For once, this year, I wasn’t planning to do Leeds Fest. I had some work pencilled in and had already done a couple of other festivals over the summer. Then, a week before the event the work was confirmed for another date and I heard from Sony that one of their new signings to the Music for Nations label, Milk Teeth were opening Friday on the main stage. They looked interesting…in fact one reviewer commented that if you haven’t seen them yet, you really should. Plus they have a female lead. So, I quickly applied for a pass and David Cox at LD Communications managed to get me in, with a promise of main stage pit access for Milk Teeth and, later in the day, the Distillers, also fronted by a woman.
Milk Teeth started life back in 2013 in Stroud, hometown of base player, and vocalist Becky Blomfield. In the early days, they struggled to find a home for their brand of punk; venues in Stroud were few and far between. But they stuck to their guns, played anywhere and everywhere that would have them, and just worked really hard to establish themselves and be heard.
Several years on and several personnel changes later, here they are stepping out onto the main stage at Leeds. They’d played the smaller stages at the festival before but making it into that main stage lineup is always a big deal. Having said that, Becky, guitarist Em Foster and new addition, Oli Holbrook on drums looked completely comfortable up there. Their sound is now probably more grunge than punk (not that care about labels) and for midday on day one of the festival they attracted a really decent crowd and kept them entertained for the entirety of their allocated 20 minute slot.
Chatting to the band in the press tent later they were just really lovely. Down to earth, chilled. Apparently Em drives the tour ‘bus’ that would be taking them back down south for a night of takeout pizza at Becky’s place, before they headed over to do it all again at Reading. And Becky still does their PR.
It’s true they are having a big year, with sell out sets and great reviews from Camden Rocks and other gigs around the UK. But they take absolutely nothing for granted. Sharing a stage with the likes of the Foo Fighters and The Distillers, and, from days gone by, names like Nirvana, Placebo and Sonic Youth is a real honour for them and they are just enjoying every minute of the experience. Things are going great with the new label, there will be a new album early in 2020 and a tour so if you haven’t yet seen Milk Teeth… I left them outside the press tent chatting to the team from Fender who look out for rising stars to partner. They are certainly happy with what the band are doing to promote the cause of guitar music.
As for the Distillers, well they have been around for more than a few years. Led by Brody Dalle the California band delivered a super strong set. I would have liked to stay longer in the pit…at least until the smoke had cleared a bit. Having said that I still managed to get some decent shots in.
Bonus picture of the day – Frank Carter outside the press tent who (with the Rattlesnakes) also delivered a great set, not least because at one point he made the mosh pit women only. He also created a women friendly crowd surfing opportunity. “Any of you women who have wanted to crowd surf but were worried about men grabbing you along the way, this is your chance. Men you will not do anything inappropriate – if you do you will have me to answer to!” And suddenly there was a sea of women being propelled across the top of the crowd. Brilliant stuff! Cheers Frank and thanks to everyone at Leeds Fest for making it happen and getting us in. Particularly Dougie and David, who rescued us when we arrived late, stuck in the Headingley Ashes traffic. You are stars!