Thursday saw the live music kick off at 7pm, so there was time for punters to explore the two areas on offer- ‘The Neverwoods’ and ‘Mermaid’s Lagoon’. ‘Leefest’ is celebrating their 10th birthday and is famed for throwing a great party with detailed theming. No surprise then that ‘Mermaid’s Lagoon’ featured a circular sandpit dance floor surrounded by terraced hay bales- a perfect set up for getting your groove on podium-style. Bubbles spouted out over the stage constantly and Hot Tubs steamed away to the left of the stage.
‘The Neverwoods’ included a main stage ‘Bangerang’ surrounded by tableaus of The Lost Boy’s house, complete with gangways, rickety bridges and platforms. This was a clear indication of the mischievous tomfoolery that was yet to come.
The main venue for music on Thursday though was the colourful indoor space, ‘Tootle’s Tent’. The other area of the festival – ‘Skull Ridge’ was closed until Friday, but we enjoyed tantalising glimpses of skulls and fire through the trees.
The London-based trio Peluche started off proceedings in ‘Tootle’s Tent’ with their sublime harmonies, idiosyncratic time signatures and percussive bass. They drew a small crowd and soon had the audience bopping. Sophie wowed the crowd by playing clarinet and drums at the same time with perfect precision and an almost nonchalant attitude.
However, it was Loyle Carner, a young rapper from South London that really got the festival swaying. His brand of old school rapping underpinned with latin grooves was interrupted only to deliver a heart-felt poem about his desire to have a younger sister to love and protect. He pulled at our heart strings and warmed our bodies with his rhymes revolving around family, sharing and caring. Near the start of his set he revealed that he had chopped off the end of his finger and was sporting a bandage to prove it. None the less he managed to move around the stage with abandon, swinging his scarf. A particular highlight was a duet with his MC that proved that both men can match each other for spinning lyrics with speed and precision. Loyle’s loquacious lyrics, crisply delivered and emotionally charged mark him out as one to watch.
Everything Everything were up next and they deftly lassoed most of the festival, pulling them towards ‘Tootle’s Tent’ from across the site. Their mash-up of 80s style backed with an afrobeat rhythm ultimately felt a little thin. Lead singer, Jonathan Higgs’ falsetto seemed somewhat off point and weak. Despite this, the crowd seemed to enjoy the show and eagerly awaited the arrival of headliners Ghostpoet.
After a lengthy sound check, the twice Mercury Award nominee Ghostpoet arrived on stage. The beginning of the set involved plenty of wild gesticulation towards the sound engineer, which ultimately paid off, allowing the front-man to entirely loose himself in the music. The psychedelia merged with trip-hop undertones and Ghostpoet’s gravelly tones to build to a crescendo with single ‘Liines’. A formidable set indeed.
Ghostpoet marked the end of the live music for the first night of the festival. In ‘Mermaid’s Lagoon’, the party was still going strong. Hundreds of revellers were standing in the sandpit or moving and grooving on the hay bale coliseum to DJ Luck and MC Neat’s mixture of UK Garage and Drum N Bass. We headed off to the woods to prepare ourselves for another day of music, tomfoolery and magic.
This Leefest article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. All images by Lisa Furness.