28th – 30th July | The Wyldes, Cornwall
Leopallooza was the festival that the elements couldn’t sink. On a weekend when the heavens opened and other UK festivals were inundated (both with precipitation and subsequent online gripes), the self-proclaimed ‘house party in a field’ goretexed up (or donned Speedos in one bloke’s case) and proved that the human spirit is essentially waterproof anyway.
Whereas the headliners (The Cribs, Maximo Park and Gabrielle Aplin on successive nights) were obviously top of the bill, the nature of the booking and scheduling meant that there wasn’t really such a thing as the ‘undercard’. Many of the finest performances came from early-evening sets, mid-afternoon performances, or stages away from the main arena. Friday’s finest moment actually transpired in the wee small hours of Saturday on the Mono Stage, with apocalyptic psych-rockers, Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind in typically mind-bending form. We didn’t mind. An equally high-energy set from Stanton Warriors headlined the Treeline Stage for those who didn’t quite want their face melted on day one.
VANT aced Saturday; their grunge-crusted punk-pop was bracing, pacy and linguistically racy. It would take a staring match or a meaty wrestle to decide whether Keir or Clean Cut Kid edged Sunday, but I would willingly spectate at either play-off option. Keir’s vocal prowess and stage presence won over dampened campers in the afternoon, whilst the buzz that Clean Cut Kid’s set created had us reliving that corny, drenched-Andie-MacDowell line from Four Weddings and a Funeral about not having noticed the rain. Comedy ensued when Mike Halls also didn’t spot the return of the wet stuff falling from the sky, geeing up the crowd with “At least it’s not raining! It is raining?… Shiiiiiiiiiiit…”
Cornwall’s own King Creature fired up the festival, kicking off the main stage on Friday afternoon with some monstrously priapic rock. Flamingods received due reverence for their set and Colouring proved as pleasantly mindful as their lower-case namesake. The Devonian swamp-infested blues of Sam Green and the Midnight Heist particularly impressed, slide guitar and some nifty double bass moves giving us plenty for eyes and ears to drink in and St Austell’s The Velvet Hands showed why they have put themselves firmly on the map in 2017. Futurecast and Father Funk took devotees of the Temple of Boom to that early-hours happy place where time becomes illusory and tiredness merely exists in another dimension (i.e. tomorrow morning).
Saturday was graced by an early set from William the Conqueror, who played some folky, lo-fi slacker rock, whilst enduring the overly noisy sound check from the Main Stage. A sense of humour prevailed, as lead man, Ruarri Joseph, dedicated ‘Proud Disturber of the Peace’ to their temporary sonic interlopers. Francobollo showed why their debut album, Long Live Life, has been so well received. Considering the inclement conditions and the chill breeze, their commitment to semi-nudity (top half only) mid-set was positively Scandinavian. The deliciously ominous sounds of Krrum contrasted with the melodious bear hug that is Keston Cobblers Club. Sunset Sons, Pulled Apart By Horses and Turbowolf gave us increasingly loud and voluminous good noise.
The crowds came out in force on Sunday, partly motivated by some weird yellow shiny thing in the sky and some celestial blueness. The Andy Quick Band gave the battle-fatigued his song about trying to sleep-train a toddler, with lots of bleary-eyed bobbing in deep empathy. Paradisia would have soothed any lingering hangovers, clearing the way for that evening’s over-indulgence, with their peachy, divine arrangements. Anyone with an ounce of gusto left expended it at the Treeline at midnight with Redlight’s headlining set.
Of the main stage headliners, Gabrielle Aplin brought perkiness, deft musicianship and a fine voice for a chilled end to Sunday night (if Redlight wasn’t on your agenda). She’d been camping in Cornwall for the previous few days too, so she got where the audience was coming from. Maximo Park were tight and energetic, their earlier and busier songs especially useful when moshing away the sogginess. On Friday, The Cribs had the tunes, but not always the tuning.
The mud threatened to put the a holt to Leopallooza. The festival organisers kept everything running smoothly and their workers remained especially upbeat and welcoming, which meant that festival-goers could maintain high spirits. Leopallooza’s clear sense of identity and strong commitment to new, as well as established acts, makes it a festival well worth visiting. And dryness is just a state of mind.
Check out Keir performing ‘Probably’ below: