Words and photography by Georgina Hurdsfield
Sadly, it was the last day of Leeds Festival for 2019 but the day gave us plenty to look forward to.
The perfect band to wake us up after listening to the sounds of Piccadilly Party all night, we decided to check out Leeds’ very own hardcore band, Higher Power. The set time may have been quite early for some people considering it was the last day of the festival, but Higher Power managed to get all the Leeds Fest ‘freaks’ up and out for a mosh to warm-up for the day.
Opening with ‘Burning’ which was released in 2016 to promote their debut album ‘Soul Structure’, the crowd had plenty of room in the Pit stage to start opening up some space for the true moshers to come forth and throw their best shapes. With Jimmy’s unique vocals matching with some funky, hard-hitting riffs; we were impressed with how they managed to transform their usual club show to fit with the festival layout. Higher Power’s most popular song ‘Can’t Relate’ brought an explosive spark of energy from the crowd which was matched by the band. It is true what they say, Higher Power’s live shows are insane.
A live preview of their single ‘Seamless’, gave the crowd something new to be excited about and didn’t stop the mosh. A blistering ride from start to finish with some hints of early 80s riffs, this modern-day hardcore track sincerely shows Higher Power’s skills to take this genre further than its ever been before. Their set left us feeling energised, Higher Power were certainly made for a live environment and we couldn’t help but notice how much they have improved over the years. This set from the band was definitely one of our favourite times seeing them and we are looking forward to seeing them live again soon, hopefully, with a new album.
Next up, we caught slowthai on the BBC Radio 1 stage. slowthai has gained a wealth of success since the release of his debut album ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ which is very fitting considering these uncertain times. It was immediately apparent as we looked around the tent during the minutes before slowthai took to the stage that the youth of today certainly agreed and respected slowthai’s views on current politics, his honesty and confidence as an artist.
Opening with hit song ‘Polaroid’, the chaos soon ensued. We mean not to exaggerate but the whole tent was literally bouncing. Tyron took complete ownership of the stage, him and his hype-man, Kwes Darko, jogged about rapping together with fierce timing. It is evident how relevant slowthai is as we stand in the crowd surrounded by festival-goers trying to keep up, rapping along with the UK’s biggest up-and-coming rap artist.
‘I want to open a portal to hell’ Tyron stated as he commanded the crowd to open up circle pits as he began the song ‘Doorman’, this easily was a highlight of the set. slowthai had a stage presence that was alike to those who have been performing for a greater amount of time than himself. It is no surprise that in October he will embark on a headline tour in some of the UK’s biggest live venues. We can see slowthai easily working his way up festival line-ups with the amount of enjoyment we could see in the crowd during his unforgettable performance.
Over on the BBC Radio 1XTRA Stage, we saw Bexey, one of the UK’s most popular SoundCloud rapper. Bexey’s fan-base has been continuously growing since collaborating with the likes of Lil Peep, Fat Nick and
$uicideboy$ in which his songs became huge hits. We can see that it is Bexey’s very distinct alternative rap sound which has brought him to rise to further popularity. His music blends a fusion of hip-hop, trap and emo whilst his look adorns a very eccentric style. Some might describe it as ‘Spooky Electrick’.
With the crowd buzzing with anticipation, Bexey took to the stage with confidence as the music to his hot-fire track ‘HOT STEPPA’ begins to play. Bexey egged on the feud between Reading and Leeds as the best festival by commanding the crowd to make the set ‘more lit than Reading’, even though the rapper himself resides in the South, we guess everyone knows Leeds Festival has a reputation for having the best crowds.
BBC Radio 1XTRA crowd upheld their reputation by following Bexey’s orders of opening up a mosh pit for his hit song ‘Spooky Electrick’ which was also the title of his debut album released in 2018. A highlight of the set was ‘CUTTHROAT SMILE’ in which the crowd bounced with their arms in the air as they rapped along. It was evident that the whole tent were enjoying themselves as the words to the song were chanted around the tent.
Later, we found ourselves at The Pit stage. We had never heard of Paris before but thought we’d check out who the packed out tent were excitingly waiting for. We were certainly pleasantly surprised. Paris brought a sense of hope to Leeds Festival, along with a fusion of emo, pop-punk and hip-hop music. We found that Paris spoke a lot in-between songs, but he had a story worth telling and we were in awe listening. Bringing himself back up from what sounded like rock-bottom, Paris’ lyrics tell a story of addiction, depression and hopelessness but his on-stage performance was nothing less than inspiring.
We distinctly remember the performance of ‘No Choice’ which was released late July. This song paves the way for Paris’ full-length debut album ‘Shadows’, which is soon to be released this year. The single gave hints of what we can expect and if the album mirrors anything like Paris’ confidence on-stage and uplifting vocals, then we have very high expectations for this release and hope to see Paris live again soon. If you didn’t know who Paris was before reading this article, it is time to get to know.
We were quickly approaching the end of our last day at Leeds but who better than twenty one pilots to make us forget our return to the real world. Opening with ‘Jumpsuit’, a song from their latest album ‘Trench’ which was released in 2018. A car adorned with flames sat on the stage making us immediately think of ‘Car Radio’, one of their most popular tracks. twenty one pilots have the ability to capture the Leeds Fest crowds’ attention easily, no matter what music genre each festival punter prefers, twenty one pilots are certainly for everyone.
Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have a stage presence like no other. Although Dun is stuck behind a drum kit for the majority of the set, he is no way any less involved in more than fulfilling his performance duties. Playing hit song ‘Heathens’ brought an emotional and raw sing along to this dark track as what was the last of the Leeds Fest sun began to go down. Further along we saw a performance of ‘Holding on to You’ which is well known for being a track that is meant for performing live, it lived up to its expectations as Joseph climbed into the crowd and they elevated him for all to see as he sung the lyrics. A performance of this song would also not be complete without Tyler doing his famous back flip from standing on the top of his piano.
Being from Manchester ourselves, it gets a bit boring seeing bands cover Oasis songs, however, when Post Malone and twenty one pilots cover ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, a song that is even more special to our city since the mass sing along of it in St Ann’s Square the day after the Manchester bombing in 2017, we couldn’t help but be in awe of two very different artists from the United States coming together to sing this classic. For those from the surrounding areas, we are sure it was still just as special to them and a moment that they would remember forever.
twenty one pilots’ set was truly unforgettable. Their reputation for being one of the best live bands certainly has been upheld with their Leeds Fest performance. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun always give their all and have a humble atmosphere in their stage presence which makes their fans adore them even more. A highlight of the set included their interaction with the security team who had been doing a great job of looking after festival-goers all weekend. The guards got their seconds of fame as they danced in front of the cameras for all to see and urged the crowd to join them in a crowd-wide dance off. Leeds Fest certainly picked the best artists to end the weekend with and twenty one pilots undeniably won the title of best two-piece band at the festival.
Finally, we chose Post Malone to say goodbye to Leeds Fest and we couldn’t have picked a more perfect artist. If anyone was wondering what the visual representation of ‘lit’ looks like, it is Post Malone’s live performance. Post Malone shot to fame after his debut single release ‘White Iverson’ and after only making his Leeds Festival debut last year, we are amazed at how quick he rose to popularity and rightly bagged that headline slot on the main stage.
Opening with ‘Wow’, the first teaser single for his latest album ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’, Post Malone confidently took to the stage adorning a co-ord that made him look like the rockstar he truly is, the stage lit up with flames casting an orange glow over the crowd. We weren’t just singing along with the word wow, we were truly living it as the crowd stood in awe of Post Malone and his captivating stage presence.
Post Malone covered a wide-range of songs from his backlog including ‘Over Now’, ‘Sugar Wraith’ and ‘Go Flex’. Each song had the crowd dancing to the trap and RnB infused beats singing along as if they were Posty themselves. ‘Sunflower’ was a sweet performance as Post Malone told everyone in the crowd that they are his ‘sunflowers’ and we are now convinced this is what the Post Malone fan-base should call themselves.
After each and every song, Post Malone would humbly thank the crowd for coming to his set and supporting his career. Some artists are afraid to show vulnerability and gratefulness on stage but Post Malone is not one of them. Before playing Paranoid, Post Malone touched on the issue of anxiety whilst confidently talking to the crowd but still showing hints that although he is in fact a rockstar and performing on stage in front of thousands of people, this is still something that is prevalent in his life.
However, there was no fear here when Post Malone poured his soul into one of his final songs ‘rockstar’, we were in awe as Posty boldly strutted about the stage proving he is one of the greatest and most creative artists of our generation as he sung each line. Post Malone’s performance was only fit for a headline slot and Leeds Fest couldn’t have given it to anyone better. We are unsure if a performance could be topped by this, it was truly unforgettable and the highlight of the weekend. We left that set feeling like rockstars ourselves.
As the weekend came to a close, all we have left to say is that the past four days had been spectacular. The weather was great, the line-up was nothing less than impressive and the atmosphere was brilliant. Leeds fest always wins us over with their organisation especially making sure everyone was well watered during the surprise heatwave. We are certainly unsure how the curators of Reading and Leeds are gonna top this weekend. We look forward to seeing what surprises Leeds Fest 2020 holds. Thank you to those who made it special and we will look forward to next year.
Tickets for Leeds Festival 2020 are now on sale here –
https://www.leedsfestival.com/tickets – so bag yourself a ticket for the best festival in the UK (in our humble opinion).