When I set off for Leeds fest on Thursday I was clean, full of energy and sober. When I arrived home 4 days later, I hadn’t showered for 96 hours, I couldn’t keep my eyes open for more than 5 minutes, and there is a large possibility that I was still drunk. But I knew, when I got through the front door and finally threw down my rucksack, that before Leeds Fest I didn’t have a clue what a good time was.
I had never been to a festival before and to be honest, I don’t know what I expected. I guess I assumed I would be participating in a bit of light moshing to Foo Fighters, then going for a casual stroll to the food tents for a quick snack, and then maybe sitting down with my friends around a camp fire discussing life and the meaning of religion. Oh yeah, and exploiting the luxury of a functioning toilets. I did not, however, expect to be dancing in a muddy field at 5’oclock in the morning to Sum 41. And I certainly didn’t expect to be washing in the same bucket my friends, erm, urinated in. But it happened, oh sweet baby Jesus, it happened.
I woke up on Friday morning to the sound of our next door neighbour (who I later found out to be Dean, Dean the Machine) shouting ‘Its 6 o’clock, whose up? I haven’t even been to sleep!’ This was a re occurring theme. Every morning Dean the Machine would wake us all up with his rambling. However, did my friends care? Oh no. They opened up the first beer of the day and ‘got on it’ as we say up north.
Usually by 12 o’clock we were all pretty ‘off it’, and conveniently this is about the time the bands started. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried getting 7 drunken teenagers to the other side of a 10 acre swamp, with nothing but a ‘LEEDS FEST 2012 MAP’ and a splitting headache to guide you, but it isn’t easy. We never made it in time for any of the bands and we always had to elbow a load of fat, middle aged bearded Goths out of the way to get to the front. More than once, I awkwardly found myself in the middle of a mosh pit, wondering how I was going to get out without getting bottled. I also learnt a useful skill at Leeds Fest: how to detect when a really good band is about to come on; a trait I will keep with me for years to come. The crowd will cheer and beer will be thrown. Sometimes beer, sometimes something that looks like beer but unfortunately isn’t beer.
Arguably, Kasabian and Kaiser Chiefs were the very best of all the live bands. Their atmosphere was amazing. Kaiser Chiefs are Leeds born and bred and as they ran on the whole crowd erupted with chants of ‘YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE’ even a few guys I met from London joined in (because everyone loves Yorkshire, it would appear). Then the lead singer, Ricky Wilson, jumped into the crowd and everyone rushed forward as he crowd surfed the first 5 rows. Amazing.
Kasabian were equally as good, if not better. They gave skull masks out to the lucky few who had managed to push their way to the front, so everyone around me resembled creepy Kasabian skulls. The band were dressed up as skeletons as well, all they had to do was throw in a bit of the neon lighting and incredible music and the whole of Leeds fest were sure to go insane. The atmosphere made it; along with the very well timed build up to their biggest hit ‘Fire’.
And then came the night. I found out that at Leeds Fest, the night is not like the normal night we all know and cherish; where people sleep and curl up in bed, surrounded by warmth and comfort. Night was a time for suicidal drinking, making friends with complete strangers and jumping up and down in a muddy field at Piccadilly party until 5 in the morning.
We made friends with the camp next to us, they knew how to make a fire. If you want to make friends at festivals, set up fires- like a moth to a flame.
One night, whilst sat around our fire about to set off for Piccadilly party, we heard some shouting from a nearby tent. The shouting increased until all that could be heard was ‘GAVIN, WHERE IS GAVIN? I’M GOING TO KILL HIM, GAVIN!’ Then there was silence. Five minutes past until, from behind the vast array of Halfords tents, a boy appeared from the confusion. He stood up and looked around, like a meerkat searching for predators. And then, he ran. He ran like I have seen nobody run before. He ran around the entirety of orange camp B screaming ‘Gavin, Gavin, Gavin!?’ he kicked tents and threw chairs; he swore and threatened homicide- that was, until Dean the Machine appeared. Dean, understanding the situation, stood up. He sighed and casually strolled over to crazy Gavin man where he looked him dead in the eye. He uttered these words ‘just shut up’ before knocking him straight out. The camp erupted with cheers, and from that night onwards Orange B forever chanted ‘Gavin, Gavin’ whenever the angry boy appeared and Dean was hailed a machine. I’m still not quite sure what Gavin had actually done to provoke such an outrage but the next morning crazy Gavin man had no recollection. However, thanks to Crazy Gavin man, I learnt that at festivals, people refuse to politely ignore you, and if you break people’s chairs you will more than likely be punched in the face.
The last discovery I made during my time at the Leeds was that festivals have the worst drug dealers, ever. As soon as it hit about mid day elusive looking Adidas wearers would walk around the camps shouting ‘PILLS, WHO WANTS SOME CHEAP PILLS?’ I mean, seriously? I don’t know much about drug dealing but I would give that a low 2 for effort. To be honest, it gave me some faith in humanity that drug dealers were now having to advertise.
I’d originally set out for the music: You me at Six; Foo Fighters; Kasabian; Kaiser Chiefs; Florence and the Machine. But if I’m honest, in reality, the music was only 25% of the enjoyment. The other 75% came from the people I met and an atmosphere where everyone was looking for the same thing; an insane time.
Next stop ; Glastonbury.