Being set beside the rolling Yorkshire hills scattered with hay bales that go on for as far as the eye can see, this really is a striking part of the world and a perfect place to host some of the biggest bands around. With a dedicated crowd of up and coming music fans in tow as well as the more experienced followers I would highly recommend this festival for newbies to the festival scene or to those who have been around the block a few times as this really is one of the original festivals out there. It also must be said that Yorkshire and Leeds is well worth extending your weekend stay to explore all of what is on offer, and I guarantee you will meet some of the friendliest folk on earth.
Almost certainly considered as one of the most highly regarded festivals Reading and Leeds really is up there and a festival that outshines many. Some of the most world renown and legendary bands draw together to mark just a select few and this festival is one of them.
Featured bands are almost always guaranteed to be both the up and coming underground acts who are just breaking through and the big all-time classic bands that mark whole chapters of people’s lives and evoke memories spanning across whole decades.
As approximately 75,000 festival goers flock toward the festival site there is a feeling of unity and friendliness that I haven’t experienced quite in the same way ever before at any other festival. Being based on the edge of the City Of Leeds and technically in Yorkshire this has got to be one of the friendliest crowds for the fact the ‘Northern Soul’ can be one of the warmest places on earth. Having a crowd of people who are true dedicated music fans and based at this end of the country I really felt I was surrounded by like- minded friends all just up for enjoying some of the best music going.
The site is very easy to get to and well signposted. I must admit I always expect the worst when travelling to any festival and although being on a bank holiday and travelling from Cheltenham the route was very straight forward and plenty of information was given.
The friendliness and welcome reception I received from the people on the ticket box, marshals, stewards and security was second to none and there really was a familiarity of a ‘home from home’ like presence and it was apparent that everyone was going above and beyond to make you feel safe and at ease. Having arrived at the festival alone and as a young woman I was slightly apprehensive about this especially considering the line-up of heavy metal rock bands; however the general consensus and feel of the crowds was one of fun and dedicated fans who just wanted to enjoy and embrace what the music stands for. I was pleasantly surprised that even when some of the hardest bands were on I was surrounded by smiles and an uplifting atmosphere. I will mention at this point that of course there was allot of mention of ‘mosh pits’ and I could see that further in toward the front of the crowd it was allot more ‘energetic’ to say the least haha, but all in good spirit and people seemed to respect each other. I think it’s just a case of deciding how involved one wants to get, being a woman on my own carrying a decent camera I decided to play safe and watch and enjoy from afar!
Being someone who eats three times as much as the average male I put food and the amenities quite high on my list of priorities when going to a festival. I am pleased to say that there was a varied array of food and quite allot of northern dishes too which is always a pleasure to behold. Pie, Chips and Gravy like no other as this is the territory from which it comes from! As well as the usual such as noodles, falafel, burger stalls there is enough choice generally to cater for everyone’s taste or requirements. I was pleased to see that although this being a Northern Rock Festival there was something for us girls and those wanting something a bit different too; lots of fresh produce, salads and healthy options all round as well as a few cocktail stands dotted around!
An array of stalls selling everything from incense and funky clothes; to an Oxfam shop for those who just needed an extra pair of socks or a jumper for the evenings but didn’t want to spend a fortune. And for those who get right on it and have a weekend on the beers the loo facilities are plentiful and get cleaned regularly. And if you are really over doing it I noticed that most of the camping facilities are really close by so there isn’t too much of a trek to where you lay your head at night / early hours of the morning! There are also ‘quieter camping’ facilities for those who may want more than just forty winks!
Something I did notice which is something I haven’t seen at any other festival is a ‘quiet zone’ which is a whole big top tent pretty much just dedicated to silent disco and on until the wee small hours of the morning. I thought this is a great idea for those who are just not going to sleep much at a festival or who want to party once the headlining acts are done.
It is clear to see that musicians and bands highly regard Reading and Leeds festival and I can see why. I got the feeling that it is a case of if you play at Reading and Leeds you really have made it in your career much the same as the kudos of Glastonbury.
Headlining and the well known acts this year were as follows:
With Hosting such as NME/ BBC Radio 1 Stage, BBC Radio 1 Dance Stage, Lock Up/ Rock Stage, Festival Republic Stage, BBC Radio 1 Extra Stage, Alternative Stage and BBC Introducing Stage this gives you an idea into the kind of backing and support this festival gets from some of the best production teams in the UK.
It is apparent by the fact this is a festival plugging and supporting all the new and up and coming acts and there is an air of excitement around knowing that you are witnessing these new acts forge the next steps in their musical career and there is something to be said for exposure these bands get at this festival as this helps them on their way. When you go to true Great British festivals like Leeds you know you are helping to support some of the most talented and true musicians out there.
Yes, there is a commercial element but I cant stress enough at how Leeds festival is nowadays one of the least pretentious or commercial festivals I've been to in the way that it is not about the hype or about trying to look ‘pretty’ , trendy or glam. It is just about what good music is all about – good music and that’s it. The bands that play here get the real portrayal that they seek and are represented as musicians rather than having some sort of ‘x-factor’.
These guys invented the ‘X-Factor’ long before some of the youngsters that go to this festival were but a distant idea in their parents minds! This is a festival that shows the young what music and music festivals should represent and reminds the rest of us what we may have let the mass media and commercialism let us forget.
At the point of watching the lead singer of the Deftones attempt to jump into the crowd and followed by him downing off a bottle of ‘York- Shire Ale’ I overheard people laughing and joking that ‘he is trying to make a point that this is ‘Rock and Roll’ and what it is all about’. Not that I condone that downing off beer should be part of a set but it is all in good humour and made me think that we are all too politically correct these days, we have lost the very freedom that makes us all individual and this festival is definitely as individual as it gets! So Rock on!
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