Come Sunday, the thousands of campers were weary and out on their feet, but ready for a fantastic days’s entertainment. The site was still a swampy mudbath, but with forecasts of clear skies and sun, it was looking promising for the final day of the festival.
As soon as I arrived I ran for the Dance Stage, desperate to catch some of Ghostpoet. Sadly I only caught the back end of his last song, but it was catchy and brought the hungover audience to life. A must see on his next tour!
Similarly, I only caught a snippet of New York’s Skaters, an indie-rock outfit that I can see growing into a fixture at Reading & Leeds. Their crowd may have been sparse and unknowledgable, but that didn’t stop them having fun with the Americans for a good half an hour or so.
Similarly to Saturday, I spent a good couple of hours in the same place on Sunday, this time the Festival Republic Tent, a place full of new talent waiting to be discovered. I saw Drenge and Swim Deep, back to back. Both were good in moderation, with outstanding songs, like ‘Honey’, ‘The Sea’ and ‘She Changes the Weather’, from the latter Brummies. Crowds were pretty decent too, with plenty of shoulder-riding and singing going on for the latter. Drenge were slightly more subdued, as the duo rattled through some awesome sounding music, but I’m not entirely sure whether they fit the tone of the stage.
Then it was time to check up on another NME darling, Palma Violets, a group who I was undecided on, their first album deceiving me at times. However, their blistering live set had people jumping around and going crazy. They are energetic, cocky and funny, all great features for a band to have. ‘Best of Friends’, was the highlight, a song that evokes the spirit of the Libertines when they were in their prime. With a couple of albums under their belt, I can see the southerners living up to the aforementioned hype, they look like they believe it too!
With that brief foray to the NME tent, it was off to the Main Stage for the remainder of my 2013 festival. White Lies were 4th from the top of the bill, but didn’t really live up to expectations. For a start, I wasn’t the biggest fan, I think a lot of their material sounds very ‘samey’, which was true of the performance, a performance hampered by sound problems and a pretty uninterested crowd, most of whom were hanging around for Chase & Status and Eminem later on that evening. Their early hits, ‘Fairwell to the Fairground’, and ‘Death’, were nice, but the longer it went on, the longer it felt they were ‘going through the motions’.
Up next were Foals, again a band I was wary of. I like a lot of their songs, but had never been impressed by their live performances I’d caught on TV. However, they were great fun, energetic and had some good banter with the crowd, lead singer Yannis ending up in the crowd by the end of their set. Before that though, songs like ‘Spanish Sahara’ and ‘My Number’, showed the variation in their song-craft, going from the deep, building tunes to a catchy pop number. The boss of the festival Melvin Benn has since claimed they could headline the festival, which I think was a slight over-exaggeration, although he said the same about the next act, something which may be true…
Chase & Status, an incredible act and a perfect appetizer for what was to come. Their set up saw the duo positioned behind a ‘C’ and ‘S’ DJ booth each, with MC Rage effectively the ringmaster of proceedings, dragging out the likes of Liam Bailey as guest vocalists, with Plan B and Delilah projected onto a humongous video screen above their heads. It was impressive to see such a stage show, especially given the problems Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails had.
When tracks like ‘No Problem’, ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Hypest Hype’, dropped, the crowd went nuts for it, descending into mosh pits and general dancing. It was amazing to see, and one of the loudest, best atmospheres of the festival I had witnesses (more of which later). It was strange, given all I’d heard and read online prior to the festival was that their booking was a poor one, not in-keeping with the tradition of the festival. Sure, that may be correct, but why not move with the times, book popular acts who DO have crossover with the rock, alternative and indie music scene (you’d have been surprised just how many ‘metalheads’ were enjoying themselves to C&S). I don’t see it as an issue, especially as it helps to keep the festival going, something which the next act definitely helped with.
The rap legend that is Eminem graced the stage for his second headline set, amongst a bunch of questions and fears. I got talking to people around me beforehand and whilst everyone was excited, noone knew what to expect! Old material, new material- a mixture of both? Would he mime? Well whilst that wasn’t really clarified (although personally I think he relied on backing track the odd time, but was at his best and actually rapping for the majority of the set), one thing was clear; Eminem was back.
Whilst a lot of the first half of the set was his newer material, from ‘Recovery’ and ‘Relapse’, it was bearable in a live environment. This was partly due to the live band AND DJ he had accompanying him, aswell as the buzzing crowd, still excited from C&S who were devouring his hit-packed set.
My favourite moment of the festival came with the 3 minute medley of older songs, that was, ‘My Name Is/The Real Slim Shady/Without Me’. For 3 minutes I was a child again, and it was amazing! As was the special guest for ‘Stan’, Dido herself. Both of those moments were special and brought much acclaim from the audience. Then a one-song encore came about a great rendition of the intense, ‘Lose Yourself’, before Em headed off for good. It may have been a fairly brisk, 25 song, 100 minute set, but god was it good. And that was Leeds Fest 2013, done just like that!
So, to round it all off, Leeds 2013 was fantastic, perhaps as an overall experience outing 2012’s edition, Foo Fighters and all! We saw the newly anointed Biffy Clyro become the rock gods they were destined to be, a return for the veterans of pop-punk, Green Day and Eminem finish it all off with a blistering display of a hip-hop gig. Other personal highlights were the likes of HAIM and Peace on the NME stage, Chase & Status killing the Main Stage, Major Lazer bringing the party to the tent, aswell as echoes of the Libertines, with Palma Violets giving a confident, humourous performance.
It may have been muddy, it may have been soaking wet; but Leeds Festival 2013 was bloody good!