Featured image: Georgina Hurdsfield / Festival Republic
After a perfect day had already passed, Saturday soon rolled around. History in the making with a set from Dave, as well as many other incredible artists to discover – Leeds Festival always gets the line up just right.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – 12:00 @ Main Stage East
No other artist can perform like Frank Carter live. After long gaining a notoriety for unexpected crowd interaction and an adrenaline-fuelled performance, expectations were high for his performance. Carter noted that he’s been attending for 20 years and playing for 15 years, which is why they always understand the assignment – complete organised chaos.
After a ferocious start with ‘My Town’, Carter was soon diving into crowd and was almost vertical during their performance of ‘Sticky’. Opening the biggest mosh pits possible, ‘Wildflowers’ was made a safe space for women and non-binary fans, with men ordered to the sides. He wanted them to be the safest of the weekend and proved his commitment to his fans – both on and off the stage. Holding the note for ‘cursed’ and telling the crowd that we came here to have the best day of our lives, Carter screaming, “Are you ready?”, fired the audience up for the finale.
Arms flailing and mosh pits galore for ’Take It to the Brink’. As a member of the crowd shouts to Carter, “I love you”, he replies: “I love you too”. As always he has impeccable stage communication with the crowd. Jumping off the drum kit platform for ‘Lullaby’, the unpredictability of his performance is what draws you in.
Explaining to the crowd about how he had a wardrobe malfunction yesterday and how it wasn’t going to be repeated, it was met with booing from the crowd. He candidly reminded them that we’ve all got Google. Telling the crowd to hold him and guitarist, Deano mid-way through ‘Devil Inside Me’, there was circle pits galore. Always humble and never straying from his roots, he asked the crowd to put their hands together for some very important people – the security, guitar techs and everyone involved backstage and behind-the-scenes.
Finishing with ‘Crowbar’ was the perfect choice – it’s a track about finding yourself, which Carter himself stated it was “something I know a lot about”. Belting out the words, “People everywhere will try to bring you down, those jealous motherfuckers they will try and take your crown.” Throwing the mic stand to the back of the stage and taking a photo of the crowd for posterity, the crowd chanted for an encore but alas it wasn’t to be. We’ll all just have to book tickets for their next show to relive the moment.
Black Honey – 13:20 @ Main Stage East
Brighton-based band Black Honey certainly know how to command a stage and provide a cinematic performance – the latter is perhaps due to looking to Quentin Tarrantino for inspiration. Opening with indie-pop track ‘All My Pride’, immediately informed those who may have not listened to them before, that they are experts at combining frontwoman Izzy B. Phillip’s strong vocals with heart wrenching and empowering lyrics.
Quickly flipping the switch with ‘I Like The Way You Die’, the crowd was clapping to the beat immediately. An all-ecompassing rock beat which draws you in, it almost celebrates the femme fatale gone rogue in the finest way – performed incredibly by Phillips.
Sounding almost acapella with “And take all you can from me, I will not pretend to be anyone”, her voice was raw and distinctive. Quickly switching with an almost scream, this rock infused track was feral and unyielding.
Phillips announced: “[We] can’t believe we’re actually here Leeds, this is pretty insane?” Yet anyone who’s followed them knows the main stage is where they belong. Letting the audience know they’ve been going to Leeds & Reading Festival since they were 13-years-old, the crowd can imagine what it means to them. Making a commitment to diversity and for every girl that’s been underestimated known, their track ‘Corinne’ is for them.
Finishing their set off with ‘Run For Cover’ they put everything into for the high-powered rock finish, with Phillips coming into the crowd at the barrier with all of their fans. He announced: “We’re Black Honey”, and if they didn’t already know before, they certainly did now.
Scene Queen – 14:50 @ The FR Stage
Originally from Ohio, Scene Queen AKA Hannah Collins takes no prisoners every time she steps on stage. Full of confidence and an astute boldness both in-between her tracks and explicitly through her lyrics, experiencing her show live is a non-stop thrill ride. Her music is self-described as ‘Bimbocore’, walking out in a traditionally all-pink outfit on to ‘Barbie Girl’, perfectly embodied this.
She describes her discography as a “catalog of [her] mental illness” and she is “plastic, fantastic and musically dramatic”. From the start of ‘Bring It On’, we were in for a lesson on what ‘Queen shit” was. Proving her penchant for heavy tracks with deceptive names and her outfits, ‘Pink Bubblegum’ completely tore up the tent.
Around mid-way through her set, she informs the crowd: “This is usually the part where band asks people to clap but need to clap with asses.” After giving the crowd a ‘how-to’, they obey her wishes for a “Twerkle Pit” with all the “badass bitches” in the centre.
A surprise cover “by a little known indie artist Katy Perry”, was carried off perfectly. It was followed by one she self-described as “somehow gayer than that”, ‘Pink Panther’ – which had the whole tent jumping on her command.
Her final song was centred around catcalling, ‘Pink Rover’ gave everyone the permission “to bark the fuck back”, if someone harasses you down the streets. She was literally on her knees while singing, this wonderfully twisted nursery rhyme. From humble writing tumblr fan blogs for emo artist beginnings to becoming TikTok fame, her feminist, metalcore tracks resonate with many due to their raw nature. We’re looking forward to watching her dominate the circuit further and catching her live again soon.
Glass Animals – 18:30 @ Main Stage
If you’ve previously had the opportunity to catch Glass Animals live, you know that creativity and aestecially pleasing stage set ups are usually part of their set. Lilac themed with a pyramid and an LED hotel sign, it mimicked the album cover from Dreamland. Frontman Dave Bayley jumping around on stage during the opening track ‘Life Itself’
Capturing the angst of a failed relationship while maintaining an upbeat melody with ‘Don’t Wanna Talk’, it highlighted how expressive Bayley is in his performance. Running across the stage checking in with each side during ‘Tangerine’, while then crouching and getting the crowd to wave – seeing Glass Animals is a truly inimitable experience. Holding the note at the end much to the crowds cheer before stopping and then continuing the track for dramatic effect.
Reminiscing how they used to attend Reading and Leeds themselves, they couldn’t believe how many had attended their set – as well as the smallest pineapple Dave had apparently ever seen.
Pictures of the background of the band while they were young in ‘Youth’, reminded us of how far they’ve come. It may not have had Denzl Curry in person to accompany him for ‘Tokyo Drifting’, he had the crowd as Bayley danced and spinned on stage with the bass echoing around the field.
Finishing with the track that almost broke TikTok, everyone had to sing to ‘Heat Waves’ as loud as they could. With Bayley inciting a duet with the crowd while everyone was on each other’s shoulders. Speaking with disbelief, Bayley said: “What an amazing day to do our last show in the UK.” It had been a wonderful experience on both sides.
Dave – 21:30 @ Main Stage East
A lot can change in five years, after first playing Leeds on the Radio 1Xtra Stage in 2017, Dave is now the youngest solo headliner ever – at only 24-years-old. Whether he is known as David Orobosa Omoregie, Santan Dave or just Dave, he is the voice of the people and the future.
Beginning with an intimately crafted track, ‘We’re All Alone’ first appears almost nihilistic but it’s the opposite. Performed live, we see the connection that the fans have, as Dave sings: “We all cry the same tears on different cheeks.”
Fireworks lighting up the sky with accompanying strobe lights during ‘Professor X’, reflects his already explosive history in the making performance. Flames and fire for ‘Funky Friday’, there was also cherry blossom growing on the screen behind him. Announcing “My name is Santan Dave”, it was clear we were as happy for him to be back as he was.
His first time attending Leeds was way back in 2007 and he took the time to thank the fans for being the reason he’s headlining. Recognising that it had been a long road, he was taking us back to the start. The crowd was cheering already by the first opening bars and the brass addition in ‘Wanna Know’ elevates the track perfectly for the live arena.
During ‘No Words’, there was a clear connection between Dave and the crowd, complete with strobe lights reaching far into crowd. He also encouarged each side of his audience to make some noise and there were random fireworks though out keeping it interesting.
Starting with a violin instrumental, it almost sounds akin to a Bond film. A beat thumping like a heartbeat and then a voice over followed with sirens, Dave announces, “I want to tell you about where I’m from”. Opening up about his childhood through his music in ‘Heart Attack’, it feels like an intimate conversation despite his headline set. Raw and powerful, just like grime should be. Rapping “Most of the women I know had shit happen to them”, he speaking nothing but facts and the crowd are cheering in agreement. Race, class and sexism, it’s all discussed in his set.
Stopping mid-way due to the concerns related to his fans safety, instead of starting again, he carried on due to the length of the track.
For ‘Thiago Silver’ it became a fan affair. The lucky fan had ‘AJ’ written on him and had been waiting at the front for seven hours. Giving him some tips, Dave said, “Hold the microphone close to your mouth”. Everyone had their phones up to capture the moment. One of Dave’s favourite parts is sharing the stage with his fans and this showed his wonderfully humble nature despite his obvious success. ‘Clash’ may not have had Stormzy accompanying him, however, it reminded us that this was Dave’s moment to show exactly why he was headlining the festival.
Finishing with ‘Starlight’ was the perfect choice for two reasons – it is longest-running and first UK Number One and because it ended on the words, “Well, in other words, I love you”. This, sums up the clear relationship Dave has with his fans.