Bramham Park, UK
August 23-25, 2019
72 hours seems like such a short time in the grand scheme of things. Barely half a working week yet it’s enough to make a life long list of memories and life changing experiences.
Music is a power unparalleled in the world.
The Festival and Local Area
Travelling across the world I experienced a semi cultural shock but once the music started, all those differences disappeared. I’ve only ever seen that many people at a sporting event but to see a music festival with such a deep and rich diversity of culture throughout its ages was truly a sight for sore eyes. Away from the music the festival culture really shone through. This new and exciting way to experience a festival on a large scale quickly made me fall in love. To find most of the stages packed at all times really showed the depth that the crowd had with each diverse group coming together to properly enjoy the weekend. The lineup across the 3 days had acts spanning more than 30 years and it was a huge highlight seeing the age ranges co-exist, enjoying such an incredible vibe for the weekend.
Although tucked away and secluded, around 40 minutes from the nearest town there is a consistent flow of public transport but also huge amounts of parking if you wish to travel via car. The festival’s real secret to pulling crowds of 200,000 people per day (between both Reading and Leeds) is the booking of the artists. The festival appeals to what’s hot in today’s market, booking headliners and artists littered throughout the days of big-selling artists in today’s mainstream and underground scenes.
It’s not uncommon to find an artist booked twice in 2 years and see them skyrocket up the lineup, perfectly example with Post Malone, 2018 playing during the middle of the day and 2019 headlining the main stage. The lineups of each stage really had a theme allowing fans to properly park themselves or achieve minimal movement throughout the day and still gain the maximum experience. I was told it was a rarity. But the weather was truly a blessing for the entire weekend, no rain and temperatures from 22 to 28 degrees. Given the information that it’s rained most of the last 10 years I was so surprised given how gorgeous conditions were for the end of summer.
The festival so well equipped to handle this with water stations littered throughout both the campgrounds and the arena. A huge range of food options, vegan and non, both in and out of the arena, the lines were a tad long for each but you can’t really expect much different with the sheer number of people. To match the huge range of food there is also a small yet surprisingly selection of stores. No need to worry about forgetting things. Last final big selling point. Lost friends? Care about posting to your Instagram stories? No worries, there was fantastic reception throughout the festival. Single charge portable chargers were available for purchase all weekend as well as showers and a huge amount of toilets. This festival truly covered the whole range of needs for fans.
Now to the music.
The Aussie Invasion
Australia really flexing its muscles on the international stage. The Faim, The Chats, Stand Atlantic, Hockey Dad and Press Club all playing memorable sets across the weekend.
The Faim performing on the 2nd stage with a powerful Panic at the Disco-esque performance. Really stole the hearts of many of the crowd showcasing just why they’re destined to succeed on the international stage.
The Chats thanking fans right from the get-go for turning out to see “the superior band in that time slot” with a clash with The 1975 engaging the fans from the start with an enticing offer of a beer and Naan bread for some special remedies. The 1,000+ strong crowd that turned out to see enjoyed every second of it. Many of the UK based photographers approaching me saying how proud I must be to be Australian with a band like that.
Press Club leaving me with that wonderful sensation of home. The Melbourne based act tearing the pit to shreds, as per usual, frontwoman Nat Foster blowing the socks off not only the fans but the media tent too, a wonderful echo of how wonderful Press Club are shone throughout the weekend. I’m so excited to see just how far this band can go.
Stand Atlantic go from strength to strength every time I see them. Only in January I saw them play a sold out show at home and now after a spectacular year overseas they continue to pull crowds on the festival landscape.
The International Acts
Continuing with the hype for back home. There are 3 bands I was ecstatic to see going into the festival all of which once I came home they were announced on Good Things Festival with a huge line up just confirming how much hype and excitement there is around these particular acts. Them being A Day To Remember, Enter Shikari and Poppy.
The first time seeing A Day To Remember and double as blessed to see them on a festival they provided a huge opening with pyro and Co2. Pulling out their trademark crowd surfer surfing on another crowd surfer. Their sunset set was by far something to remember playing a huge range of old Homesick classics and a surprisingly large performance of the new song ‘Degenerates‘ has me nothing but excited to see them again in a few months and hear all this new music they have in the works.
Enter Shikari are that one band that you wish you could see all day, every day for the rest of your life. No band like them nor will there ever be. Playing 2 sets throughout the day they tore the main stage up and then played a more intimate show, scorching my eyebrows with fire both on the stage and with their music. 2019 may be the year of synth being introduced to metal but Enter Shikari proving that they were always a couple steps ahead of everyone. If there’s a release of new music I’m looking forward to more in 2019 I can’t think of it.
Striking, engaging, mysterious. Poppy, somewhat of a surprise to see, I’ve heard such unique things about the performance with outlandish costumes and a blend of pop and metal together. I was not disappointed in the slightest with one of the more memorable sets of the weekend. Disappointed I couldn’t say and see the whole set leaving me anxious to catch more when he/she is in Australia.
UNFD signed band Dream State were in Australia in January playing their first round of shows. Seeing them only 7 months later and much closer to home, I was shocked at just the extreme progression of this band. Frontwoman CJ Gilpin flying around the stage and through the crowd with her dramatic style performance leaving viewers with a difficult decision to mosh away or watch a truly wonderful performer on stage.
If you’re unfamiliar with American rockers Pup I suggest you whip out Spotify and give them a listen. A major reason for travelling overseas I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest nor did I have any regrets. Releasing a huge album in 2019 Morbid Stuff they opened the set with the title track ‘Morbid Stuff‘ leaving me a tad studden and forgetting I was actually there to take photos. Pup just have this sound that fills the room and your soul leaving you feeling complete.
In December 2018, I got to see Boston Manor at Good Things Festival on their first trip to Australia. Quickly becoming one of my favourite bands in the world. Watching them tear apart a home crowd was a sight to behold, a truly wonderful live band with energy that explodes off stage and through the crowd making the two feel as one.
25 years, 19 albums. Bowling For Soup have done it all. Over filling the stage they were allocated their outlandish style of fun genuine punk rock had the echoes of the crowd singing along to be heard from the far wider festival community. A fun display from each member and playful tricks with their guitar picks. Making it known how much of an accomplishment that it was that they played 2 songs in a row the crowd played off their playful nature all set long.
A brief glance of Of Mice & Men provided me with a window to see that the metal band is still going from strength to strength, only just outlined by their new song. With much anticipation behind the release of their new album Earthandsky.
Higher Power really bought the power in their set, a fantastic sprinkling of hardcore music throughout the weekend really highlighted with their set. UK homegrown Blood Youth sent the tent rocking with a shattering display of hardcore music. Definitely a band to keep your eye on when they’re on Australian shores.
The Story So Far’s application to progression and evolution is complete. Once known for their aggressive pop punk now hitting their peak evolution and fans embracing every single second of it. Crowd surfers flying through the air, the band’s new music making your insides feel warm like you’ve hit the perfect point of peace on a beach in the middle of summer.
UK giants Bastille played a spectacular set in front of thousands of people. Clashing with The Foo Fighters, many of the crowd crammed into the second stage to enjoy a set full of what felt like a small community town sharing endless amounts of love together. Confetti flying through the air and giant balloons following. I properly didn’t grasp the concept of various bands being bigger in particular areas of the world until I saw Bastille’s set.
Continuing the theme of powerful female vocalists. None more so than Lauren Mayberry of alt pop band CHVRCHES. Angelic on stage with a powerful lighting display behind her. Even if you’re not a fan of the music I would highly recommend watching her and the band grace the stage.
Every festival throws up surprises. An act you use to fill up some time. For me I was incredibly lucky enough to discover Liverpool rocker Zuzu, opening proceedings on day two I was immediately taken away by her performance to match her soothing summer breeze vibe voice. If you’re into the Australian landscape of popular at rock sounds I highly recommend.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to take photos of the main stage throughout the weekend but I parked myself in the crowd and watched some of the most unbelievable international acts strut their stuff on the big stage.
The exception to my main stage shooting came with The Wombats. A very major reason for myself to make the trek to the UK to see the home based rockers strut their incredible best. Screaming every word behind my camera and having the packed field at my back doing the same was a surreal feeling. The Wombats greatest strength is to create happiness from nothing with nothing but music. A truly exceptional band made to perform at festivals. Their sound echoed through the grounds like a haunted movie setting the vibe and keeping it going throughout the weekend.
The next two acts, both headliners on Friday and Saturday nights attacking and conquering music 20 years apart. The Foo Fighters proving that rock and roll isn’t dead. Opening their set with a bang and closing with an even bigger bang, fireworks filled the sky on both occasions and somewhere in between playing for over two and a half hours with hit after hit. Frontman Dave Grohl is truly one of the greatest musicians we’ve ever seen. His crowd control with seemingly minimal effort throughout the entire set left me in awe. Contrasting to Friday’s headliners were Saturday’s headliners The 1975. Finishing their set with ‘Rock and Roll is Dead’ flashing on the big screens. Providing the world with a thought that just like all music there is progression, are The 1975 the next progression of rock and roll? Frontman Matt Healy floating like an angel across the stage with outfit changes he seamlessly activates his own rockstar radar at will. The set showing just how diverse the band is bouncing from pop rock to jazz to punk. Gaining new fans wherever they go. The sky’s the limit.
Pyrotechnics, fireworks and ultimately a collaboration with Sunday’s headline act and international superstar, Post Malone. Twenty One Pilots epitomise the meaning of being a festival band, leaving fans with a truly memory entrenching performance. A simply unique act. Satisfying the tastes for all fans, pop, rap and rock. Entertaining fans on more than just a music level, bringing a tremendous aura that seeps from the stage into the crowd. Flags flying through the air, countless people upon shoulders and many tears shed through singing the lyrics. Fans of music have seen a remarkable growth of Twenty One Pilots explode from a small mid-tier festival band to an outrageous international festival headline act in only a few short years.
Imagine having the world in the palm of your hand. Billie Eilish breathes and the world listens. Not bad for a kid. I’ve spoken already about rapid growth and acts coming back in following years with a larger crowd. Originally scheduled for the second stage headline act, Billie was promptly moved to the main stage to the middle of the day. 28 degrees and she still pulled the largest crowd of the entire weekend. Her dark and mysterious persona, asking the questions we’re all too scared to ask. This “kid” is truly starting a revolution with her music. Experienced and mature well beyond her years she stopped constantly to ask if the crowd was alright. Billie is on track to conquer the music industry at an outstanding pace. The thudding base not the only thing shaking the soul. Catch this global superstar as soon as you can. Who knows how big she’ll get.
If you want to come across two acts more suited to a festival look no further than Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Yungblud. Frank and his Rattlesnakes show that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what gender you are, everyone has a right to enjoy music and express themselves. Headlined by his call for a female only wall of death and moshpits as well as his call for every female that’s ever wanted to crowd surf that this was their chance. Spending a majority of the set in or on top of the crowd, when he wasn’t, Frank was jumping off everything engaging the eyes of every fan. Returning to Australia in January 2020 they are a must see live band.
Yungblud’s hard punk exterior paired with his own incredible comfortability in who he is, creates an environment for fans to express who they are. Pairing a catchy modern take on the old punk ways. Personally, I find Yungblud one of the best musical acts in the world at the moment. Talking about topics that very few musicians would even think of. Bringing Machine Gun Kelly out on stage to perform their track ‘I Think I’m Okay‘, I along with the rest of the crowd bounced along with them. Again, just another act you must see.
Post Malone, modern day rockstar, revolutionary. Within the space of a year Post Malone went from playing mid line up on the first day at Leeds Festival in 2018 to headlining the Sunday night in front of a sold out arena. Consumed by fire he mesmerized fans.
The Wrap Up
If you ever have had an interest or an excuse to pack up and experience a European festival this is it. Leeds Festival has something for everyone. Over 100 acts across the weekend. I hope I’m lucky enough to return for many years to come.