Home > News & Reviews > Leeds Festival

Leeds Festival - Bramham Park, Leeds - August 23-25 (Live Review)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Leeds Festival. The young, upstart sibling of Reading reared its hungover head once again last weekend, returning with a line-up that was stronger than a horse's hind leg. Rain hammered down, tents were ripped from their pegs and a certain reviewer spent part of the weekend with two cans of John Smith's duct taped to his hands. It was a good ‘un.

Opening up the main stage of any festival can be a daunting task, but Bury Tomorrow made it seem like a piece of piss. Alright, so nobody in attendance seemed to know what a circle pit actually was, but the audience lapped up the chunks of heaviness nonetheless. Hadouken! fared even better, their electro stomp sending a swathe of teenagers into a dancing frenzy despite, well, the music not being all that good. They put on an entertaining show regardless, with vocalist James Smith keeping the fun levels at a high.

Lurking in the dirty, dark corners of the Rock Stage, Hacktivist proved to be an early festival highlight and Heaven's Basement managed to hold their own against the grimy rap-metallers, turning in a performance that cemented their reputation as one of the hottest new rock bands in the UK. However, this all paled in comparison to Crossfaith.

Opening with the explosive Monolith, the band seemed hellbent on making every other act at the festival look rubbish. And my god, they did a superb job. Circle pits ignited left, right and centre, while keyboard player Terufumi Tamano spent very little time actually playing, instead opting for various stints in the crowd and on top of the speakers. A cover of Omen by the Prodigy upped the ante even further, and by the closing throes of Leviathan, no single body remained still. Crossfaith are the future. Prepare yourself.

Back over at the main stage, Fall Out Boy failed to live up to expectations, serving up a concoction of new and old material at pedestrian pace. Pete Wentz tried his best to keep the ball rolling, but Patrick Stump looked like he was sat reading the instruction manual to a washing machine. Leeds was in dire need of a good show, so it was handy that Nine Inch Nails were on hand to save the day.

Strolling on stage as if he was just popping down to the shops, Trent Reznor took the residents of Yorkshire on a ride they'll never forget. Wish sounded absolutely massive, while hits such as Terrible Lie and The Hand That Feeds were interspersed between doom-laden tunes like Reptile. The audience was worryingly thin due to yet another tirade of rain, but the industrial titans didn't let that bother them. Ending proceedings on Head Like A Hole, Nine Inch Nails left the stage triumphant, throwing down the gauntlet for first-time headliners Biffy Clyro.

The Scottish trio delivered the goods, leaving everyone wondering why they haven't topped the bill at Leeds before. Material was lifted mainly from their latest three albums, but older cuts such as Glitter And Trauma sat just as well on the setlist. Despite various technical faults wriggling their way into the show, the Biff still managed to make ends meet. Everyone was singing along. The rain didn't matter. In the words of Biffy frontman Simon Neil: “Fuck the rain. Music's more powerful than nature.”

By Saturday, it'd stopped raining. But the mud, the mud was everywhere. After trekking through miles of molten brown porridge, it was time for Sheffield bruisers While She Sleeps to tear the main stage a new one. And that they did. Stomping on stage as if they were headlining it, the band absolutely smashed it, getting down and dirty with the punters on the floor.

Ragga-metal heroes Skindred followed up, bouncing straight into fan favourite Nobody. Drawing in an obscenely large crowd for such an early slot on the bill, frontman Benji Webbe maintained his status as the coolest motherfucker on the planet, commanding the crowd simply with a flick of the wrist. Sampling Macklemore's radio hit Thrift Shop sent the audience into a state of utter pandemonium, but it was just the start because then came the now famous Newport Helicopter during set-closer Warning. Shirts were removed, shirts were flailed around in the air, shirts were lost. Minds were blown.

New Found Glory failed to be memorable at all, their pop-punk tunes being lost in the anticipation for the next act, Bring Me The Horizon. Since the stratospheric rise of Slipknot, a band so utterly extreme hasn't invaded the mainstream in the same way. From the opening few lines of Shadow Moses, this is a crowning moment for Oli Sykes and his motley crew. Sykes was on venomous form, spitting his lyrics out like an evil llama with a fringe. Clad in children’s face paint, the band destroyed everything. Members of the audience were literally leaking out of the barrier, desperate for a high five from Mr Sykes himself, who conducted a fair portion of the set from ground level.

Frank Turner was something of a damp squib in comparison. Despite putting on a jolly good show, he just couldn't top that level of utter insanity. The same went for Deftones. A band with such a legacy and reputation for superb live shows should have been one of the highlights here at Leeds, but they never really took off. The rain sent most of the audience screaming back to their tents, and Deftones were left playing to a crowd of the already converted.

As if by magic, the clouds stopped pissing for a while, heralding the second coming of System Of A Down. After a painfully underwhelming headline show at Download Festival two years ago, expectations weren't high and System had a lot of making up to do. Kicking things off with Aerials, Serj Tankian was clad in a sharp suit and looked genuinely happy to be there. It was just hit after hit. Sugar, B.Y.O.B and Prison Song sounded just as bonkers as they did when they first appeared on the scene. Guitarist Daron Malakian cracked jokes and incited mass crowd participation, even singing Old MacDonald Had A Farm at one point. It didn't matter that System haven't actually written any new material in eight years. They're back, they don't hate each other any more, and they were tighter than a uni student's wallet.

It was a spectacle to watch, and despite having a ridiculously dedicated fanbase and huge stage show, it was just something that Green Day couldn't match. They didn’t do anything wrong. They played the 'Dookie' album in full, they pulled up lucky fans from the pit. They were just somewhat tame compared to what the crowd had previously been subjected to. It was the equivalent of necking a pint of your favourite brew then having an orange juice afterwards. It was good...it just wasn’t as good.

And then the sunny day. Sunny Sunday. After three days of catastrophically crap weather, the sun decided to show up. After the awkward showcasing of Lower Than Atlantis, it was up to Welsh party rockers the Blackout to crank it up a notch. Sean Smith addressed the crowd as Reading rather than Leeds but it’s not as if they noticed. Everyone was too busy appreciating a band that actually looked like they wanted to play music. Gavin Butler's vocals were on top form, and it was refreshing to see the guys playing the main stage as the crowd basked in the glorious weather.

King Prawn's ska/metal fusion tantalised the earholes, preparing those with half a brain for Tomahawk. Clad in a shirt that made you wonder where Charlie Sheen gets his wardrobe ideas from, Mike Patton was as eccentric as ever. The man screamed into the microphone as it was wedged down his throat, tapping at his laptop with free hands. The addition of a beatboxer to the epic Captain Midnight took things to an entirely new level, leaving all in attendance glad that they hadn't gone to see Chase And Status.

It's a shame, then, that the festival didn't end there. Eminem was all set to tie things up on the main stage and a sea of tracksuited skinheads swarmed toward the bright lights, desperate to see the rap legend up close. But, alas, it was a bit of a shambles. With a hype man doing most of the talking and an abysmally shit guitarist in tow, this was definitely not the real Slim Shady. Not even a guest appearance from Dido during Stan could save Eminem from the rather deep hole he'd dug himself. It's a shame really, but a minor blip in an otherwise incredible festival. Same time next year?


We don't run any advertising! Our editorial content is solely funded by lovely people like yourself using Stereoboard's listings when buying tickets for live events. To keep supporting us, next time you're looking for concert, festival, sport or theatre tickets, please search for "Stereoboard". It costs you nothing, you may find a better price than the usual outlets, and save yourself from waiting in an endless queue on Friday mornings as we list ALL available sellers!

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Related News

No related news to show
< Prev   Next >