Note: As only two members of the site were able to review the festival weekend, we were sadly unable to cover every band performing throughout the festival.
One of the longest running popular music festivals in the UK, the Reading/Leeds Festival weekend is well reknowned and has been hugely popular since its inception. This year, we made an appearance at the Leeds site of the event, and what a (muddy) weekend it was. With the co-headline act appearing for Leeds having Pulp headline and close the festival, there’s nothing like a bit of nostalgia to end a fantastic weekend of music.
SEASICK STEVE – 7/10
Seasick Steve has come along way from the streets of California where he was discovered. His homeless-blues puts a smile on everyone’s face today, none more so than the girl he gets up on stage to serenade. Him and his drummer friend look like a pack of travelling hobos, and I guess in a way they are, but that doesn’t stop them from churning out great songs crafted from the streets they call(ed) home. He’s even joined onstage at one point by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, proving the power of music can unite people from all over the world, no matter where they’ve come from.
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB – 6/10
It seems Two Door Cinema Club are another band who’ve managed to achieve a rather reasonable amount of commercial success in a short amount of time. Only three years ago they were playing small clubs in support of Iglu & Hartly, and now they’re scoring main stage spots at one of the UK’s biggest festivals. Though the likes of ‘I Can Talk’ and ‘This Is The Life’ are delivered greatly, there just doesn’t appear to be enough conviction in their set to make an average performance a great one.
MADNESS – 7/10
Easily one of the longest playing acts to appear across the whole festival weekend, Madness have got a barrel full of hits and fan favourites behind them, and everyone in attendence is hear to experience them all whilst getting their skank on. ‘House Of Fun’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’ bring the more joyous moment and ‘It Must Be Love’ gets the whole crowd singing along. They may be out of their prime now, but they can still pull out their big hits as well as they ever could before.
JIMMY EAT WORLD – 8/10
Jimmy Eat World are a fan favourite across the world. If you don’t like at least one Jimmy song then, well you really mustn’t like music. Thankfully for the band, today’s crowd likes lots of their songs and they are the perfect mid-Sunday afternoon band, filling the air with their American emo rock sensibilities. Fifthteen tracks of flawlessness including an emotional ‘Hear You Me’ have everyone singing along and embracing each other throughout. Their entire back catalogue is almost perfect, but a finisher of ‘Bleed American’, ‘The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness’ is the absolute pinnacle and solidifies them as one of the strongest bands in rock today.
THE STROKES – 7/10
Stepping down from the Reading Festival spot of headliner to sub-headliner for Leeds, indie rockers The Strokes are far from an exhiliratingly fast-paced act, but can definitely churn out their tunes with finese and to a stature that many cannot. ‘Juicebox’‘s fast-paced guitar riffs sound crisp yet full of attitude, and ‘Reptilia’ follows suit in a similar manner. Of course, everyone sings along to ‘Last Night’ from one side of the field to the other, though not everyone else has quite as raspy a voice as that of Julian Casablancas.
PULP – 8/10
With the band recently reunited for a bunch of festival appearances and concerts, Britpop sextet Pulp are without a doubt one of the biggest buzz bands of the whole weekend. Vocalist Jarvis Cocker is a charming gentleman, seducing the crowd with his almost sweet as honey talk, mentioning at one point of him “bringing the fire” to the crowd with a small fireplace prop before going into ‘Pencil Skirt’, and getting the crowd to applaud their way to him taking his jacket off. But, as was undoubtedly predicted by many, the brightest moments shone through in their renditions of ‘Disco 2000’ and set closer ‘Common People’, with what might arguably the biggest crowd sing alongs the festival has seen the entire weekend. A fantastic close to another great year at Leeds Festival.
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – 7/10
With their new album being released the day after their set, it’s no wonder that they hype behind their performance is strong enough to almost max out the entire tent. Throughout their set they bring out track after track of strong and sharp material, and the crowd are loving every second the band are onstage. Without a shadow of a doubt the pinnacle moment of their set is with closer ‘Always Like This’, through which it seems like everyone within the tent is singing back each and every word to the band, where frontman Jack Steadman stands in awe with a grin across his face. The crowd event chant the chorus line for moments after the band have finished up and taken off the stage.
GLASSJAW – 7/10
Long Island’s Glassjaw are always going to split opinion. Many had been waiting with baited breath since their announcement on the line-up to and when they finally arrived… the anticipation kind of fizzled out. With a set list derived almost entirely from their new ‘Coloring Book’ EP, many fans in the not so full NME/Radio 1 tent were left bemused, but to be honest we wouldn’t expect anything less. The sound was incredible and when ‘Ape Dos Mil’ rounded off their set, people were left wondering what may have happened if there was just a couple more old songs in the set as it sounded amazing.
SHARKS – 6/10
Punk rockers Sharks are a bassist down, and in their urgency have recruited Gallows‘ Steph Carter to fill in the spot last minute. Though their set is undeniably energetic, with frontman James Mattock reeking of the punk rock vibe in his swagger, the Birmingham quarter seem a little restrained, perhaps due to the loss of a permanently fixed bassist. Regardless, Steph manages to do justice for the band on such short notice, and they all still have their full worth to prove once the line-up has been mended to a stable state.
TITLE FIGHT – 7/10
Addressing themselves in a bit more of a hardcore punk fashion than the Lock Up Stage’s predecessors, Title Fight deliver a set of raw passion. There’s a huge gap between themselves and the crowd, something which they make note of that they’re unfamiliar with. This very factor sadly keeps Title Fight on leash that if broken free could’ve pushed the band forward to performing a fantastic set.
TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET – 5/10
If you imagine a slightly more fast-paced Bowling For Soup with the members being a little bit older, you wouldn’t be too far from describing Teenage Bottlerocket. Their pop-punk tunes are undeniably a load fun and pumped with energy, but it all seems a little too one-dimensional and second rate to many bands pulling off the same sort of thing. The band bring in a chuckle here and there, citing their shortest song as the best they’ve ever written and using their guitars as shotguns blasting the front row, but all in all their performance lacks any chance of being remembered.
LETLIVE. – 9/10
It’d be fair to say that Letlive. have a fair amount of hype about them at the minute. This may be true, but the hype is definitely lived up to by watching their live performances. Frontman Jason Butler is like a man possessed as he tears across the stage from the chats of “Stand up” in ‘Le Prologue’ leading into the ferocious ‘The Sick, Sick, 6.8 Billion’. Only playing six songs, the set is a swift kick in the teeth that sees Jason climb on top of the huge amps at the side of the stage and throw himself head first into the drum kit. ‘Renegade ’86’ and ‘Casino Columbus’ finish off a set leaving many who were just passing by stunned by what they’d seen. As always, a highlight of the weekend.
COMEBACK KID – 7/10
These Canadians know exactly how to get a festival crowd going. Having never played Leeds before, they’re determined to make their mark and they certainly did, all over the Lock Up tent. Circle pits, gang chants, crowd surfers; we’ve got the lot here, and as old songs like ‘False Idols Fall’ and ‘Talk Is Cheap’ meld perfectly with new tracks like ‘G.M. Vincent And I’, it’s a recipe for chaos. The mighty ‘Wake The Dead’ brings their set close a close, and shows that there’s still plenty of life in this band yet.
THE BRONX – 9/10
Having provided us with Mexican entertainment earlier on in the Festival Republic Tent, The Bronx were now ready to let loose on he Lock Up and oh my, let loose they did. The unstoppable ‘Knifeman’ starts off the proceedings, and the band are on top form as frontman Matt Caughthran riles up the crowd like there’s no tomorrow. ‘White Tar’ is a raucous affair, and the whole set sees the front of the Lock Up go berserk. At one point, Matt says to the crowd “follow me” as he jumps in and makes a run for the sound desk, all the way from the stage. This is heroically followed by him being carried back to the stage on the shoulders of those in the midst of it all. Ending up with a wolf mask on and a fist in the air, both crowd and band know that this has been more than eventful and we can’t wait to see them come back to the UK.
THE KING BLUES – 8/10
Finally, a filled Lock Up tent. Clearly a lot of people know better than to watch The Strokes, and The King Blues are the ideal antidote with their sing-along punk anthems. Frontman Itch is at his usual ranting best, getting the crowd fired up for ‘We Are Fucking Angry’ and ‘Let’s Hang The Landlord’. The crowd takes over for ‘My Boulder’ and a double header of ‘I Got Love’ and ‘Save The World, Get The Girl’ to finish things off, providing the crowd with the warmth they need on this darkening Sunday evening.
MARIACHI EL BRONX – 9/10
So you’re in one of the world’s best punk rock bands, what else can you do? Oh, that’s right, start a Mariachi band side project. Dressed to the nines in Mariachi outfits, The Bronx‘s take on the traditional Mexican music is highly, highly entertaining as songs like ‘Cell Mates’ and ‘Silver Or Lead’ get a big rise out of the crowd.
Written by Zach Redrup and Callum Galbraith