Occasionally a tour will be announced that is so good that you buy tickets despite the fact that the band you are going to see aren’t ones that are regularly played on your music list. This is one such example of a tour with two of the most influential yet somehow underrated bands in the alternative scene playing the same stage on the same night as co headliners. With both Thrice and Refused it was interesting to see the mix in the crowd as both bands have a very different sound to each other and yet somehow everything worked to perfection. Unfortunately thanks to the drive from hell across the M62, I didn’t get chance to catch tonight’s support act hardcore punks Gouge Away which was a real shame as they were a band that I was certainly looking forward to catching. If you aren’t familiar with the band then I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, a personal favourite from them is R.O.T.
For the first of two hour long headline sets this evening were the Swedish punk pioneers Refused. Opening up with new album opener REV001 things started with a bang and by bringing the new album to front of set showed that they weren’t just living with their past success. Following up with ‘Violent Reaction’ kept the energy nicely flowing and was great to hear live after I’d put a bunch of plays into it on Spotify in preparation. Despite the new album sounding incredible, playing big hitter ‘Elektra’ early in the set really got the crowd moving and dancing along. Heading back to the newer tracks ‘I Wanna Watch The World Burn’ Which took vocalist DennisLyxzén Into the crowd all the way to the back which proved to be a very effective way of opening up the pit. Giving talks on serious topics such as capitalism and patrichy amongst others went out to approving crowds and it was good to see punk standing for something so strongly still. Saving the best track until last, it was no doubt that ‘New Noise’ would go down well to finish the set. As crowd in unison launched in with opening line ‘Can I Scream?’ ManchesterAcademy turned upside down with the sheer amount of people bouncing and shouting along the words. Pausing for extra effect before the last chorus Refused thanked the crowd as they were the reason the band could keep doing what they do. Launching back in it was clear how heavy the track hit and really ended the set on a high. It’s great to see that Refused unique sound is carried from their records and sounds just and incredible live and it just goes to show how talented of a band they really are.
Taking to the stage for the second coheadline set tonight were Thrice. Regularly described as your favourite bands favourite band, its no wonder that they deliver a fantastic show and having accidentally discovered them at Leeds festival back in 2016 so I was long overdue seeing them! Coming out to ‘Only Us’ showed the complete juxtaposition between the two headliners with Refused’s raw energy compared to the refined performance and intricate tracks of Thrice . By the second track ‘Image of Invisible’ the crowd were in full voice signing along with the chorus. It was clear that Thrice’s building tracks left the crowd in awe and new track ‘Just Breathe’ proved that booming across the Academy. Following this there was a huge crowd reaction to the opening riff of ‘Hurricane’ which got a huge tear and an even bigger singalong flying straight into ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ after was one of the highlights of the night as the two tracks worked so well with each other. A couple of songs later the band cracked out arguably their biggest track ‘Black Honey’ which really showed just how tight the band were and how each element mixed so beautifully with the others. After a rousing performance of ‘The Earth Will Shake’ to start to wind down their set the band opted to finish with slower track ‘Beyond The Pines’ which somehow worked perfectly. It finished with somber tone but somehow worked and built on the fantastic set from tonight. As the band left the stage the crowd were left in awe at the end of Thrice’s phenomenal show. Despite having to follow a much heavier band it was clear that they could hold their own and by making the set focused on their deeper tracks they really used the earlier mentioned juxtaposition to their advantage. It would definitely be hard to find another band that refined and tight in a live setting, everything worked perfectly and really went to show just why Thrice are so many people’s favourite bands.
After having a month without any gigs, one was definitely overdue and what better way to jump back in than seeing Zebrahead, one of my favourite live bands to watch. After seeing that the show had been moved from the University venue to the smaller Key Club, I was very excited as it meant that tonight’s show would be all the more intimate. Something that is usually a rarity, especially for a band the size of Zebrahead.
First up tonight as the main supports were London’s The Bottom Line. As the sole support tonight they had the unenviable task of warming up the crowd before Zebrahead. Unknown to me beforehand, it was great to see them live and with the crowd clearly in a good mood tonight the energy was matched by the band on stage. There was great crowd interaction and movement from the very first track, ‘She Makes Me’. The Bottom Line have a similar vibe and sound to Sum 41 and delivered an impressive performance. After announcing Leeds’s reputation as one of the loudest crowds, The Key Club definitely lived up to it by shouting back the chorus during new track ‘Over and Over’. As the set went on the energy kept on growing and by the time penultimate track ‘I Still Hate You’ came on the crowd were definitely in the party spirit with a circle pit opening up and everyone else bouncing along. As the band finished the last song it was clear that despite being the only support band they certainly worked the crowd. Definitely one that I’ll be adding to my pop-punk playlist for the future after a phenomenal opening set. The Bottom Line
As the lights went down after a brief intermission it was finally time for tonight’s headliners to take to the stage. Bringing the party to really complete this Friday night were none other than Zebrahead. Despite seeing the band plenty of times before I’d never caught them on a headline show which mean so much more Zebrahead than I was used to. It was clear from the movement in the crowd during ‘Final Countdown’ before the band were even on stage that things were going to get sweaty real quick. Packing a huge 19 Songs into their hour and a half set list was dream for any Zebrahead fan with tracks coming from everywhere in their discography. When you throw in the bands usual tropes of the “Aliens” drinking and crowd surfing and the band doing shots as well as an on stage proposal (She said yes) and you have what can only be described as a perfect gig.
The crowd were clearly in the party spirit as they surged forward as the band started the show with new track ‘All my Friends are Nobodies’. And continuing the opening salvo with 2012’s ‘Call your Friends’ was a master stroke as everyone was bouncing by the time the band were two songs in. Tonight’s show brought with it a special event – Guitarist Dan Palmer’s Birthday. As Dan was born in Sheffield, the crowd responded perfectly with chants of Yorkshire filling the room while the band did shots before playing the brilliant ‘Sirens’. One notable moment for me was the playing of ‘Hell Yeah from The Phoenix album which was the first Zebrahead song that I ever listened to so it was great to see them play it live again. As the band closed out the main part of their set list it was a nice throwback to go with the one two of ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Falling Apart’ to really bring the crowd up to a fever pitch to end the night in style. You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who was standing still.
As the band left the stage for a brief encore it made for a nice relief for the fans to get their breath back before the band launched into ‘Who brings a Knife to a Gunfight’ to take the energy back up immediately. Ending the night of perfectly Zebrahead finished off with arguably their most famous track the incredible ‘Anthem’. The whole crowd were bouncing in unison and it was clear just how much impact a band like Zebrahead have on their fans, there was a huge sense of community and fun all night. If you haven’t had chance to see Zebrahead live yet, I would recommend catching them at the earliest opportunity as they never fail to put on a fantastic live show.
As the August Bank Holiday rolled round for another year it was time to close the Festival season in style with Leeds Festival. With a huge variety of different genres on show throughout the weekend it was a shame that I was only able to attend the Friday this year but what a day it was. Unfortunately due to some pretty severe transport issues (broken down trains into Leeds and an incident on the shuttle bus route meaning we had to walk down the A64 to the site) I didn’t manage to get into the site until 3pm so it’s quite a short review but despite this all bands put on amazing sets as you’ll read below and its certainly kept my love for the festival up and I’ll be looking forward to Leeds Festival 2020 next year
Enter Shikari – Main Stage
After an absolutely dismal journey in to the festival things were going to start back with a high as the first band to play were special guests Enter Shikari. Opening their set with newly released track ‘Stop the Clocks’ it was a clear that this was going to be a fun set and with the inclusion of the rarely played ‘The Paddington Frisk’ a few songs later that was all but confirmed. In true Enter Shikari fashion they put on a great show and the pyro blasting out during ‘Juggernauts’ really showed that they belong on the big stages. Whilst it was nice to see them intimately at Download Festival, they really could pull out all stops for their set with the huge screen behind them displaying various different elements to add to the show throughout. With the Quickfire Round flashing by the crowd were and truly here’s for a party. The 2019 mix of ‘No Sleep Tonight’ got everyone dancing before the crushing riffs of ‘…Meltdown’ finished the quickfire round brilliantly. By the time the band finished set closer ‘Live Outside’ it was clear the level of appreciation that was shown by the crowd. With chants of “Oh Enter Shikari” throughout and Rou’s words to “Be Wild, be free and be wonderful” taken on board this really was an incredible set to start the day with.
Machine Gun Kelly – BBC Radio 1 Stage
Next up for the day was Machine Gun Kelly, an artist that I was much less familiar with. This seemed to be something that I had missed as there was a huge crowd packing out BBC Radio 1 Stage to see him. New track ‘Candy’ went down a treat with the crowd singing it back at full volume! After playing at Download Festival a few years ago it was good to see his heavy influences throughout the set with a cover of Motley Crue’s ‘Shout at the Devil’ from The Dirt blasting out through the tent. ‘RAP DEVIL’ also made an appearance in the set and was a masterpiece to see live! Chants of “Yorkshire” filled the entire stage as Yungblud came out to perform with MGK for ‘I think I’m OKAY’. Having missed his set earlier in the day thanks to the transport it was great to see the young Yorkshire lad taking to the stage and bouncing around. One of the standout points of this set was that Machine Gun Kelly really showed off how much of a multi-instrumentalist he is by switching things up and taking on both the drums and guitar throughout as well as his vocals. Given my lack of knowledge beforehand this was definitely a surprise for me how much I enjoyed his set and I’ll definitely be listening to him more in the future.
nothing,nowhere. – The Pit Stage
Keeping with the rap theme, it was time to catch emo rapper nothing,nowhere. an artist that I’d heard great things about but never managed to catch live yet. Working his balance of light signing and rap perfectly it was a very minimal performance but in the best way. With the confines of the tent over The Pit stage it worked perfectly with the intimacy meaning that each track hit home hard. The standout part of his set came as he finished with arguably his biggest track ‘hammer’. It was a perfect end and even managed to stir up a mosh pit in the closing moments to really release the emotion of the track. Definitely an artist that I’ll be checking out again in the future, whist the slow beats of emo rap are not usually my cup of tea this set really showed why nothing,nowhere. is really at the top of the game at the moment.
Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – Main Stage
Heading back to the Main Stage and changing the momentum very quickly to much heavier rock and roll, it was time to watch Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. Having caught them at every Leeds Festival since 2015 I knew what to expect from the set but still they crushed it. The huge crowd began moshing as soon as the first chord of ‘Tyrant Lizard’ rang out. It was great to hear the newer tracks alongside older ones and really showed the growth that both Frank and The Rattlesnakes have done over the past few years. After all these years it’s great to see them rewarded with such a high slot after his set opening the Main Stage in 2017 everyone thought that would be the pinnacle. It’s great to see the band pushing the positive messages hard and this was made clear during ‘Wild Flowers’ where he not only had a female only crowd surfer moment but also a mosh pit just for the women in the crowd. It worked perfectly to give those that hadn’t had courage to do either before an opportunity to try it without a worry and hopefully gave them a great experience to take away. Following this it was back to the older tracks with ‘Devil Inside of Me’ which went down a treat causing an absolute ruckus in the crowd. Finishing with the huge ‘I Hate You’ was always gonna be a great choice but using it to ‘”Celebrate” the current prime minister, point out the failings in the current government and encouraging young people to vote was a great idea and certainly one I hope the crowd took on board. A fantastic set to really show what Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes stand for and how they are helping out the entire rock community. It won’t be too long before they are headlining the entire festival hopefully
A Day to Remember – Main Stage
Continuing the heavier theme on the main stage were today’s main supports in A Day to Remember. Opening their set with ‘2nd Sucks’ really started the set off with a bang and what followed for the next 45mins could only be described as a brilliant set. Keeping things heavy meant that pits were opening everywhere and when rarely played ‘Sticks and Bricks’ came out the reaction was huge. Screams of “My heart is filled with hate!” were shouted back before the huge breakdown hit home and the crowd imploded on itself. After the heavy start things let up a little with ‘Rescue Me’ and the anthemic ‘Have Faith in Me’ getting massive singalongs. New track ‘Degenerates’ was added into the set and from the crowd’s reaction it’s certainly going to be around in their sets for a long time.
After the Huge ‘All I Want’ it was time to slow things down again for an acoustic version of ‘If It Means a Lot to You’ which really showed off just how good Jeremy McKinnon’s clean vocals were and by the time the song had built to its crescendo with the full band joining there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. Not one to put off a big finish, the band saved arguably one of their best tracks till last with the chants to ‘The Downfall Of Us All’ ringing out across the crowd and the CO2 and Pyro flying across the stage. With their set well and truly killed all that was left for the band to do was drop a huge banner down with ‘You’re Welcome’ on which only built the hype for the new album, only a few months to wait before its released.
Enter Shikari – The Pit Stage
No you haven’t scrolled back to the top of the post, it really is a second Enter Shikari set. Enter Shikari had the incredible ability to play two completely different sets in the same day and after their insane set earlier on the Main stage it was time for their Headline set on The Pit stage. Unfortunately due to the set times overlap with A Day to Remember, I wasn’t able catch the entire set but from the parts that I did catch it was no wonder that the tent was packed out. With old cut ‘Tribalism’ making its live debut despite being released almost 10 years ago just as I walked into the tent it was clear that this was going to be an incredible set. With the pyro and confetti thrown in it was certainly Enter Shikari’s no holds barred live show.
With big hits such as ‘Arguing with Thermometers’ and ‘Slipshod’ making appearances things were certainly rowdy and with everyone jumping into the crowd or climbing the stage framing it was clear this was a set to have fun with and definitely a great way to close the stage for the day. As the band finished with their set with ‘The Appeal and The Mindsweep II’ it was clear to see the energy was still flowing at 100% and it certainly looked like it ended the day on a high for the band. The fact that the band had pulled off two sets in the same day was one hell of an achievement and certainly one I’m glad to say that I was able to experience. I’ll say it in every review I write about Enter Shikari but it’s no lie, if you haven’t seen them live then go see them as soon as possible as it really is an unreal experience.
Foo Fighters – Main Stage
After being warmed up perfectly by both A Day to Remember and Enter Shikari it was time for today’s headliners – rock and roll titans Foo Fighters. Now in the past I’ve described sets starting with a bang but in this case there was a literal bang as fireworks shot into the sky as ‘The Pretender’ rang out. After this incredible start the band launched straight into ‘Learn to Fly’ as a para-glider flew about over Bramham Park. After starting at 110% the Foo’s dialled things back a little as they got to ‘My Hero’ with Dave bringing out his daughter Violet to help him on vocals which went down amazingly with the crowd. As the band introductions came around in the set the pace slowed a little bit but the band pulled a wild card when a guy dressed as Freddie Mercury in the crowd was invited on stage to dance along to Taylor Hawkins cover of the Queen hit ‘Under Pressure’. It brought a great entertainment factor and the guy pulled it off well getting a huge cheer from the crowd as he ran around the stage. Bringing out both All My Life and Monkey Wrench brought the energy back up to 100%. It was good to see how they had mixed some of their older tracks in with their big hits to really give a well-rounded Foo Fighters experience. ‘Best of You’ got a deafening singalong from the crowd being almost louder than the PA system.
As the band’s two hour set drew to its closing the band weren’t really to go down quietly and a cover of the massive AC/DC track ‘Let There Be Rock’ built up all the remaining energy and prepared the crowd for the last song in the set – the legendary ‘Everlong’. With Dave Grohl dedicating it to the crowd that had been with them for the last 25 years it really was a celebration of what the band had achieved over the years and as the song closed to an end and the fireworks rose to the sky over the giant logo it was clear to see just how much Foo Fighters meant to everyone in the crows and how they become one of the legendary bands in rock music. As the set wound down and people started leaving the arena it was clear from the overhead conversations that this would be a set to go down in Reading and Leeds Festival’s history books. A Phenomenal set to really end a brilliant day of Rock!
Supports: Stages In Faith, Big Cheese, Payday, Abuse Of Power
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Playing 10 year one off reunion shows in 4 cities was always going to be a huge hit but to have Leeds as one of the cities was monumental and really showed just how impressive the underground hardcore scene is in Leeds to draw a show like this. With tickets selling out extremely quickly, it was clear that everyone in attendance was in for a special night.
First up tonight were Stages In Faith. Going for a more old school hardcore sound mixing clean vocals and spoken word over the heavy distorted tracks, it was very reminiscent of bands like Leatherface. It was good to see that type of style was still being developed by the next generation of bands. Highlights from their set were recent track ‘Floodlights’ and their new unreleased track landed well with the early crowd to get the movement in the crowd started. Definitely a solid set to start off the night and hopefully the larger crowd that were present will pick up some of their tracks
Next up were the mighty Big Cheese. After seeing these last year when they supported Madball I knew what to expect from them. As expected they put on a killer set which really work the crowd up. The hardcore dancers were out in full and kept up the same energy throughout the set. Going for a much heavier style of hardcore than SIF but it worked wonders to get everyone involved. To say they’re still a little off the radar they’re certainly making waves in the underground hardcore scene and definitely for the right reasons. Huge energy from the band matched the crowd perfectly and certainly a band to check out if you dig the heavier side of Hardcore! As the poster over the amps said – Don’t Forget 2 Tell The World.
Continuing Big Cheese’s theme of heavy hardcore were Payday it certainly kept the party mood well and truly in check. The set seemed to fly by with their short sharp bursts of songs but with the new album due out in September hopefully it’s not too long until Payday are back in Leeds. Highlight from them was the track ‘Blueprints’ from their new album which sounded very heavy and intense so will be interesting to see if the rest of the album matches. Certainly one I’ll be keeping my eye on in the near future! The whole band were tight and didn’t put a foot wrong throughout. Definitely a good choice by Have Heart to book them and hopefully this will springboard them with their new album into the forefront of the hardcore scene.
Last of the support bands tonight were the fantastic Abuse Of Power. Given the three stunning sets before them it was looking to be an uphill struggle for them to top what had already been a fantastic night. The band however had other plans and took the rooms energy up an extra level. With the front half of the floor becoming a warzone with people everywhere moshing and hardcore dancing. While the crowd were going crazy it was not much different up on stage with each member of the band moving non-stop as they powered through their set. Each member put in a fantastic performance and the end result was crushing hardcore that went down a dream.
Last up tonight were the band that everyone was here to see, Have Heart. It took a single note from the band before people were launching themselves from the stage into the crowd. As the band worked through the opening salvo of ‘The Machinist’ and ‘The Unbreakable’ it was clear that even though it had been 10 years they certainly hadn’t lost their edge and were still performing at a fantastic level. Crashing through their 17 song setlist it was clear that everyone in attendance had some connection to the band as every word was screamed back at the band throughout. Top tracks ‘Watch Me Sink’ and ‘Armed With a Mind’ got huge reactions from the crowd and were perfectly placed to keep the energy levels up even after three hours of solid hardcore. As the set reached its mid-point the band mentioned that the reason for this one off reunion is the world is currently going backwards in terms of equality and rights and that the band were showing that things need to keep moving forward with progression. Following this speech, vocalist Pat Flynn kicking the next song in with “Backwards Never, Forwards Forever”, a memento to live by that was shouted back by the crowd. In true Have Heart fashion as they reached their final track, they announced that this would be their last song ever with no encore or anything like that and as they smashed their way through ‘Watch Me Rise’ the entire crowd flooded the stage with chants of “I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.” As the final note rang out, you could see the emotion on everyone’s faces, this really was a monumental show for everyone involved and certainly something that would be talked about for many years to come.
Starting the day off nice and heavy I took a trip to the Main stage to see the incredibly heavy I Prevail. For a band that made their rise mostly through covers of pop songs it was great to hear that their original tracks sounds incredible. Despite it only being their second time playing in the UK they drew a huge crowd even given the fact it was only 12pm and the rain was pouring down. With sounds that were similar to A Day to Remember it was clear that the crowd were loving it with pits all throughout and plenty of people dancing along. Tracks off their new album ‘Trauma’ sound incredible with the standouts being opener ‘Bow Down’ which was an aggressive wake-up call and a great way to start the day and ‘DOA’ which got huge circle pits and singalongs at the same time whilst sounding incredible with the mix between the two vocalists. I Prevail are definitely a band that I’ll be trying to catch again in the future next time they’re in the UK
Underoath – Main Stage
As Underoath took to the stage with the rain still pouring down, it was clear that the crowd was much smaller than it should have been for a band of this calibre. Not to help the rough start, the sound started a little off with the bass too heavy in the mix unfortunately affecting their sound. Once that was sorted out a couple of songs in all sounded good and the band really fell into their groove. Great vocals were on show from both singer and drummer who chimed in for a surprising amount of the tracks. With the majority of tracks coming from their new album ‘Erase Me’ it was clear that they fitted in well live. ‘Rapture’ was certainly a highlight sounded incredible and worked really well with their older stuff. The electronic element added greatly to the show to differentiate from generic metalcore and finishing with a pairing of the classic ‘Writings on the Wall’ before newer track ‘Sink with You’ went down a storm with the crowd. Finishing on a high it was great to see the triumph from Underoath despite their rocky start.
Starset – Zippo Encore Stage
Next up on the Zippo Encore Stage were my surprise of the day – Starset. I had heard and enjoyed a couple of songs by them on the Official Download Spotify playlist which meant that they were down to fill my time between Underoath and Black Peaks. However as the stage started to fog with smoke and the violinist and cellist appeared on stage it really piqued my interest that I was about to watch something different. As the rest of the band took to the stage in futuristic desert outfits it really was a sight to behold with the large sandy logo behind. As the tracks went on you could tell that the band were giving it 100% with early track ‘Monster’ sounding incredible. With the vocalist switching between two separate mic’s it provided a really interesting mix and the addition of some electronic elements mixed with the strings and regular band made for a great soundscape. Despite the fog machines working overtime and clouding the stage it was still a really enjoyable show to build the day up and certainly another band that I will be keeping my eye on in the future. Finishing their set with their top track ‘My Demons’, Starset certainly left a lasting impression on the unsuspecting crowd and for all the right reasons.
Black Peaks – Avalanche Stage
After the surprise shock from the very impressive Starset before it was time for Black Peaks, a set that I knew from previous experience was going to be top notch. As I entered the Avalanche Stage tent it was clear to see the huge amount of people packing the tent and the anticipation was hanging in the air. As the band opened up with newer track ‘Can’t Sleep’ the tent fell into silence at the spectacle they were witnessing. With vocalist Will Gardner pulling out all the stops to deliver his fantastic mix of clean and unclean vocals and the rest of the band absolutely smashing it, it was clear that they had earned a reaction of this level. One of the surprises of the set was the Pyro the burst from the stage despite it only being 3pm and on the 3rd Stage. It was clear that everyone knew that this was going to be one of the standout sets from the entire weekend. Finishing with older cuts of the huge sounding ‘Say You Will’ and the incredible ‘Glass Built Castles’ ensured that the entire tent was moving. The only negative to pull from this set was that they only had six songs to impress but from this set, they’ll certainly be taking to the larger stages in the future. I have no doubt that Black Peaks will have picked up a new bunch of fans from this set and just in time for their headline tour in October.
Amon Amarth – Main Stage
Unfortunately due to the timing of the set Amon Amarth fell victim to me only being able to catch part of their set before heading off but boy did they pack a lot into the three songs that I caught. A huge crowd had turned out to see the mighty Vikings and as they kicked off their first track it was incredible to see everyone banging their heads along to the huge riffs! Bringing heavy hitting drums and incredible sounding guitars with the deep vocals tying it over perfectly it really was a masterclass in metal music for everyone in attendance. With a huge amount pyro flying left, right, and centre and two Vikings engaging in combat on stage during ‘First Kill’ it really was a see it to believe it spectacle, being more of an entertainment set rather than just purely musical. As third track ‘Way of the Viking’ came to a crushing end it was time for us to leave which felt like a fitting end to their set for us. I can’t wait to get to enjoy the full Amon Amarth package later this year when they tour the UK as the posters around the arena were suggesting.
Beartooth – Zippo Encore Stage
After cutting Amon Amarth short, it fell to Beartooth to ease my judgement and show why I was watching them and not still at the Main stage with the Vikings! As it turns out it was very much the correct choice. Having seen Beartooth a fair few times I knew what to expect but as with every performance they seem to improve on themselves. Given the huge size of the crowd it was clear that they are certainly rising through the ranks. Starting the set with a bang the band came out and immediately smashed into ‘Bad Listener’ performing to perfection, it really was a guide for what was about to follow. With a mix of tracks during their set from all three albums it’s clear that fans both new and old of the band are very passionate with the crowd screaming along to every song. The reaction to newer track ‘You Never Know’ was incredible with everyone’s (and I do mean everyone!) fist pumping and head banging along. After a short speech talking about the importance of mental health on the community and how the band had helped him along personally, Caleb launched into final track ‘In Between’ which really finished the set with a huge bang as the crowd went crazy screaming all the words back. This really felt like a special set from Beartooth and I can’t wait to see them again on their 2020 tour.
Lamb Of God – Main Stage
Next up for the day as it was drawing to a fever pitch were the Death Metal titans Lamb of God. As the crowd flocked to the Main stage to catch the huge band it was clear to see they were an band in demand and even clashing with the huge Anthrax hadn’t had too much of an impact on the numbers in attendance. Starting with arguably one of their biggest tracks in ‘Omerta’ things started off in great fashion and with ‘Walk With Me in Hell’ coming only a few songs later it was clear that they were firing on all cylinders with the band sounding incredible. Unfortunately for me, this energy didn’t seem to continue for them throughout the set. Whilst it was still clear that the majority of the crowd were still rocking along there was just something off for me personally which I can only put down to the ability of all the bands that had put on stunning sets today beforehand. I’m definitely glad to have caught Lamb of God live though as they’ve been on my wish list for a long time and the early tracks really hit home well for me showing just how devastating the band can be live.
Fever 333 – Avalanche Stage
After the slight disappointment of the previous set it was time for things to hit the high notes again with arguably one of the most talked about sets of the weekend FEVER 333. Having been lucky enough to see their secret set exactly a year ago at Download Festival 2018 it was great to see the band back again playing to a much bigger crowd. As the first notes of ‘Burn It’ rang out the entire tent turned into a warzone with everyone both on the stage and in the crowd moving non-stop until the end. With the huge pairing of ‘Made In America’ and ‘One Of Us’ coming not far behind it was a brilliant showcase of just what the band had achieved so far in their short spell. With a short break for the band to show off their technical prowess with a drum solo and beatbox which included all three members hitting the drums as it came to a climax. Unfortunately due to the nature of a drum solo it did sap some of the energy from the crowd and the band had to put in more effort to the second half of the set to bring it back up. Luckily the setlist had been set up so that the huge ‘Out of Control’ could restart the movement with a bang. As the bands set drew to a close with ‘Hunting Season’ it was clear to see that the tent was back up to fever pitch – pun very much intended. As the band left the stage it was clear that through these demonstrations they were attracting a huge following and were only going to grow even more from here. With the headline demonstrations later in 2019 it was clear that there is no stopping FEVER 333 and that is very much a good thing!
Enter Shikari – Avalanche Stage
For most bands following the explosive and very impressive FEVER 333 would be a tough challenge but luckily for me today final band and Avalanche Stage headliner Enter Shikari were the true champions of live performances and were on top form. Having previously headlined the Zippo Encore Stage in years gone by it seemed to be a downgrade to be headlining the third stage however the confines of a packed out tent complete with the Intimate venue tour they had done earlier in the year brought the perfect atmosphere to the set. Starting out with ‘The Appeal & The Mindsweep I’ was a master stroke with the entire crowd screaming along and following it up with my personal favourite Enter Shikari Song ‘Quelle Surprise’ it really was one giant mosh pit from the very beginning. With a very varied setlist covering all aspects of Enter Shikari’s sound it really was musically impressive and went to show that a band can experiment outside of set genres and pull it off perfectly jumping from the huge anthems of ‘Take My Country Back’ to the heaviness of ‘Slipshod’ to the technicality of ‘There’s a Price On Your Head’. After displaying the wide variety the band have, they decided to take it up another notch with the new version of the ‘Quick-fire Round’ which always goes down a treat at their shows. Amongst the usual heavy hitters the inclusion of a new ‘No Sleep Tonight’ remix went down perfectly, it really was a masterclass in how to mix songs perfectly and as the bad finished up with the fantastic ‘Live Outside’ there wasn’t a single person who left the tent without a smile on their face having just witnessed a perfect set. I may be biased given that they are my favourite band but seeing Enter Shikari play live is one of the most incredible things in music currently and certainly a must if you haven’t already. They were certainly the perfect way to end the whole festival on a huge high with easily the best set of the week for me personally. I can’t wait to catch them again in the summer playing at Leeds Festival.
As June rolled around, a hundred thousand people ventured down to the hallowed turf of Donington Park to attend the UKs best rock and alternative music festival. With headliners of Def Leppard, Slipknot, and Tool there really was something for everyone. After a couple of days camping in the rain, it finally started easing up a little on Friday the bands started to hit the stage.
Kvelertak – Zippo Encore Stage
Opening up on Friday for me were Norwegian rockers Kvelertak on the Zippo Encore Stage! Matching the energy perfectly of Download. Musically the band were very impressive however they were let down at start by vocals not quite keeping to the same quality. It seemed that vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen would rather run round the stage celebrating his birthday a little too hard than sing the songs. After their rough start Kvelertak managed to pull it together by the time they hit their two most known tracks ‘Blodtørst’ and ‘Mjød’ and finished up with the great ‘Kverletak’! A decent band to start of the festival with and one that set the bar pretty high for all bands across the weekend.
Conjurer – Dogtooth Stage
Following up next on the Dogtooth stage were Conjurer, a band that I picked up at 2000trees last year but unfortunately due to set timings missed them. They were one of my must see bands of the weekend and they were certainly worth the wait. To sum their set up in one word it would have to be heavy! Playing a crushing but emotion filled set everything was pitch perfect for the band. Switching between the two vocalists work perfectly and let the bassist run round in the crowd. The drumming was done to perfection and finishing off with a huge circle pit really showed just how impressive Conjurer’s set was. I’ll definitely be catching them at their headline tour in October when it passes through Leeds.
Clutch – Main Stage
Taking to a packed Main Stage were the rock and roll titans Clutch! Having honed their craft over the years it was no surprise that they sounded incredible. As it had finally stopped raining for the first time of the day they definitely picked up the party mood and the crowd were more than obliged to join in. With riffs for days and some killer solos it was clear to see why they had been moved up from playing the Zippo Encore Stage back in 2012 to high up on the Main Stage this year! Certainly a band to listen to if the Classic Rock N Roll is your choice of music! Finishing off with their masterclass of ‘Electric Worry’ went down a storm and really closed their set out on a high!
Zebrahead – Avalanche Stage
Continuing the party theme were none other than ‘Mother Fucking Zebrahead Bitch!’ or MFZB for short! Coming out swinging with huge track ‘Rescue Me’, it was clear that the crowd were in full force at the Avalanche stage this afternoon. With the typical crowd kneeling down and jumping up happening to great effect and circle pits galore it’s clear that Zebrahead are a band in demand and them announcing they’ll be back in September lit the crowd up even more than before! Newer tracks such as ‘All My Friends Are Nobodies’ went down just as well as big hitters like ‘Falling Apart’ and to close things off with a band was their standout track ‘Anthem’. Zebrahead have the mix of singing and rapping really down to a T with the two playing off each other perfectly. This in addition to the huge guitar solos that soar over the top it is the perfect mix for a punk band to really start a party!
The Interrupters – Avalanche Stage
Having only seen The Interrupters a few weeks back I was interested to see how the Download crowd took to them in comparison to Slam Dunk. Turns out The Interrupters has turned their game up to max, coming out of the gates in the Avalanche stage tent it was clear that the band were having fun and the crowd certainly returned the energy. Unsurprisingly playing a very similar set to the previous week it should have felt a bit off but everything sounded even better and more refined! Huge tracks like ‘She’s Kerosene’ and ‘Take Back The Power’ hit very hard and as the wall of death opened up down the middle it was very clear that everyone was on the same page. Changing things slightly with an Operation Ivy cover went down gloriously with the crowd and the chants to ‘Family’ as the band finished their set were deafening. Definitely one of the top sets on Friday and proof that Ska still has a place at Download Festival.
Slash feat Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – Main Stage
Taking a short break from the Avalanche Stage and returning to the Main Stage I went to catch Slash feat Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Given the opportunity to not only catch one of the most famous guitarists live but also one of rock’s most incredible voice, I couldn’t turn it down. Coming out the gates strong with ‘Call of the Wild’ it really showed that everyone was continuing the day’s theme and being on top form. After a few tracks the weather gods had decided a brief rainstorm was due but Myles Kennedy was on hand to dedicate a song to Lemmy and by the time the band started ‘Driving Rain’ it had stopped completely. With a huge sounding version of ‘World on Fire’ to finish the show it really hit home just how good this mix of artists were and why there were so many people watching.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Avalanche Stage
Heading back to the Avalanche Stage, my last band of the day were the very unique Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. A self-proclaimed cover band they took all the classic tracks you know and love and gave them a very unique punk edge. The entire set was a celebration and the crowd were dancing from start to finish. Starting with a version of Cher’s Believe will give you an idea how this band works. Whilst the music may have been a parody the musicianship certainly wasn’t. Everyone played their instrument to the top level with each track sounding even better than on record. A Supergroup filled with Punk legends such as CJ Ramone (The Ramones) on Bass and up and newer artists like Stacey Dee (Bad Cop Bad Cop) on Guitar and vocals, there really was something for everyone in the set. High points in the set for me had to be the people crowd surfing during ‘Uptown Girl’ (A sentence I never thought I’d write) and the huge singalong to ‘Rocketman’. As the band finished their set there was just enough time for an encore of Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’ to really finish the party in style for day one of Download Festival 2019.
As the first bank holiday of May rolled round it could only mean one thing… The start of festival season!! And as will every year the first one up is Live At Leeds. Showcasing a nice mix of new and upcoming bands from a variety of genres it is definitely one to keep an eye on if you enjoy hearing new acts.
VANT – Dork Stage, The Wardrobe
Kicking off proceedings for day were VANT. Things started off nice and slow to warm the crowd up with a couple of new acoustic tracks before breaking out the electric guitar. Vant mixed older tracks with his newer solo tracks which really worked well to show the mix of his tunes across both incarnations of the band. ‘Peace and Love’ sounded huge and a great reaction from the crowd to newer single ‘Thank Lucifer’. Finishing with a nice combo of ‘Karma Seeker’ and ‘Do You Know Me?’ really gave the crowd a nice chance to return the energy with the first mosh pits of the day. Fantastic set to a packed out crowd to start the festival off nicely and prepare me for the rest of the day.
Horror My Friend – Gigwise Stage, Leeds Becketts SU 2
Continuing the theme of indie/punk were Australian band Horror My Friend. Despite a few technical issues with their guitars, they managed to show the quality of music a band can make with a guitar, bass and drums. By the time they got into their stride the crowd were banging their heads and as the set went on the crowd grew massively to fill the stage. Finishing with ‘DIYS’ led to a nice heavy end showing their punk side off well. A great new discovery and certainly one I’ll be looking into in the future.
Saint Agnes – Upset Stage, The Key Club
Taking things up a notch next at The Key Club were Saint Agnes. Combining powerful vocals, heavy drum beats and jarring guitars shouldn’t have worked but the band smashed it and sounded fantastic! Having discovered them through the festival playlist I was sure how the turnout would be given they were heavier than most bands playing today however from the packed out venue it was clear that this band were high on a lot of peoples agendas, Saint Agnes worked through their hits perfectly with ‘Diablo Take Me Home’ causing the whole crowd to jump and bang their heads before finishing with ‘Welcome To Silvertown’ to really go out in style by diving into the crowd for one final party. Certainly one to check out if you dig the rockier side of things!
Lucas Watt – The Social
After the intensity from Saint Agnes it was a huge change to catch Lucas Watt. Armed with his acoustic guitar and a couple of band mates he showed just how impressive a singer/songwriter he really is. Hits like ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Why Do I Call’ showing how powerful his vocals are. The Social was packed out and the whole crowd were bobbing along to his songs. Treating us to some tracks from his new EP also went down a storm and from the looks of the crowd his headline show in Leeds later this year will be very impresive to say the least.
Inhaler – The Chapel
Following on from a short much break it was straught back into the music with Inhaler. Pulling sounds from both alt-rock and indie seemed to be keeping the large crowd happy and whilst it didn’t do much for me personally, it seemed to go down well with the rest of the crowd. Taking heavy inspiration from bands like Joy Division and U2 it was clear in their sound musically that they had tried to incorporate them using heavy synths and light guitars. Whilst not a band that I will be following I’m sure that plenty in the crowd will be keeping a close eye on them in the near future.
Hot Milk – Upset Stage, The Key Club
Marked as one of my top bands to see there was certainly an air of anticipation whilst waiting for Hot Milk to take to the stage. Crashing on to the stage they proceeded to blow all expectation out the water in a 30 minute set that seemed to fly by. Whilst Live at Leeds doesn’t usually put on much pop punk it was a breath of fresh air and seemed to be very popular with the crowd. Mixing up the two vocal styles worked really well and certainly set them apart from other pop punk bands coming out that the moment. The crowd were loving it with jumping and bouncing throughout the set with a few small pits opening at the band’s request. I can’t wait to hear more from them as the two unreleased tracks they played sounded brilliant. Definitely a band that I’ll be checking out at Slam Dunk/Download if I get the chance.
She Drew The Gun – NME Stage, Riley Smith Hall
After their incredible performance at The Wardrobe back in 2017, She Drew The Gun were high on my list of bands to see. Since then the following of the band has grown and it was great to see them playing to a much larger audience. A great set from the political rockers. Their songs really showing off the powerful messages behind their tracks alongside the talent of the band. New track ‘Something For The Pain’ drew singalongs from the crowd and dancing throughout. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse halfway through when the set was cut short due to illness. Hopefully they’ll be coming back soon as they seem to be going from strength to strength with the release of the new album ‘Revolution Of Mind’.
Fatherson – Dance To the Radio Stage, The Church
After missing their set at 2000trees and their sold out show at Hyde Park Book Club it was about time that I caught these guys live and it was definitely worth the wait. Everything worked perfectly for them and the crowd were clearly on board for the party that Fatherson were bringing. Tracks like ‘Making Waves’ and ‘I Like Not Knowing’ showed them at the top of the game and the brilliant acoustics of Church meant that it sounded just as brilliant. Fantastic vocals soared across the venue and the guitars crashed around it. It was great to see the crowd jump on board with the band banging their heads and dancing around through their slightly longer set. Definitely one of my top bands of the day and certainly one to listen to if you’ve never caught them before!!
The Dunts – The Chapel
Next up it was a short trip from The Church to The Chapel for the penultimate act of the day. Just as the festival was starting to quieten down for the day The Dunts were bringing a huge amount of energy to the chapel. Bringing out their fast paced indie punk tracks meant that the entire crowd had no choice but to move around with a nice pit opening at the front of the crowd. Everything sounded brilliant from the stage and the catchy delivery really worked to build the energy on the stage. The band worked their crowd interaction well getting huge singalongs. Huge tracks in ‘The Birds and Beez’ and ‘Ride The Wave’ showcased their raw talent and showed why everyone had turned up. As a new band for me from the festival they are definitely up there as one of my favourite discoveries from Live At Leeds in a long time.
Jamie Lenman – Upset Stage, The Key Club
There hasnt been a Live At Leeds when my final Act isn’t in the Key Club and this one was no different. When the option is to see Jamie Lenman or not there is only one suitable response. Despite the fact that there was only one guitar and one drum kit on stage we were treated to 40 mins of pure face melting rock to finish the day off nicely! Mixing in a few covers, from his soon to be released album, with hit tracks such as ‘All Of England Is A City’ and ‘Devolver’ really worked amazing to get the crowd moving and banging their heads. Finishing up the class act with the huge sounding ‘Mississippi’ left the crowd screaming M-I-SSI-SSI-PPI as he closed the stage for the day. Originally billed as a special guest, his set certainly lived up to the ‘special’ in its title. A great way to finish the day!