Dead! is one of the few bands around that have gained significant hype without releasing an album. So much was obvious from the busy crowd that gathered to watch their set. The small but mighty group of teenagers jumped, screamed, and danced alongside the band, encouraging Dead! to shake off the nerves onstage.
As you’d expect from a young band, Dead!’s set didn’t come without flaws. The band recovered well from a couple of messy transitions and unintentional feedback blares, shrugging them off and continuing with increased fervour.
A lot of the time, it seemed Dead! were performing more for themselves than for their audience; they frequently turned their backs to face each other. It was a self-indulgent move and one that perhaps hinted at a lack of confidence. Dead! performed ambitiously, but their set was typical of a less experienced band. They might have a way to go, but they have the potential to get there. 6/10
You Me At Six
Following a tour announcement and the agonisingly slow reveal of their upcoming album Night People, You Me At Six snuck their way into a mid-afternoon slot at The Pit stage. As Leeds was their second stop the whole thing wasn’t too much of a surprise, but that took nothing from the hype. It seemed the entire festival turned up to watch them play.
Frontman Josh Franceschi beamed as he took to the stage, the band opening their set with Cavalier Youth track ‘Room to Breathe’. After almost a year of silence, it was fantastic to see the You Me At Six boys back on the stage. The band continued with ‘Loverboy’, ‘Stay With Me’, and cult classic ‘Underdog’, setting off some of the weekend’s loudest sing-a-longs.
You Me At Six took the opportunity to break in a couple of new tracks, including their upcoming album’s namesake ‘Night People’, and the second track ‘Plus One’. For fans of You Me At Six, this was an incomparable moment. The band were just as together as always, and clearly ready to be back on our radar. 9/10
California’s Ghost Town took to The Pit stage next, bringing with them the electronic, otherworldly sound that has set them apart from the crowd. Vocalist Kevin McCullough didn’t slow down for a second, getting up close and personal with the first few rows constantly.
Ghost Town performed energetically, entertaining their audience through singles ‘Mean Kids’ and ‘Fan Girl’. Being signed to such a high-profile label like Fueled By Ramen, it’s inevitable that people will be curious about the band. And although a part of Ghost Town’s audience was inevitably made up of passersby, when people stopped to watch they didn’t tend to leave.
The best way to describe Ghost Town’s performance is theatrical. Their sound is comparable to Set It Off’s debut: full of quick beats, interesting drops, and somewhat gothic theatre. This translated smoothly onto the stage, and Ghost Town succeeded in putting on an impressive, captivating show. 7/10
Imagine Dragons write music made for festivals. Their feel-good, anthemic vibe evokes images of muddy fields, airborne beer, and people dancing atop their friend’s shoulders. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what Imagine Dragons’ sub-headline set at Leeds Festival looked like.
The Nevada-born quartet kicked off their show with ‘Shots’, continuing into ‘It’s Time’, ‘Hear Me’, and a melodic guitar solo by Wayne Sermon. ‘I’m So Sorry’ and ‘Demons’ garnered a monumental crowd reaction, vocalist Dan Reynolds impressing with his flawless performance.
Each member of Imagine Dragons had the opportunity to flaunt their skills: Daniel Platzman’s drum solo was ambitious and technically stunning. But of course the band was at it’s best when they performed together. Reynolds jumped down to the barrier during ‘On Top Of The World’, belting out his lyrics right alongside his fans.
Imagine Dragons thrive at festivals. The band admitted to being overwhelmed and humbled by the crowd’s response, but they couldn’t have looked more at home. 8/10
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Closing Leeds Festival with a nostalgic bang, alternative rock giants Red Hot Chili Peppers attracted a phenomenal crowd. Fans from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s gathered together to watch the band play, waiting with bated breath as three huge circular screens descended onto the stage.
The band followed soon after, kicking off their headline set with RHCP classics ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Dani California’. You can tell the band have been doing this for years; their confidence on the stage is palpable even from the very back. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael Balzary (Flea) joked with each other from their separate corners of the stage, unfazed by the size of the audience captivated by their show.
For the most part, Red Hot Chili Peppers relied on their hits. Distorted images of the band in red, blue, and greyscale flashed on the side screens, adding their trademark psychedelic vibe to ‘Scar Tissue’, ‘Wet Sand’, and ‘Snow ((Hey Oh))’.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers show was very simple. Sure, they had big screens and a couple of flares, but everything else was kept short and sweet. It wasn’t an immersive experience, but this band has been touring successfully since the 80s: it’s the tracks they play that get the reaction, not how they perform them. They closed their set with ‘Goodbye Angels’ and ‘Give It Away’, leaving the crowd eagerly chanting their name.
Red Hot Chili Peppers were far from ambitious with their headline show, but they gave their audience exactly what they wanted to hear. We can’t fault them for that. 6/10