Leeds Festival Review: Day 3

Finally, the review is complete.  And so to bed…

That wind has got up again.  In fact, there would appear to be a tornado whipping up around my tent.  I’m going to take off like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz.  I wonder if I will land on a witch.  It really is causing a racket and there’s no way that I’ll be able to get back off to sleep now with that tent flapping about.  Oh, it’s raining now.  Goodness, it really is raining rather hard.  Perhaps the rhythm of the rain will lull me back to sleep…

Thats a map of Mordor isnt it.

That's a map of Mordor isn't it.

No, that didn’t work.  And anyway I need a wee.  The weather has been very kind to us these last few days, but I suspect that I may finally have to bite the bullet and don the wellies today.  I struggle into these and hope against hope that on this occasion I won’t be wearing them for long enough for them to stink like they did when I wore them at Glastonbury last year.  On that occasion the smell was an odd mix of styles – imagine if you would that someone decided to make a speciality cheese out of cow poo.  It would smell exactly the same as that.

Speaking of cleanliness, I notice on the way to the urine trough that the queue for the showers is not very long.  I know – showers at festival.  We get all the home comforts in the Guest Area you know.  Sadly, there’s all of four showers serving around 400 people, so thus far I’ve not bothered because I didn’t want to miss the entire festival whilst standing in a line to have a wash.  Hmmm, that line hasn’t moved at all.  What to do?  I decide to give it a whirl and see how far the queue moves in ten minutes or so.  After the ten minutes have elapsed I’m no nearer the shower, but I’m too stubborn to give up now I’ve started.

As the time ticks by and my turn gets nearer and nearer I start to panic that this will turn out to be awful.  What if the water is cold and I have to wash in ice.  I’ve still got the chill to my bones I picked up yesterday – so much so that I actually slept in my coat last night.  I need a nice hot shower to freshen me up and give me some heat.  Much to my surprise I find, once I’m in, that not only is the shower not actually that manky but it’s also astonishingly powerful and lovely lovely warm.  Mmmmmm, I like shower.  I never brought any shampoo, so I rather thought I might have to wash my hair with soap, which is not something I fancied doing, but someone has kindly left a virtually full bottle of the stuff here.  I might even shampoo my pubes just because I can.

Washed, dried and lustrous of cock mane I head off for breakfast.  Two days of booze and fatty food has left me hankering for something healthy, and the half cold cooked breakfast I had yesterday has made me plump for the continental breakfast.  Hang on, where’s the yogurts?  And the fresh juice?  And there’s supposed to be a chiabatta as well, whereas really there is nothing more than sliced bread.  I can’t even toast it.  I’m not having bread and butter for breakfast.  I would complain but the queue for the breakfast is now huge and by the time I was back at the front again it would be time to leave.  Instead I attempt to get my money’s worth by taking more helpings than is probably polite of the fruit salad.  That’ll probably race through my in no time, but I don’t care – I’ll eat every piece of fruit in eyesight until I deem that I have had sufficient to the price of £4.50.  I have some corn flakes as well for good measure, even though I’ve never particularly liked them.  That’ll learn ‘em.

I pop into the Festival Republic tent to catch a spot of whatever is on.  I’m greeted by a stage full of women of various ages all singing harmonies.  Rather charmingly they are called Gaggle and despite having an air of the religious cult about them I find the shrieking racket rather enjoyable for a few minutes.  Whether this would have become tiresome if I watched it for longer I cannot say as this is the last song of their set.

Frankie says: Ow, my arse.

Frankie says: Ow, my arse.

From here I potter around in search of more music and find the Radio 1 NME Stage about to be populated by Frankie & The Heartstrings.  The lead singer (Frankie?) seems to be unconsciously modelled on someone from a different era and camp as you like to boot.  The band have a rockabilly feel to them for some reason, despite never actually getting anywhere near rockabilly soundwise.  Perhaps it’s the drummer’s shirt that does it.  I’d have loved a bit of rockabilly right now but the jaunty jolly indie pop they peddle is most enjoyable and I find my foot tapping along very nicely thank you.  I also like that the bass player looks like he should be in a completely different band to everyone else.

Somehow it has now got to lunchtime, and as my breakfast largely consisted of water I am ready to eat again.  Oh look, I just happen to be next to the stall where I bought the chilli con carne yesterday.  Oh, and they’ve reduced the price.  Well, it’d be rude not to.  Nom nom nom.

Still shovelling chilli into my trap I meet my friend in the same spot as we’d been sat yesterday when I caught a chill.  Now I’ve caught a chilli, hahahaIamfunny.  Despite the hot shower and vaguely spicy food (actually, it really wasn’t spicy at all truth be told) I am still feeling the effects of yesterday’s brrrr and the jumper and coat stay resolutely on whilst young types wander around in t-shirts.


And they would've got away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those pesky kids.

My friends has heard talk that a band who have been described as “theatrical” are about to start on the BBC Introducing Stage.  This might be worth a looksee.  The band are called Amy’s Ghost, though Amy seems to me to be resolutely alive.  I’d be prepared to bet up to £1.37 that she can’t walk through walls, or even scare the easily spooked away from a funfair before being unmasked by the fat one with the big specs who has to sit up front of the Mystery Machine whilst Fred & Daphne loudly thrash out a solution the riddle of the missing sausage in the back.  I digress.  Amy (I assume she is called Amy) is dressed in a rather spectacular white dress which could easily be passed as attire for a bride.  The rest of the band (all male) are dressed as unkempt working Victorians.  All have black stencilled make-up across their eyes.  I like it.  It’s good to make an effort, I think.

I was hoping for some sort of Kate Bush / Joanna Newsom type weird screeching from Amy’s Ghost whereas it turns out they are a little more reserved and conservative than that.  However, the set is still enjoyable and something of a tonic to the glut of white boys with guitars we’ve watched this weekend.

I like white boys with guitars, but in the same way I like, say, chocolate I don’t want it all the time and like all sorts of different flavours.  If I have one criticism of the festival it’s that it’s all a bit one-paced.  It is basically a festival for people who like Xfm and think that that’s an alternative from the mainstream.  I sound sneery, I know, and this is not my intention – there’s nothing wrong with Xfm (well, except the ruddy adverts) but it’s musical scope is distinctively limited to a certain genre.

I’ve not been to the main stage since Friday and this next visit will be my last for this year.  I’d have liked to have seen Queens of the Stone Age but I want to see Mrs Selection Box and Master Selection Box more and have already decided that I will leave the party early to let the young types get on with it.  Still, we’re still a few hours from my departure and here come Gogol Bordello who I have been looking forward to enormously.

Careful with that hock, Eugene.

Careful with that hock, Eugene.

They are introduced by a deeply annoying woman, who I assume is famous but has passed me by.  She swears needlessly for some cock fucking piss reason and she has one of those voices that reeks of a constitution built around Embassy #6.  She describes Eugene Hütz‘s band of gyspsy punks as “one of the best festival bands in the World” which is a bit of a meaningless statement.

There’s something about Hütz that means I can never tell whether his stage persona is supposed to be the real deal or whether we’re meant to recognise that the tongue is planted firmly in the cheek.  Yes, Hütz is a showman and yes, some of the lyrics are purposefully silly, but you could say the same of Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy.  However, there’s something around the madness in the eyes, the splendid moustache and the extremity of swigging straight from a bottle of red wine on stage that makes me just wonder if he’s not taking us for a bit of Spinal Tap spoofery.  Regardless of this, the records are blinking marvellous and the set today is entertaining.  Just not as uproarious an full of crown gay abandon as I’d expected.  I really thought this could be the best hour I’d spend of the whole weekend and it isn’t.  Maybe I’m a bit tired.  God, maybe I’m a bit conservative (small c).  Then I realise – it is none of these.  They quite simply haven’t done enough of their best songs.  I’m not someone who is so blinkered that they want bands to do “the hits” – quite the opposite – but there’s a reason why Start Wearing Purple is the highlight of the performance; it’s the best thing they’ve played today.  After the early crowd pleaser of Not A Crime was ruined by an inaudible violin (which is needed to provide the melody) I just felt that the set needed something like, say The Super Theory of Super Everything from the album Super Taranta.

Still, this isn’t to say that the set isn’t still most entertaining, because it is.  It occurs to me that Elizabeth Sun might just have the easiest job in the whole World as all she seems to do is dance about, point at the crowd audience and every now and again yell something incomprehensible in a microphone.  Oh, wait, she’s smacking the merry hell out of a cymbal now – I take it all back.

Gogol Bordello seem to leave us rather abruptly – I was sure there was going to be an encore, but they’re definitely not coming back.  Still, this means that there’s just enough time to say a heartfelt farewell to the dodgems, so we do just this.  As the cars come to a halt once more I realise that between us me and my partner-in-crime for the weekend have spent twenty-four whole English pounds on dodgems.  Balls to the starving children in the World, that was money well spent.

Avi Buffalo: Actual size.

Avi Buffalo: Actual size.

And so to the Festival Republic Stage for one last time to catch Avi Buffalo, who appear to have been stripped back from a four piece to a threesome.  Perhaps the other member of the group isn’t yet out of the womb and therefore unable to appear on stage.  This is a possibility as the band are ludicrously young.  Indeed the three of us (my Leeds-dwelling friend has just this moment joined us) have a combined age that is nearly twice that of the band.  One would hope, however, that in years to come frontman Avi Zahner-Isenberg does not dismiss the band’s eponymous debut album as silly teenage wanking, for despite vulgar song titles such as Summer Cum and the slightly disturbing Five Little Sluts he has written and recorded a beautiful record full of nimbling lilting guitar melodies set off perfectly with his own tight-throated vocal style.  You’ll do well to hear a better debut all year.

As a live act they do not disappoint either, though even from the distance of about 12 feet I have to strain to spot Zahner-Isenberg such is his diminutive stature.  Maybe he’s due a growth spurt.  Us old types find ourselves filled with a mixture of love and hatred.  Love because what they do is so damnably good, but how very dare they put together such accomplished songs when they were nought but sperm and egg not less than twenty minutes ago.

Envy is a terrible thing and thankfully it is the admiration which takes precedence.  Zahner-Isenberg’s guitar noodling on the 7 minutes plus Remember Last Time demonstrates just how adept as a player he really is, and I wonder if his more limited bandmates will have to be jettisoned in years to come when he wishes to spread his creative wings further.  Still, there’s World domination with his current line up to be found and enjoyed first, and this is a blindingly good performance to kick that off with.  I dare say nothing would top this today, even if I hadn’t already decided I was going home once it had finished.

Which I had.  So down goes the tent and we wave farewell to the young types who will no doubt still be jumping up and down, being sick and humping each other well after I was tucked up in bed falling asleep in front of Match of the Day 2.

Patrick Thornton presents Selection Box every Monday at Midnight.