Leeds Festival – Ain’t What It Used To Be!

The Leeds Festival CrowdI’ve been an avid festival-goer since about 1992 when the local college radio station, WRAS, held a one-day event at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. On the bill were The Soup Dragons, The Connells, +Live+, Material Issue and Arrested Development, among others. I was 18 years old and it was fantastic – a day of live music in the sun with loads of other teenagers and college students. The following summer, I attended my first Lollapalooza at an airfield in Rhode Island. We watched Rage Against the Machine, Fishbone, Alice in Chains and Primus. The Verve were also on the bill but we were queuing for the carpark at the time. It was 100,000 grunge kids getting off their faces, moshing and having fun.

Since I’ve been in the UK – 10 years next month – I’ve been to every major festival, excepting Download, and some of the smaller ones too, and I’ve enjoyed myself immensely. Each one has its own personality, its own quirks and its own unique vibe and fanbase. Glastonbury, my least favourite, truth be told, has the reputation of a hippie lovefest. In reality it’s loads of yuppies getting off their faces so badly they can’t tell how anti-social they are, but it’s unique and the music is amazing, even if most people aren’t really there for the bands. T in the Park is like the Scottish Glastonbury, it’s everything I expected from Glastonbury from the happy, outgoing, friendly crowds, to the range of bands across all the stages, to the laid-back attitude. V is like a festival-lite. It’s a festival for folk who don’t rough it, who listen to MOR stations like Virgin and it’s corporate and full of bands that 30-somethings play at dinner parties. Occasionally they outdo themselves, like when they booked the Pixies and NERD on the mainstage one year, but even though it’s incredibly corporate and the music is distinctly average, it’s also laid back and I have, usually, enjoyed it. Guilfest is the hippie family festival. The acts are folky, older and the crowd are middle-aged, but the year I went it was well organised and the bands were okay. Summer Sundae is more of a folky and world music place, with rock bands included. Sponsored by 6 Music, it has a wide range of acts, a family vibe and people are definitely there for the music. All Tomorrow’s Parties is indie heaven. By indie, of course, I mean old school indie where the bands are actually on indie labels, not merely guys with guitars who’ve been on the cover of the NME. It’s indie snobbery at it’s finest, where you talk to people about the obscure stuff on the bill that they love and you’ve never heard of, and you compare gig stories. Reading, and later Leeds, is, or used to be, somewhere in between ATP, Download and T. It was the rock, metal and indie festival for music lovers. Used to be.

In prior years when we went to Leeds Festival – and we’ve been all but about 2 years since it started – it was an ecclectic audience of young emo/skater kids in hoodies with chains attached to their baggy trousers, aging, grey-haired rockers and goths and old school indie types like The Ledge and myself. It was a proper rock festival and even if the three groups didn’t necessarily mix happily, we all had our stages and bands and could look on at the other lots, slightly bemused. Leeds was a festival that put acts like The Moldy Peaches, Whale, Pavement and Eels on the main stage. One year we watched Sparklehorse in a tent while the sounds of Ice T spilled over from next door. We’ve seen Guided By Voices, Stereolab, Richard Hawley, Arab Strap, The Shins, Adam Green, Clor, Evan Dando, Frank Black and the Catholics and others over the years. It was a festival where if it was metal day on the main stage, you could count on seeing unusual and ecclectic indie acts in the tents that you’d been meaning to check out for months, if not years. It was great. We would buy our tickets based on a couple of main stage acts and tent headliners and wait for the joys of the smaller stages to be announced. This year, in fact, we did the same, thrilled at the prospect of Interpol, The Arcade Fire, Smashing Pumpkins and The Shins. Apart from The Hold Steady being added a month later, as expected, that was as good as it got.

No mind, we thought, Leeds is always an interesting festival with a crowd deeply into their music, we’ll go, we’ll watch a few bands, we’ll have fun. And then the rest of the lineup came out. Gone were the vast range of indie bands, replaced by NME favourites. It was as if the bookers could not be arsed, picked up an issue of the NME and booked everything mentioned. Tents and main stage were no different, all the bands were either second rate emo acts or sounded like poor imitations of the very poor Arctic Monkeys and Babyshambles. Oh and Razorshite. Who the fuck booked Razorshite as a headliner? Does anyone really even like them or do they just tolerate them?

Ok, so the bands were a bit shite, but maybe the crowds really are into these acts and we’ve just morphed into the world’s biggest indie snobs and we just don’t get it anymore? Except the Leeds crowd was not the same Leeds crowd. Gone the hairy rockers. Gone the goths. Gone the emo kids with their bad behavior and their love of screamo and metal. In fact, the whole crowd looked like they’d been vomited up by Topshop aged 18-22. And these kids were not at this festival cause of the bands. These kids were at this festival cause Kate Moss says it’s cool. How could we tell? There were far more girls wearing wellies ala Moss at Glastonbury (in subtropical conditions, no less) than there were people wearing band T-shirts. We experienced about 2 crowd singalongs – during The Hold Steady and, oddly, the 1990s. These kids weren’t even drinking! Nope, the campsite was can-free, sans puking kids, sans early morning drunkenness. It was sterile and full of people who simply wanted to be seen – often in matching, specially printed T-shirts announcing “Sal’s Girls at Leeds 2007” or “Lads out and about from Newcastle to Leeds 2007” complete with names on the back. These kids didn’t care if they were in the Carling Tent, the LockUp Stage or the Main Stage – it all sounded the same anyway – all they wanted to do was stand around, look cool and throw their £3.30 pints into the people trying to enjoy the music.

I have never – not even at V – had such a bland and sterile festival experience. There was no, bite, no kick and no sense of real rebellion. This was “indie” as defined by the NME, packaged up by Topshop and sold at £145 a ticket to kids who don’t understand that it’s not rebellion if 80,000 other people are doing it exactly the same way.

Sadly, this lack of atmosphere affected the music as well. Whereas 3 years ago I stood unable to see at the main stage screaming along with the whole crowd to The Hives and Franz Ferdinand, this year, packed in at nearly the same place, the crowd all but talked through The Arcade Fire and Interpol. There was a hint of attitude during the Hold Steady but possibly because the crowd contained the freaks and outcasts who had come for the music and again, the few remaining indie fans danced during Battles, but the tent was only half-full. While we saw a few acts we’d genuinely wanted to see – Devendra Banhart pulling a fan out of the crowd to play a song he’d written was charming; The Hold Steady were as amazing as ever and Tad Kubler’s guitar spin was a seriously great rock moment; Peter, Bjorn & John were brilliant and I need to buy their newest album now; Brakes were as cheery and enjoyable as ever and The Shins had me jumping and singing like a drunken fool – I fear that this will be the last time we attempt a whole weekend at Leeds. There’s too many great boutique festivals now that do have the atmosphere and do challenge festival-goers to broaden their musical horizons.

It is a sad day to see Reading/Leeds sell its soul for a few bucks. Leeds Festival R.I.P. You were a great festival once.

Pavement – We Dance

Guided By Voices – Hot Freaks

Whale – Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe

134 Responses to “Leeds Festival – Ain’t What It Used To Be!”

  • computer repair Says:

    Heya we are with the key time period below. I stumbled upon that table so i to find This process helpful & them solved the problem out considerably. I am hoping offer something returning in addition to guide some others like you forced me to be.

  • Obey snapback hats Says:

    Incredible points. Solid arguments. Keep up the great spirit.
    Obey snapback hats http://www.baaestheticmasters.com/2011/hats.asp?p=Obey-snapback-hats.html

  • Sorry I am Fresh snapback hats Says:

    Incredible story there. What occurred after? Take care!
    Sorry I am Fresh snapback hats http://www.curcioenterprises.com/images/hats.asp?p=Sorry-I-am-Fresh-snapback-hats.html

  • cheap NRL New Era snapback hats Says:

    Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea
    cheap NRL New Era snapback hats http://www.curcioenterprises.com/images/hats.asp?p=cheap-NRL-New-Era-snapback-hats.html

  • NBA Beanies snapbacks wholesale Says:

    whoah this weblog is fantastic i like reading your articles. Stay up the good paintings! You know, a lot of people are hunting round for this info, you can help them greatly.
    NBA Beanies snapbacks wholesale http://www.curcioenterprises.com/images/hats.asp?p=NBA-Beanies-snapbacks-wholesale.html

  • Cheap Fitted Hats Says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to eturn the favor?I’m trying to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
    Cheap Fitted Hats http://www.baaestheticmasters.com/2011/hats.asp?p=Cheap-Fitted-Hats.html

  • ESPN NBA snapback hats wholesale Says:

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I want to read even more things about it!
    ESPN NBA snapback hats wholesale http://www.curcioenterprises.com/images/hats.asp?p=ESPN-NBA-snapback-hats-wholesale.html

  • how to make money with fiverr and clickbank Says:

    The first method involves making the website from scratch while the second one involves
    using the Fiverr clone script. Just use your imagination, almost everything can be sold at Fiverr.

    You should also aim at rendering quality services once you
    connect with a buyer.

  • download ios 7 jailbreak Says:

    When someone writes an article he/she keeps the image of a
    user in his/her mind that how a user can understand it.
    So that’s why this post is perfect. Thanks!

    My web page: download ios 7 jailbreak

  • garciniasales.com Says:

    The Zumba workout includes two shake sticks similar to the popular shake weights that will
    help you shed off undesired pounds within your body.
    Consider putting in an ounce of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
    Slowing down actually helps you to lose the maximum amount of fat / weight.

    Called the Aventador, it has a much larger number of moves that are available in kalamata olives, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and avocados.

  • bar equipment Says:

    I’ve been browsing online more than three hours lately, but I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours.

  • photobucket bugattilighter Says:

    Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.

    I know my visitors would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely
    interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

    Feel free to visit my site; photobucket bugattilighter

  • cctv leeds Says:

    The security cameras is the outdoor security cameras are not at home
    while ignoring others reducing false recordings.
    To add a variety of instruments, including those involved in this troubled world.
    Outdoor security cameras cameras have been absent minded.
    Despite this, read on. Even the hidden security
    cameras camaras de seguridad is that?

  • belize company offshore Says:

    The trend of setting up is straight forward and the rest
    of the last week. Offshore credit or debit cards:
    It is interesting to watch them and explained to them so that profits are exempt from this scheme?
    You have to bring some of the banks are fully aware offshore company that Valley Wind.

    Tax reduction is the fact that social media syndication, so you won’t have any problem with
    hyperbaric testing with significant pieces of paper work also.

  • Abbots Advertising Says:

    A woman running a advertising household name. All forms of broadcasting
    and television stations to their interests and
    other types of advertising. A less old-fashioned approach is to convince the consumer and society may suffer due to
    a large audience.

  • ipas2 Says:

    Do make sure they are interested in and then make money online sell your own products or
    services. You should also add a subscription box code.

  • Five Towns Real Estate Says:

    You should be to your web site pays off in the west of Pune makes it quite difficult to qualify
    for a mortgage. Between high foreclosures one year, and set a record high in the
    recently formed Edinburgh International Festival EIF.

    In other cases, real estate when we face the street are irrigated by reclaimed water.
    This is why some agents never get started.
    These past few years after the transferor is dead the real estate correction in market areas, this Newport RI property.

  • vorzeitiger samenerguss verhindern Says:

    The way you know you deserve. In this specific position, you will finish early while you’re still having sex.
    You need to begin to see results in an effort will succeed.

    In premature ejaculation this specific position, your penis.
    There are some of the penis even when you are premature ejaculation quick to ejaculate.

    Strengthening this muscle has been well reported that the mind and by following a good
    amount of sexual arousal and having the ability to have control on muscle strength.

  • single girls' handbook Says:

    Inside the training course you will get find out this 3 basic
    principles that are the building blocks on this program.
    These include delivering the right impulses to be able to
    attract the proper gentleman, Being comfortable as well as
    happy even with getting individual, potential pacing
    by simply planting the seed products of one’s foreseeable future with each other in your man’s
    depths of the mind in order that it gets to be their
    since suggestions too.
    single girls’ handbook

  • philadelphia medical weight loss clinic Says:

    Hi there, I wish for to subscribe for this weblog to get hottest updates, therefore where can i do it please help.

  • Jon Says:

    Hello folks, if you want to lose weight you
    should search in google – Laerdhat’s weightloss
    it’s good point to start your fight with fat

  • insurance Says:

    Nevertheless, each friend gets back his money back on his way back up to 500.
    Com Inc AMZN O founder Jeff Bezos. Transfer life insurance while shopping for supplemental health loans
    insurance, you hand the secured property.
    One thing that you see a doctor not in the health-care financing and delivery systems
    for post-cardiac episode care, Daschle stressed.

  • AnonymousTrader Says:

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great post
    on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  • battery chainsaw any good Says:

    When we first starting watching him I though he might be using an ordinary chainsaw but there are special saws, blades
    (known as Guide bars) and chains that make this a lot easier and safer.
    This does not mean that you have to make do with a sub
    par machine, nor does it mean that you have to
    be content with replacing your chainsaw every few years.

    Well, I was pleasantly surprised with this little guy.

  • billige converse dame Says:

    I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. Many thanks

  • nederland nike dames Says:

    This is a fantastic web page, would you be interested in doing an interview about just how you developed it? If so e-mail me!

  • ilmaista pelirahaa Says:

    Suomi Gambling Casino! Gambling Casino Caterin on laaja,
    se on aina Wise ja tunne ja casino joka julkaisee maksuprosenttinsa ja on antanut lisenssin.
    http://kasino247.org/ – suomen casino

  • jacket with hoodie Says:

    I got this web site from my buddy who shared with me regarding this
    web page and now this time I am browsing this web page
    and reading very informative articles or reviews at this time.

  • ask Says:

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you could be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your
    blog and will eventually come back very soon. I want to encourage continue your
    great writing, have a nice morning!

  • ???????????? Says:

    I believe that is one of the most important information for
    me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. However should observation on few normal things, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D.
    Excellent activity, cheers

  • satellite dish installation oldham Says:

    You are so awesome! I do not suppose I have read through something like this before.
    So wonderful to find another person with
    genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up.
    This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!

  • satellite dish tameside Says:

    Hi there

    I have been searching all over internet looking for
    a website or blog to use as refference,furtunately
    I found yours.I will like to be honest with you,your site is fantastic
    well belt and with high quality images wow.Here is my own site link:
    http://www.elec-sat.com and I am based in tameside,
    I will really appreciate if could have a look and give your
    own point of view.
    Once more excellent site,bravo.

  • Gina Says:

    Hello mates, how is all, and what you want too say concerning this post, in my view its genuinely
    amazig in support of me.

  • deerfield Beach accountant Says:

    Aѕ yʏou reap the гeѡɑгⅾѕ оf ʏоᥙг ɦaгԀ
    wогк, уοս ѡіⅼⅼ find аⅼl tһe tіmе аnd еfⲟrt yoᥙᥙ
    ԀеνߋⲟtеԀ іn buіlɗіng ɑnd Ԁеνelߋρinmg уоսг
    aсϲⲟuntіng qսaⅼіfіϲаtіоns aɑгe fіnaⅼlү ρaүing-ߋff.
    Tο bеtter սndеrѕtand ѡһy tɦrѕᥱ ѕtаtіѕtіcs aге ѕо аlɑrmіng
    οne sɦοᥙⅼd Ƅe fɑmіⅼiaг ѡith tɦᥱ
    tҺгеᥱ ϲategогiеѕ of frauⅾ; Мanaɡemᥱnt Ϝгaud, Εmρlօʏeе ᖴгɑᥙⅾ, and Eхtеrnal Ϝгɑᥙⅾ.
    Ѕtᥙⅾіеs cuггentlу haνе ѕһߋᴡn ѡhіϲɦ, aƄоut аvᥱгаǥe,
    ϹPAѕ еаrn 10% mοrе tҺɑn non-ⲤPА Αсcоսntantѕ.

    My ԝᥱb blߋǥ – deerfield Beach accountant

Leave a Reply