ARTICLES BY: Charlotte Hardman

Charlotte Hardman
twenty one pilots are the Kings of the weekend

twenty one pilots are the Kings of the weekend

Sunday 9:32 PM

When a festival’s line up is packed with so many incredible bands in a huge variety of genres, sizes, and origins, what makes an artist stand out as the true highlight of the weekend?

Some may say it’s a connection with the fans who wait patiently all day by their stage; others might offer that it’s their ability to engage every member of the audience, regardless of their musical preferences, and bring everyone along for the ride. And for yet others, it is simply something unexplainable, that a band either possesses or doesn’t. Whatever your stance, the behemoth that is twenty one pilots has it in abundance!


From anthemic singles to cherished fan favourites, Ohio-based duo Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun gave their entire being to each and every track. From the plaintively hopeful ‘Holding On to You’, to the dark, moody ‘Cut My Lip’, each song brought fresh delights- and fresh theatrics!

Several members of the security team, after showing off their dance skills on the big screen, joined the boys on stage for a crowd-wide line dance: while the band’s seminal hit ‘Car Radio’ urged Tyler up the scaffolding at the edge of the stage, from where he gazed down upon the legions below. It would have been godlike, were it not for the shocked, humbled and delightfully bewildered expression on his face!

The closing reprise of ‘Morph’ was met with drummer Josh clambering on to the crowd, finishing the final drum solo while suspended on a drum riser – a feat both boys repeated in the final chorus of the brilliantly heart-wrenching ‘Trees’, one of the most important songs in the twenty one pilots catalogue. It brought floods of tears and uplifted, beaming smiles to the faces of the crowd in equal measure!

Confetti and lights, sing-alongs and swaying – it is impossible to condense the majesty of a twenty one pilots show into just a few words. It was, quite frankly, nothing short of monumental.


Poppy draws fans into her darkly mystical underworld

Sunday 5:59 PM

Notorious for her eerily haunting YouTube videos and undercurrents of social commentary which underpin them, Poppy is a name many internet fans recognized.

Making the transition into music, Poppy has not lost any of that endearing tendency towards the obscure. She was acked by a band sporting Kiss-esque makeup, her own garment looking as though it was ripped straight from the anime ‘Black Butler’. Poppy’s unique combination of gritty, metalcore riffs, with some truly bruising bass lines, offset by her sugary-sweet vocals that float like dandelion clocks by comparison, made for an undeniably otherworldly experience.

There was no chink in the armour here – Poppy’s character and real-life persona seemed to merge into one, creating an utterly convincing portrayal of a perfectly crafted girl, trapped inside a dark maelstrom of a world- indeed, exactly what Poppy’s infamous YouTube videos attempted to espouse.

Only this time, with a lot more riffs involved! Which is never a bad thing!

Billie Eilish proves superstardom is intrinsic as she owns the Main Stage

Billie Eilish proves superstardom is intrinsic as she owns the Main Stage

Sunday 5:56 PM

She owned the Main Stage as fiercely as if she had been there countless times before.

Music lovers are inundated with choice when it comes to upcoming artists thanks to the virtues of streaming – yet a large contingent rally around one figure, their rise to fame can be meteoric.

Nobody knows this better than one Billie Eilish, a relatively unknown entity as little as a year ago. Sporting her signature baggy wardrobe in electric green, she had the entire crowd bouncing from the very opening notes of ‘Bad Guy’, the chorus of singing from the amassing audience almost on a par with Billie’s amplified vocals!

billie eilish at leeds festival 2019

With a devilish confidence that was profoundly infectious (change), the echoing pulses of synth ripples out through ‘My Strange Addiction’, through ‘You should see me in a Crown’, at which the crowd lost any remaining sense of decorum, attaining a state of feverish excitement that never filled from there on out, even through the touchingly sweet ‘Ocean Eyes’.Prowling about the stage like a stalking tigress, Billie conducted the crowd with a humble power far beyond what any of us could muster as a teenager, riding the nose-tingling bass and samples that pitch and fall like cresting waves.

All this at just 17 years of age. Superstardom really is intrinsic!

billie eilish set list at leeds festival 2019
AJ Tracey does British rap proud

AJ Tracey does British rap proud

Sunday 4:02 PM

He brought the sense of freedom and inhibition that every summer party craves.

The relationship between individual fans and the collective, as well as between said fans and their artists, is paramount in rap culture. Stories of shared experiences are what bind the most dedicated fans to their musical idles.

The call-and-response of AJ Tracey’s name before he even took to the stage, therefore, set the precedent for the rousing unity of audience and artist that was to follow. Skipping effortlessly through the lyrics to each track, Tracey demonstrated his ability to toy and play with words in gymnastic fashion, while the rumbling bass was punctuated by ticking synthesised drums.

The crowd responded in kind, bouncing like popping bubbles as Tracey paced about the stage, backed by spaced-out graphics of melding, rippling, merging colour. Bemusing pasta-related graphics aside, AJ Tracey put on a display of British rap that did himself, and the movement as a whole, very proud indeed.

the crowd for aj tracey at leeds festival 2019
Meet the undisputed winners of this year’s festival: Boston Manor

Meet the undisputed winners of this year’s festival: Boston Manor

Sunday 2:51 PM

We may only be a few sets into the day, but when hard rockers Boston Manor made their entrance on to the Radio 1 Stage, it could easily have been the last set of the night with the uninhibited abandon of the mosh pits!

Ten years after their first experience of this festival as punters, the quintet shook the stage they once gazed up at to its very core! Repping their Blackpool heritage with fierce pride, the journey that this young band have been on since those first hometown shows in clubs and cafes is epitomised in this stage-shattering performance, with riddling guitar lines that bore an infectious virility, the edges licked with white-hot screams.

Whether the sheen in the air was haze or sweat, nobody could tell – nor did they seem to care, as each lively chorus swept them along for the ride of their lives. The piercing electricity of ‘Funeral Party’ descended into utter chaos, as ‘Bad Machine’ brought hundreds of crowd surfers flying towards the barrier; the fiercest wall of death of any band across the weekend came screeching out of a sense of utter wild revolt; and, to top it all off, a circle pit that spanned the entire width of the tent accompanied the anarchistic ‘Lead Feet’.

Quite frankly, everyone else can head home – Boston Manor have undoubtedly won this year’s festival by a country mile!

Counterfeit are the real deal

Counterfeit are the real deal

Sunday 1:44 PM

As the arena came back to life for the festival’s last hurrah, a darkly enticing aura crept out from the Main Stage: Counterfeit had arrived!

Having shed their usual black (owing to the searingly hot weather), Counterfeit still maintained an oozing, self-assured swagger that poured from every pore – amongst copious amounts of sweat!

Scything guitars cut through frontman Jamie Campbell-Bower’s strained vocals, as the band mixed the blistering grit of the classic punk of the likes of Black Flag, with other musical flirtations sprinkled throughout. The melodic love song ‘Lack of Oxygen’ brought a gently tolling lead guitar, while lawless rager ‘Paralyzed’ was filled with brittle, chugging guitars borne straight from the gloomy metal ore underworld.

Approaching the barrier to stir up some further anarchy, Bower commanded the show as the band ploughed through a raucous display of their new swathes of material. One thing’s for sure, that sophomore album is guaranteed to be one huge sucker-punch of a record!

Talk about an irresistible wake-up call!

The 1975 shake the Main Stage to its foundations!

The 1975 shake the Main Stage to its foundations!

Saturday 12:34 AM

Black screen. White lyrics. Flashes of yellow light. Then, bedlam!

The 1975 certainly don’t do things by halves, and the only thing as huge as their production value was the momentous drive behind the thundering guitars pumping out from the stage, as their signature blend of indie, rock, and pop, all viewed through a very distorted mirror, blasted across the Yorkshire countryside! Frontman Matty Healy sauntered around the stage, utterly in his element, as he commanded the legions of transfixed fans below him like a general.


From the uplifting pop-rock rager ‘Give Yourself a Try’, to sugary party track ‘She’s American’, even the band’s softer tracks delighted the rapturous audience!

Inflatables danced over the crowd, as Healy’s command to ‘f*cking lose it’ was met with greater fervour than even he could have anticipated! This was a crowd that didn’t need telling twice! Their response to the sophomore outing of tracks from their recently released bundle of records (namely hard rock opener ‘People’ and its partner in ‘Drift’) was nothing short of monumental.

Every call for hands to be raised was obeyed instantly, every collective scream seemed to increase in volume from the last, and requests to dance need not even be made – the atmosphere was so infectious, dancing wasn’t an option. There are few bands who could unite such a large swathe of people with such unanimous joy, but The 1975 are definitely the right lads for the job.


Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers swallow their oppressors whole!

Saturday 7:53 PM

They boasted a sound much bigger than the stage could possibly contain.

The sound of the strapline-character-limit-challenging Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers blended elements of Americana-influenced rock with the characteristic punk rock grit which Laura Jane Grace has become so noted for as the vocalist of Against Me!.

Lyrically, the songs were dark and introspective, yet outwardly, the thundering guitar lines and potent screams were wildly infectious! From the dulcet melancholy of ‘The Hotel Song’, which built into a stonkingly huge wall of sound, to ‘Born in Black’, where anger and pain seemed to seep through the air, almost like a cathartic exorcism that the crowd certainly felt too.

Perhaps most mesmerising of all was the wizard-like drumming talents of Atom Willard – energy radiated from him like noxious fumes throughout every minute of the set!

The vocals seemed to barely trouble the limits of Laura Jane Grace’s range, and her persona embodied the levels of effortless cool we all aspire to. Through her lyrics, she gave her audience a window into her deeply personal psyche, forging a connection with those watching her like no other.

As fiery and defiant a challenge to internal and external oppression as there could be. This is what true rock stars look like!

Puppy take to the Pit Stage with teeth bared 

Saturday 7:40 PM

It may still be sweltering outside, but those who ventured under the cover of the Pit Stage found encroaching darkness – not only in the form of some welcome shade but also in the melodies of London metallers Puppy.

The dark, heavy, almost treacle-like melodies of ‘Entombed’ and the gut-punching ‘Demons’ with its powerful grumbling bassline went down a storm with the reliably head-banging crowd. The other tracks from their recently released debut LP, ‘The Goat’, were received with equal fervour – in particular, opening track ‘Black Hole’. Each was packed with frontman Jock’s idiosyncratic vocals and enough bite to make them wickedly edgy without straying into the realm of the abrasive.

Not that Puppy were at all impenetrable to the lost raver who happened upon them – the sense of danceable vitality injected into the grungily groovy bass lines meant a fist-pumping dance was in no way off the cards!

While the (thankfully artificial!) flames that backed them were hardly necessary on this scorcher of a day, they certainly mirrored the white-hot energies of Puppy to a ‘T’.

Hayley Kiyoko storms the Radio 1 Stage with pride

Hayley Kiyoko storms the Radio 1 Stage with pride

Saturday 5:48 PM

Backed by a series of stunning visuals, the even more stunning figure of Hayley Kiyoko dominated her set.

Hayley Kiyoko cast an impressive figure in a wonderfully gaudy sequinned rainbow hoodie, which cemented her status as ‘Lesbian Jesus’, as she has been so dubbed by her fan base. Nobody but an ethereal being could even attempt to survive the heat in the room in such attire!

Orchestrated choreography blended with her own brand of brilliantly uninhibited dance moves, as she let loose a host of satiable pop tunes, each of which shone most brightly with the upswing into each chorus, with which Hayley’s vocals were matched in volume by those of the enraptured crowd.

Bittersweet new single ‘I Wish’ melded ribcage-rattling bass with a steadying, climbing chorus and a sprinkling of vocals effect across the groove-driven melody line, while emphatic closer ‘Girls Like Girls’ tugged on everyone’s heartstrings. From her session taking over the drum pads, to the forest of hands filling the sky, Hayley’s set was a display of the power of an individual to inspire a crowd, and vice versa.

A celebration of inclusivity, acceptance, and love!

No Rome are building an empire

No Rome are building an empire

Saturday 3:58 PM

The perfect way to ease yourself into the long day ahead.

Funk-inspired, bubbling synths and spaced-out vocals peered through a haze of soft, fuzzy distortion as No Rome made an early mark on the Festival Republic Stage with their richly crafted poppy dreamscape.

The pulsing of the drum pads could be felt in your chest, while the tracks were adorned by the tinkling ivories that glittered over the low-slung lines of the melody. The swaying rhythms and genuine warmth emanating from the discordant piano notes on‘Saint Laurent’ were met with ethereal harmonising, giving it all the hallmarks of a top-class dreamy pop ballad.

‘Cash Money’ received a rapturous reception from the crowd, whose hands bounced with each ebb and flow of the melody: yet far and away the crowd favourite was closer ‘Narcissist’, which initiated the most unified uprise in dancing to ripple out across the tent!

Soft and gently wavering: No Rome are the perfect way to ease yourself into the long day ahead.

I Don’t Know How But They Found Me find their Main Stage groove

Saturday 2:11 PM

They self-identified as ‘the cheapest band on the festival’ (owing to their status as a duo!).

Introduced to their Main Stage debut by an eerie robotic voiceover and a myriad of phased-out synths, Utah’s I Don’t Know How But They Found Me – despite being just a two-piece – sent a wake-up call floating out across the campsites in the form of their unique, groove-inflected brand of indie rock.

Frontman Dallon Weekes (formerly a touring member of alt-pop giants Panic! At The Disco) may have been ill, but chuck on a helping hand of some reverb and he powered through masterfully. Sitting somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys and My Chemical Romance, with some spacey synths, big band undertones, and off-kilter drum beats thrown in for good measure, IDKHow are pushing the envelope of indie rock to its wonderfully experimental limits.

Sultry groove permeated tracks such as ‘Do It All The Time’, with the influence of trembling saxophone notes buried beneath the guitars and drums. Stuffy and pretentious they were not, as their self-deprecating humour made them instantly amenable. Among the ‘Opening Bands’ they may be, but easily forgotten? Absolutely no chance.

A Day to Remember give the Main Stage a… well, what they say on the tin!

A Day to Remember give the Main Stage a… well, what they say on the tin!

Friday 11:26 PM

Are you looking for fierce mosh pits, swinging fists and the definite possibility of adding several new bruises to your collection? Then A Day To Remember are the band for you!

Despite taking a poppier turn in recent years, their newest singles still carry that same blend of post-hardcore angst and pop punk virility that has become the band’s hallmark over the past decade and beyond. However, it is their classic material where the true magic lay for the flock of fans hustled around the ever-filling Main Stage.

Digging back in amongst their old discography, the band honoured the ten-year anniversary of their seminal album ‘Homesick’ in style! From the positively anarchic (and delightfully titled) ‘I’m Made Of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of?’, all the way to the other end of the spectrum with ‘If It Means A Lot To You’, a palpable tear-jerker that ;eft not a dry eye in the house, it was a true showcase of the band’s depth, humanity and versatility.

Continuing to please their most dedicated fans, the band resurrected deep-cut track, and looking back ever further, brought out all of our inner hardcore teenagers with the now iconic ‘Plot to Bomb the Panhandle’. Nobody escaped the mosh pit without a couple of injuries for their trouble, but manage to get thrown above the crowd and the rippling sea of bouncing heads and swaying hands was a joy to behold. Spectacular.

Basement are far from the bottom rung of the ladder!

Basement are far from the bottom rung of the ladder!

Friday 10:19 PM

Headlining a stage right before one of rock’s biggest names takes to theirs less than 300 metres away is no mean feat – but if anyone is capable of the task, angst-driven pop-rockers Basement are the ones to call upon.

Frontman Andrew Fisher’s idiosyncratic vocals possess an instantly endearing lilt, which offsets the pitching and falling guitar lines to carry you with them through every rousing chorus. Their every-man persona makes them instantly identifiable, but onstage their rousing party vibes are a signpost of their genuine talent: to top it all off, the mosh pit was up there with the most unbridled of the day!

Their appeal to a core contingent of fans was evident, and yet at the same time, they possess a genuine warmth that it is impossible to fabricate. Who knows- Basement could be your new favourite band!

Bark as venomous as their bite: This is Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

Bark as venomous as their bite: This is Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

Friday 8:08 PM

The biggest figures in rock music have never minced their words – the respect and admiration they gain from audiences are due in part, if not largely, to their unapologetic approach to their craft and to their everyday lives.

Of nobody is this more true than Frank Carter, who dominated the Main Stage backed by his ever-faithful, ever-loved Rattlesnakes. Every note carried a palpable energy as the band blasted through a jam-packed setlist of songs at positively breakneck speed (epitomised by the bone-crushing ‘Crowbar’!)!

frank carter and the rattlesnakes set list leeds festival 2019

Frank Carter’s driving message has always been that of inclusion. His song ‘Wild Flowers’ gave the women in the audience their moment to seize in brilliant style. All-female mosh pits erupted on both sides of the stage, as waves upon waves of women from all walks of life cascaded over the barriers. It would have been rather like a trellis of those self-same wild flowers, if not for the fact that every single one was screaming the lyrics at the top of her lungs! Shrinking violets we are certainly not.

That sense of defiance was also directed at other targets besides misogyny – most powerfully, towards the current state of the government. Backed by statistics that really speak for themselves, the band pummelled through the emphatic ‘I Hate You’, with chants of ‘F*** Boris!’ echoing long into the encroaching darkness.

Powerful, political, and very, very sweaty – exactly as any good Frank Carter set should be!

Machine Gun Kelly delivers his ‘Killshot’ in an explosive set

Machine Gun Kelly delivers his ‘Killshot’ in an explosive set

Friday 6:42 PM

It was an experience as permanent as one of his impressive tattoos.

Rap and rock have historically been ideal bedfellows – the scything, cut-throat nature of rap blends perfectly with rock’s piercing sense of melody. And there are few who do it better than Machine Gun Kelly.

After being inducted by an eerie opening voiceover into ‘Hotel Diablo’, the stage exploded in a riot of blinding colour, whipping up a veritable frenzy whose ferocity never wavered, despite the highly appropriate yet suffocating heat.

Eminem’s noteworthy adversary, the light and shade throughout the set was perhaps most surprising, and most striking, above all else. Electrifying raps bristled past your ears at the speed of light (including the now-infamous diss track that took aim at the aforementioned Slim Shady and is ambitiously titled ‘Killshot’). Thundering rock tunes seemed to swell outwards from the stage, the fearsome ‘Diablo’ exposed a small chink in his armour, and it worked entirely in his favour.

machine gun kelly leeds festival 2019

Not that he wasn’t an entrancing presence – from the snake that twined its way around the microphone stand, to the penetrating stares he bestowed upon the audience when making his way down to join them, the commanding aura emanating from the frontman could be felt throughout the tent. Machine Gun Kelly certainly branded his mark on many a heart through their explosive set. Welcome to the club.

The Story So Far prove that their tale is far from finished

The Story So Far prove that their tale is far from finished

Friday 6:37 PM

A stunning advert for the multi-faceted underworld of modern-day pop-punk, if ever there was one.

Pop-punk has exploded as a subculture in recent years, however, in the public eye it still remains something of an unexplored avenue. The Story So Far put paid to that invisible divide, with their stonker of a set that encouraged avid fans and newcomers alike to get a piece of the action!

Mixing chuggy guitars and scything basslines with uplifting gang vocals that spoke to the downtrodden teenager inside all of us, the band rioted through a set that felt all too short and was over far too soon. With an airiness that complimented the blistering summer heat, married with an earthy, guttural undertone borne from frustration, anger, and pain, it was a match made in heaven.

A sea of pumping fists and pounding blood accompanied ‘Quicksand‘, while rippling waves of crowd surfers launched themselves over the barrier, all decorum long forgotten. That may have been The Story So Far, but it is undeniably a story that is far from over!

Hot Milk live up to their name with a delectably fiery set

Hot Milk live up to their name with a delectably fiery set

Friday 6:33 PM

They walked the line between pop and rock as delicately as if suspended on a tightrope.

Choosing to wear boiler suits on one of the hottest days of the summer so far is a questionable move at best, but one that captures the DIY ethos of Manchester’s Hot Milk perfectly. The quartet preached a powerful message of self-empowerment and raising a middle finger to the nay-sayers, all wrapped up in satiable gritty pop melodies.

The true high points of the set came in the form of the rousing anthem ‘Alive’, with its fist-pumping ode to those universal moments of vitality and unabashed joy, and the crowning glory closer ‘Awful Ever After’, with its sing-along chorus that had the whole tent bouncing their fists in unison!

Rises to prominence don’t get much more meteoric than that of Hot Milk – and, if the glimpse of new tracks that we were privileged to witness are anything to go by, there’s no stopping them. Power, pop, and punk all blended into one delectable milkshake of a set. From one Mancunian to another, that was bloody ace!

Kim Petras makes a Kim-pact

Kim Petras makes a Kim-pact

Friday 4:11 PM

She exuded glamour and self-assuredness like a perfume from the stage.

Kim Petras made a big impact (or Kim-pact…) on the glitter-festooned hoard who piled into the Radio 1 Dance Stage.

Drawn in by her characteristic allure and synth-laden brand of rave-pop, those that gathered found it impossible to tear their eyes away from the petite yet powerful figure that dominated every inch of the stage.

kim petras leeds festival 2019

Reclaiming sexuality and sensuality in a profound way, tracks such as the unabashedly titled ‘Do Me’ (dedicated brilliantly to ‘all my fellow hoes out there!’) brought a sense of liberation and defiance in equal measure, while Kim’s soaring vocals shone through – even over the pulsating synths and gimmicky yet self-aware sound effects that permeated the set.

The pulsating drums meant to inspire raucous applause from the crowd were hardly necessary, as Kim’s punchy, unapologetic, candid performance was enough to win the tent over, all on its own.

SWMRS cruise through their debut Main Stage slot

SWMRS cruise through their debut Main Stage slot

Friday 2:16 PM

The punk band from California helped get Friday morning at Leeds started off right.

In the world of punk rock, having the weight of the Armstrong name on your shoulders could anchor many a young band into a narrowly defined set of footsteps to follow. However, indie punks SWMRS proved that while they possess that self-same unmistakable stage presence, they also aren’t afraid to shatter any preconceptions anyone may have had based on their heritage.

Frontman Cole was impossible to miss, with his glimmering blue hair and stylised convulsions that somehow made him appear even more enigmatic! SWMRS clattered through an anarchic collection of tracks, epitomised by the infectious rabble-rouser ‘Berkeley Is On Fire’, which sent the crowd into waves of feverish excitement, citing SWMRS as purveyors of pure punk rock spitfire!

swmrs leeds festival 2019 crowd

Far and away the highlight (narrowly beating the impassioned promise which preceded it to ‘kick those motherf*****s out’ in the case of sexual harassment in the crowd) was tongue-in-cheek number ‘Miley’, which built acoustic lines courtesy of a beautifully graffitied old guitar battered by Cole alongside grin-inducing lyrics praising the unapologetic tendencies of one Miley Cyrus.

What a way to blow away the cobwebs of 2018 and kick off this year’s festival in style!