This year, 2016, marks the 10th anniversary of the highly acclaimed city-based festival Live at Leeds. I wasn’t sure what to expect ahead of the day – I’ve attended a number of different festivals in the past, but never Live at Leeds, and never with the intention of writing about it afterwards. After overcoming my own apprehension and a couple of inevitable setbacks on the day, I’d call the endeavour a success, and despite my very sore feet, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
First on my list was Atlantic Shore at The Faversham, the music venue that dates back to 1947 and boasts of having Arctic Monkeys and The Gossip amongst others perform there. I arrived a couple of songs into Atlantic Shore’s set while the crowd was still relatively small. The unsigned band’s music is a mixture of pop, indie and rock, and they have recently been featured on BBC Introducing Merseyside. The band seemed to face a few feedback issues during the set, but they went with it and played a heartfelt set, which included ‘The Comedown’ and ‘Easier’ from the band’s latest extended single release.
Following editor Mary’s preview list ahead of the festival, I did my best to cover as many of those recommendations as possible. This meant that my next stop was to see The Jackobins at Leeds Beckett Stage 2. I arrived about halfway through the set and was immediately blown away by the sheer stage presence of the band. They were evidently having the best time and in control of the room. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a frontman – in the form of Dominic Bassnett, in this case – of an up-and-coming band look more like he was born to be on stage, and with such a powerful voice too. Lead guitarist Veso Mihaylov looked like he would have been happy to continue playing for the rest of the day, and the whole audience was nodding and bopping along.
After The Jackobins I dashed over to the Brudenell Social Club to watch The Velveteens. Their live sound is brasher and denser sounding than the recorded versions of their songs, but it suited the setting well. Included in the set was ’60s surf-sounding single ‘Mister Blackjack’, which is the perfect sound for a crowd to dance along to. The crowd did seem to stick to the back of the room, and had to be encouraged to move closer, which was more a reflection on the layout of the room than the band themselves. The band were comfortable having a chat and playful back and forth with one another on stage, perfectly natural in their environment.
In the neighbouring room, on the Brudenell Social Club’s main stage, Demob Happy only played for approximately 7 minutes, due to getting caught in traffic. But for those two songs Demob Happy performed with a ferocious energy that got the crowd sufficiently hyped up to thoroughly enjoy the set and lament that it couldn’t have gone on for longer. As I left the venue, amongst the group that had just watched the performance, I overheard numerous people saying they wished the band could have played for longer, and a couple of guys even started singing the lyrics to ‘Succubus’. I couldn’t help but agree with them. From the moment the band arrived, as they threw their guitars onto the stage and began hurriedly unravelling cables, the focus was on them, and the minute they started playing the crowd was evidently glad to have stuck around.
Next on my list was Dublin-based Otherkin, which meant a return to Stage 2 at Leeds Beckett. A couple of songs into the set, the enigmatic lead singer Luke Reilly had removed his shirt and was moving about the stage with the confidence of Iggy Pop as he took the occasional swig from a can of Heineken. The band’s edgy pop-rock sound translated well live, with the band playing their popular singles ‘I Was Born’ and ‘Ay Ay’. Looking ahead to a return to the city in late summer, Reilly’s final words to the crowd were, “we’ll see you at Leeds Festival”.
With a few moments to spare before the next band on my list, I managed to pop into the Academy and catch a few of Mystery Jets’ tracks. The room was packed to the rafters, with people jostling about to get a closer view, and dancing and singing along. I managed to hear a couple of songs from their latest album ‘Curve of the Earth’ (’Midnight’s Mirror’ and ‘Blood Red Balloon’) before leaving just after their crowd-pleasing early career megahit ‘Half In Love With Elizabeth’. There was evidently a big buzz around the band’s performance, but I was glad to get out of the crowd and return to the outdoors once more.
Keep an eye on TGTF for part 2 of Rebecca’s Live at Leeds 2016 coverage, which is scheduled to post tomorrow.