Saturday 28 April 2012

Leeds 2011 Day 4: Na Na Na (Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na Na)

Leeds 2006
As we wandered out into the Sunday morning sunshine, reflecting happily on the previous day's fun and digesting the canteen's oddly tasteles porridge, I thought back once more to Leeds 2006. Annoyingly in retrospect, I could have seen My Chemical Romance live for the first time (first time for me that is) at Leeds 2006. It was very shortly after this I really got into them. 

At the time, however, they hadn’t really registered on my radar. As was famously the case, they had to play after Slayer, on the “hard rock” day of the festival. I seem to remember Mastodon were the opening act, followed by Killswitch Engage – after that, it was all just noise to me. (Just checked: the others were Bullet for My Valentine, Less Than Jake, and Taking Back Sunday).

With the exception of Slayer, who were on at the end of our shift; we’d got the 12-6pm on the Friday. I seem to remember thinking “Hey, these guys can actually play!”. I’m old-fashioned; I like my music to have identifiable tunes and words. So did most of the team, and the aural battering we took over the course of the shift, combined with huge queues, malfunctioning MDUs, and a manager who seemed hellbent on off everyone on the bar, and it was one of the least fun shifts I’ve ever done in six years volunteering for the Workers Beer Company. (I seem to remember Killswitch Engage’s frontman yelling “You guys fucking suck!” at the crowd, and thinking “Yeah, we’re thinking that right back at you”.) 

As the end of the shift approached, we sidled to the back of the bar, ready to make a quick exit, and bumped into the team coming on shift. They were staring at the front of the bar, eyes wide in shock.  

We turned to see what they were looking at, and realised that the queues of, black-clad, dirty, tattooed metallers were about ten deep, and they were still coming. When you’re at the front of the bar, you don’t see this. You just appear in front of one customer, get the order, give them the drinks, get the money, go tot the next customer, same thing again, lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseum. At the back of the bar, though, the oncoming hordes were clearly visible. It was like being in Shaun of the Dead without a cricket bat. 

I’d liked to say we muttered some comforting words and patted their shoulders. In reality, it was more like we grinned evilly, muttered “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!”, grabbed a six-pint holder of cider each (this was before the WBC really cracked down on servers helping themselves to free booze – these days you’d get fired for it, and technically back then we weren’t supposed to do it, but after that shift, I was really not inclined to stop my guys helping themselves to drinks, not least because I badly needed one myself), and scarpered as fast as we could.

We paused briefly to ask each other “Do we want to stay in the main arena?”. The answer was “Nope, can’t take any more of this racket”, and we skittled off in search of the NME tent and better music. And that is the tale of How I Didn’t See My Chemical Romance At Leeds 2006.

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