Leeds Festival has been a not-to-miss date in our calendar for years. Over the past few years the UK has seen many boutique and independent festivals pop up and more people appear to be getting their festival fixes from these smaller events, but they're never going to be able to provide what Leeds Festival does so well. Consistency! Sometimes it is a case of 'you get what you pay for' and Leeds is a perfect example of that. Sure, Leeds perhaps isn't for the more mature gig attendee, but it never has been. It's a weekend of fun and partying that sees thousands of music fans partake in the festivities.
Since its inception organiser Melvin Benn and the team at Festival Republic have known exactly who their audience is and catered for them, Leeds & Reading festivals now run as a well-oiled three day event that means everyone who's bought a ticket will have a great time. Even the toilets in the main arena are kept to a good level of cleanliness, far higher than most of our experiences at smaller festivals!
Set in one of the most ideal festival grounds in the UK, Bramham Park, the festival has a well laid out site plan and features plenty of bars and activities outside of the main arena to keep people occupied all through the day and night.
All this aside, for us this year, the line-up does all the talking needed. Some of the best bands from around the world will embrace one of the 8 stages and this all kicks off on the Thursday night on the Dance To The Radio stage. Dutch Uncles are set to headline the stage supported by some of Yorkshire's best upcoming bands including Hookworms (recently signed to Domino) and Pulled Apart By Horses affiliates Menace Beach.
Over the course of the Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Yorkshire site will play host to some of our favourite acts of the past 10 years let alone new bands from this year. We're going to endeavour to watch as many as possible, but for us these are our not to be missed sets:
Phoenix: One of the biggest clashes of the whole weekend happens on the Friday night. Both Biffy Clyro & Phoenix are sure to play impressive sets, but for us we have to go see Phoenix. Their debut album 'United' automatically showed listeners a glimpse of incredible songwriting in ever since 2000 they haven't failed to deliver. There's lots of big and experienced bands playing over the weekend (ahem you don't get too much bigger than Eminem), but this set might be hard to top.
Listen to: 'If I Ever Feel Better'
Alex Clare: We went to see Alex Clare just before his debut album 'The Lateness of the Hour' was released we knew he had the makings of a great frontman. So it was to our surprise that Alex's musical career appeared was over before it even began, though there wasn't any bad publicity the hype around the album just didn't pick up. Thanks to a Microsoft advert, this ALL changed, his single 'Too Close' become one of the most played songs of 2012 and since then, Mr Alex Clare has been the name on many lips. For those who are yet to hear the album, we can tell you there's far more to it than the one song. Many tracks on the album were inspired by the time Alex was going out with Amy Winehouse and there's a deep feeling of love running through the themes, that accompanied by production by Diplo makes 'The Lateness of the Hour' an album we still enjoy going back to.
Listen to: Humming Bird and just because it's SO good here's the unplugged version too!
Big Black Delta: Big Black Delta is one of LA's best upcoming producers of dance music. Originally a member of Mellowdrone, Jonathan Bates decided to leave his band mates and start creating more of a dance lead project for himself. From thereon in Big Black Delta was born. His second album released earlier this year is the follow-up to 'BBDLP' released in 2011, and sees Jonathan deliver a really consistent and fun album. We predict exciting things in the future for Big Black Delta.
Listen to: Side Of The Road
DIIV: In our recent interview with Diiv, frontman and predominant songwriter Zachary talks about why he likes playing festivals and the way playing in different surroundings cause the band to react differently; Diiv haven't played many UK Festivals but we're sure they're going to go down a storm. Their debut album 'Oshin' was one of the most promising albums of 2012 and contained a handful of great tracks. It's still early days for Diiv but they already have enough great material to play a great showcase.
Listen to: Human
The Wytches: The Wytches are very much an 'it band' of 2013, but they're actually worth the hype. This young Brighton trio are ripping it up at the moment as their set at Visions Festival in London demonstrated. Mixing retro and modern songwriting and production values is often a clumsy process and ends up with underwhelming results, but The Wytches appear to be doing it just right. It's going to be loud, angst driven and full of hopeful promise, a perfect combination for a festival like Leeds!
Listen to: Digsaw
The Computers: The Computers are a band you require in your lengthy weekend. Just when you think you might sidle off to your tent and have a lie down, they deliver the roundhouse kick to the face you need to man up. An injection of good fun, hardcore punk with a rock sensibility at heart, these stalwarts have honed their sound by touring more than ever would be comfortable, practical or sane. And god bless them for it too.
Take your Dad to listen to: Love Triangles, Hate Squares
Savages: Savages are managing to accomplish where so many bands have failed. Their excellent and visceral first album 'Silence Yourself' has been universally complimented just about every music publication going. The unimaginative have done a head count and decided they are roughly an all-female Horrors, but their portentous live sound is much better likened to Suicide or A Place to Bury Strangers. Moody, bombastic and stylish, they are the antithesis to your average festival band. Go: see!
Listen to: Shut Up
Fenech-Soler: Leeds Festival has definitely pulled up its socks on the dance music front in the last couple of years, and this year's selection promises much choice for those of the electronic persuasion. Nevertheless, Fenech Soler should hold their own perfectly on a crowded bill with a formidable live reputation. Bouncing back admirably from a bout of serious illness, the brothers Duffy & co. have a forthcoming album 'Rituals' out later this year, following new single 'Somebody.' If you want to get your dancing shoes on, here's your opportunity.
Listen to: Somebody
Dan Croll: Dan Croll is a name you might not be so familiar with. He only really started to emerge at the beginning of the year, but since then the LIPA graduate has been busying touring around the country and working on material for his debut album. More recently, in one of our favourite live videos of 2013 Dan joined The Very Best on stage at Live At Lewes festival where they played a brilliant reworking of his single 'Compliment Your Soul'.
Listen to: Compliment Your Soul
Ghostpoet: Obaro Ejimiwe's pensive electronic hip-hop is defiantly different to the majority of his contemporaries. Now onto his second album, the excellent 'Some Say I So I Say Light,' the Coventry-born laureate shows no dip in quality. In the tradition of Gils Scott-Heron, his reflective and often stirring conclusions are food for thought, whilst his beat driven deliveries make a live set foot-shufflingly tantalising.
Listen to: Liiines
There you have it, just a few of the bands we can't wait to watch over the weekend, we didn't even get started on the hip hop! If that wasn't quite enough and you fancy a deeper delve into more bands playing, we recommend you check out: Haim, Drenge, A$Ap Rocky, Robert Delong, Ms Mr, Dan Croll Jaws, To Be Frank, Mikill Pane, San Cisco, To Kill A King, Half Moon Run, Chvrches, British Sea Power, Filter, Clean Bandit, Willy Moon, Dinosaur Pile-Up and the ever impressive Wiley, Nine Inch Nails and Foals.
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