is this music? made our way down to Bramham Park to check out the final day of what looked to be a memorable Leeds Festival.
Those who were there for the Friday and Saturday had already been wowed by the two young superstar headliners in Billie Eilish and Sam Fender across the weekend.
Anchor Lane kicked off proceedings on the Festival Republic Stage and gave anyone who was still struggling from the night before a much-needed energy boost. The Scottish punks delivered bouncing tracks from start to finish, such as ‘Choke’ and ‘Stutter’ from latest album ‘Call This a Reality?’.
Over on the BBC Introducing Stage, rising UK pop star Bellah Mae had the crowds singing along to catchy, middle-finger-to-toxic-men anthems such as ‘Drama King’ and ‘Boyfriend of the Year’. Even though we only managed to catch a few songs of her set, it was more than enough to see why she’s received so much acclaim and hype to date.
Whereas openers Anchor Lane brought the encouragement to wake the crowd up earlier, Kent metal outfit Graphic Nature simply demand it. They took to the stage dressed in windbreakers with hoods up, with the exception of vocalist Harvey Freeman, who cuts an intimidating figure sans hood.
Freeman dedicates ‘Into The Dark’ to all the neurodivergent people in the crowd, it’s always a welcome sight when any band or artist shows support for mental health, and even more refreshing to see a man do it.
Their set was a sonic assault of nu-metal inspired brutality, tracks such as ‘Chokehold’ and ‘Killing Floor’ were highlights, the latter of which saw Freeman down at the barrier singing into the crowd.
While recovering from Graphic Nature we took a short walk back to the BBC Introducing Stage to catch the final few songs from Belfast trio Chalk. Dubbed “the most exciting Northern Irish guitar band in years” by BBC Introducing themselves, what I saw of them I liked, and plan on giving them a listen in the coming weeks. Frontman Ross Cullen was emotive yet enigmatic in his performance. A solid new-band-to-check-out festival find!
Over in the Festival Republic Tent, ugly-pop pioneer ZAND brought the noise with their abrasive sex-positive anthems. Tracks like ‘DTF’ and ‘Slut Money’ were given new life with the addition of a live drummer on stage. Based on their performance tonight, ZAND’s debut album, ‘Sewerstar’ will be one to check out when it drops in September.
Sunday at Leeds is renowned for its secret set, with previous years surprises including Wolf Alice and Queens of the Stone Age. Today was no different, apart from the fact that the secret was announced on the festival app much much earlier in the day. Regardless, today’s main stage opener Baby Queen was introduced to the BBC Introducing Stage, and the crowd went absolutely crazy, singing along to every single word of opening song ‘Internet Religion’.
Santa Cruz hardcore punks Scowl are up next in the Festival Republic tent. They take to the stage with vocalist Kat Moss telling the crowd, “If you don’t know who the fuck we are you’re about to find out!”, as the band deliver the heaviest set of the day, with perhaps the exception of Graphic Nature. Tracks such as ‘Shot Down’ and ‘Bloodhound’ bring with them demands from the band for a circle pit, which the audience deliver.
The 1975 returned to Leeds for the second year in a row, while last year they were brought in to replace Rage Against the Machine, this year saw the band filling in as Main Stage West headliners for the absent Lewis Capaldi, who is currently taking some time away from music. The band’s performance coincided with the 10-year anniversary of their debut, self-titled album, with tracks such as ‘Pressure’ and ‘Heart Out’ on display, as well as fan favourites and set staples ‘Sex’ and ‘Chocolate’.
Kenny Hoopla has been a rising star for a couple of years now, 2021 album ‘Survivors Guilt: The Mixtape’ propelled him into the limelight, and a recent tour in support of Blink 182 didn’t hurt either.
Tonight he brings non-stop energy , though perhaps not as his fans have come to know, gone are the backflips, switched out in favour or relentless running across the stage and spinning like there’s no tomorrow.
The set kicks off with the monumental opening number from the debut album, ‘silence is also an answer//’, while tracks such as ‘how will i rest if i’m buried by a highway?//’ and ‘estella//’ have never sounded better.
After tonight’s performance it is only a matter of time before we see KennyHoopla on the main stage of Leeds Festival, who knows, maybe even in 2024 perhaps?
Sleep Token make for an incredibly fascinating watch, their aesthetic alone would make them a must-see at most festivals, but they have the music and the performance to back it up. Enigmatic frontman, known only as Vessel, as well as members ii, iii & iv, make their way on stage amidst clouds of smoke that have filled the first few rows of the crowd. Their live show, known as ‘Rituals’, are something to behold, Vessel says nothing between songs and his movement throughout is eerie, conveying emotion in the way he contorts his body and glides around the stage, its almost otherwordly.
As we slowly head back across site to the press tent to say our goodbyes, The Killers are rounding off what has been a magical day of music with ‘Mr. Brightside’ on the Main Stage East, and if that isn’t the perfect track to end a festival on, I don’t know what is. Roll on Leeds 2024, where, after today, I think we might just stay the full weekend.