Live at Leeds Festival 2016 on Sunday, 28th August 2016
THE INDIGO PROJECT
Leeds' own, The Indigo Project are the first band I head out to see on Sunday morning. They secured their place on the BBC Introducing stage at the annual Futuresound Competition, and bound on to the stage like excited puppies. The young band start as they mean to go on, with a long, drawn out introduction milking their local audience for all they've got before a single word is sung. They stand on stage looking more like a group of mates heading for a kick about than a band playing at Leeds Festival, but that only adds to their charm. There is a real honesty about them, and you can tell from the off that they are just five mates who love making music together.
Underpinning front man Joe Spink's gravely vocal delivery, are scratchy guitar chords, played in unison by the three guitar players (yes three), offering the kind of lo-fi indie rock that catapulted The Libertines to success. 'Leeds, you know what to do!', instructs Spink as he encourages the audience to clap, the young audience are eating out of the palm of his hand at the band's first major festival. He leaves it slightly too long before counting into the band's set closer 'Taste It', but any energy lost is soon built back up by the jaunty, first album Arctic Monkeys-esc indie rock. One foot-up-on-the-monitor guitar solo later, and the band end their set as if they've just headlined the Main Stage. A really fun band to watch, by all accounts.
THE JAPANESE HOUSE
Last year, Amber Bain, aka, The Japanese House released her first E.P. Her unique blend of vocoders and synths housed in almost folk like song structures caught my attention immediately, and I have been excited to see her and her band play live for a very long time. Oddly billed on the Radio One Dance Stage, she walks out into the tent soundtracked by the start of 'Clean', a single from her second E.P, released earlier this year. Having toured with Wolf Alice and The 1975 respectively, there is a good crowd waiting to receive her, and their cheers put a smile on her face.
There is no crowd interaction as we move into the second song of the set, and little movement from either Bain or her two band mates, set back at either side of the stage. 'Teeth' demonstrates lush layers of production, and brash, balls out guitar riffs that cut loudly through the ambient samples and programmed drums, but unfortunately due to the down-tempo nature of The Japanese House as a whole, the hungover festival goers towards the back of the tent begin to loose interest. Perhaps the fact that they may have been expected a dance act hasn't helped matters.
'Cool Blue' offers a very welcome change in tempo and injects some life back into the tent, some added synth lead arpeggios can be heard that aren't found on the record and a moment is shared between a fan on her friends shoulders, and Bain as they both wave at each other between songs. Still, Bain remains shackled to her mic, pedals or keyboard and again sadly the band offers no real visual excitement. The Japanese House have made some really interesting records and built a loyal fan base on the way. With a debut album imminent I'm sure that the further into their live career they become, the more exciting they will be to watch. Until that point, the performance felt a tad like a studio session in front of a crowd, as opposed to a live show.
High Tyde have had a crazy year. The four piece from Brighton have gone from writing hard in their rehearsal space, to premiering songs on Annie Mac's, Radio One show, selling out dates up and down the country and playing their first International Festival. Leeds and Reading Festivals are just another feather in an ever growing cap, that I don't see shrinking any time soon.
An ambient intro leads us into 'Feel It', a tune which offsets Two Door Cinema Club style guitar licks with tech house sub bass. It sounds like an odd combination, but it works. 'Talk To Frank' offers more of the same, a blend of electronic drums and upbeat indie that speaks directly to a new generation of guitar music fans. 'Safe' changes the groove, with samba and dancehall vibes underpinning a repeated pop vocal, but High Tyde don't stay in the same gear for long, slowing things down with 'Wine', a hip hop inspired slow jam that pays homage to Earth Wind and Fire's 'September'.
Front man Cody was seemingly born to do nothing else. He's electric in his performance of penultimate track, 'Speak' before announcing that the band will be ending on 'Dark Love', easily their biggest hit to date. A soft, heartfelt round of the chorus is almost whispered over reverb drench guitars before four smashes on the high hats send knife like guitars cutting through feedback and a call to arms from Cody to the crowd. 'Leeds, this is it'. 'Dark Love' brings the BBC Introducing stage into a frenzy and High Tyde close a set which shows that they don't plan to slow down any time soon.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Red Hot Chili Peppers are true legends of guitar music. Bands as big as them are few and far between these days, and it felt like a really special moment awaiting their arrival on the Main Stage. Earlier in the day I'd seen a picture of Anthony Kiedis coming to Leeds by train. Rockstars don't ride trains, everyone knows that. It's just one of the reasons why the Chili's are a really special band. They walk on stage without accompaniment, no big visuals, no atmosphere building backing tracks, just four guys in crazy colourful outfits that launch into an intro jam that gets the crowd pumped.
All of a sudden, the drums are building and we find ourselves at the start of 'Can't Stop'. The crowd are deafening around me, singing every word of the busy lyrics until the newest Chili Pepper, Josh Killinghoffer rips into an ear splitting guitar solo. Not to be outdone, Chad Smith hits us with a drum solo as the first song ends and we're into 'Dani California'. There is some real intent to the playing, every opportunity to add flare to a section is taken, especially by Flea whose fingers run up and down the long neck of his bass faster than lightning. We're sure there is a bass solo to come...
After 'Scar Tissue', the band play a carefully planned mix of new material that is refreshing for the audience. Of course, festival crowds are desperate to hear the hits, but Red Hot Chili Peppers have so many that the Sunday night crowd would be exhausted without a break. 'Dark Necessities' is a highlight of this section. 'Snow' ((Hey Oh)) shows that despite their age the band still have great technical ability, and Anthony Keidis' voice is almost note perfect. 'The Otherside' shows the strength of the band's harmonies, not something they have ever been particularly famous for, and 'Californication' followed directly by 'Under The Bridge' offer really tender moments that transcend funky bass lines and tongue in cheek lyricism. With that in mind we reach the set closer, 'By The Way'. It offers all of the above and more, epitomising the weekend with the words 'Standing in line to see the show tonight'.
The screens go black and the band disappear off to the sides of the stage, but we all know they'll walk back on. We're just not sure quite how? Our questions are answered when Flea's feet appear, above his head. The 53 year old bass player walks back onto stage on his hands to an almighty applause and the rest of the band follow, the right way up. We are treated to 'Goodbye Angels' as lighters are held high and arms are thrown round friends before 'Give It Away' blows the roof off the best party Leeds has ever seen.
Up and coming 5 piece indie rock band from Leeds.