Kicking off Leeds Festival in a true pop-punk fashion, New York’s State Champs embraced their mission of waking up the crowd. Front man Derek Discanio had no time for tired campers; he demanded movement and, admittedly reluctant, circle pits from start to finish. The reaction of the main stage might have been subdued, but we have to applaud the band’s unrelenting effort.
They vibrated with enthusiasm throughout their set, blending together flawless instrumentation with an obvious excitement to be there. The result was incredible to watch: this is a band who have worked hard to be where they are today.
State Champs had just the energy the festival needed for a morning set. By the time they left the stage, the main stage crowd was hyped and more than ready to go. 7/10
Waterparks’ debut at Leeds Festival was only their third performance in the UK. The band had just wrapped up a summer at Warped Tour, and were a man down due to a wrist injury guitarist Geoff Wigington had sustained there. But rather than go two-man for the festival, Waterparks had enlisted none other than My Chemical Romance’s Mikey Way to help them out on the bass.
Evidently, this wasn’t a typical Waterparks set. But even playing with a stand-in musician, their show went with very few hitches. Waterparks opened their set with ‘Mad All The Time’, and flew through fan-favourites ‘Crave’ and ‘Silver’ to an outstanding crowd response. The band is typical pop-punk in the best possible way, and the response of The Lock-Up stage was a testament to it.
Frontman Awsten Knight clearly knew how to engage a crowd, taping a Harry Styles doll a fan threw onstage to his mic stand during set up. The jokes continued throughout; he demanded the tent be filled with smoke whilst stalling until a technical problem was resolved, and ended up dropping much coveted information about their upcoming album’s release date. We can expect that in November, apparently.
Even with a new member playing an entirely different instrument, Waterparks put on an outstanding show. These guys are living proof that a young band, with the right management, can come a long way very quickly 8/10
This wasn’t the first time Tonight Alive had graced Leeds Festival. But this time, the band was playing mid-afternoon on the festival’s second biggest stage: the NME / Radio One stage.
The band’s stage presence has changed an incredible amount since their inception in 2008. Once connoisseurs of a traditional pop-rock vibe, Tonight Alive have become much more abstract with their latest release Limitless. This is something their show translated. The band opened their set with Limitless track ‘To Be Free’, and continued into an eclectic mix of old and new.
Frontwoman Jenna McDougall impressed with her ambitious vocals, breezing through difficult melodies effortlessly. The band sounded more together than ever, seeming much more at home in this newly adapted sound. The crowd reacted enthusiastically, screaming the band’s lyrics back to them as they jumped through the set. It was Tonight Alive as we’ve never seen them before, and it was fantastic 8/10
Back to the main stage, and London’s The Vaccines were gearing up to take to the stage. The band are Leeds Festival veterans, having performed at the festival way back in 2012. But this time The Vaccines had a whole album of new tracks to choose from, and an impatient crowd ready to hear them.
The band kicked things off with ‘Handsome’, then delved into some obvious fan-favourites to an overwhelming response. Tracks like ‘Teenage Icon’ were made for festivals. Hundreds of people sang alongside frontman Justin Hayward-Young, soaking up the festival’s sunshine through ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Dream Lover’, ‘Wetsuit’, and ‘Minimal Affection’.
There was nothing theatrical about The Vaccines’ show. They dominated the main stage in sound alone, performing flawlessly from their very first track. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? track ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ had by far the loudest reaction, eliciting hundreds of voices to join the band as they ran the home stretch to the end of their set. The Vaccines put on a simple set, but it was festival perfection 7/10