Dear readers, first let me explain why I, a fully grown adult writing for a counterculture website, am capable of mustering excitement for this corporate behemoth of a festival, full of people who have just received their GCSE results.

For the past few years, being involved in filming stuff for Leeds Festival’s YouTube channel, I’ve ironically seen less of the festival than probably anyone else, including people who weren’t here and / or are dead.

Restrictions on anyone but the BBC filming performances, and an ambitious workrate, meant that most of our time was spent either around the press tent interviewing bands about why Leeds Festival is the best thing since sliced sex, out in the arena filming people falling over, or editing furiously to produce the beautiful films encapsulating the human condition that were the result of mashing these two things together.

We saw next to nothing, most of the time. I’m not complaining, it was great fun, but it’s a fresh novelty to be able to come to Leeds Festival and touch things with my ears.

For novelty’s sake, we wander out into the arena for the first band of the first day, to see something I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen before: a pristine field in front of the main stage, with naive blades of fresh green grass standing enthusiastically to attention, as though excited about joining the weekend’s festivities. Sorry lads, but most of you are not going to make it, and those of you who do will never be the same again. From this weekend onwards, the sight of a single noodle will send you into post traumatic shock. But, for the moment, enjoy Pulled Apart By Horses. Enjoy them for me, because I don’t.

In one of the many daily demonstrations of my terrible taste, I cannot get into this band no matter how hard I try, how many people I love and respect think the sun shines from their equine-destroyed behinds, and how good I know in my ear of ears they are. They still don’t give me an erection where it matters, deep in my heart. But they’re technically awesome and match the energy of their small-but-rabid crowd scream for scream, and if Colin Murray is to be believed it’s the first time a Leeds band have opened the Leeds festival.

Against all odds, it doesn’t piss it down, and the brand new bright yellow mainstage shines like a second sun – “Yeah I know, have you seen it? It’s fucking horrible” says the first photographer I make that very observation to. He is also the last photographer I make that observation to.

Eagles of Death Metal are thoroughly entertaining in both riffage and banter, aided by the fact that the singer looks like he was riding a motorbike when a cat attacked him. But they’re not the best set I see all day. Don’t hit me,  I know it’s controversial, but the best set of the day in my honest, irrelevant and sacreligious opinion isn’t a band at all, but a comedian. Doc Brown, a rapper turned stand-up, who undermines rappers for a hilarious half hour from a perspective that nobody else could possibly do: the inside. His generic ‘insert your name and weapon of choice here’ rap is ego-prickingly funny and well observed.

Out of a sense of duty, and because I feel incredibly sorry for them going up against the Foo Fighters, I join a pitifully small crowd to watch excellent post-rock band Tall Ships headline the BBC Introducing stage. A couple little ‘uns in the crowd who’ve had a bit too much sugar are appreciating the band via the medium of interpretive dance, and I am tempted to join them but feel I lack the years of classical training that they have obviously had.

What can you say about the Foo Fighters really? They proceed to be the Foo Fighters for two and a half hours, with everything that that entails.

It’s been a pretty good day, as huge, nightmarish festivals go, so to sum up here’s a picture of Slurpy from Middleman wearing his happy birthday jumper.

Leeds Festival 2012: Day 1

Overheard campsite quote of the day: “My mate’s from Ireland too, do you know him?” “Ireland’s a big fucking place, Jack”

Pics by Jim DeBarker

I made you a compilation. You’re welcome:

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  1. […] you may remember from yesterday, it’s pointless trying to enthuse a photographer at a festival, and could in some cases […]


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