Feature: I took my dad to Leeds festival

Feature: I took my dad to Leeds festival

I went to Leeds festival for the first time last year and, for some reason, decided to take my 54 year-old dad. We went backstage and on-stage, in press pits and mosh pits, and I soon learned that taking my dad to a festival was the best decision I could’ve made.

“Who’s Royal Blood?” my dad asks, pondering over the programme for Leeds festival. He’s struggling to identify about 90% of the line-up and the bands he does recognise are only because I don’t shut up about them. When he asks: “What’s a Mumford and Sons?” I’m about to give up and invite someone else along for the bank holiday weekend.

I’ve been bouncing around the music industry for years; going to gigs, promoting bands and generally being a nuisance to everyone on the circuit. Taking my family to gigs and festivals isn’t new, either, as my siblings have enjoyed a whole range of live music since I started my mad quest to make friends with the best bands in town.

But my dad? If it’s not the folk band down his local pub, he hasn’t been to a gig in years. Leeds festival was going to be one hell of a re-introduction to the music scene and I was there to chaperon him.

We arrived at the festival at Saturday lunchtime. We’re getting old now (I’m 24) and Friday’s lineup wasn’t enough to encourage me or my father to spend an extra night in a tent. That and we’re grown-ups with real responsibilities, like full-time jobs and watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix.

A battle with a tent is a ritual of any music festival, where you attempt to build your home with nothing more than wishful thinking and a warm can of cider. I’ve spent most of my childhood camping; two family holidays a year to some remote part of Wales and the odd trip with the cub scouts has reassured me enough to think I’m good at this camping thing. How hard can it be?

Impossibly hard, I found. It turns out that we brought the most complicated two-man tent in history and one of the tent poles was broken. After half an hour and only two swear words we had something that resembled shelter and I was happy, but my dad wouldn’t rest until it was done “properly.” He made friends with our festival neighbours to borrow a hammer and he bashed the tent pegs into the ground to make sure we wouldn’t fly away in a storm that has only ever been seen in the Wizard of Oz. (This is when I promptly gave up and sat down with that warm can of cider.)

I then took my dad to the arena; the vast field of fairground rides, performance stages, and overpriced food that is either cold or stale (usually both.) This is when I started to notice the ‘Dad Code’. The Dad Code is a pattern of behaviour that only dads seem to acquire; greeting everyone they meet with enthusiasm and breaking out into terrible dancing at any opportunity. That’s the Dad Code, and at Leeds festival it becomes your ticket to everything.

The 'Dad Code'.
The ‘Dad Code’.

On the way into the arena everyone gets searched; no alcohol, glass or drugs allowed in here, thank you very much. Groups of teenagers would be downing their cheap lager at a rapid pace, looking a bit shifty and trying to pass security with their dignity intact. This process is as boring as hell and entering the pearly white gates of heaven is probably easier; I bet St. Peter wouldn’t kick you out for an open bottle of Pepsi Max.

As a girl in her early twenties, I was told to open my bag so they could rummage through the contents of fruit pastilles, lipstick, and maps of the campsite. They stared me down, wondering if I could possibly be hiding a bottle of vodka in my shorts, making me feel guilty even when I knew I had nothing they could confiscate.

My dad approached these members of security with his trusted Dad Code, not realising how effective it would be. “Hey! How are you doing? Great day for it, isn’t it?” my Dad would bellow, waving wildly and doing a little jig. The usually impassive security guards looked startled and immediately waved him through; anything to get him away from them. Rowdy 20-somethings are easy but cheery dads in their 50’s was obviously something they weren’t trained for.

Dad 1 – Leeds festival 0.

Things didn’t improve for Yorkshire’s biggest music event. I was at Leeds festival to interview a mid-level band and I was given a backstage pass so I could go and find them. My dad didn’t receive a pass but he needn’t have worried: he had his Dad Code.

I walked with confidence through the barrier and down the side of the Festival Republic stage, the venue where the band were due to play in about four hours time. Security had clocked me and checked my pass; something I was prepared for. I was not prepared for my dad following me to the backstage area, getting through security with nothing more than an “alright mate” and a little wave to the burly bouncers.

Dad 2 – Leeds festival 0.

Me and my Dad backstage with Prides.
Me and my Dad backstage with Prides.

Once backstage I got my interview with the band and everything was back to normal; it wasn’t even weird when my dad listened in on the chat and poked fun at the guitarist for his ridiculous hat. No, things didn’t get weird until the band manager asked us if we wanted to watch the show from the side of the stage. “Bring your dad, too. You’ll get the best view in the entire tent.” So he gave us both Official Stage Passes and before I knew it we were both on stage, watching one of my favourite bands play to a boisterous festival crowd.

Dad 3 – Leeds festival 0.

Watching Prides from the side of the stage

In a single afternoon my dad had sussed the festival out without even realising it. He had built a tent that could withstand hurricanes, avoided the frisking at the main gate, and got himself backstage and on-stage. For a man who doesn’t know the difference between Twin Atlantic and Twin Peaks he navigated the festival like a seasoned member of the stage crew, using nothing more than his trusted fatherly instincts. It’s taken me years to understand the music industry the way I do, learning what I can get away with and what I can’t, but Leeds festival taught me my most valuable lesson of all time: going out with my dad will always be cool.


Revolutionary Women: Louise Brealey

Revolutionary Women: Louise Brealey


It’s important to have role models in your life, I think, to inspire your future and aid your perspective. Most importantly, you need someone you can relate to in this chaotic world of ours, identifying someone else out there who is on your side.

Louise Brealey is an actor, writer and feminist, and she’s been a part of my life for a long time. Her role on BBC’s Sherlock made her famous but I recognised her from her time on Casualty years before, feeling like I was reconnecting with an old family friend as everyone else screamed Benedict Cumberbatch’s name. Louise’s role as little Molly Hooper caught my attention as I related to the quietly brilliant woman who was in awe of her co-workers. She was kind in a way that the magnificent Sherlock Holmes couldn’t understand; he underestimated her, as did the rest of this fictional world, until it became apparent that the fate of the detective consultant depended entirely on her.

Watching Molly Hooper’s endeavours inspired me to look back on Louise Brealey’s life. She read History at Cambridge before training as an actor in New York. She has written and edited for a number of publications, including Total Film, Neon, i-D, and Wallpaper. She was deputy editor of Wonderland magazine. A mere glance at Louise Brealey’s wikipedia page taught me something valuable; I didn’t have to just be one person for my entire life. I didn’t have to choose just one career until I retire; I could take opportunities as they arose, hopping across different paths and seeing where they take me. I could work in many colourful industries and be good at it, just like Louise has.

It was Twitter that finally allowed a conversation between me and Loo; brief encounters in which we’d discuss our favourite music, her latest projects, our inability to sleep before a big, nerve-racking day. With her thousands of followers, I was always surprised when she’d find me in the crowd, responding thoughtfully to whatever query or comment I would send her.

I first met Louise on 19th July 2012. I was 20 years old, full of nerves and naivety, navigating London alone for the first time. She was performing at the Royal Court Theatre, just off Sloane Square, and I was shaking in the warm sunshine.
It wasn’t until I got home and tweeted my thanks that Louise recognised who I was. “Shit, you’re the Heartbreaks fan! I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk music,” she said, giving me hope that one day we’ll see each other again.

It wasn’t long before we did. Over the next couple of years I met Louise at GameCity (a videogame festival I worked at), Cheltenham Literature Festival and her own film premiere. The latter was an independent film where Louise had the starring role; it follows the story of Jacques (played by Nico Rogner) who came to London in search of his father but becomes distracted with his neighbour Stella (Louise Brealey), who struggles with bulimia. “I’m not sick”, Stella insists, as Jacques tries to save her. It was difficult to watch, mostly because it reminded me of my own eating disorder which almost killed me when I was 17.

Louise Delicious Premiere

At the film premiere I was surrounded by the actors, producers, friends and family. The story shook me up because I watched someone I love go through the horrors that I had endured mere years before. “It wasn’t your fault, you know,” esteemed actor and friend Ferdinand Kingsley tells me at the bar that night, as everyone else was getting pictures with Louise. “Keep on keeping on,” he said.

Louise Brealey taught me that it was okay to be scared. We can be frightened and vulnerable and sad, but we can also be strong, tenacious and kind. She taught me that your idols shouldn’t have to be put on a pedestal but they could be standing by your side, guiding you through life and inspiring you to make good choices. Most importantly, she taught me that feminism was something to believe in, something to be proud of.


New Music: Josh Kemp – Chatterbox EP

Backseat Mafia

Chatterbox EP

If you’re reading this, Josh Kemp is probably your best friend. If he isn’t, just give it time. This lad has travelled far and wide to play at every single venue that will take him and making friends with anyone who looks in his direction for more than 5 seconds. It’s a skill, and one that will help him reach the success he deserves.

Josh released his latest EP Chatterbox in October, hosting the biggest party the Bodega had probably seen in its 15 years of business. The room was full of personalised balloons, stickers, glowsticks and wristbands – everyone in that room knew who Josh Kemp was that night. Actually, everyone in Nottingham probably knew.

[Read our review of Josh’s EP Launch here.]

‘Chatterbox’, the title track of the EP, showcases Josh’s style in a mere three and a half minutes. His voice is full of passion…

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See: Screaming Maldini – Solar System (Music Video)

Backseat Mafia

solar system

I’ve been reluctant to write this post, knowing that it may well be one of the last I write about Screaming Maldini. In case you’ve missed everyrecentpost about the band, you should know that Screaming Maldini are going their separate ways after spending 5 long years trying to make it in the music industry.

This week Screaming Maldini have given us their final music video, a stop-motion project created by talented 16 year old Natalie Ratcliffe.

The video tells us a story from a book, where the characters (quite literally) stand up and share their adventure with us. It starts with a girl, looking out of her window and wishing for something more. She goes out to a tree in her garden, swinging under its paper branches, looking out at the sky.

But she’s not alone. The girl finds a boy through the paper trees and they sit…

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Live: The Crookes and Laurel Canyons, Victoria Inn, 30th November 2014

Backseat Mafia

Crookes gig

When I walked into Derby’s Victoria Inn, I saw Laurel Canyons and The Crookes sitting around pub tables, bickering about chocolate: “I don’t like white chocolate.” “YOU MONSTER.”
Thankfully, band relations were repaired over dinner and the boys were ready to start the show.

Laurel Canyons were first up, taking their chance to impress the locals with their passionate, melancholic songs. Although an instrumental track, ‘Introduction’ provides the best, well, introduction to the band. The soft melodies warm the crowd up and interest them enough for ‘Cry Hard, Cry Fast’, the next song in the set.

The band’s latest single ‘Owe Nothing’ was well received. To the annoyance of everyone in the room, a rather vocal audience member decided to comment on everything the band did. This did not go unnoticed from the boys, as when Jake Cope announced their next song ‘Never Said A Word’, he added: “Which is what that guy should’ve done…

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