Leeds Festival Review: Day 2

(Yes, I know, I’m shoving this up on the blog somewhat after the event, but I’m a busy man y’know.  Better late than never…)

Bloody hell, it’s windy.  Either that or someone has got hold of the outside of my tent and is flapping it about like a Killer Whale with a half dead seal.  Maybe it’s them Spam bastards paying me back for nicking their tent pegs.  One thing is certain – the noise it is making has rendered any further sleep impossible without tranquilisers.  I dare say there’s a fair bit of Ketamine washing around the festival site, but personally I’ll give that a miss if it’s all the same to you.

Horse tranquilizers: its a race horse called Horlicks, apparently.

Horse tranquilizers: it's a race horse called Horlicks, apparently.

I am a parent now and hurtling towards middle-age, so 8am is considered an indulgent lie-in anyway, so I get up and go for breakfast – the details of which started the first blog, so we’ll skip over that.  However, before I can go to eat I am refused entry to the festival main area as no one is allowed in until 9am.  Eh, do what?  The festival closes at night?  I thought this was supposed to be a playground of non-stop revelry and no sleep ’til Brooklyn.  Now I find that everyone went to bed before me, tucked up with a cup of Horlicks (other revolting bedtime drinks are available).

It occurs to me that I’ve not really had a proper look around the whole site, so I rectify this.  There’s not a great deal around other than food stands and stalls selling t-shirts with wanky slogans, although I do spot a place which sells ale as opposed to the rather flimsy Tuborg which is the only other beer available onsite.  Sadly, further investigation later in the day reveals the ale to be rather horrid as well.

My sluggerbed chum has arisen from his luxurious airbed in in his humongous tent and together we potter around and catch the back end of what seemed like a really very pleasant set by Goldheart Assembly in the Radio 1 NME Tent before parking our posteriors on the ground at the BBC Introducing Stage to see what’s on offer.  We’re rewarded with a ludicrous Norwegian thrash metal band called Kvelertak, whose hilarity is only excerbated by the clear fact that they take themselves seriously.  Their hursuite lead growler makes the sign of the Devil with his fingers within 30 seconds and before the first song is out his t-shirt is off.  Later in the set he roars at us that, “THIS IS A SONG ABOUT GETTING WASTED!”  Well, of course it is, dear – what else would it be about?

Kverlertak: Hahahahahaha, oh dear.

Kverlertak: Hahahahahaha, oh dear.

I wonder what it would be like to be married to someone like that – having everything yelled at you with a throat-tearing grrrrr.  “I’M JUST TAKING THE DOG OUT!” or “I MIGHT PUT A WHITE WASH ON!”  I’d give it 6 months before you’d snap and smash him in the eyes with a car jack.

We leave our Scandinavian chums to mosh about and go to the nearby Alternative Stage in order to get a good spot to watch Emo Phillips.  I’m astonished at how far down the bill Phillips is, though the more I mention him to folk the more it seems that people have never heard of him, so perhaps I’m just in my own little World.  Still, by way of explanation it does allow me to post this YouTube clips of one of my favourite stand-up comedians.  Enjoy.

I’d not seen Emo Phillips since his Edinburgh Festival show in 2001, when he’d gone for a new look of greyed spiky hair and glasses, but he has since reverted to his pudding bowl cut and the demeanour of someone who you would leave your children with.  My friend, on the other hand, was able to catch him just a month or so ago when his new show was playing somewhere Down South.  He reported that this show was superb and full of new material, which is good to know because this performance – though still good – is nervous, a little strained and full of a lot of old material.  There’s a couple of strange moments where Phillips actually repeats a line or two and it becomes clear that he has a metaphorical hatful of jokes he dips into for this type of gig rather than sticking to a point A to point B routine which I imagine his new show will.  The slightly odd atmosphere isn’t helped – indeed probably caused by – the fact that the act seems to be disappearing over the head of a good portion of the audience.  I actually see people turning to their friends and mouthing the words, “I don’t get it” on a number of occasions.  I remember one of these being at the joke about the Frenchman with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who “showers up to once a day” but I forget the others.

However comparatively scratchy it is as a performance, it is still at least  four times better than the majority of stand-ups I see these days (though I shouldn’t leave this place without an honourable mention to the comedy section MC for the day, Martin Mor, who was superbly entertaining and highly inappropriate.  Which is my cup of tea), and I shall just about feel I’ve made the right decision to come here rather than catch Local Natives playing at the same time on the Festival Republic Stage.

It’s a great shame to miss Local Natives for two reasons.  One is that I like their debut album Gorilla Manor enormously and played several tracks from it on Selection Box when it was first released.  The second and most pressing reason is that I am due to meet them about five minutes after Emo Phillips walks off stage.

Local Natives debut album Gorilla Manor

Local Natives' debut album Gorilla Manor

Well, I was due to meet them at this time but almost exactly an hour passes before the tour manager completes some other business and I am introduced to Andy and Kelcey from the band.  Mother Nature takes our handshakes as the signal to empty her bladder over our heads with some ferocity, making an alfresco interview impossible and a quick check in the press tent finds the place full of meeja darlings all cowering from the rain and hogging the comfy sofas to boot.  There’s nothing for it but to make an undignified dash to the Guest Bar and sit cross-legged by the bar whilst the great and the good drink beer and make a racket around us.

This rather put all three of us off our stride a little and leads to a slightly stilted interview, but as we depart they tell me with some touching sincerity that it was nice to meet me.  Aw, that’s nice.  It’s nice to be nice.

The interview can be heard on this lovely streaming bit of virtual kit courtesy of Soundcloud.  If you are unable to work out where the Play button is to hear it you should probably never be allowed out alone or without a helmet on.  If you really want to, you can download the interview as an .mp3 so that you can hear my Paxman-like technique on your portable gramophones whilst taking a train journey or cottaging in a public convenience.  Click on the arrow on the right hand side of the player and then click “Download”.

Patrick Thornton speaks to Andy & Kelsey from Local Natives by PatrickSelectionBox

Some bloke dressed as Where's Wally and looking as gay as a window with Andy & Kelcey from Local Natives.

Some bloke dressed as Where's Wally and looking as gay as a window with Andy & Kelcey from Local Natives.

The heavy rain has, of course, disappeared in the time its taken to record a quick interview and the sun is out once more.  In fact the benches in the Guest Area (yes, we get somewhere to sit down as well.  You’re deeply jealous I can tell) are already dry somehow.  I decide to sit and take a breather and contemplate the World for a bit.  I spot The Full Monty actor Hugo Speer in the beer tent which amuses me because I used to walk his brother’s dog briefly when I was unemployed ten years ago, and Hugo tried to seduce my best friend by taking her to the Groucho and introducing her to Clarence Clemens.  Yes, I’ve lived my entire life in A-list celebrity circles, you know.

I get genuinely giddy when I hear a familiar voice behind me and look to see Marc Riley – The Artist Formerly Known as Lard.  Not only did he used to be in The Fall (although, by the law of averages, it must be my turn to be a member of The Fall soon) but he is also one of my radio heroes.  He’s nattering to the tour manager of British Sea Power so I decide not to disturb and instead take myself off to catch the back end of the set by Wild Beasts.  I’ve enjoyed some of their records very much – particularly the splendidly entitled She Purred While I Grrrd – but I find I can’t get engaged with this performance for some reason and far more enjoy the surprisingly good chilli con carne I buy from the adjacent stall that I buy for my somewhat late lunch.

Perfect for the cleansing of nadgers.

Perfect for the cleansing of nadgers.

Post luncheon I hook up with my Leeds-dwelling friend who had the luxury of going home to a proper bed and a shower last night – at least one of which he gone done shared with a lady as well, whereas I slept cold and alone on a series of molehills and “washed” my knackers and face with a wet wipe.  Just to be clear, this was not the order I washed them in.

We take up residence outside the Radio 1 NME tent and then notice that there is a screen showing the acts from the stage directly in front of us.  We joke that we don’t have to move now as we can see it all in close up on the big telly.  We are hilarious.

As we sit there chatting and boozing the challenge is set for the performers to impress us enough to make us stand up to watch them in the flesh.  Former Bloc Party front man Kele does nothing for me personally, but my companions seem to like him – though not enough for arses to rise.  Foals seems ludicrously popular with the young types at the festival but again we vote with our cheeks and get steadily drunk.

In between these two acts, however, had been Band of Horses who were frankly splendid.  Opening up with achingly-good recent single Factory they use it to set the benchmark for the rest of the set which by turns was liltingly poetic and at times just plain rocking.  Visually they were a treat also – I’d expected them to be check-shirted alt country jean sporters with furrowed brows a la the magnificent Midlake.  But neigh.  (See what I done there?)  Instead they are one of those bands who look like they don’t belong in the same act – lead singer Ben Bridwell is heavily tattooed and suited so he looks like a voilent criminal about to make a court appearance, whereas Father Christmas-bearded keyboard player Ryan Monroe is clearly the secret lovechild of Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Star WarsChewbacca.  Yes, we stood up.

At some point in proceedings I realise that the sitting around doing nothing in the stiff breeze has resulted in me becoming ruddy freezing, and for the second time this weekend I have to skip off and get my coat.  I put a jumper on too for good measure.  I return with not one but two cans of fine stout for myself and my chums – one in each inside pocket and one smuggled, much to my amusement, up my sleeve.  Han Solo eat your heart out.

Before the sun has set, drunkeness has overcome my friend’s better half and he does the gentlemanly thing and takes her home before she has to revisit her lunch in a festival toilet.  It seems terribly early to be that sloshed, but it turns out that between the two of them they have managed to get through £71′s of white wine.  Whilst I am sure that the powers that be at BCB would no doubt advise you to drink sensibly and in moderation, I can’t help but thinking that congratulations are in order for this staggering feat of imbibement.  Well done.

The Festival Republic Stage will be my home for the rest of the night, which is now all of two acts.  First up are Caribou, whose most recent album Swim has seen mainstay Dan Snaith move into dancey electronica.  It’s a record which has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim but I find that whereas some of it is inventive and exciting, large parts of it leave me cold and yearning for the sweeping epic choral sound of 2007′s Melody Day from the album of the same name.  I don’t mind the odd instrumental from time to time, but call me old fashioned if you will but I’m partial to some lyrics and a singer, so it’s largely the tracks that are sans vocal chords that don’t butter my muffin as much on the record.

Tonight, however, Snaith’s microphone is a little too low and it’s actually those same instrumental tracks that work the best – the high tempo thrill of cowbell twatting of Bowls being something of a highlight in a set made up entirely of songs from Swim.  Very enjoyable it is too and it makes me resolve to go back to the album again and give it some more time.

Not taken on the night in question, but theres that splendidly shit bear.

Not taken on the night in question, but there's that splendidly shit bear.

Speaking of time, there is just enough to nip off and get a beer before we return for British Sea Power.  Again, the microphones could have done with being turned up to 11, but this is the only quibble about what is an otherwise blisteringly good set.  There is also the addition of a dancing bear at various stages of the performance.  Not a real one, of course.  Well, I couldn’t say for certain it’s not a real one.  All I know is that there is a deeply unconvincing bear suit on stage.  Whether or not there is actually a real bear disguised as a crap bear in there I am not in a position to answer.  I really hope it is.  I’d like that.

Thoroughly gorged on entertainment but empty of stomach we decide that it’s fine to have some of those lovely noodles two nights running.  Also for the second night running we seem to be traveling in the opposite direction to everyone else in the World, who are slowly filtering back from seeing tonight’s headliners Blink 182.  One erudite gentleman seems to sum it up nicely when he says, “Blink 182… for fuck’s sake.”  It is a sentiment shared by me which is why I had no interest in going to see them, but everyone coming away from their set seems to feel this way as well.  They all look like suicidally depressed zombies.  (Can you technically be suicidal if you are already a member of the undead?  Maybe they are all bears in costumes pissing about.)  I assume that a good deal of the people went along because they inexplicably liked them.  They don’t seem to now – what on Earth happened up there?

There’s no way that tonight will pass without a return to the dodgems.  It doesn’t.  In fact, we go on twice.  On the second occasion two young ladies see me and get excited and scream.  They clearly think I am someone famous.  I give them a wave and wonder who they think I might be.  At Bingley Music Live last year someone thought I was David Tennant (he asked my wife, “Is that Dr Who?” “Yes, is it,” she replied.  He looked awfully pleased and probably still tells his friends that he saw The Doctor having a wee into a bush), but he was thoroughly alcoholically refreshed.  Maybe they’re just massive fans of Selection Box.

And so to bed.

Patrick Thornton presents Selection Box every Monday at Midnight.

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  1. Pingback: Selection Box Show 148 | BCB Radios Music Blog - Untitled Noise

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