Having already partied hard for 36 hours, you could forgive the crowd at Leeds Festival for being a little low energy going into Saturday. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.
Review By Graeme Smith
Photos by John Hayhurst (snapagig)
Saturday kicked off for us at the Main Stage where rock six-piece Demob Happy were opening the stage. Made up of guitar, bass, drums and a trio of backing singers their sound reminded me a little of Death From Above 1979, but fronted by Beck. The set was a landmark moment for lead singer Matthew, who’s first festival was Leeds at the tender age of sixteen.
Over on the BBC Introducing Stage, we caught a couple of young promising acts. Firstly, Belfast-based rock trio Dea Montrona who brought classic garage rock kicking and screaming into 2021. Then it was FFSYTHO!? who brought to the stage her free-flowing hip hop. It was then down to the BBC 1xtra Stage to catch a set by Blanco, a London rapper who we’ve covered a couple of times on the blog. He lit up the tent and got the youthful crowd bouncing.
And the afternoon climaxed with Sam Fender back on the Main Stage. After his earlier surprise appearance alongside Declan McKenna, he delivered his own set of energetic modern folk. There was a wonderful full circle moment too. Sam’s first festival too was at Leeds.
As the sun set, Yonaka were getting the Lock Up Stage bouncing with their underground brand of attitude-laced electro punk. They’ve been on a meteoric rise since they first hit my radar back in 2019 and it’s easy to see why, expertly blending rock with dark pop and hip-hop elements. Their lyrics have a reassuringly positive message too – “grab life by the balls.”
Back on the BBC Introducing Stage, seven-piece Low Hummer filled the stage with their fast-talking, apathetic indie rock. Their music was infused with the essence of punk in the vein of Ian Drury and oozed with magnetic charm.
Then it was time for the day’s highlight for me – Ashnikko at the Lock Up Stage. She put of a hell of a performance, lively and bonkers and the crowd lapped it up. Particularly when she dropped her hits Slumber Party, Cry and Daisy.
Saturday’s headliner on the Main Stage was Stormzy. Much a column inch has been dedicated to the man since his headline appearance at Glastonbury in 2019 and this was a great platform for him to respond. And how did he do that? He shrugged it all off and had a party on stage. It was the perfect way to end the night and those in the crowd were likely counting themselves lucky. With no further plans for shows over the next twelve months, it’s likely to be his only show for two and a half years.
Stay tuned for our review of the festival’s last day coming soon – meanwhile here are some more photos from the day!