The target demographic for Leeds Festival is obvious from the moment you step foot into the arena. Men in Native American headdresses and women, faces streaked with neon paint - all under thirty - have gathered for the weekend.
We arrived on the Friday in time for A Day To Remember - an American rock band who fused pop punk and metal in a loud, energetic performance that had crowds sprinting from the far end of the field to join in with the action. You Me At Six, an already esteemed band who naturally generated an enormous crowd, are regulars at this festival. They’ve played before, and will surely play again, and the crowd loved every minute of their set.
We went to get a bite to eat, and toured the site during the wait for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. There was a wide range of food offered, from the standard burgers and chips, to Mexican cuisine. The food - from what we tasted - was all good quality. The only downside was that the majority of people opted for pizza, and the stalls eventually ran out of some of the more popular pizza flavours. The other stands were a mix of generic festival wear - flower crowns, face paint, and other essentials - and charity-shop style retro clothing. These were great for picking up one-of-a-kind pieces at a low price.
Unfortunately, the festival itself seemed too small for the vast crowds that it had attracted. There were no ‘chill-out’ spaces for people to relax, and most people in need of a break ended up in the Alternative Tent - after all the performances had finished. There was also no family area - though we didn’t see lots of children, those that we did see kept themselves entertained by collecting the paper cups and plastic bottles, which had a 10p deposit.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis probably shouldn’t have been as high up on the bill as they were. They played hit ‘Thrift Shop’ second - and a large amount of the crowd left after this - and didn’t have nearly enough material to fill the hour. The set was punctuated between each song with a rambling which seemed to bore the audience, and pyrotechnics that disguised the fact that they were stretching to fill the time slot. Countless shouts of “Get on with it!” suggested that the crowd were here for the music, and not timewasting.
The wait for Blink 182 was longwinded. We tried to catch the end of The 1975 on the NME Stage, but the mob of people was bulging out the side of the tent, and it was impossible to get inside. Something we did realise while trying to hear what we could of them was the fact that the stages were far too close together, and the sound from the Dance Stage and the Lock Up Stage was bleeding out, obscuring the music.
By 9pm, the Main Stage was packed, everyone waiting in anticipation for the San Diego-formed trio. They closed the festival with a great catalogue of hits and humour. Guitarist Tom DeLonge had fun changing the words of their songs to dirtier lyrics, and built a great rapport with the crowd. They finished with ‘Family Reunion’, accompanied by fireworks, and left the crowd on a high.
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