Leeds Festival was the first festival I ever went to back in the olden-days year of 2003. Back then, the festival’s demographic was dominated by greasy teens with beanie hats, Slipknot hoodies and stoner-red eyes. The acts reflected this as well - Metallica, System of a Down, Linkin Park and Blink 182 were just a few of the headliners that year. Cut to 14 years (OH GOD) later in 2017 and the Leeds crowd is again largely made up of teenagers, however instead of grimy mosher attire these teens are preened, tanned and survive on a diet of reality TV, Snapchat filters and various pouty poses.
I know, I know… this is making me sound old, right? Maybe it is but this startling change didn’t stop us from having a fun weekend. In fact, ‘change’ in general is to blame for vastly improving our festival experience. Back when I made my festival debut as a spotty wee 16 year old I’d never seen anything like it and as such made loads of rookie mistakes. For starters, we arrived at a drop off point that felt a million miles away from where we intended to camp and the trek over very nearly killed me. Seriously. By the time we arrived at our chosen spot I looked worse than Frodo arriving at Mount Doom.
Not the case this year, though. The older and (sort of) wiser me quickly learned from this mistake and planned accordingly from there on out. Plus, unlike Awkward Teenage Simon, (still awkward) Old Man Simon has a job - a job that gives him the opportunity to cover the event for a press outlet… and use the easy-access guest camping area.
Handy. Especially considering the chaos that can sometimes ensue in general camping. Like the time during one of my final Leeds stints as a teenager where I woke on the last day, groggily emerged from my tent and was immediately hit directly in the balls by a rogue apple launched into the air by a distant stranger. No one was awake to see it happen. I was left to deal with the pain without even getting a funny story out of it. If nothing else, it was kind of an impressive shot. Well done, stranger.
But I digress. I suppose what I’m really trying to say is Leeds Festival has changed but I’ve changed too and change, in any form, isn’t always such a bad thing. Especially when it reduces your chance of unexpectedly getting nailed in the crotch by an airborn fruit.
Photography © Vanessa Louise Worswick.
What was your first ever festival? Let me know in the comments below!