On 1st September 2010 at 22:07 Dave LMS wrote...
Some great pictures there Sam. As usual.
Live at Leeds Festival 2010 on Thursday, 26th August 2010
Dance To The Radio Stage's Festival Thursday night is one of the special treats of Leeds Festival. For the rest of the weekend this platform becomes the BBC Introducing Stage, where 36 new artists take different kinds of first step into a brighter limelight. On Thursday, however, DTTR is the only show in town and thousands turn out to gawp, shout, dance and fall over.
This year's headline is Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Presently admired by a lot of young hip people, they won't be dismayed to have left me cold. The sound is very light and their hit tune "Collapsing Cities" does no more than irritate me with its infernal cornet repetition of the six note "riff" (64 reps on stage) and its meaningless lyrics. The crowd love them warmly enough, but the night has already been hung drawn and quartered by Chickenhawk and no amount of nice kid indie rock is going to sound like much to write home about after that. The best thing about Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly is the name and the next best thing is Sam Duckworth's ability to write irritatingly sticky one line songs.
Bear in Heaven have travelled from Brooklyn and clearly aren't the Bear Hands who had been so good for DTTR last year, nor the Bear Driver who shared that stage, or even Minus the Bear who appeared later in the weekend. They are an agreeable three piece (for touring purposes) electro pop combo featuring the graceful voice of founder and centrepiece Jon Philpot. The sound, essentially, is ethereal synthesiser and a dance tempo under soaring melodies that soothe without shaking. IN my head, spacey echoes of Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips provide reference points. They go down very well with the evening crowd. Job done.
Chickenhawk occupy a larger universe. Good at their normal best, tonight they astonish everyone with the tightest histrionics we have heard yet. Matt Reid is a drummer who is so bewilderingly good that breath is exhaled and the skill of breathing in again could easily be forgotten. But even at the velocity and intricacy he achieves he can't upstage or shake off the rest of the band. They seem to be in a special world. They are locked together in their own waveform tonight. It's both thunderously scary and precisely nimble - like some kind of superhinocerous in the flower beds. Mayhem reigns, but blooms are saved. (a moshpit nearly collapses, no one dies and no first-aiders are required) . On top of all this they provide a level of showmanship and audience engagement that drags even the indiest doubter into the centre of their dark cult. The green tabarded photographers are out in force. Word has gone round the press contingent that Chickenhawk merit serious attention. The very large crowd chant "We Want More!" as the set ends.
Spectrals are quivery glistening indie types. There's an unintended (I think it's unintended) country feel to Louis Jones' guitar licks and for me that does detract a bit from the self-confessed surf-Spector coalition in other aspects of the Spectrals' music. Nevertheless, squashed between punk and metal bookends, Spectrals do a brilliant job of holding the same audience with such different music. They do the decent thing of being a one-off proposition, gathering a fashion-conscious audience together with slightly oddball music. "Dip Your Toe in" sways along very sweetly. A promising "Peppermint" is advertised and played as the next single. Reverb and whammy bar evoke the mid-sixties and remind me of the US bands who emerged in the wake of Bealtemania. Names like The Lovin' Spoonful, The Young Rascals and The Turtles come to mind. It's a damn fine lineage.
The Neat, who open the stage for the evening with the sun going down and an autumn chill in the air, shake us warm again with plenty aggression and a lot going on. Two guitars, bass and drums do a lot of work with electronics in support. Mez Green does a Mark E. Smith vocal with all the fire of Smith as a young 'un. He makes it sounds like a valid style rather than a lazy imitation. Repetitions and upward yelps of punctuation work well, Laurence Etheridge and Nick Boden's guitars find plenty to do and Richard Lorimer charges the batteries with a lot of drum power. In territory where most bands sink obliviously, The Neat race across the pitfalls and survive with guns blazing.
This is a great way to start a festival - the rawness of genuinely new artists in the early rushes of enthusiasm and creativity.