All my previous memories of Leeds Festival are tinged with a golden haze that I know for a fact wasn’t there at the time, when I smelled like wet dog and was shivering miserably, sinking me ever lower into the mud.
This year, people are actuallyÃÂ spontaneouslyÃÂ combusting in the sunshine, and it doesn’t feel right. I want to feel like I survived this, not that I merely ‘attended’ and ‘enjoyed’ it, which is for people who go to Latitude Festival.
The photographer, who has been living off ÃÂ pretzels for three days now, has taken to singing ‘sometimes it’s hard to be a vegan’ at the top of his voice to the tune of Stand By Your Man whilst walking around the arena looking for stalls that care about animals as much as he does (to an almost sexual degree), and it’s true that this year there are no obvious vegan options.ÃÂ There’s a brief moment of excitement when we spot a stall which says I <3 Ostriches but this turns out to be a stall selling ostrich burgers, it is not a petting zoo, and he needs to be dragged away before he has chance to open the freezer and set them free. If the ostrich burgers are made of ostriches, I don’t even want to know what dressing they’re using over at the Daddy Burger van.
Imagine how inappropriately excited said photographer is to see a pantomime horse appear during Santigold‘s set, out of which pop two gorgeous women who proceed to gyrate all over the stage (I think he’s paranoid she’s been checking his browser history). But that’s not even the best bit. The best bit is when most of the children in the crowd are invited to storm the stage and wiggle around a bit. I feel I have to point out at this stage that the photographer is not aroused by this.
In the time killed waiting for Hawk Eyes, we wander the arena from stage to stage seeing nothing in particular, but certainly nothing as beautiful as the laughing and cheering crowd gathered round a fantastically pixelated guy who has apparently dropped 50p in the mud and is having trouble getting his limbs in the right order to pick it up. He keeps lowering himself until he’s very close to it, then falling on his face, then doing press-ups as though that’s what he meant to do all along. Only at Leeds Festival could someone need that 50p so badly, be that fucked that they can’t pick it up, and draw such an appreciative crowd in the process.
The above is around five times more entertaining than Florence and the Machine, so this is the only sentence she gets. Her voice is in good shape though, contrary to previous festivals I’ve caught her at, so she can have this sentence as well.
Maybe I’m biased in Hawk Eyes‘ favour, but that’s only because they are the best thing on the bill today IDST no comebacks. The crowd for them is hefty, probably more than 300 people are packed in around the tiny BBC Introducing stage, all wanting to get close enough to be hit in the face with a stray riff. They needn’t have worried. Despite this being the least practical place for it, and despite being live on BBC regional radio, Paul sticks his mic stand in the crowd and jumps in to play from there for a bit, as per. Security don’t stop him, but rather offer him protection – as though anyone in the crowd would want to try and stop this racket.
On the way back from this stunner, I’m surprised to see that Feeder – on the Festival Republic stage – have drawn a crowd so massive that they’re spilling out of the tent, while At The Drive In on the NME stage look to have at least a third of a tent free for aeroplane arms. I don’t know what conclusion to draw from this, because with most of the crowd being very young I’d have thought that Feeder’s glory days would have passed them by – you can’t tell me this is all on the back of Buck Fucking Rogers.
One conclusion we can all draw is that there are far too many people watching Kasabian.ÃÂ The only thing I usually want Kasabian to close is Tom Meighan’s mouth, but they play a stimulating closing set on the mainstage. The only problem is that what they stimulate is not worth stimulating, like poking an old dog with a stick until it opens one eye and dribbles. Looking around at the crowd who are most enjoying their set on the last night of the festival, you have no idea how accurate that simile is. They’re nice, they’re cheap, they’re filling, they send you into a coma – they’re musical MSG, and there will always be a place for that, but that place shouldn’t really be the last band on the mainstage.
Far better would have been the joyous Metronomy, whose set we catch the end of in the Dance Tent. Having dropped in on all the headliners by this point, it’s Metronomy doing the most effective job of moving the limbs of people who have been sleeping awkwardly in freezing tents for the past three days. I’m so thankful that this is the last thing I get to see before the festival ends, because the next morning we get the downpour we’ve been waiting for. And while we’re huddled under an umbrella in the middle of a muddy field, waiting for a lift – eating Cheerios out of the box and looking like the worst advert for Cheerios ever – if I didn’t have sunny Metronomy residue in my ears at the same time, I don’t think I could cope.
Overheard campsite quote of the day: “ONE DIRECTIOOOOOOOOOON!!!”
Pics byÃÂ Jim DeBarker