Words by Natalie Shaw
We went to Leeds Festival, and wrote about seven things of note. Here they are:
1) Tom Vek is the best
Tom Vek stole Leeds Festival from under the rest of the line-up’s noses. His performance was a million miles from what I’d entirely unjustifiably imagined – a shy man in the corner hiding behind a laptop. Instead, we were presented with a supremely confident performer who continually switched up his moves as bold and bright as a gawky, obnoxious Beyonce. The monotone of his vocal was the only one-dimensional element of his performance.
While the new songs aren’t as fresh, with years of amazing music having come between them and Vek’s first mini-bout of fame, they’re in perfect context here at Leeds – whose bill has essentially been nabbed from the mid-00s. He takes us back to another micro-generation where we were twattishly precious, still learning – so much so that attendance feels like an ambition fulfilled; the sighting of a rare bird.
A voice that sounds so obscure – almost flooded by oddball beats and slides on We Have Sound – feels so rich and triumphant here that it’s almost implausible to think of where he’s been during that six-year hiatus. A venture into DnB on ‘A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.’, from the new album Leisure Seizure, sounds absolutely glorious – and opener ‘CC (You Set The Fire In Me)’ leaves a packed-to-the-brim Radio 1/NME tent beaming.
2) Leeds festival is a lot of fun
While it mightn’t be the most forward-thinking of festivals, Leeds’ audience are here for the music. It’s easy to presume that this must surely be the case at a music festival, but in this day and age of easy transportation between the city and the field, festivals are often over-run with people more interested in photographing themselves with a chilled Gaymers. NB: I don’t mean to be prattish, and I’m sure Glastonbury is different.
As likely as it is that touring acts judge a festival on its catering, the younger and louder front rows will have had an impact – on both the bands, and the middling middle rows, who were essentially shoehorned into having the best time of their flipping lives.
3) The Strokes should really just stop
The Strokes emerged with ‘Is This It?’ over 10 years ago – and sitting in the comfort of Leeds’ nostalgic bill, the gap becomes even more compressed.
In 2011, The Strokes are a spectacle rather than spectacular. Watching an aloof, leather-clad Julian Casablancas still trying so hard to retail his insouciant sense of cool is painful. It gets worse still – such is the lack of gravitas and default towards cruise control that it might as well have been a karaoke night…
4) Henna dolphin tattoos are a fashion ‘must’
When attending music festivals such as Leeds, there are stalls all over the place which offer the shopping equivalent of a pub crawl – you can become a fun-times festival reveller for probably about 20 of your English pounds, in the space of about 10 minutes. Speed shopping! An attractive prospect.
And so, out of my purse falls a tenner, into the arms of a fine young gent who gives me one (of these) (below); I will give it a good life for its swift 15 days, I promise.
Addendum: the neon face-paint and flowers in my hair (out of shot) only made it to the end of the festival.
5) Drinking too much gin makes a person unwillingly go and see Beady Eye
On day two, after a night comprising about seven different spirits and a sizeable period of overheating, I found myself departing an excellent Digitalism set for ‘a wee’. Unfortunately for me, ‘a wee’ ends up comprising a 10-minute stumble around (and a wee – in a toilet – don’t worry) until I feel stable again, which just happens to be in the tent where Beady Eye are playing. Graces.
And so to Liam Gallagher’s new band, who sound – remarkably – just like anything he’s ever done before. He even somehow misplaces his one trick – the gold-medal for waffling nonsense. Surely he still needn’t eye up the microphone like it’s about to knock him out, after years of familiarisation?
The music itself is unambitious and stale, apart from a shuffling, anachronistic ‘Bring The Light’, but the ultimate badness of someone so unashamedly self-mocking doesn’t exactly instil the highest of highs. This is Liam Gallagher squeezing out the last drips of his origins, to what presumably is a similarly slow-dripping quotient of people who believe that ‘Rock & Roll’ is the only saviour for ‘broken Britain’.
6) There are some bands who just aren’t designed for their time-slots/stages…
While not wishing to harp on Beady Eye for too long, it would’ve seemed fairer for them to play a mid-afternoon set on the main stage instead of headlining one of the tents. And worse still was The Horrors’ positioning as Festival Republic tent headliners on the Saturday night of the festival – not exactly the most charismatic of bands, even after trying to recover from a mid-set power cut. While others may have become openly nervous or at least acknowledged the problem, instead they simply resumed ‘Still Life’ from where it left off – which was, loosely, pretty special, but a mood-killer to kill all mood-killers. And just another blow in a flat, lifeless set.
Elbow are another band who kill the buzz, on Friday night on the main stage before proper festival headliners (and rightfully so) Muse. Guy Garvey’s tones are bland rather than rich, and it’s not because I’m from London that I’m so cynical – they’re just not “lovely” or “beautiful” or “everyman”, they’re just reasonably good at wisecracking while their fans sway.
7) And there were some bands who were brilliant
Three Trapped Tigers’ brutal noise, Gold Panda’s deranged revamp of ‘You’ which whizzes it into infinite-time before collapse, Fixers’ bizarre mix that looks and sounds awkward and messy and deliriously falsetto – and Bombay Biycle Club’s new son, seemingly Jens Lekman inspired. These were all absolutely spectacular.
Vodafone VIP is part of the VIP programme for customers, and Muso’s Guide is taking on official music blogger status at some of the summer’s hottest festivals. There are currently competitions running to win tickets to Latitude, T in the Park and Wireless, with more to come over the summer.
The Vodafone VIP experience extends further too – there’s a Vodafone VIP area across fashion, festivals and Formula 1 over the summer, a viewing platform giving customers shelter and brilliant views, a recharging truck capable of charging 2,000 phones at once and selected apps allowing festival-goers to see what’s on and where, locate their tent via GPS and plan schedules for their weekends.
Visit http://www.vodafone.co.uk/vip to find out more.