With Reading and Leeds being the end of the summer and the end of the touring schedules for many bands it is the perfect place for them to have fun and put in one last brilliant set and make some good memories for themselves and the fans. And though I only attended for a day instead of the full weekend this year I still made plenty of memories that I will remember for a long time because there is nothing better than catching your favourite band or what could become your new favourite in a festival field, dancing around and drinking plenty of cider. Here are the bands I caught this year:
Deap Vally were on quite early in the day but still brought the rock and roll party to this Leeds festival field. With their scuzzy guitar feedback, pounding drums and rasping vocals they were a brilliant antidote to the muddy festival site. Their Californian good looks matched with their punk rock attitude makes them one of the most exciting all girl bands around at the moment, you want some grungy punk rock from two super badass girls then go and see Deap Vally.
Birmingham quartet, PEACE have had quite a year with increased popularity, an album release and plenty of touring/festival sets. Their chilled 90’s infused indie rock and roll mixed with grungy elements and psychedelic moments is the perfect soundtrack for your weekend in a field. With that the band attracted a big crowd and put on a good show and with so long touring it is understandable that their sets are solid and full of their biggest songs to date. The throwback vibes, laidback attitude and nonchalant swagger of the band when onstage is a recipe that really works for them and proof that though the band may have been hyped up a lot they have the material and talent to back it up.
Quite clearly the band of the day on the Radio 1/NME stage was Bastille. With a rammed tent and plenty of people who couldn’t get in to see the band crowded outside too getting absolutely drenched, the amount of people there to see these guys was insane. Last year the band played to a packed out Festival Republic stage and things were only just starting to take off for them, today they outdid every other band on this second stage. With a set that would please casual listeners to hardcore Bastille fans it was a perfect and quite beautiful moment. The string section they now have for their live shows added an extra element and made the set that much grander. From the moment the band stepped on the stage there were cheers aplenty, lots of singing to every single song and the crowd was jumping and dancing along to their catchy mix of pop, indie and electronic elements. Their cover of ‘Rhythm of the Night’ was a huge sing along moment but nothing compared to set closer and their biggest single to date ‘Pompeii’, bringing out friends To Kill A King to help vocally, the chorus and the ‘eh oh’s’ that echoed around the tent created an almost overwhelming atmosphere and created a moment that I found genuinely emotional to be a part of. Seeing that band grow as I have has been amazing and I’m sure for them it’s insane but they left that stage as heroes to a tidal wave of screams, claps and cheers, having played the set of the day on that stage.
Catching half of Thumpers set on my walk from the NME tent to the main stage via a falafel burger pit stop, they were a band I didn’t think I’d get the chance to see but was so glad that I did. After missing their set last month at Tramlines I was eager to finally see them. Their set didn’t disappoint gathering a modest sized crowd despite the rain and mud. Hand claps and swaying hips were the order of the day here with songs full of melody and big beats. The bands summery, upbeat and catchy sounds added a nice and much needed bit of a light to a very dull grey day. Surely we will be seeing this band here again next year but on a much bigger stage.
System of a Down was another band that I only caught a little bit of but what I saw was good and proof that the band knows how to work a crowd. They were clearly on a lot of ‘must see’ lists with the huge turnout for them. ‘Toxicity’ and ‘Chop Suey’ understandably gained some massive sing a long’s and some serious moshing from people in pits in the main crowd to people at the back just flinging themselves around in the mud having a good time to one seriously good metal act.
Main stage headliners Green Day quite easily drew the biggest crowd of the day, the mud rivers and rain was not keeping the massive crowd away from seeing one of the biggest bands in the world and quite rightly as not only did they put on an awesome show but they are band that everyone must see at least once in their lives in my opinion. This weekend was my first time seeing the band after a 9 year wait, I was finally seeing one of the most important bands to me and it was a completely wonderful feeling. Kicking off with a newer song ’99 Revolutions’ before the pounding drums and the happy melody of ‘Know Your Enemy’ rang around Bramham Park giving the opportunity to a lucky Green Day fan to get onstage and sing with the band. Classics such as ‘Holiday’ and ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ were played back to back sitting perfectly alongside the newer songs taken from their recent trio of albums ‘Uno!’, ‘Dos!’ and ‘Tre!’. Playing for around 2 and a half hours, the band managed to fit in a full length play of 1994’s ‘Dookie’, a tribute to The Who’s ‘Live At Leeds’ album in the form of a cover of ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’ and plenty of crowd interaction, one of the other factors that makes this band so well loved along with their long career and brilliant back catalogue. An hour of the set was dedicated to the 19 year old album and the one that really kick-started their career, starting with first track ‘Burnout’ and everyone was going mad to be experiencing something really special. The singles and now classics: ‘Longview’, ‘Welcome To Paradise’, ‘Basket Case’ and ‘When I Come Around’ respectively were interspersed throughout as on the record. ‘Longview’ saw another fan picked out to come sing onstage with the band, a guy so good he ended up staying and singing most of next track ‘Welcome To Paradise’ too. When the album playback was over and the crowd had suitably cheered and clapped such a big and momentous occasion, the guys carried on for two more: ‘St Jimmy’ with its snarling punk vocals and the sing along classic ‘Minority’. Leaving the stage before returning for encore number 1 consisting of arguably the band’s biggest single and modern punk anthem ‘American Idiot’ followed by the 9 minute long extravaganza of ‘Jesus of Surburbia’ before ‘Brutal Love’. The band left the stage after those three leaving lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong to take the fore and finish the set with 2 song encore number 2. Starting with a partial play of ‘Walk Away’ before ending on the acoustic ballad and beautiful sounds of ‘Good Riddance [Time Of Your Life]’, the perfect song to end an absolutely astounding set from the Californian punk trio.