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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Leeds Festival 2012

Into the Valley's Guide to the Leeds Festival 2012

After last year's semi-successful venture to Bramham Park, I reluctantly agreed to accompany Daughter of Doccortex and two of her like minded cronies to the Friday of this year's Leeds Festival. I consoled myself in the fact that the festival site would not be a mud bath this year and we might actually find something interesting on one of the more specialist stages. Sadly the whole event was infinitely worse than last year's festivities due to a whole raft of issues and irritations, not least of which was the prolonged appearance of Dave Grohl!

Fashion Tips
On the plus side, the fashion on show at the festival was its usual high standard. Women of any age, shape or size are easily sorted at Leeds with the 'wellies, long socks and shorts' look. Accessorise with a band t-shirt, frock and/or little daisy chain headband if you're really 'with it'. For the chaps, anything goes really as long as you're desperately trying to be an 'individual' and even better still, an 'attention seeker'. Kilts, dinner suits and fur coats are always popular, but this year the real trend-setters went for the military helmet, preferably a German storm-trooper with spikes on top. One guy even went completely starkers, dancing on his unfortunate friend's shoulders - filthy little naturist! One thing is for sure; you should never just try a be yourself in the wacky world of festival fashion!

Super Heroes

Super Heroes love music festivals and this year was no exception. A tubby little Spider Man was joined by an emaciated Captain America and a slightly non-plused Thor in the early stages. They were all great movers and Spidey enjoyed borrowing Thor's hammer to whack is hapless girlfriend in the head, what a charmer. As the afternoon wore on their super contingent grew with Batman, Green Lantern, Banana Man, another beefier Captain America, a short Wonder Woman, a rather attractive Super Girl, two Thunder Cats and a slightly dishevelled Hulk. I was surprised that most of our heroes smoked and drank copiously and turned a blind eye to the heinous crime of beer throwing, but what the hell, they've got to let their hair down sometimes. If only they could have joined forces in an Avengers style super group to tackle the evil Grohl! Sadly they were all a bit worse for wear by the time he arrived on stage.

The Music
Festivals are generally rubbish for music, but sometimes provide an opportunity to discover a great band that you wouldn't ordinarily entertain. Leeds 2012 was a table with extremely lean pickings, but one quality morsel was at least offered up to the starving Into the Valley contingent.

Pulled Apart by Horses
We began our main stage experience with Pulled Apart by Horses. Their whole set can be summarised by 'trying too hard', with particular commendations going to the guitarist who performed every rock cliche in the Spinal Tap book of Rock n Roll Cliches. They were loud, fast and ultimately rubbish.

Band of Skulls
I watched them for forty minutes but can't remember what they were like. I think that says it all really.

The Gaslight Anthem
We side-stepped the Eagles of Death Metal to have some dinner and go t-shirt shopping, which was a positive move. On our return The Gaslight Anthem were absolutely awful. Slow, dour, boring, Bruce Springsteen-a-like folk rock. Give me strength!

The Joy Formidable

We then skipped the girls' former faves All Time Low as they'd grown out of them and trudged off to watch Into the Valley favourites, The Joy Formidable on the NME stage. I'd been looking forward to them all day, but sadly it ended in disappointment. Admittedly they rocked, but unfortunately they forgot to sing or perform. Too much guitaring, feedback and posturing makes for a poor show and we left before the end.

Bullet for My Valentine
Returning to the main stage we were greeted with the terrible racket of Bullet for My Valentine. Stereotypical thrash metal tripe to cut a long story short.

The Kaiser Chiefs
Worse was to come however in the shape of 'has beens' the Kaiser Chiefs. The laddish types in their Arctic Monkeys t-shirts loved them, but for me they were just embarrassing. We were worryingly squashed, we were covered in beer, we were surrounded by chanting Leeds United Neanderthals, we were living the dream. I day-dreamed of James Hayter's goal at Wembley and somehow I got through it.

The Black Keys

And just when I'd completely lost the will to live, the Black Keys turned up and pulled the whole show around by performing a tight, no nonsense set of quality blues tinged pop music. There were no cliches, no talking in-between songs and no posturing. Easily the performance of the day and I really enjoyed their straightforward yet quirky show. If I could have left after they finished I would have gone home happy. Sadly, we had to stay for the headliners...

The Foo Fighters

Words cannot express how bad the Foo Fighters were. Grohl was cocky, condescending, generally smug, and proceeded to play for two and a half hours. If we're being charitable they have one good song (Monkey Wrench), the rest of the 145 minutes was packed with tedious album tracks, jamming, backslapping, Queen's offspring drumming, rock cliches, twenty minutes of 'interacting' with the crowd, four boring encore songs and lots of posturing. It was almost too much to bare. Luckily Grohl cheered us up with his patronising banter; 'Pick up a guitar, quit high school and you can be a 'somebody' like me, (not a nobody like you.)' Cheers Dave. Best of all was when the drummer said that the 'greatest musician of his generation' was on the stage! I looked around for a glimpse of Gary Barlow, Mark Oliver Everett or the ghost of Kurt Cobain. Needless to say he meant Grohl!!! (who just nodded smugly.) He'd struggle to make the top thousand; toss-pot.

He's actually now down there with Bono, Coldplay and Freddie and the Sun City Boys in my estimations. Hang your head in shame Grohl. My Chemical Romance were world beaters in comparison to this year's 'headliners'. To add insult to injury it was raining, we were squashed in an almost Hillsborough-esque style and it took us over an hour to walk back to the car. And it was all Dave Grohl's fault!


Rather than moan, here are my suggestions to make the entire event more enjoyable. I'm giving the organisers solutions not problems.

1) Chop off the arm of anyone who throws beer into the crowd.
2) Chop of the goolies of anyone who throws wee into the crowd.
3) Put all the 'teeny' bands on one day, all the lads bands on another day, and don't give the Foo Fighters a day at all. And sort out the 'crush' issues before there's a serious accident.
4) Put up clear exit signs in the car park.
5) Bring back the nice friendly security people from last year, rather than the agressive bunch who searched our vegetarian picnic with the gusto of the Wehrmacht and almost arrested me for having a bottle of water in my rucksack. 
6) Ban Dave Grohl from performing anywhere ever again.

I'm not going next year.


  1. Grohl. Doesn't even approach average. The best I've ever heard by the Foo Fighters is of a lowish quality. I'd pay someone else to go and watch Grohl rather than me having to go.

    The Gaslight Anthem keep popping up on recommendations for me. Don't know why because they sound rubbish.

    Nothing makes me happier than thinking of Harry Gration and the Kaiser Chief's faces when Hayter popped that goal away.

    All in all: I'm glad it was you that went and not me :D

  2. Ha that was a fun read :) I went to a festival this year too, I decided to only visit the day the bands I wanted to hear were performing.
    I avoided the mud, but not the food on the ground. Was windy and not very warm, I didn't bring enough to wear, so I was glad to get back to my car.
    oh well, I got to hear Noel Gallagher swear, so all is not lost...the crowd only woke up when he performed one Oasis track at the end. No water or food allowed where I went either, I had to pay to have it 'stored'

  3. Noel Gallagher would have been head and shoulders above anything on show at Leeds. Glad I've amused you - but it was purgatory for me!