Monday, 27 August 2007

Carling Festival 2007: Leeds (Part 1)

My first festival experience, beautiful weather, amazing friends and a brilliant selection of bands. Maybe I was blessed this weekend, but Leeds 2007 was just about perfect and here is my review of the weekend, musically and a little more.

Thursday was the day of arrival, and as we dragged our bags through the camp the size of the whole thing dawned on me. Have to say I was pretty impressed when we managed to get a beaut of a camping spot, right near a security tower in loads of space and in a place, that was dead easy to find. Downside was being in the "Orange funfair camp" which meant close proximity to an array of rides pumping out a mix of the star wars theme tune and chart house until the early morning, aka half past 4 or even later! We learnt to live with this and all was well after the first night. At risk of using too many private jokes and going on, I think I'll try and leave the social/friend commentary here and concentrate on the least until Sunday night!

After a poor nights sleep, we arose early for the music on Friday only to be caught in the one logistical nightmare of the weekend, a massive bottleneck of people around the main entrance which meant being stuck for an hour and a half, and missing any acts before half one. My first show of the weekend then, was Billy Talent. They were much better than I expected and musically very sound although those vocals did grate on me a little bit. Still, a fun show and good way to start. After that The Used came on the main stage, and after a couple of songs I decided to leave with a couple friends and sample some of the other music. Unfortunately I stumbled across a pretty poor attempt at lad rock, named The Sunshine Underground and decided to return to the main for the rest of The Used and a chill in the sun. Bert McCracken made an early claim for most annoying frontman of the weekend with constant whining about parents, school, money etc so we all had a good laugh about that.
Next on were Funeral For A Friend, a band I liked very much a while ago, so I watched with a few friends, reminiscing in the sun, and ended up having a great time. By the end of the set I had restored alot of respect for this band and had my first good sing-a-long to tracks like "Juneau" and "She Drove Me To Daytime Television". Hunger kicked in, so I moved on again to grab some lovely Mexican (my favourite all weekend!) and have a listen to the Cold War Kids. I didn't hear the whole set, but they sounded better than when I saw them a couple months ago, and my friend Rick, who watched the whole set, was really impressed, again saying they had improved since the last time.
To the lock up next for some punk and a chance to catch the highly regarded Against Me! who had a huge VIP crowd watching including members of Billy Talent. I haven't heard much of this folk/punk outfit but they put on a really tight live show, which seemed very geared to those loyal fans. Something that was nice to see, even as a casual punter. Next up were the massively hyped Gallows, from London, bringing their blend of hardcore and classic brit-rock/punk to a full crowd. Energy levels were through the roof and despite annoying me a little, I can give credit to the band for thoroughly pleasing their fans, and winning some new ones. Special credit goes to the two guitarists for performing some epic Hendrix style, through each others legs maneuvers.
After this I had chance to buy some food, a lovely warm jacket (for a fiver!) and prepare for the main event, at least it was for myself. Slightly late, but completely captivating, The Smashing Pumpkins played a set, which took in new and old and seemed to please everyone who hadn't buggered off to see the Klaxons! Summed up best in one word, mesmerizing, the set seemed to span about an 1hr 45mins, actually longer than billed and included loads of hits like the big two "Tonight, Tonight" and an acoustic "1979". Starting with "United States" they bravely set out their stall, with grandeur and faultless musicianship. Some people decided to boo them during this opener, and pronounce Billy as a "bald twat", but they didn't really seem to understand the song at all so never mind. With the rest of the set its really a case of where do you start! Personal highlight for me was "Stand Inside My Love" but even that is at a stretch as the set worked as a single entity, pretty much perfectly. Chamberlain had his moments of glory and received a chant of appreciation during "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" which was clearly special. As for the new members, I thought all three were excellent throughout with Reyes having the spotlight on "Hummer" and Schroeder shredding throughout! Also, it must be said..."you probably would the bassist". On that rather coarse low note, it's time for me to continue catching up on sleep so i'll move onto Saturday tomorrow!

Set List
'United States'
'Tonight, Tonight'
'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'
'Glass And The Ghost Children'
'To Sheila'
'Stand Inside Your Love'
'Doomsday Clock'
'Heavy Metal Machine'

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