Monday, 3 September 2007

Leeds Festival - a somewhat unreliable post-mortem

Um, so in the best tradition of, er, my near-identical old blog I feel compelled to minutely dissect my festival weekend. I've slightly modified the Facebook blog settings, so I'm assuming this won't clog up anybody's newsfeed. If it does please tell me and I shall remove henceforth. Er, yes, so anyway... Leeds - of course this year I was out of it for, er, much of the time, but hey ho... here's a potted history.


All bands prior to Cold War Kids - Mark was doing his hair or something, so we got to the festival somewhat late. On the plus side this did mean that when schoolkids came up to us enthusing about Hadouken!, we could appear even more puzzled...
Cold War Kids - really good actually, they're a bit more impressive in a small room - that sort of tension where the guitarist and the bassist look like maybe they're going to beat the shit out of each other was a bit diffused - but they still held the big tent wonderfully, still had that biblical fire going on, and with only half an hour to play it sort of concentrated those big three singles on the album, which really got the crowd going.
Bit between CWK and the end of Nine Inch Nails - me, Mark and Simo stumbled blindly around the market stalls while on a moderately inadvisable beer, JD and poppers binge. This was largely sparked by Simo's hatred of Kate Nash, and in retrospect it was probably somewhat more fulfilling than the frightening pile-up of accents that would have been 10,000 northerners bellowing Nash's songs back at her. What I did discover was that in my first year actually staying in the guest camping, I have become an atrocious snob and now regard the regular camping area in the same way a member of the 17th century French aristocracy might have regarded a peasant. A black peasant. With AIDS. It's better in guest camping - there's loads of room and nobody tries to burn your stuff. Weirdly the toilets and showers are way worse than the regular area, but obviously you can just lie to the peasants about that. Which makes you even more like a member of the French aristocracy.
The end of Nine Inch Nails - Yeah, so I got the time wrong by an hour and we missed almost all of it. On the plus side I only really know two of their songs - Closer and Hurt - and those were the two they played so, er, yeah, I'm a philistine, but a happy one. On record the Johnny Cash version has sort of undermined NIN's, but live it was wonderful, Reznor just singing on his own in the dark with a pretty waterfall of lights behind him.
Smashing Pumpkins - Er, I would like to have been a little less drunk here, and a combination of booze and a very pretty lady distracted me a little, but, well, I was less distracted than Powell, who went to the loo and spent 45 minutes allegedly speaking to Donny Tourette. A fact he didn't remember until the next day. But anyways, they were good. the fact they were trying to balance plugging a relatively bland album with some, uh, daring choices from the past kind of blunted the impact - they should perhaps have either gone hell for leather and obnoxiously rammed Zeitgeist down our throats and been grumbled about but remembered for the rest of the festival, or else just gone for a nostalgia porn set. And, er, well - To Sheila: massively, massively appreciated. Ghost And The Glass Children - I suppose the sheer ballsiness was breathtaking, obviously it's a million years long and the first half is toss. But fair dos, the second half rules. But HEAVY METAL MACHINE??? As the closer?!? Christ on a bike, no wonder me and the aforementioned pretty lady found we'd accidentally ended up at the front by the end of the show. But some good stuff, great full on electric version of Tonight, Tonight, Stand Inside Your Love wonderful, and if it was inconsistent those little moments like Hummer and To Sheila very welcome. Think there's definitely mileage in this comeback, but that said in the big American rock bands from my childhood stakes, Pearl Jam were much, much better last year. Of course, The Pumpkins looked like they were fresh descended from Valhalla itself next to the Chillis, but more of them later...
Post-Pumpkins - We drank our own metric volume in wine. We hung out with a lovely family from Kendal. We continued to amuse ourselves with the poppers until, sprawled out on the floor in something approaching a stupor, I mistook the poppers bottle for an, er, opening cork (shut up) and poured them out over the grass. Me and Mick proceeded to sniff the chemical-sodden grass in rather undignified fashion. I bothered another pretty lady. Me and Mark split the mystery pill 'Donny' had given him, though in fairness some credence was given to it being Mr Tourette himself by the fact said pill did absolutely diddly squat. Mark lost his bag, got really depressed, found his bag again, but was too pissed to remember to cheer up and sloped off to bed in A Huff. Mercifully the wine and the fire both ran out around 4am and I too got myself out of there.


Sadly unlike Powell I can't sleep indefinitely in a scorching hot sweatbox of a tent (while fully clothed and sweating like a pervert - it's chuffing disgusting), and needless to say I felt terrible when I woke up about four hours later. As a fun alternative to actual rest I just stood in the hour-long queue for the shower and stared blankly into the ether. As previously intimated, the shower was rubbish, though I did get a certain feeling of utterly unwarrented accomplishment when I made it to the front and my luxury style tepid trickle. At the risk of tuning this into a review of showers, the hoi polloi get a lovely warm one that's easy to access - the 'downside' is that they're in large communal blocks, which is like, um, devastating - the women are forced to endure the sexiest place in the entire festival, the men have to contend with the chance somebody might violate them by accidentally catching a glimps of their johnson. Brutal.

Oh yeah, so I saw quite a lot of bands this day, but got up to precious few antics. Poor form, I know. Here are a few words.
The Pipettes - They worked really well in the noon slot as a sort of sugary jolt into the day. In fact I think they should definitely play all their gigs at noon.
The Long Blondes - By contrast I don't think The Blondes are really a prime outdoors mainstage band, they need somewhere a bit seedier, though Jackson was doing her best to rock the saucy 70s secretary vibe to the fullest... also wot, no Seperated By Motorways? The big pop songs worked well though, it's just a shame, because those aren't actually their best tunes, it's just that in a large field in broad daylight, You Could Have Both sounds like utter wank, despite in actual fact being brilliant.
Gogol Bordello - Eh, y'know, bonkers gypsy guy hypes us up with songs we'll probably never actually buy, but which sound unfeasibly brilliant at the time.
Gossip - Touting the same set as two years ago, only now bulked out with snippets of pop songs in the intros (in case the nasty art rock fwightens ooo) and loads of sanctimonius blather from Ditto. The next album's going to be shit, isn't it?
Maximo Park - Hmm, I dunno, they're a very good live band and that but I didn't especially feel it this time. I think the problem might be mostly down to the terrible songs off their rubbish second album. Well, that's a huge exaggeration, it's okay, but I think the diffreence between a song like Apply Some Pressure and one like Girls Who Play Guitars is made pretty manifes when there sveral thousand people as the litmus. Meh.
Interpol - I dunno, everybody else hated them for being boring... I actually quite liked them for being boring. Well not boring as such, but Obstacle No. 1 and Slow Hands aside, it was an unbelievably austere set for a band playing so high up the bill, but it had a certain majesty to it, I thought. Nobody else did. Ending with Not Even Jail rather than, well, something off the first album, was a bridge slightly too far, mind. And Paul Banks looks like a homeless guy these days, it's weird...
Kings Of Leon - Were fun, I suppose, but they didn't really really engage me that much. Maybe that's because I'm not really a fan of the music. Actually that's almost certainl exactly what it it was.
Patrick Wolf - As the evening progressed, me and Mark started battling a more or less uncontrollable urge to hear The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf. This was very handy, as lo! it turned out Patrick Wolf was at the festival, tucked away second from top in the very bizarrely located Carling Stage (it was, like behind the funfair or something. Fair play to the festival organiser for lending its name to the most obscure stage of the bunch, though I suppose fact its name was on all the beer probably made up for that). Er, yeah, he was brilliant, as ever he does the songs way better live than on record, threw in a very nice Donna Summer cover and a very sarcastic joke about the fact he and Razorlight probably don't share much in the way of fanbases.
Ash - Well, we only wandered in at the end due to crossover with Wolf, but decent enough greatest hist based set save for what I'd characterise as two minor problems:
(i) There's basically no point to Ash now that they're in their 30s
(ii) They did what appeared to be a 10 minute bass breakdown dureing Kung Fu, which is, in original form, only about a minute long. Poor form Wheeler, poor form.
And that dear reader was that - we are getting very old now, and decided that but a couple more drinks and tucking up in bed by 1am to better gird our loins for Sunday would be wise. In light of the events of Sunda night, I would, with retrospect, describe this as not so much wise as semi-prophetic.


Eagles Of Death Metal: The only even slight downside to this set was that our enjoyement of it couldn't rival that of Jesse 'The Devil' Hughes - he declared it was the best show he'd ever played and he looked pretty close to tears for a lot of it. I did not feel like that. However, bloody good start to the day, and you feel less dirty singing the lyrics 'shit, goddamn, I'm a man, I'm a man' with a vast crowd rather than on your own...