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Festival Coverage: Leeds 2015 - Saturday

  • Published in Live

Still on a high from the previous evening, Saturday begins with a liquid breakfast and a trip to the Main Stage to catch LA's Mariachi El Bronx, who cheekily introduce themselves as “The Bad News Bears from Reno, Nevada” before immediately launching in to a short but perfectly executed set of Mariachi music. From the bemused looks on some faces there are several people here who would rather be watching the band's hardcore iteration, but the first act of the day, the likes of 'Right Between the Eyes' and 'Wildfires' make for a gentle and novel start to the day's proceedings.


Remaining on the Main Stage, the upbeat pop-punk of Wrexham's Neck Deep are more to everyone's taste, and despite the current controversy surrounding the band the devotion of their fans is evident. A plethora of circle pits open and close across the crowd whilst the bodies of crowdsurfers are flung mercilessly towards the stage to tracks such as 'Damsel in Distress' and 'What Did You Expect?'. You can't fault the band, nor the crowd for the matter, but for someone who has seen the likes of New Found Glory several times in the past, it's nothing groundbreaking.


Taking a breather we navigate back towards the NME stage in order to catch American Football for the second time this year. Unsurprisingly their set is comprised only of a handful of tracks, but the likes of 'Honestly?' and 'The Summer Ends' still sound as fresh as they did in the late '90s, and though few people in attendance realise the enormity of what a band liked AF coming to Leeds means, those that do offer the quiet respect the tracks deserve. Finishing with the anthemic 'Never Meant', it's clear that there's going to be more than one person going home to practice their guitar noodles.


Over on the Lock Up, Aussie punks The Smith Street Band play to a disappointingly small crowd; their set resting heavily on tracks from last year's Throw Me in the River. It's a shame the band draws such little numbers, especially given the vocal support in the past from the likes of Frank Turner. Unfortunately it's probably attributed to the fact both Panic At the Disco and All Time Low are gracing the Main Stage at the same time, but given the relevance of either band to a 20-something punk-at-heart, we're more than happy where we are.


Following The Smith Street Band, Philidelphia's The Menzingers draw a somewhat bigger crowd, allowing us to relive their support slot for The Offspring from just a few days previous. How they're not bigger I don't know, but with tracks like 'The Obituaries' and 'Burn After Writing' as well as the now-expected cover of The Bouncing Soul's 'Kate Is Great' thrown in to the mix, it's difficult to imagine them staying on the fringes of skate-punk for much longer. In contrast, folk three-piece Bear's Den play the Festival Republic tent and offer up a more subdued but no less heartfelt half an hour for those that find tonight's headliners Mumford and Sons a little too much to stomach.


Keeping things suitably pop-punk however, given the rest of the day's acts, we opt to spend the last two sets of the evening forgoing the middle class Mumfords niceties in favour of both Simple Plan and New Found Glory, both of whom pull what is arguably the biggest crowds The Lock Up has seen all weekend. With both bands considered pop-punk royalty. Unsurprisingly both bands litter their set with a handful of classics; the tracks which soundtracked the adolescence of everyone in attendance. It may seem a little trite to see tattooed twenty-somethings singing the lyrics to the likes of Simple Plan's 'I'd Do Anything' or New Found Glory's 'All Downhill From Here' with such adoration, but these are songs that meant everything to their fans at one point or another; the reason many of them became fans of pop-punk and alternative music to begin with. To see two such bands back to back, in a setting that was once synonymous with the halcyon days of pop-punk, at least as far as Britain is concerned, well, it doesn't really get much better.


Festival Coverage: Y-Not 2015 - Friday

  • Published in Live

With Friday morning comes the inevitable sound of a main-stage sound-check, the repetitious “One-Two, One-Two” and the seemingly perpetual thud of a bass drum being mic-ed up. In normal circumstances this would be a horrific way to the start the day, but with the beating sun and the prospect of a whole day of class acts proving too much to resist, we start the day early with questionable bacon and less questionable beers.

Honeyblood are the first band to really pique our interest that day, and like the hundreds of punters who seem to flock towards the main-stage thanks to the band's biting indie-pop crunch. Treating us to a handful of new tracks ('Love Is A Disease', 'Babes Never Die') as well as fan favourites, the Scottish duo manage an impressive set despite the early hour. Next up, The Lancashire Hotpots provide a burgeoning crowd with a handful of tracks ode to their love of Lancashire and its culture. With a different take on the four (now five) elements , 'Bitter, Cider, Lager, Ale, Stout' enjoys a raucous singalong, whilst their sense of humour runs riot through tracks such as 'Chippy Tea' and their breakout single 'He Turned Emo' keeping things suitably silly.

Following a falafel fuelled lunch, we return to the main-stage to catch flavour of the moment, Slaves who unfortunately seem a little dwarfed by the size of the stage. That said however, their pull is evident, and those young enough to have shaken off last night's hangovers proceed to (hopefully metaphorically) lose their shit. In true Slaves' style, the band wax lyrical about biscuits and manta-rays, and though they fall short of our personal expectations, something possibly to do with the open-air setting, several people over the weekend claim it to be a definite highlight.

If Slaves fell slightly short of expectations, Reverend and the Makers don't even attempt the jump. Perhaps more suited to a Thursday slot, rather than mid-evening on a Friday, their sound is, at best, muddy, and singer Jon McClure's vocals are to be frank, terrible. Those closer to the stage are fortunately spared the worst of it, though for anyone stood (or sat as the case may be) behind the sound-desk, it really is painful. Whilst we always try and find at least something positive in a set, it's made difficult by a band who seem only to be going through the motions, clinging on to the popularity garnered from their early singles.

Luckily however, Reverend and the Makers are the only band of the entire weekend which warrant such animosity, so put-out but not perturbed, we return to the tent to restock on the festival necessities before heading out once again to The Quarry Stage to catch Gainsville's ska-punk royalty, Less Than Jake. With an undeniable punk energy that makes up for the sound-quality outside of the tent, the band tear through a host of their hits including 'Nervous in the Alley' and 'The Science of Selling Yourself Short'. Having seen the band on numerous occasions, they do seem to benefit more from playing inside a venue, but that shouldn't detract from one of the most energetic performances of the weekend, and for those that opt not to see Snoop Dogg on the main-stage, they provide a fantastic close to the first full day. With the site being as small as it is however, we manage to catch half of Less Than Jake's set, before making the pilgrimage to the main-stage to pray at Snoop's alter.

Though arriving 15 minutes late, and the fact he almost seems to be reading from an auto-cue in between tracks,(“Matlock, UK!”) it's the kind of once-in-a-lifetime set that only a festival can offer. Complete with a duo of dancers who are ultimately responsible for a hundred collective sexual awakenings from the pre-pubescent males in attendance, his set is built around a handful of his own material, tributes to fallen friends Tupac and Biggie Smalls, as well as a number of cheesy yet resplendent covers. It matters not that he seems to be miming for a good portion of the set, and when the opening of 'Gin 'n' Juice' pounds out of the PA, every spliff being smoked is lifted high in to the air. Chances are we'll never get to see Snoop again, chances are we wouldn't if we were given the opportunity, but the fact remains that his set for all its foibles, will go down as one of the weekend's most memorable.

Clearly too old for the post-headliner shenanigans that the festival has to offer, we make our way back to the tent for another early(ish) night, safe in the knowledge that even though much gin has been drank, we're likely to feel far sharper than those who flocked to the bass-heavy Octopuses Garden for some late-night skanking.

You can read our review of Thursday evening here.

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