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Festival Season 2015! #4: Leeds (& Reading)

Leeds!

After a year away, missing Blink, QOTSA and a bunch of other awesome bands, I returned to Leeds Festival for the third time.

I took Emerald and we went down just for the Sunday; this year seems to have taken a rather more widespread, cross-genre approach.

Even though we weren’t there for Alt-J or Kendrick Lamar, I still had a really good time. Leeds was my first festival back in 2012, so I did enjoy going back. I’m pretty sure Emerald will always prefer Download over every festival ever, but she said it was good too, definitely better than T.

I’m sure her vlog will be on YouTube and in this space here soon. Here it is now!

There won’t be many words for this one, we didn’t get to the festival until 4pm, went in and wandered across the hills to the village, and then on to the arena. Nothing much has changed, only now they don’t have Yorkshire tea stands for some godforsaken reason.

Nipped into The Pit stage for PVRIS somewhere around 5. They didn’t sound quite as good as they did at Slam Dunk, maybe because of how much more tent they were in, but I got some videos and they were still awesome and Lynn sounded awesome and seemed more at home in the fields of Leeds, rather than the centre of Leeds. Leeds.

The video I took of them coming out is stupendously smoky, another tent related issue. Can’t wait for them to have more material to play, they’ll be moving up the festival bills soon.

After that we had an hour or so to hang around for Catfish, watched 30 seconds of Atreyu, wandered for a bit and didn’t get a cup of tea because there weren’t any stands around. Instead we sat just outside the Alternative tent, which was playing the last half of Montage of Heck, that Kurt Cobain documentary that Courtney Love doesn’t mind us seeing.

There were a couple of segments of Kurt at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set, so I am now claiming to have seen Nirvana at a major festival.

Catfish were actually really good. I definitely thought I’d enjoy them more than I did at T, mainly due to everyone at Leeds not being dicks, but they were good to watch and the NME tent (second stage) was overflowing to the point of festival staff having to (attempt to) move the crowd back before the set started.

There were a couple of smoke flare things let off, inside a tent, during the set by some dopey moron who hopefully was put in a much smaller cage than the guy looking for his car. If people haven’t seen that story then I don’t have a link for you right now, I’m sorry.

As Catfish played the sun started going down and… parachuters? parachutists? Parachutes glided around over us for a while, presumably filming.

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On the way back to the car we saw Twin Atlantic’s last song, and I’d like to go back and see them somewhere. Apart from that the only other band we went for were Metallica. They were incredible. We’d heard that people at Reading were not at all happy with their efforts when they were down there, but at Leeds they were seriously amazing. Like straight from the album amazing.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride The Lightening, Turn The Page were amazing. They didn’t put on masses of pyro or have a huge stage show, but after so many years they’ve got such a stage presence they don’t really need much else.

Sadly we didn’t make it to the end of their set, which was never the plan anyway since we took advantage of the emptyish roads. Unlike T I had to drive all the way home and get up for work the next day, so an early exit was definitely the way to go. I would have had a cup of tea to keep me alert on the drive, but…

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So that has been all of my festival experiences this year, I hope for money’s sake it’s the last. Four done this year so maybe none in 2016, but if an amazing lineup or nice payday comes around I’m sure we’ll be recording/writing about it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #3: T in the Park

This is being written after I got back from Leeds, and also after I wrote the post about Leeds, so it’s a little strange trying to remember back, but let’s have a go.

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We drove up straight to the festival, and were on the trail to the car park before I realised that Lydia had to pay for parking at Download and we might need a pass that I didn’t have. I never had to pay at Leeds, and thankfully the parking is included in T tickets as well.

Once we were in the brand new lovely field they chose this year, we had a bit of an explore. Oh, they didn’t swap our tickets for wristbands which I’m very annoyed about. Anyway, we headed over to the main stage to watch James Bay. He was really good, voice was great from what we heard of him.

Problem #1 with T in the Park: the new Strathallan venue is either too small, or the organisers didn’t think that the crowds would be so big, for some reason. To have the rides and other village type things that blare loud music right next to the stages seemed like a bit of an oversight to me.

The following picture is unrelated to the text around it. Be prepared for it to become relevant later on.

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Anyway, James Bay was great, we got some noodles and passed by Paloma Faith on our travels. I really like her, she seems like such an awesome person, her sound just didn’t really scream FESTIVAL FUNNESS at me.

I am literally right now this second having to look up the lineup to see if I’ve forgotten anyone, this is how bad my memory is. We were there five weeks ago.

Everything Everything were also at Leeds, we didn’t see them here though. Also, Young Guns have played all three major festivals I’ve been to this year and I haven’t seen them once. They always seem to escape my mind or be on too early.

Good news, while I was saying those words it turned out I didn’t forget anyone, so it’s straight on to the big guns.

Catfish & The Bottlemen played well, probably. We didn’t get a great chance to hear them because of Problem #1, and we couldn’t really see them due to Problem #2.

Problem #2 with T in the Park: a large percentage of the people are dicks. Like, a percentage so high that you can’t just ignore them and go somewhere else, they were everywhere. Maybe we picked a bad day, or a bad year, but it was just bad.

We saw Catfish again at Leeds as you’ll soon read, they were brilliant, so they probably were here as well. At any rate they were too big for the second stage. Big time for them next year.

Stereophonics were my favourite band of the day. Probably one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen, the first time I saw them in little ol’ Carlisle back in 2008 was up there as well.

Seriously they are so very good, Kelly still has an amazing voice and they played a bunch of music that got me right back into their stuff, and British indie-rock in general. Which was just as well. That’s them in that picture up there, it turns out videos on this phone are unsuitable for general watching. So here is one!

Noel Gallagher. The creative force behind my all time favourite band. Seeing him was incredible, and he played Fade Away, which is one of my top Oasis songs. Sorry for the terrible sound quality, Noely G was on top form. Come to think of it all the videos from T had poor quality sound, so sorry if any others make it into the final print of this.

We didn’t stay for much more than that though, we had The Prodigy to go to.

As for The Prodigy, they weren’t quite as good as they were at the MK Bowl in 2009, but that day I was utterly amazed at the arena and the bowlyness of the bowl and the whole show in general. They had ambulances coming out of the stage and green lasers and it was amazing.

At T they still had that crazy energy, and The Day Is My Enemy (pretty sure that’s what it’s called, the new one) is an absolute filth of a music. They’re one of those bands outside my comfort zone that are just too cool not to like.

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After that it was hotel time, which was really nice since it allowed me to sleep rather than drive for two hours plus, plus it gave us the Monday to go into Glasgow and do Scottish things, so that was a plus. PLUS, Emerald did another documentary for me to steal and us to watch!

Probably not a festival I’ll head back to, but I spent £90 on three amazing artists and it was so worth it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #2: Download Festival

Another day, another festival.

Gotta just say at this point, True Detective season two is getting goooooood. First episode was a bit slow but it’s really gearing up now. Two episodes left for me to watch and I’ll be gutted when it’s finished. I miss Colin Farrell’s moustache.

Also they’re watching Friends on the show right now, so it’s just gone up again in my opinion.

Leeds is approaching, and after that I think I have three gigs with Emerald to go to plus a week off in October, so hopefully that’ll give me enough to write about for now. I had another story idea yesterday too so once that’s done it’ll go on here, as well as the other one I wrote last year.

Download Festival: 10.06.15-15.06.15

Wednesday was traumatic. We (Lydia, Emerald and I) set off at 6am, I think, and I had a couple of dizzy and vomiting spells on the way, which was fun. No drink or anything, just head failure. Then the queue took about three hours, since I delayed us by about an hour. My bad.

After all that carry on, plus an added hour trying to fit our tents into a space, we were all set up. Oh and we had a great fat sack truck stacked with crates of beer and coke, which needed two trips to get it all into the site.

But a good four hours or so after we arrived, eight or nine since we set off, we were in and camped and happy. We then found out at some point through that day that Ashley and Alex, some other festival going friends, had broken down right outside the car park and had to get a tow to a garage and a taxi back to Download. So, naturally I laughed my head off for a while and then we found them camped right next to us, so spent most of the week hanging out with them.

Thursday, to my terrible recollection, was a lovely chilled day. The sun was out, we had relatively cool cans of Fosters and Coke, and drinking horns to have Jack Daniels in. There will probably be a few glimpses of horn in the documentary Emerald has up on her YouTube channel, I will space each part out along this post.

Watching the second part of this documentary has brought me no closer to knowing what we did on each day, but I do now remember a man in a Speedo breaking the news of ‘Dr Lord Sir’ Christopher Lee’s passing to us while we were sat outside the tent.

I’m almost sure that was the Friday, because then I went with Emerald to watch Lord of the Rings at the cinema tent to remember him. This might have been Thursday now that I think about it because on Friday we were watching Slipknot. Never mind, it was all very emotional.

Think Thursday was also the day we went for some shisha too, was my first try of it. Went for strawberry, tasted like strawberry, so that was nice.

Friday Saturday Sunday we did some bands and stuff. Slipknot as mentioned, A Day To Remember played Champagne Supernova and it was epic, Slash was awesome and is fitter than I am at whatever age he is now, Motley Crue looked awesome but sounded so bad we couldn’t tell the songs apart, due to some problems with the speakers we believe. A steward we ran into on the way back told us it must be Gene Simmons messing up their sound on purpose…

We saw a little of Bodycount, a little of Dragonforce feat. Babymetal, and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. ‘We’ is Emerald and I, the two of us didn’t go to the arena with anyone else at any point.

It rained pretty solidly between Slipknot coming on to headline Friday and going to bed on Saturday, but other than that the weather was good. Food was good, noodles and toasties and burgers and tea. In the times between bands and when it was raining we had a lot of time in and around the tent, with some new friends that we made by shouting quotes from Archer and Burnt Face Man at.

These videos will probably do a better job of describing our week than a lot of my writing, so watch these as well! I’ve watched most of them, I just don’t like my face or voice on camera.

On Saturday (Sunday?) night, Ross Gellar was vandalised! We got up in the morning and realised someone had come and drawn things on him and I was very upset. Ross was our tent mascot for the week, inspired by an outtake of Friends where Matt LeBlanc tapes a headshot of David Schwimmer to his boxers for a take.

That is also why I came out of the tent with him taped to my boxers, in case anyone was wondering. Anyone who got it from that blooper reel on the DVD, hooray! We can be friends, pun partially intended.

So anyway, we had a few drinks, saw a few bands, had some good weather and we also went up on the ferris wheel on the Sunday, that had a nice view. It also went round a little faster than I expected.

I love camping though, that was the first time I’d camped anywhere since Leeds Festival 2012, so it was very fun for me. I used to go a lot with friends or Scouts, so it was nice to get back out and be able to sit and chill outside for large portions of the day.

Mentioned a few times in the documentary is the fact that Ashley and Alex relied quite heavily on suncream provided by Emerald and myself. It has just come to my attention that it is now August, and my thighs still haven’t fully healed from the burning they took from the sun that week. I could feel heat coming off them from a couple of inches above my leg.

Don’t let Emerald’s words fool you in that last video, it was ME who brought the aftersun. I saved the day. Of course, if I hadn’t brought it she would have, but I’d like it to be known that I contributed to the sensible.

Having said that, I still have that really white tan line around my ankles, it looks like I’ve taken someone else’s feet and attached them to my tanned legs.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #1: Slam Dunk Festival

Little overdue perhaps, but I have returned with a big and wordy music post on all the festivals that I have been to and not posted about this summer.

As I write currently today now, I haven’t actually been to Leeds fest yet, but it’s coming up so I’ll be either saving this post until then, updating it after I get back or possibly splitting it into two. The suspense is so thrilling, I know.

There will be a couple of media presentations spread across the post, I’m guessing most of the credit for that will be going to Emerald, my fabulous girlfriend who makes documentaries on the gigs and festivals she/we goes/go to. Her YouTube page is here.

Slam Dunk: 23.05.15

Anyway, first up was Slam Dunk, way back in May. Seems like forever ago. Emerald did not come with me to this, so the videos I have are my own phenomenal camera skills. My good, impossible-to-get-a-hold-of friend Ashley came with me, as did my stockroom buddy JD and her friend also. We saw and used a carpool lane in Leeds and were all very excited by it as I recall.

For around £45 the amount of music we got around to see was insane. Off the top of my head now we saw Lower Than Atlantis, A Loss For Words (amazing on their last ever tour, v. sad), Cartel (nostalgic as hell), Zebrahead, and a few others, who I’m sure will be fuming not to get a mention here. In total I think it was 11 or 12 bands we saw on the day, all super fun.

The absolute runaway highlights of the day, though, had to be the first and last bands we saw; PVRIS and The Wonder Years. TWY have been one of my favourite bands since uni, and my first chance seeing them was so epic. There will be a video of questionable quality below as soon as it uploads of one of my favourite songs by them, definitely will be seeing again with their new album out in the next soontime.

I’d only recently downloaded the debut album from PVRIS to prepare and discover a few new bands before I set off for Slam Dunk, and loved it and them. Live they were amazing, the sun was truly out when they came on and it was just cool to stand and watch them turn Ashley into a fan right in front of me. Also, they favourited my tweet about how awesome they were!

A Loss For Words were another of those bands I’d researched before going and I’m so glad I did. Very unlikely we’ll be seeing the play a show over here again, unless I’ve missed some wonderful U-turn they’ve performed in the past couple months.

Zebrahead were a band I was really excited to see, but I’m afraid their set just didn’t sound good from where we were standing. Presumably nothing to do with them, since JD near the front said they were amazing as always, but the stage was at the top of a street, so the further down you came the worse the sound would be I guess.

Cartel were awesome, hadn’t listened to them for years but they were really good. All the bands on the Macbeth stage were brilliant to be honest.

We had a lovely day, wandered around Leeds city centre while waiting between bands, listened to some great music and came home to wait for next year’s announcement. The new location was cool too for me, all the stages were just kinda thrown around in the centre of the city, one in a car park, one on a street, one in Millenium Square. Best part is they were all five minutes away from each other.

Oh, and Ashley bought himself some sunglasses and a snapback to – and I quote – ‘fit in with the festival bellends here and at Download’.

Oh and also Leeds has a self service McDonalds. So, just let that sink in for a minute. Unless you live in Leeds or one of the, presumably, many other places that has a self service McDonalds, in which case I live in the middle of nowhere, let me get excited about this.

Well this has run rather longer than I thought, so I think what I’ll do is just a series, one post for each festival. Sounds like the perfectly sensible idea I should’ve had half an hour ago.

Slam Dunk: 10/10. Will certainly be going back next year if the lineup is half as good as it was this time.

From the kindness of my phone, here is part of an intro of a song by the headliners. Download next!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack