FestivalsLive Reviews

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Leeds Festival 2022

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott

Leeds Festival is undoubtedly the big weekend of the festival season for a hell of a lot of young people. This year promised to be one of the biggest years in recent memory with bands of the calibre of Arctic Monkeys, Bring Me The Horizon, Megan Thee Stallion and The 1975 taking to the two main stages to thrill the music fans from up North, as well as a whole host of bands gracing the smaller stages.


Despite there being no live acts on the Thursday, LS23 (also known as Relentless), Piccadilly, Anachronica, and a whole host of small drum and bass tents based in campsites vastly entertained the people of Leeds as they became familiar once again with their surroundings, in a variety of different ways. The TPD TV set blew away the fans with a great variety of tunes including a controversial mix of Killing in the Name transitioning into The 1975’s hit It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You), which got some interesting reactions. Whilst the dance stages did a great job in keeping people going late into the night.

As the Friday morning sun hit, and an array of sore heads arose, a huge wave of people made the walk into the main arena to see Nottingham drum and bass artist Bru-C for a strange 2pm slot, considering drum and bass tends to thrive late at night, rather than the lunchtime sun. Opening with dance anthem You and I, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand pretty early on and that continued throughout the set, playing singalongs such as Mesmerised and No Excuses, getting the crowd singing and dancing. It was a strong start to the weekend despite Bru-Cs visible disappointment at being on so early in the day. 8/10

A hidden gem on the Leeds line-up this year is arguably Florida rapper Denzel Curry gracing the Main Stage East. His cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls on Parade almost has cult status at this point, and on a day where Rage were meant to play, it would’ve made perfect sense but sadly not on this occasion. However, the songs from his own catalogue were by no means not fit for a Leeds crowd. Tracks such as the infamous Ultimate and Clout Cobain went down very well with the Leeds audience, partnered with an energetic stage presence and strong light show (considering how light the day was), it was a great set. 8/10

One of the most talked about sets of the weekend followed – Bradford’s very own Bad Boy Chiller Crew. The viral stars turned rappers seem tailormade for Leeds, especially with Bradford being around the corner. For the 30 minutes they played, it was an entertaining and fun show, with the band clearly enjoying their environment a bit too much by binge drinking anything from cheap cider to straight bottles of vodka. In spite of this they still performed their tracks well and had people bouncing. However, disaster struck as the festival organisers pulled the plug on their set on the dot when the band were due to finish. Yes, this was a bit harsh, the organisers could have perhaps let them finish the remaining few minutes of their song, but they do have a tight schedule to obey throughout the day. What evidently was not okay was the band’s reaction. It was apparent a scuffle was beginning backstage as people from across the stage rushed to sort out whatever was happening. The next day it was announced two members of ‘BBCC’ were arrested that day and were replaced with Digga D at Reading Festival. The set undoubtedly left a sour taste in your mouth, and was a fitting reminder to only drink, if you can handle your drink. 4/10

Indie-rock outfit Pale Waves were certainly a change in mood to the previous set, and with the band just being announced as headliners for Live at Leeds Festival, this was certainly a big set for them to try and persuade people to part ways with their money to attend the festival. And did they do that in this set? Probably not. Despite sounding and looking great, the band failed to really create a relationship with the audience, as you could see a lot of people chatting amongst themselves or sat down during some of the band’s biggest tunes. The band are talented and hardcore fans will have enjoyed the set, although will they have caught the attention of someone who doesn’t know Pale Waves? Very unlikely. 5/10

As the sun started to set, we began to move onto the bigger names on the line-up, beginning with icon Charli XCX. From the moment the set began, it felt like a headline set, with chants of Charli from seemingly every age/gender/race at the gig. Her live production was some of the best of the weekend, and the effort she puts into her set is second to none, it was extremely impressive. To have that many dance routines to remember and perform exceptionally whilst singing to what must’ve been at least 40,000 people is sensational. Whilst playing tracks from her latest record – Crash, and hits spanning her career (1999, Good Ones, Boom Clap etc), it had a bit of everything (aside from tracks from her best record How I’m Feeling Now, but that’s a rant for another day). As her set drew to a close and she dedicated Boys to “all the gay boys”, it was the perfect Friday night set. 9.5/10

Short-notice headliners The 1975 came up next on Main Stage East. Frontman Matt Healy described their set as “all bangers”, and he wasn’t far off. Controversy always tends to follow Healy, and that’s hardly a surprise, especially when he comes up with statements such as “who even are Rage Against The Machine?” to a chorus of boos. It’s quite clear he is past the point of caring what other people think, which is always going to make his marmite to the general public, and a knobhead to Rage fans. On the other hand, musically, the band were great, and the crowd did seem to warm to the band when Healy was singing rather than speaking. Due to the short-notice nature, the live production was pretty normal, but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable set. You could tell the festival is very close to the band’s heart as Healy stated he’d been to 17 of the last 20 editions of Leeds, and that came across in their performance, which is a topic we’ll touch on again later in the review and the impact on a band’s set. New Tracks I’m in Love with You and Happiness had people dancing, whilst the stalemates Somebody Else and Girls had everyone singing. We think Festival Republic will have been extremely happy with that set, especially if you asked them minutes after Rage had cancelled their European dates on what the best-case scenario was. 8.5/10


After a fair bit of drum and bass on Friday night, Saturday begun with a slightly heavy twist. UK festival stablemates Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes took to the main stage at midday in a special guest slot. Although it won’t be the biggest crowd the band will play to all summer, they did a good job of getting hungover heads banging and lazy legs bouncing in the scorching Saturday (we’ll stop now) heat. It was a good way to shake off your hangover, and thankfully there were no wardrobe malfunctions, as there were at Reading. 8/10

On the Dance Stage, electronic rock/dance act Everyone You Know graced the stage to an excitable crowd, playing tracks that span influences from drum and bass to lo-fi alternative pop. The band also chose to cover Sam Fender’s Play God to mixed success. It’s also worth noting they did a good job of getting the crowd going (not that they needed much help). However, it was hard to have very many memorable moments from the set, not that it was bad, it just wasn’t hugely memorable. 6.5/10

In a complete change up of style, the Festival Republic stage played host to upcoming female punk band Witch Fever. The four members that make up the band are all recent graduates and carried that youthful energy and passion into their set as they smashed their way through a half hour set. Their stage presence was strong and attracted a lot more fans as their set went on, which is exactly what you want in a smaller band’s set at a big festival. 7.5/10

Popular modern day indie rock outfit Circa Waves took to the main stage to a big crowd, which were left a bit disappointed when no-one was told about the band starting 15 minutes later than expected. It was perhaps even more disappointing when the band came out and lead singer Kieran Shudall’s guitar was turned down so low, it really affected the track’s sound live. This may not have been clear on stage to the band and sound crew, but it certainly was to the crowd. It was likely one of the reasons the band struggled to get the crowd going. As the set flew by, before we knew it, it was festival favourite and closer T-Shirt Weather, which finally got the crowd going, it was slightly underwhelming. 5.5/10

The first headliner of that Saturday was modern-day icon Megan thee Stallion. She’s the sort of headliner that would have been frowned upon if she played 15 years ago due to the sheer amount of twerking and ass shaking on stage. Musically she was inoffensive and easy enough to dance to, what the fun part of her show was the way she connected with the crowd. On two separate occasions she brought fans up on to the stage to dance/twerk/whatever, which really added a lot to the show, especially when a few of them had probably been training for this moment their whole lives, based off their moves. “Real hot girl shit” was the best way to describe this fun show. Her music may have sounded a bit samey with the huge bass and similar flows, but was it a good fun headline set? Yes. 8.5/10

One of the most talented, thought provoking and popular UK rappers of this generation was making his long-awaited Leeds Festival headline debut next. Dave’s brand of deep, clever lyricism and chill beats has taken him the streets of Streatham to the bright lights of 70,000 at Reading and Leeds. Following Stormzy’s fantastic headline set at Leeds last year, the expectations were very high. Sadly, they were not quite met. Dave’s brand of grime is simply not really made for the big stage without some sort of big production, which was not used in this set, rather disappointingly. He brought up a fan onto stage for Thiago Silva which was now a staple of his setlist, and one of the highlights. Unfortunately, it was one of those sets where if you weren’t a fan of Dave, you probably would not have gone away being a fan, but if you were a fan before, you would have enjoyed the set. It just didn’t feel like a headline set. Perhaps it did at Reading when he brought out AJ Tracey, and Stormzy, but sadly Leeds did not get the same luxury. 6/10


Onto the final day, and perhaps one of the best line-ups in the festival’s history, despite the days off camping and worn-out bodies, Leeds still had plenty more to give. Beginning with festival stalemates Enter Shikari. They are one of the UK’s great live bands and perhaps giving them only 30mins on stage was Leeds’ loss. Their production was fantastic, it felt like a headline set at times. Lead singer Rou Reynolds was pretty much everywhere, whether that be the crowd, top of the stage, or testing how far his Bluetooth microphone could push back, his stamina is impressive. Wargasm joined the band on stage for their latest track Until the Void Stares Back, and just like that, with a huge pile of dust, their ‘greatest hits’ set flew by. Can’t fault it. 9/10

One of the UK’s best bands came next on the Main Stage East. Dublin’s Fontaines D.C.’s brand of poetic song writing and their own take on post-punk has made them a must-listen to band of the last few years. Their live show ain’t half bad either. Despite perhaps lacking charisma, the band make up for it in their musical performances, with frontman Grian Chatten clinging onto every word he sings, and the rest of the band following with every note. Half an hour whizzed by, and if you weren’t a fan of Fontaines before, we think you’d certainly be giving them a listen after. 9/10

Next up – a secret set. Historically, Reading and Leeds has played host to a selection of secret sets in recent times (think Bring Me the Horizon, Queens of the Stone Age, Green Day, Foals, the list goes on). Therefore, the mystery slot always has people talking in the build-up to the festival. This year Leeds was graced with Australian dance act Pendulum, a band that fit perfectly in the Radio 1 Dance Stage. From minute one, the place was rocking. Opening with cult classics – Driver and Propane Nightmares, everyone was bouncing. Accompanied by an impressive live production with plenty of pyro, a Prodigy Voodoo People cover, and a cover of Enter Shikari’s Sorry You’re Not a Winner, featuring Rou Reynolds, this was a classic. 10/10

The next set had been one that has been years in the making. Like the headliners that follow Bring Me The Horizon, every year the comments section is flooded with people pleading for this bands name on the line-up. 2022 was finally that year. This show meant everything to the fans, and you can tell it meant everything to the band. From track one, the live production was a level above anything else had to offer for the weekend. As the sun set, and Leeds grew dark, the crowd got bigger and bigger, and the place was in full steam, with mosh pits almost unmissable. Tracks such as Dear Diary and Shadow Moses had the place going mental, whilst Drown and Can You Feel My Heart? Had fans singing until they physically couldn’t anymore. Frontman Oli Sykes mentioned that Leeds fest wasn’t a dream because they never dreamed this big, and with the passion the band poured into this performance, it truly felt like a set that will be remembered for a long time. As the band signed off on Throne, with the whole crowd instructed to go to the ground and jump up, it capped off a truly special set – festival headliners 2023 anyone? 10/10

What followed next was perhaps the complete opposite of this. Arctic Monkeys can easily be argued as Britain’s best export of the 21st century with a career spanning nearly 20 years, where creating a setlist of all the tunes they have would be a headache for anyone. As the band graced the hugely packed arena, it was clear early on that this did not mean a whole lot to the Sheffield band, who were playing their closest show to a hometown show in about four years. Opening with Do I Wanna Know, Brianstorm, and Snap Out Of It got the crowd going, even though they were slightly slower versions of the tracks. During the middle of the set where the band played slightly rarer cuts rather than the fan favourites, it did feel like there was an evident lull in the mood and atmosphere at the set. Alex Turner made little to no effort to interact with the crowd or show any sign of wanting to be there, and the rest of the band simply stood there and did their jobs. It was quite frankly dull. The set picked up towards the end as the band ambled through a few Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino numbers to a disappointed crowd. The heavier ending to Knee Socks was a pleasant surprise as some actual life could be seen on the stage, whilst Arabella and R U Mine? Capped off what was a very forgettable set that did by no means live up to the hype it was given. However, this would be by no means the way to describe the weekend. 5/10

Written By: Joe Loughran

Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott

Photo gallery features:

Friday – Daisy Brain, The Native, Wes Nelson, Ashnikko, Crawlers, Beabadoobee, Chloe Moriondo, A1 x J1, Stone, Role Model

Saturday – Beauty School Drop Out, Witch Fever, Bakar, Scene Queen, Kid Kapichi, All Time Low, Tigress, Cleopatrick, Potty Payper, As It Is

Sunday – Static Dress, Madison Beer, Kid Brunswick, Enter Shikari, Cassyette, Obskur, Ty Leone, Caroles Daughter, Pendulum