• Charlotte Hardman

Leeds Festival / 23rd-25th August- Louder Live

Once one of the most iconic rock festivals in the UK scene, Leeds Festival has seen a shift in its target demographic over the years as the popularity of indie and dance music has grown. But never fear- for those who are left pining for the days when the likes of Green Day and My Chemical Romance would be gracing the hallowed boards of the Leeds Fest Main Stage, there are still plenty of great acts on the line-up to please even the most discerning die-hard rock fan! Here’s a summary of just some of our personal highlights from this year’s festival, featuring the finest rock and punk acts the festival has to offer:

Petrol Girls: @Petrol_Girls

Anyone looking for a way to blow off the early morning cobwebs had to look no further than Petrol Girls who undeniably opened up the Pit Stage with a bang on Saturday morning! The quartet, whose members were brought together by a love of post-hardcore and tackling discrimination head-on delivered their powerful feminist agenda as a whiplash-inducing, sucker-punch of sound. Recent single ‘Survivor’ bubbled and frothed with a violent ferocity- an impassioned response to the horrors exposed by the recent #MeToo movement, while the softer, more ethereal sections of the vocal melody of ‘Sister’, followed by the resonant spoken-word bridges and earth-shattering screams that each ebbed and flowed in turn, created a depth and an impressive rising and falling of palpable emotion. Ferocious closer ‘Touch Me Again’ commanded the audience’s attention to the last note, descending into a final flourish of chaotic screams that the early risers would have ringing in their ears for the rest of the day!

Milk Teeth: @milkteethpunx

Another one of the many powerful female voices rising up through the UK punk scene can be found in Becky Blomfield, vocalist of the grunge-punk quartet Milk Teeth, who, with the recent addition to the touring line up of guitarist Em Foster from melodic alt rock band Nervus, were here to prove that they were now stronger and better than ever- and they passed the test with flying colours! The relentless pummelling of the drums in the chorus of ‘Fight Skirt’ whipped the mosh pit up into a frenzy, the driving rain outside the tent evaporating in an instant in the heat of the restless swarm of bodies. The upbeat, summery melody of ‘Owning Your Okayness’ only enhanced the fiery venom that fuelled the lyrics, and, though a contrast in pace and tone, the emotional, poignant ‘Swear Jar’ was delivered with equal candor and honesty. The driving bassline and unyielding bounce of the guitars on ‘Brain Food’ epitomised the entire set- blending pure punk grit with uplifting guitar melodies that made it impossible not to want to throw yourself headlong into the mosh!

Waterparks: @waterparks

A mere two years on from their first ever show on UK soil, which took place just down the road at Slam Dunk Festival North in 2016, Texas trio Waterparks, an embodiment of the power of the modern pop rock scene, have returned to the city on a much bigger stage- the Leeds Festival Main Stage, no less. Despite having an early set, the band pulled an impressive crowd, most of whom were swept along instantly by the infectious groove of ‘Blonde’, which boasts broad, simple guitar lines with electronic backing ducking and weaving throughout to create an enticing rhythm. The clever lyricism of ‘Royal’ and ‘Take Her to the Moon’, a ridiculously bouncy summer pop anthem, was balanced by the soft lull of the beautiful acoustic ballad ‘Lucky People’, displaying the full range of talent this band have and proving why they are utterly deserving of their meteoric rise to stardom.

Creeper: @creepercultuk

Having just played a tour of several intimate venues up and down the country, Southampton’s resident horror-punks Creeper seemed to have found that their comfort zone has expanded, and they can be just as at home on huge stages as they can in the tiny, sweaty punk clubs in which they founded their movement which has since taken the rock world by storm. Many Callous Heart patches and layers of black denim littered the crowd despite the rare sunshine which beat down on the Main Stage, and for those eagerly awaiting fans, Creeper did not disappoint. Resident circle-pit starter ‘Suzanne’ caught the attention of even the discerning members of the crowd, as Creeper tore through their set like an unstoppable black-and-purple hurricane! The deceptively calm, soothing opening to ‘Hiding With Boys’ gave way to a storm of crashing guitars, overtured by frontman Will’s soaring vocals, which were matched in power only by keys player Hannah Greenwood, whose voice shone like sunlight through raindrops on the heart-wrenching ‘Crickets’. Though some in the crowd were not enamoured with Creeper’s alternative image and unorthodox sound, the poignancy of closer ‘Misery’ was not lost on the fans of the band- a truly magnificent, unifying anthem.

Don Broco: @donbroco

Few bands do raucous, uplifting and experimental pop rock better than Don Broco, and their set epitomised the wild abandon of summer festival joy at its finest! The warped synths of ‘Come Out to LA’ sent the whole crowd spinning through a riotous technicolour rollercoaster, while the sultry groove of the guitars on ‘Money Power Fame’ provided the perfect backdrop to showcase the soaring power of frontman Rob Damiani’s vocals. The rousing chorus of ‘T-Shirt Song’ was hailed with a sea of swinging shirts, causing the crowd to ripple like the ocean in a storm that swallowed vocalist Rob up entirely as he dove headlong into the chaos as the final chords came to their screeching conclusion! It was a practically whiplash-inducing hour that left you breathless and pumped with adrenaline- you’d have been hard pressed to find a more fun set across the entirety of the festival!

Fall Out Boy: @falloutboy

If ever there was a band capable of delivering a crowning glory to this festival, proud Chicago natives and pop punk giants Fall Out Boy were the blindingly obvious choice. The hordes of people clustered around the Main Stage as dusk descended and the lights came up erupted into a cacophony of noise as the band took to the stage and proceeded to shake it to its foundations! It is tradition that a band pulls out all their big-hitters and chart-toppers for a festival headline set, however peppered amongst their iconic, multi-platinum anthems was the unexpected delight of some lesser-known tracks. Opener ‘Disloyal Order of Water Buffalos’ was an unusual yet inspired choice, with its operatic vocals and rippling organ that is then sliced through by the thundering drums and reverberating guitars. The band also took it all the way back to one of their first singles with the undulating guitar line and infectious melody of ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’, much to the delight of their older, dedicated core fanbase. All the classics were also present and correct, of course: ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’ drew a chorus of voices from the crowd so loud that frontman Patrick Stump’s vocals were almost entirely inaudible; guitarist Joe Trohman’s improvised guitar solo during their cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ was electrifying, while the ferocity of rebellious anthem ‘I Don’t Care’ was matched only by the pyrotechnics that erupted in columns of flame, surrounding drummer Andy Hurley in a blinding orange haze. Tracks from their latest record ‘Mania’ were taken to by the crowd with almost equal vigour, particularly ‘Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea’- shouts of ‘eau de resistance!’ could be heard echoing across the fields for miles around! The highlight of what was already a blisteringly memorable set, however, had to be closer ‘Saturday’- a track from their first full-length which is still beloved by the band as their traditional closing song. An eruption of confetti and sparkling purple fireworks accompanied the crashing in of the final chorus, laced with bassist Pete Wentz’s iconic screams, leaving an unforgettable, comfortingly warm scorch of memory on the hearts and minds of the entire crowd.

This small selection of bands are just some from the very long list of bands and artists who impressed over the weekend- from Billy Talent and Mike Shinoda to Bloxx and Dinosaur Pile Up, Panic! at the Disco and Sum 41 to The Wombats and The Front Bottoms, there was a plethora of bands who made a lasting impression on all who braved the mud and the rain to experience them. So for those worried about the future of the UK’s stellar rock festival credentials, never fear- the future of the big festival stages is in safe hands for the foreseeable future!

Tickets for Leeds Festival 2019 are on sale now at: https://www.leedsfestival.com/tickets

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