Leeds Festival… was interesting. I was originally assigned to photograph Reading and swapped to Leeds with hopes of catching a few more backstage portraits – after all it can’t hurt to try. I like Leeds because it is one of the more youthful festivals in the UK and reminds me of Warped Tour. Every day I have a few artists to shoot that involve me running around the festival grounds through some mud and such, and then I can do my own thing in my free time. I ran into a lot of my old friends and made some new ones as well.
So the worst part about Leeds for me was trying to get back home after. I spent three days kind of camping out and photographing a fest… on the fourth day I really wanted to get home. Unfortunately so did about 40k other people. I respect the hell out of festival goers – there’s a lot that goes on that I didn’t know went on as I used to just roll in and roll out on a tour bus with a band, it’s nice to have partially *lived* it this time around. Although I recognize it is not to the full extent how some people live it, it still helped me get a taste. Last day of the fest – I cleaned all my gear that night, showered up, and got ready to head home. My shoes were so soaked as I had just fully washed them that I had to take out the soles and wear them that way. Actually I forgot my soles all together so I was using another pair of shoes soles and those were soaked so I took those out… anyway my shoes were dead. I left my cabin bunk bed thing at around 3am and knew I had a few options. I could either try to get a cab… which wasn’t really going to work, or catch the buses that all the festival goes had to catch to get back into the city. I knew that no matter which option I chose, a lot was going to go wrong – but I only needed a few things to go right. I had some cash on me, I had my card, I had my gear, and I had a head flashlight to help me navigate my 30 minute walk to the pickup point. Now I am assuming a lot of you have not been to Leeds – and if you have you will understand me even better when I say it is in the middle of nowhere. About a 20 minutes drive to the city on a highway – too long to walk. So I start walking to the pickup area and about 20 minutes into my walk I run into two other photographers I had met earlier that day. I forget these dudes’ names but they were very kind. They told me they were having trouble getting back as the lines for the busses were huge even now at 3 or 4:00am and I told them- alright let’s join forces. Let’s do this.
Here we go. So we walked over to the pickup point and it was a lot of fencing, a lot of people, and a lot of cars that were not moving. We looked at the bus line, insanely long and it wasn’t moving- cab line, same deal- cabs stuck in the street, cops confused, people sitting everywhere. It was like a zombie movie, only no zombies – just drunk tired young people which kind of counts as zombies. Anyway we asked the cop where to go, and me being oblivious yet hopeful told him we just wanted to walk in the direction of the city. So he pointed us in the right direction but told us it would be a few hours. Keep in mind we all had backpacks and I had a large hand bag as well. It was going to be hell and I hadn’t really slept more than an hour but we had to do it. Then I kind of saw there were a bunch of cabs just stuck waiting to get in. So I started pounding on their doors seeing if we could get a lift. It was really hectic, lots of people trying to do the same. Luckily we found a dude who told us we had to pay something like 20 pounds each. I would have honestly paid anything. It was quite a relief when we got in the car and got back to the train station. I was so thankful, the driver could have charged me 100 pounds and I would have paid it no questions asked. I caught my train at 6am or so that morning after watching the season finale of The Night Of at the station. The dude next to me at the station was really drunk but I offered him some of my cashews and he was thankful. There was so much mud and so many passed out people at the train station I wish I could have taken a trip inside a commuter that morning that witnessed the aftermath of the festival just while they were on the way to work. Hilarious thinking about haha.
That is my story. I hope you enjoyed the photos, thanks for being awesome dudes- dudes.