Leeds Festival 2007
Somehow it managed to slip under the noses of the BBC that Bramham Park, Leeds, was once again populated by tens of thousands of young music fans this past August Bank Holiday Weekend. Perhaps us Northerners should resort to rioting more often if we want our music festivals to get equal press coverage from our national treasure. The TV highlights shows that followed this years Carling Weekend were criminally biased, but I won't let that put a dampener on my festival experience (not even the rain did that at this year's festival, which was the sunniest I can remember).
It is hard to linger on such provincial injustices after such a sun-drenched, blissful weekend, with the atmosphere too more warm and welcoming than in previous years (albeit a little overly placid on the main stage, although this is nothing unusual). As the amount of heavier rock diminishes from the top of the line-up, so too does the mindless bottle throwing and the JackAss-style drunkenness that has given Leeds the image of a festival for lunatics. There is still the odd 'crazy' teenager drunk on rank cider, but overall the Leeds Festival this year seemed a slightly more mature affair. Perhaps the unusually sultry weather subdued the unruliness in a similar way to the baking heat of Spain's' Bennicasim, but thankfully those sad days of hooliganism seemed long dead this year.
Another major bonus was Thursday nights' Dance to The Radio stage. Where traditionally early campers would dwell on future exploits around risky campfires beneath unstable gazeboes, they were this year allowed to leave the confines of their campsite for the brightlights of the arena section. Performing on the smallest stage of the festival, the unsigned stage, were Grammatics, The Wallbirds, Sky Larkin, Shut Your Eyes And You'll Burst into Flames and Â¡Forward, Russia!, all originating from Yorkshire. As Grammatics graced the stage it was no doubt the biggest crowd of their young career as thousands of giddy, voluptuous and, most importantly, fresh feeling festival goers flocked to the stage for an early opportunity to merrily dance amidst the premature carnival hedonism. The Wallbirds inparticularly, with their instantly likeable country-rock euphoria, thrived amongst this party atmosphere.
Friday was a hot day. At the main stage black clad moshers were left doused in sweat following a habitual day of heavy rock courtesy of the likes of Nine Inch Nails. Elsewhere the sweat was somewhat MDMA influenced as synths, glowsticks and CSS rocked the Radio 1 stage. There were, as ever, some let downs. LCD Soundsystem for the second time this year at a Leeds based festival (they supported Daft Punk at July's Wireless Festival) were hugely disappointing, but then there were little gems everywhere. Whisky Cats, playing a latin-rock style sandwiched somewhere between Radio 2 and Mardi Gras, were a delightful fillip from the previous nights exploits playing as they did at Friday lunchtime.
Saturday was overshadowed on a personal level by the main stages' headline act being Razorlight. Fortunately I wasn't alone at Bramham Park in thinking this pop group to be fucking rubbish (technical term): both Patrick Wolf and Albert Hammond JR on the Carling Stage agreed with me (the fact that Golden Touch seemed to dominate the air between every song on this smaller stage did little to decrease the communal hatred. "Who thinks Razorlight should be turned down," Mr Hammond said from his modest pedestal). Wonderful bands such as Interpol and Kings of Leon shouldn't have to share a stage with King Borrell. Albert Hammond JR, incase your interested, was my personal highlight of the festival. He is what The Strokes would be like if they spent less time in New York and more time fishing, spitting into buckets and preventing Julian Casablancas from telling them what to do.
By the time Sunday arrives bands like The Shins have chance to shine. Mellow country rock is the order of the day, but unfortunately nobody told The Pigeon Detectives. They amassed possibly the biggest ever crowd for a gig at the Radio 1 stage, and probably bled the last final ounce of energy from many a excitable youngster by playing everything a break-neck speed. Quite outstanding.
I sometimes think the Red Hot Chili Peppers should start taking heroin again, because all they seem to do nowadays is play annoying radio friendly pop, which makes me think they are content with life. I preferred them when they appeared interminably starved of sex, even when on stage, and even though they probably got plenty. The View were a more appealing live act to the California funk/punk band. These young Scottish rascals seem finally to be realising that playing in unison makes listening to them much more pleasurable to anyone who hasn't just downed eight pints of diesel. It was almost like a Highlands shindig, and no doubt those Dundee youngsters had been revelling in the revelry with a 'few' pre-gig drinks. It was a drunken climax to a dishevelled weekend, but then anything would be better than the banality of the main stage.