Leeds Festival 2002 - Day One (Cover Artwork)

Leeds Festival 2002

Day One (2002)

live show

In today's civilised world, camping in a field for three days merely to get drunk and dirty would be frowned upon. However add to that mixture a crateload of high quality punk/rock/indie bands (plus err...Guns N'Roses) and you have a music festival. With over 50,000 people milling around the relatively small site it was damn difficult to catch all of the bands I wanted to see. I think I just about managed it though...

On friday morning I got up nice and early to see The Dillinger Escape Plan wake up a few thousand people on the gigantic main stage. Tearing it up for a whole half hour, they played a good mix of older stuff and a couple of new songs from the 'Irony is a Dead Scene' EP. Frontman Greg Puciato jumped off speaker stacks and threw himself around the stage and eventually into the crowd where he lost his t-shirt. That only served to make him sound more angry! It was the best possible start to the day and most of the rapidly expanding crowd had smiles on their faces enjoying the spectacle if not the music, which was just about perfectly played. The guitarists looked as though they were desperately trying to stop their instruments attacking them. Next up Amen played an entertaining set. It wasn't great musically, probably due to them having recently acquired a new drummer and guitarist but the constant Guns N'Roses bashing ("Axl Rose is bald" etc) and Fat Mike coming out on stage to help with broken equipment (on the whole thanks to the second insane frontman of the day) kept it interesting. Next Hundred Reasons played 45 minutes of bouncy Fugazi inspired rock. The fact that they resemble a more accessible At the Drive-in (minus the weird tangents and cryptic lyrics) gives them a huge following and the younger fans around me knew the words to every song they played. It was fun but was got a bit old after half an hour.

Following some Terrible Kurt Cobain tribute act, I pushed my way to the front for my first NOFX live experience. Having not played anywhere near the North of England for at least three years the fans were suitably mental. We sang through 'The Brews' and other tunes while they were setting up on stage. The only time the singing stopped was when I was hit square on in the forehead with a full cup of water (thrown by the security) leaving a nice red circle. The singing then turned to laughter. Anyway the band came on to a huge cheer and after El Hefe had ripped through a guitar solo ("I'm like fuckin' Van Halen man!") they played a great mix of tunes from all the 90s albums (with the exception of Ribbed) and the soon to be classic 'Idiot Son of an Asshole' It would be an understatement to say the crowd went crazy. Thankfully the talking between songs was pretty minimal. Hefe was in many ways the star of the show, breakdancing and showing off his new trombone skills on the end of The Decline. After their time ran out Melvin played his accordion for a good five minutes while Mike took photos and gave out freebies down the front. The soundmen cut the accordion and it was all over.

After being part of the weekend's only spontaneous circle pit I was exhausted, and got a quick drink or three before The Offspring were due to play. They came on half an hour late having taken ages to set up two huge racks of percussion which were basically inaudible anyway. Boy, did those guys look old. Dexter Holland was pretty tubby and the stage presence was almost non-existent. An hour later they still hadn't got out of first gear - a really lazy performance. The fact that great songs like 'All I Want' were played slower than on record and they had two men who looked even older than them backing them up on guitar and vocals insulted the audience even more. The biggest bottle fight in festival history started, presumably to alleviate the boredom. At least that was fun.

Even including Reel Big Fish (who had pulled out at the last minute) the other smaller stages weren't much of a draw on this particular day. I had missed Pretty Girls Make Graves just waiting in the queue to get into the festival arena. Now after a quick dinner of the worst plate of chips I had ever tasted and some flat coke all that was left was "Guns N'Roses". Fair play to them, they were only about 90 minutes late coming on. About half of that was due to The Offspring and The Prodigy who were on the same stage beforehand though. I was dismayed to find that on the list of stage times they didn't have a finishing time. Would I have to sit through a 12-minute version of November Rain? Please god no! I took it as a challenge. After some ridiculous video footage we were transported back to 1989 for two whole hours. The crowd had aged about 20 years and I was bathing in a sea of cheese rock! Somehow I was enjoying it. I only knew 4 songs, but it still managed to be entertaining. About the most punk thing that happened was the set being split in two by the new guitarist Buckethead (6'8", KFC bucket, white mask, yellow jumpsuit, you know the drill) doing a nunchucka display followed by some robot dancing. Though it was a decent performance they still had the air of being a bit washed up. There was no exciting new material or anything.

Spectacular pyrotechnics ended 'Paradise City' and we left happy. Only two days to go then...