Where better to kick back, turn off the stress radar and dance your cares away than our very own Cornwall, at our very own Leopallooza? What it lacks in Glasto-sized logistics it more than makes up for in friendliness, attention to detail and out and out prettiness. And that is where I headed on the last weekend of July with my intrepid camerawoman, Rosamund, and a car full of camping type stuff.
Throwing all our non-mod cons into the tent (and by that I mean sleeping bags – “slamping” is the new “glamping” I decided) we skipped down to the main stage like two youngsters high on fresh cloudy lemonade.
An amazing feature of the Leopallooza layout is the fact that there are two stages on the main field, meaning no twenty minute waits between bands. Simple genius which kept the pace frenetic and the exodus between bands to a minimum. We just about caught the opening act The Sum Of performing Better Calm Down to an appreciative crowd who had made sure the party was already flying at a time when many festies have barely opened their eyes and yawned.
The very moment they finished we turned ninety degrees to the left to the see The Scratch, an excellent four-piece punk band with splashes of the Ramones and Buzzcocks to bring back the best bits of eighties to old and young alike.
Crowns’ brand of tight agit-pop with the electric banjo and firm nod to Green Day and The Levellers is the kind of music guaranteed to please any festival crowd, and this was no exception: the atmosphere built up through the set as folk really started to let loose.
With a voice born to be heard, John J Presley’s liquorice tones and metal riffs kept the vibe fully charged before a change in direction from the superb Gentleman Starkey, NME favourites with Marr-esque guitars and Interpol crescendos to match. Instant classics like The Devil In You kept the audience switched on throughout. This band is surely destined for greatness.
Time for a breather of sorts, which came in the form of Rich Thomas and some fine delta blues that reminded the organisers that, although they may have been missing out on the surf for their art(onshore mush anyway!) the vibe of the ocean was never far away. Next up was Cornwall’s very own Backbeat Sound System with an eclectic crowd pleasing set of dub reggae. The highlight had to be (during the cover of Tarantula) the crowd going mental at the moment of the track where Pendulum added the drum and bass bit – hairs up on back of neck time! In the next act, Stagecoach, I think I’ve found my new favourite band. Crisp pop punk melodies with great harmonies and typically British indie band lyrics. The stand out track for me was Headbanger’s Ball. Could the UK have its very own Weezer? I liked them so much I bought their CD.
The Skints then returned the main stage to the dub sound so loved by the Cornish crowd, and with some ace rapping and middle-eastern flute they really have chalked out their very own niche. Anyone that has seen Kill It Kid knows that this band being anything less than very famous is a temporary glitch in the music matrix. With a massive sound that totally belies their tender, tender years this UK trio conjure up images of southern swamp demons and large rums on the ice out on the porch. The brother/sister vocals have to be heard to be believed.
I decided a drop in at the dance tent was required as all these great bands outside had meant that I had sadly neglected the more digital side of the festival so far. I was not disappointed to be met by Carpet Face and Audible bringing the very best of UK hip hop and some of the finest beat-boxing known to man. I didn’t know until this point that two men could make Dubstep, from scratch, with their voices.
This splash of in-your-face urbanity (thought I was out in Dalston for a minute) brought us nicely up to Leopallooza returnees Man Like Me in the dance tent; all the best bits of Basement Jaxx and Jamie T, with The Specials thrown in. The whole field was dancing as team ‘Pallooza high fived at their uncanny gift of playing the right acts at the right time.
Headliners The Datsuns did not disappoint either. Genuine rock legends, they honoured the crowd with all the classics, including my personal fave Harmonic Generator, plus some great new tracks from the upcoming long player due out in a few weeks time. A great end to a great day (although I overheard from our teenage neighbours who returned to their tent at 4am that the late night DJs were pretty fierce too. I also heard some interesting tales about condoms, teenage fornication and binge drinking, but hey, it wouldn’t be a proper festival without all that would it?). Would I recommend this festival? See you there next year friends of Cornwall?