We arrived on Sunday just after two, and decided to try out the funfair attractions to start off our day. One token for the Waltzers was £4, which was costly for the amount of time you were allowed, but it seemed like the rides had attracted enough attention despite this.
On the NME stage at five past three was Lower Than Atlantis, an alt rock band with punk undertones. Many of their songs were hard to distinguish and too similar, but nevertheless they put on a reasonable performance. Next up were Cage The Elephant, a rock band from Kentucky who attracted an immense horde of people. Frontman Matt Schultz had charisma comparable to Mick Jagger or Michael Hutchence, and interacted with the crowd for the duration of the performance. Each song was a hit in its own right, and even after ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’, the large majority of the crowd stayed till the end.
The festival seemed to attract much more people, probably due to the headliner of the night, which meant that moving around between stages was difficult at parts.
Foster the People drew a fairly big crowd on the main stage, with their indie-pop beats and upbeat attitude, but the style of music may have been better suited to the NME stage, especially after ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ seemed disappointing when played live. The crowd grew even more for Imagine Dragons, who had an hour set to fill. Frontman Dan Reynolds invited plenty of audience interaction and even performed a cover of ‘Song 2’ by Blur. The only downside was that they didn’t seem to have enough material to fill the set, but the performance went down just fine despite this.
Jake Bugg let the music speak for itself, barely interacting with the crowd between his indie folk tracks. Two years ago, Bugg made his Leeds debut on the Festival Republic stage, so it was a great - and warranted - achievement for the 19 year old to precede the headliners. His distinctive voice managed to generate a colossal gathering, and he made sure to play favourites such as ‘Lightning Bolt’ and ‘Two Fingers’.
The main attraction of the night were Arctic Monkeys, and it was evident that they’d attracted the majority of the people at the festival. The Main Stage was almost invisible from the back of the field. The band opened with ‘Do I Wanna Know’, and lead Alex Turner appeared wearing a white Yorkshire Rose on each lapel of his suit. Musically, the performance was outstanding, with the older songs sending the crowd wild, encouraging roars of enthusiasm. However, Turner could barely open his eyes, and the interaction he did make with the crowd was incoherent for the most part. Yells of ‘Yorkshire’ seemed to be the best he could muster, and it was fair to say that the set would have been a lot better if he’d stuck to playing the music that the fans visibly loved.
Overall, the festival hosted a wide range of musical talent, but there were definitely some drawbacks in regards to the site itself. The fact that the festival is specifically aimed at a certain demographic also led to a feeling of alienation if you weren’t within that age range, whereas other festivals - which encourage people of all ages - have a more chilled atmosphere.
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