Live At Leeds In The Park 2022
Written by Saffron Rose
Sunnies are needed as the sunshine begins to pierce through the clouds as the Live At Leeds team debuts their brand new festival, Live At Leeds In The Park.
Advertised as a multi-genre festival with a diverse and abundant body of artists set to perform. Some of those on the bill include Easy Life, The Vaccines, Sports Team, Sea Girls, Holly Humberstone, Arlo Parks and Finn Askew.
With stages being sponsored by the incredible MTV, DIY, DORK mags – Live At Leeds In The Park has enormous backing from all suitors of the music industry. It’s clear to see what the hype is really all about as the shuttle takes you across to the festival gates. Polished food stands, and enormous big top stages furnish the park as crowds of people rush in to see the first acts of the day. Unlike other festivals I have attended, the dress code seems to be extremely relaxed, only affirming fans are here solely for music and a good time.
The first act I scrambled to see was London Based new-age punk band “Dream Wife”. Formed while studying in art school- it becomes obvious why the DIY Big top is as jam-packed as it is so early on in the day. Their songs often tackle hard-hitting topics of gender and sexuality with witty and memorable lyricism and this is very much exhibited in their fan base today. The angsty quartet welcome the crowd as “Bad Bitches” causing fans to scream and holler in response, ready for the music to begin.
There is no doubt frontier and vocalist Rakel is a performer- with high pitched rock howls and an unbelievable presence as she bounds up and down the stage, fans gathered at the big top are undoubtedly mesmerised.
“Somebody” a clear fan favourite begins. The song struggles with being a female in the industry and life in general and how too frequently sexual assault is ignored. Lyrics “I am not my body- I am somebody!” Echo the tent as emotions run high through the audience. The set proved to be nothing less than unforgettable.
Brit award winner “Holly Humberstone” was next on the roster, as we moved on to the MTV Main stage- the largest of stages sent in the middle of the open field. Her voice, harmonic and captivating is instantly recognisable as she begins with her single “Vanilla”. She is seen solo on stage surrounded by her array of synth pads, electric pianos and guitar. However, she is accompanied by an astounding female drummer. Holly uses loops of her melodies and tones, to create an astounding mismatch backing for the tracks next up on her setlist.
“Sleep tight” is next in line, a track written with The 1975’s Matthew Healy: t’s no misconception that this is highlighted as the song progresses. Techno Piano chords and samples galore- it is impossible not to be swept up into the atmosphere as the crowd sways to its melancholy tune.
She finishes the set with hits “Drop Dead” and “Falling Asleep At The Wheel”- a duo of best friends beside me cling to each other belting out the tune’s catchy lyrics- confirming this young artist really is the queen of break-up songs.
My friend tells me about an extremely talented up and coming artist on the ‘Dork’ stage that I just ‘must-see” and I have to say- he did not disappoint. Finn Askew begins on the left side of the ‘Dork Tent’ in a little bit of a rush, he then explains this is due to his Uber being late. An entirely relatable turn of events, making for an incredibly vulnerable start to his performance. For a moment, I am distracted by his shockingly impeccable vocals.
Accompanied by his guitar and chilled 808 runs- he begins with the tune “same old love”. Girls cling to the barrier and sing back to him- bottles waving as he gets into the groove of the chorus. He tells us his next song “egotism” is about an ex that mistreated him- much to the girls in the front surprise I believe. His vocal runs are out of this world and remind me of a young Frank Ocean.
I make my way back to the main stage to see indie heartthrobs “Sea Girls”. Coming back from their EU tour and a surprise announcement of their UK Headliner in November- it seems fans are out in full force as the biggest crowd I have seen all day reckons to build. The guys begin with their new tune “Sick”- a track filled with spangly guitar riffs and a repetitive baseline about all the things lead singer Henry is tired off.
As if out of nowhere, girls from all around emerge to sit on the shoulders of their partners while singing back to these young boyband bachelors. As their performance continues, they introduce the acoustic and seemingly low key song “Cute Girls”- they automatically switch to acoustic guitars for this. The onlookers begin to wave their phones and drinks in the air as the sentiment of the song builds.
However, this is not all as it seems as the middle eight proves to be completely different. A mosh kicks off as drums set out, and Henry makes his way into the crowd. As you can imagine the response was ecstatic. Finally, the band finish people pleaser “All I Want To Hear You Say”- the perfect finale for this high energy display.
Evening hits as ‘Arlo Parks’ is set to hit the stage at seven in the “DIY Big Top”. The atmosphere can only be described as euphoric. Flowers are intertwined with stage equipment and dim mellow lighting consumes the tent. The big top is full to the brim, with avid fans awaiting the arrival of this transcendent artist.
Arlo begins with the hit “Caroline”- with seamless vocals and cinematic guitar riffs, I’m astonished at how this artist can sound even better live than when being recorded. For such sombre and poetic songs, the audience seems to be enjoying every moment. “Eugene”- a song about betrayal and teenage heartbreak spills out. Again, it is a heartbreak anthem we can all relate to, gay or not. The last of her slick vocals and illuminating smile prompt the end of her performance as she waves her listeners goodbye.
NME award winners “Easy Life” are next on after fellow collaborator Arlo. Featuring on Track ‘Sangria’ together it’s obvious there is an immense amount of support between both musical acts. After recently releasing the new single “Beeswax” It’s clear a new era of Easy Life is upon us. With matching denim outfits and lead singer Murray sporting a longer hair do- fans are left to wonder if the band are reinventing themselves? The group opens with the slow-moving hip hop indie track “Pockets”. Their debut single from 2017 leaves the devoted fans below wanting more as the band bop around the stage.
You cannot help but move while the Leicester-based band continue to play- chichi and familiar is the only way this ordeal can be described. Next off, the group of five bounces between popular songs like “Daydreams” and “Skeletons”. Blissful and captivating numbers- that grant the crowd to sing continuously throughout their performance.
The day draws to an end as headliners “Bombay Bicycle Club” ready themselves to take the main stage. Spirits are high, despite spectators being at the festival since the early afternoon. Lighters and flash phones prepared, Londoners Jack, Jamie, Suren and Ed race out to the centre stage. Although predominantly a guitar-fronted band- a swooning brass player is spotted among the musicians. Frontman Jack steadies fans as “Eat, Sleep, Wake” plays out.
It’s what is thought to be a redemption track- propelling the band further back into life and the crowd is eating it up. The gloom of the night is elevated as amber lights saturate the field below. The band fuse their set with songs from all eras of their career.
Tunes like “Feel” and “Home by Now” create a nostalgic party atmosphere in the audience, much to everyone’s liking. With a renewed and compelling energy, the headliners finish with “Carry Me” and “Always Like This” a fitting end to their performance as the congregation below prepares to go home.
Live at Leeds in the Park had finished on a high- a shiny new festival set to stick around for many years to come I’m sure.
Cross The Tracks Festival is a day festival about music community, culture, family, flavour, and history.