August 26, 2019
Bramham Park, LeedsThe 1975’s pop-funk and Foo Fighters’ blistering hard rock fire up the twin-site festival, while Billie Eilish steals the show
Reading and Leeds festival review – teen bacchanal gets politically conscious
‘Be wild, be weird, be wonderful, and take the feeling of love and community here and spread it far and wide,” Rou Reynolds of hardcore/electronica band Enter Shikari tells Leeds festival, having a Woodstock moment. The twin-site former rock festival turned annual post-GCSE blowout hasn’t turned into a hippy happening, but it does feel markedly more environmentally, socially and politically conscious this year. Recycling bins are everywhere. The scorching heat underlines the climate crisis message in the Extinction Rebellion films broadcast from the stage. Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes create a safe space for Women crowd surfers and “celebrate” Boris Johnson with I Hate You.
Otherwise, seven stages host every genre from metal to dance to grime, although Skepta-championed newcomer Bakar wins over the Festival Republic tent by packing indie, punk, doo-wop and more into songs that are indefinably soulful. Women make up half of the audience but are still chronically under-represented, especially on the main stage, although Charli XCX’s catchy, biting pop gets the whole field bouncing.
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