran Rockers Papa Roach  are next up on the main stage, and as ever, provide a pretty flawless show. With the band playing classics such as “Burn”, “Getting Away with Murder” and “Scars”, it’s only a matter of time before the crowd are moshing to “Last Resort.” As can be expected, the band lap it up, as do the crowd, and they’d be welcome at any major rock festival in the world.
Sleeping With Sirens  are up next, and considering how high up they are on the main stage bill, watching their set, you can’t help but to question “why were this band booked?” It’s completely dated. From the look, to the sound, to front man Kellin Quinn’s harsh, nasal, almost grating vocal, only die hard SWS fans seem to be lapping this one up, with Boo’s and Jeers coming from either side of the crowd.
Over to the NME/Radio 1 stage, where The Horrors  play to a packed out tent. Their brand of heavy Indie and Electro rock, combined with a powerful laser and light show, as well as front man Faris Badwan’s elegantly cool but dark swagger, provides the crowd with a show that’s not easy to forget.
The highlight of the NME/Radio 1 stage today though, is delivered in the shape of Manchester Quartet, The 1975 . With Frontman Matty Healy strutting onto the stage, clasping a bottle of Red, as the drums open up to the beat of rock track “The City”, the crowd can’t help but scream with excitement. The band only has one album, but they have a catalogue of songs that are worthy to headline any festival. “Girls”, “Chocolate” and closer “Sex”, all feel like modern-day classic anthems, and every single person watching walks out a sweaty mess. Expect to see them on the main stage next year.
Over on the main stage, Blink-182  are closing Friday’s day of quality tunes. Whilst not technically the best, do what they were born to do. They play all the hits, whilst slowly settling into a nice little groove. Dick and fart jokes aplenty, classics such as “First Date”, “I Miss You”, and “All The Small Things” are staples of any headlining set, and it’s a great end, to a great day of music.
It’s Saturday, and if Friday was anything to go by, today has a lot to live up to. The morning and afternoon line-up, is one which sees me heading to the NME/Radio 1 tent rather than anywhere else until later on.
Opening up on the NME/Radio 1 stage, is former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way . Making his Global Debut, before his album “Hesitant Alien” is released later this year, Gerard arrives on stage looking dapper in a Blue Suit, white shirt, red hair, and matching red tie. “I’m sorry you don’t know any of these songs, but you’re going to love them anyway”, he says to thunderous applause and a cheeky smile. He looks convincing as a solo artist, comfortable, sounds better than ever, and clearly loves what he is now doing. “No Shows” is a particular highlight, and sounds like a classic brit-pop anthem. Expect to see the man return, higher up on the bill next year once the album drops.
Following Gerard, are American Heavy Metallers, Red Fang . With one of the smaller crowds of the day, it’s hard to get any serious reaction going, other than foot-tapping, and a few drunken head bangers. However, the band themselves, sound solid and tight. Perhaps this is the wrong stage for them, but a half-decent set nonetheless.
Next up are post-hardcore outfit, La Dispute . Blending heavy riffs, hard drums and breakdowns, with dark and emotional lyrical content, the Michigan based rockers put on a show. There are a few pits, and the band seems to get better as the set goes on. They are worthy of their place on such a big stage.
Two-piece Drenge  follow, and although the crowd inside the tent seem to be into it, every single song seems to blend into one another. Each riff sounds the same, as the crowd mosh their way around to the simplistic rock styling’s of a man playing a guitar, whilst another man bangs on the drums. It feels a little bit hackneyed, and there’s only so much of it that any person would be able to withstand before getting bored.
One of the highlights of the day, arrives when Mallory Knox , take to the stage. Powering into new single “Ghost in The Mirror”, the band have the crowd eating out of their palm from the word go. Sing alongs and “Woah’s” come in heaps as the band glide through what feel like classics in “Wake Up”, “Hello”, and “Lighthouse”. The band and the crowd love it, and quite frankly, it wouldn’t be a shock if these boys end up very high on the main stage bill next year.
Scottish four-piece Twin Atlantic  are however, the best band that anyone is going to see today. With a mid-afternoon slot, and a tent that spills out with people, the band more than rise to the occasion. Opener “I am an Animal” sounds thunderous as every single person bounces up and down. Gliding through new material that sounds fresh as well as classic, songs like “Crash Land”, “Free” and “Make a Beast of Myself” are eaten up by the crowd. Set closer “Heart and Soul” is possibly the song of the festival as everyone bursts a lung singing it back to the band. These guys are future headliners in the making.
The last band I manage to catch today is co-headliner Queens of The Stone Age , on the main stage. Although it’s grey and raining, the band put on a class show. With a back catalogue to rival any of this weekend’s headline acts, they give the crowd what they’ve come to see, and Effortlessly flow from songs like “Feel Good Hit of The Summer” and “Sick, Sick, Sick”, to the big hits such as “Go with the Flow.” Always a class act, the only thing you have to question is why are this band only co-headlining? Still, Saturday has provided some major festival highlights, this included.
It’s Sunday. The last day of the festival and by now, most people are tired and well and truly hungover. The task of waking everyone up who are watching the main stage is one bestowed upon Brighton based Punk rock outfit, Gnarwolves . This three-piece outfit, are clearly loving their time up on what is the biggest stage they have played to date, and the crowd seem to love it too.
With each member of the band doing their bit, they ease through their set with aplomb. Thom Weeks is a close second to Dave Grohl, being the most humble and grateful man you will see up on that stage today, and thanks the crowd for waking up to see them. They might not be destined to headline anytime, but it’s likely that Gnarwolves may end up filling big venues such as the Roundhouse after this set at Leeds.
Back over at the NME/Radio 1 stage, female fronted, English hard rock outfit Marmozets  take to the stage. This band sound huge. From the moment the first riff kicks in, there are mosh pits from side to side. Even I take part in one with my friends. They know how to work a crowd, and have enough energy within their set to get everyone moving. Once their album drops later this year, expect to see them rising on the bill at Reading and Leeds Festival.
Brighton based duo Royal Blood , hit the stage next. With the crowd spilling out of the tent, the two-piece step up to their big moment. Sounding absolutely flawless, and with enough ability and class to not sound hackneyed like the band Drenge yesterday, Royal Blood simply tear Leeds a new one. “Little Monster” is a particular highlight and it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them on the main stage next year.
London based rock quartet Lower Than Atlantis  follow, and their set, in honesty, is dismal. Expecting big things, it takes the band more than a while to get the crowd warmed up, and even then front man Mike Duce is still not that good at it. Whether the NME tent is the wrong stage for them or not, is another question that needs to be answered, because with only the die-hard fans lapping it up, this is a show that should be forgotten.
Over on the main stage, The Hives  provide one of the most entertaining festival performances anyone will witness. With the band all arriving wearing black trousers and shoes, topped with white blazers and shirts, with black ties, the punk rock outfit put on an incredible performance. The crowd by this point are a little lacklustre, but that doesn’t take anything away from the band. If you ever go to a festival and The Hives are on the bill, go and watch them.
Back to NME/Radio 1 stage, and Bedford based pop-punk quartet Don Broco  take their place on stage. Powering through songs “Whole Truth”, “Priorities” and “Actors”, whilst doing the running man in sync, Don Broco know how to put on a show. The fans love it, and the boys from Bedford play one of the sets of the weekend. Closer “You Wanna Know” has every person up on their feet, and with this being the bands fourth Leeds in a row, and a new album dropping later this year, expect to see them back a fifth time.
Afterwards, over on the main stage, you cannot move for love or money to get a spot for Imagine Dragons . Simply put, they steal the weekend. With songs like “It’s Time”, “Amsterdam” and “On Top of the World” all being firmly established Imagine Dragons classics, the highlight of their set comes in the form of a cover of Blur’s “Song 2”. If you thought Imagine Dragons didn’t know how to start a mosh pit, then you are wrong. Around Thirty Thousand people or more, split apart as the classic riff arrives through the speakers, and Front man Dan Reynolds is the perfect man to conduct this pit.
Not to mention the scintillating, intertwining drum solos the band manage to perform, closing songs “Demons” and “Radioactive” have every single person at Leeds festival, singing at the top of their lungs. When and if we get a second album, this band Deserve to headline, and perhaps even could have headlined Leeds Festival.
The last two bands of the weekend I manage to catch are on smaller stages. Firstly, over on the Festival Republic stage, Indie three-piece We Are Scientists  walk onto stage with rapturous applause. Taking no prisoners, they sound as good as ever. They get the whole tent moving with their hits “After Hours”, “Rules Don’t Stop” and “Nobody Move…” before having some light-hearted banter with the crowd. Closing with one of the biggest Indie hits of the last ten years in the form of “Great Escape” it really is a festival highlight.
Last but not least, in The Pit stage, Issues  hit the stage to what is already a hot, steamy mess of die-hard fans. With breakdowns aplenty, mosh pits galore, and front man Tyler Carter sounding absolutely flawless, Issues command The Pit crowd as if there was nothing else happening outside of that small tent. For one hour, it feels as though you’re at an Issues headline gig, and not Leeds Festival, and when a band can do that, they are destined for big things.
See you next year.
Songs to Download: Heart And Soul – Twin Atlantic
Sex – The 1975
Great Escape – We Are Scientists
I Want Out – Young Guns
It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
Go and See: Young Guns, The Hives, Twin Atlantic, Imagine Dragons, The 1975, We Are Scientists.
Future Main Stage Acts: Issues, Don Broco, Mallory Knox, Marmozets, Royal Blood.
Review By Sam Ledgerwood