The legend of Leeds (and Reading) Festival

Perfectly procrastinating, I was engaging my ears in the lullabies of some aptly named unknown band and doing some research for this years dissertation. In truth, I was desperately trying to distract myself from the fact that at that exact time I should have been covered in mud, embracing the stranger next to me who had an apparently naturally instilled smell of booze, and gazing in adoration at the four men on the main stage in front of thousands of smelly dirty maniacs.

I should have been there

Unfortunately, my bank account did not agree with this wish and therefore I spent the weekend of  the 26th to the 28th of  August sulking in a tiny bubble of  frustration and feeling sorry for myself. However, a handful of my friends were lucky enough to afford this weekend with an endless list of talented, triumphant musical Gods, ready to hypnotise the crowds with the ammo of riffs, vocals, fireworks, and balloons sweeping over the blanket of mud. This year, acts such as Muse, My Chemical Romance, Pulp, Noah and The Whale and many more, braced the threatening clouds hovering over Leeds, and impressed the warmth of a tropical destination on to the crowds with their historical sets.

Muse at Leeds Fest.

But Leeds Fest 2011 was sooooo last year. We need to prepare ourselves for Leeds Fest 2012, we only have a year you know,and it will be even better than this years. So to help all you guys out there that are new to Leeds, or Leeds Festival, or just fancy getting a bit of homework on Leeds Festival, here’s a few short insights into the history and birth of Leeds Festival;

The Reading and Leeds Festival are annual festivals taking place on the weekend of the August bank holiday of every year. The Reading festival being held at Little Johns Farm on Richfield Avenue in central Reading, and the Leeds Fesival being held at Bramham park. both day tickets and camping tickets are available. The Reading festival being the oldest, not only of the two festivals, but the oldest popular music festival in existence. The Festivals are ran by Festival Republic, a UK music promoter founded in 1982 by Vince Power. The Reading festival originated from the National Jazz Festival with acts such as Hawkwind and Thin Lizzy blessing the crowds with their music. The Reading festival draws other inspiration from many American festivals, and at first changed names and destinations before becoming grounded at Reading.

Reading Festival in 1975

During the 1970’s a pattern of Heavy metal, blues and progressive Rock became evident within the Line-up of acts invited to play at the festival and therefore enticing a large amount of crowds. Large flocks scuttled their way to the festival with the experimentation of the festival introducing new Punk bands, sparking clashes between the different fans, this caused the change of line-up in the 1980’s to which the Punk bands were known to play on the opening days of the Festival weekends.

Highlighting the Festivals oozing ‘coolness’, when the festival attempted to channel a more commercially pop level of acts it resulted in Meatloaf being bottled offstage. In the following decade,  many Britpop acts such as Suede and Nirvana played to the crowds, earning a more acceptable label with the fans.

In 1999, the Reading festival gained a second leg in Leeds, where V Festival had previously been held in 1997 and 1998 when it was clear that the Reading base was far too small for the demand of the fans. The acts of Reading played Leeds the day following their sets on Reading festival thus the birth of Leeds Festival was evident.

Now the history of Leeds Festival is a popular phrase that echoes through the mouths of Leeds youths, and illuminates the dull expectations of normal day life, with the promise of witnessing some of the most legendary bands of today and tomorrow. Dont be a fool and get yourself there in 2012, I will be! Tickets are on sale now for this years price!

Written by Charlotte Owen, Leeds Metropolitan University.

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