Leeds Festival Report - Saturday!
Words: Rhiannon Bodem, Photos: Cai Dixon
Leeds Festival’s Saturday opened onto clear skies that would not last and, for many, hangovers that probably would. However, not to beaten by the second day slump, punters still turned out in droves to see what the choice line-up would deliver, be them the bright-eyed and bushy tailed variety of the day-ticket holders, or the truly resilient determined to trudge from the distant Purple Camp to the arena by mid-afternoon.
If anyone could take on the slightly languid vibe of opening mainstage slot, it was Frank Turner , whose work horse resilience and refusal to take no for the answer soon had the crowd awake and hanging on to his every word. Breaking the record for the amount of consecutive years playing the festival, Frank and the Sleeping Souls’ veteran status shone through, and in a whirlwind set of 21 date tour announcements, “walls of hugs” and hits such as I Want To Dance, God Save The Queen and Recovery, the folk punk maverick concluded his 1127th show with only one weakness: a Southern boy’s inability to call Leeds the superior festival.
However, the best performances are not always the most upbeat, as proven over on the NME stage by Californian experimental band The Neighborhood . Completely in command of their aesthetic, the five-piece played their first chords just as the rain outside went from hostile to torrential, and delivered an eerie, monochromatic show in which frontman Jesse Rutherford stood, moody and stoic, delivering R&B infused rock to the swaying crowd. Though tracks from the band’s newest album Wiped Out! Like R.I.P 2 My Youth went over well, it was older songs like Afraid and Sweater Weather that matched the despondent skies perfectly, and had the audiences vocals bouncing off the tent walls along with the smoke and the spotlights.
Not to be outdone, The Lock-Up proved they had their own way of distracting from the rain, with Hacktivist  delivering a ferocious rap-metal set with clear grime influence, a set in which numerous circle pits were present from the first beat. During a 45 minute set they created an inescapable wall of sound that put Milton Keynes on the map as far dject is concerned, spitting out a flurry of brutal tracks including Taken and Deceive And Defy to drive the crowd into a frenzy from the moment Tim "Timfy James" Beazley shouted “You guys are winning, are you gonna fucking keep it up!?”
Then it was time to leave the comfort of the tents and face the rain head-on, a feat made possible only by the sunny outlook of synthpop trio Chvrches , with the winning smile of Lauren Mayberry in particular making the frigid conditions just a little more bearable. Playing their last UK show of the album, Lauren met the crowd’s disappointment with characteristic sweetness, saying “look guys I know you’re booing out of niceness but it’s distressing!”, and then playing Warning Call and Under The Ocean in quick succession. The play-off between the two vocalists was practised and perfect, with Iain Cook addressing the weather with similar humour, stating “sometimes when you’re getting rained on all you can do is dance like a madman.” and proceeding to do just that. Their frosty synthpop proved exactly the thing the audience needed to fight off the temptation to slope back to the comparative safety of the campsites, with the anthemic The Mother We Share sending the crowd away with a much warmer disposition than the one with which they arrived.
Back at the NME tent, Crystal Castles  finished their last set of the weekend to a similarly cool reception, delivering a set in which everything, from the imbalanced levels to the out of time bass to the erratic lighting cues, felt lackluster. Though they were battling a crowd that was simply there to wait for the next act, and had to use a substitute vocalist, the set irredeemably shoddy and thrown together, with even modern classic Not In Love flailing without the presence of guest vocalist Robert Smith to hold it together. Though the audience’s decision to cheer when the electropunk duo cut their set short may have been in bad taste, just as the audience’s decision to boo the act off stage at Reading undoubtedly was, it was certainly at least a little understandable.
Of course, it took mere seconds after their exit for attention to turn to the stage’s headline act, Twenty One Pilots . From the second the duo entered the audience was electric, with the crush unsurprising given the clearly insufficient capacity of the tent to house the thousands strong crowd. In a set filled with all the hallmarks of an Emotional Roadshow gig, Josh and Tyler both taking to the audience on a crowd-supported drum kit and hamster ball respectively, the pair seemed determined to show their predecessors how a genre-bending two piece can properly command a stage. Though the fanaticism of Reading thankfully wasn’t present (and thus Tyler got to keep the majority of his clothes on whilst attempting to stand on top of the crowd) the opening chords of Suicide Squad-famed track Heathens was met with the same level of intensity, whilst a mini cover of Jump Around ensured that both old fans and new were along for the ride. Josh’s famed backflip off the piano made its appearance between Blurryface offerings Ride and Stressed Out, whilst old fan-favourite Car Radio rendered even the music inaudible over the crowd as Tyler climbed way into the rafters and delivered the last verse from above. It was clear, as the signature closing song Trees rang out and there began a mass exodus away from the arena, that the duo had succeeded in cementing themselves in the hearts of the north, and that, should they return, they warranted a mainstage slot.
Finally here are some photos of some other bands that played Leeds on the Saturday: Asking Alexandria, Citizen, Creeper, Crossfaith, Mura Masa and SWMRS....