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If you missed the first installment of Rebecca’s roundup of Live at Leeds 2016, you can catch up on it right back here.
Following Mystery Jets at the Academy, I arrived early for Clean Cut Kid’s set at Leeds University Union and caught their soundcheck, which consisted of a stripped back version of ‘Vitamin C’, showcasing Evelyn and Mike Halls’ impeccable vocals. The crowd had already built up before the end of the soundcheck, and I’d bumped into a couple of people on my way in who were looking for the stage and excited to catch the band in action. The set was bookended with the band’s two most popular tracks, opening with ‘Runaway’ and closing with ‘Vitamin C’. From start to finish, it was an indie-pop filled half hour of fun, bright guitar hooks and vibrant vocals, and there was an abundance of dancing, clapping and singing along from the crowd.
I caught Catholic Action at Nation of Shopkeepers, the kooky bunting-trimmed venue in the city’s centre. Catholic Action are one of those bands who sound good on record, and even better live. Their upbeat, pop/indie blend was well suited to Nation of Shopkeepers, which was probably my favourite venue of all that I was able to visit on the day. A friend of mine recently described the band as a “Scottish Weezer”, and after hearing them perform, I can’t say that I disagree. Their set was a standout for me on the day, from the jingling guitars to the clap-inspiring drumbeats and crisp vocals.
Back over at the Brudenell Social Club I arrived partway through Vitamin‘s set. The dreamy indie pop quartet are Leeds locals and were in full-flow by the time I arrived, having drawn in a medium-sized but enthusiastic crowd. Lead singer Jared Laville was decked out in a double denim stonewashed ensemble and was charismatically wooing the crowd. During the final song of the set, the band’s latest single ‘Waterfall’, Laville descended into the crowd, with people reaching out to touch him like he was the messiah of dream pop.
After Vitamin was Anteros on the Games Room stage across the hall at Brudenell. As with The Velveteens earlier in the day, it took a while for the crowd to build and required prompting from lead singer Laura Hayden to bring the crowd forward. Hayden was vibrant and commanded attention, standing before the crowd with just a microphone in her hand, occasionally bashing a drum. The whole band looked like they were having a great time. Stand out tracks were ‘Breakfast’, the band’s latest single, and their previous singles ‘Fade to Grey’ and self-titled ‘Anteros’, which is such an excellent track and sounds even better live, showing off Hayden’s brilliant voice. The band has created an iridescent variety of wistful indie-pop that’s just edgy enough to avoid being too sweet. Their performance was another standout for me, but I can’t help thinking that they might have benefitted from a stage closer to the city centre that would have drawn in a larger crowd.
The first and only other time I’ve seen We Are Scientists live was in 2010 on the NME stage at Leeds Festival, so I was determined to make it back to Leeds University Union to catch them before I had to leave. I made it to the Union in order to get a decent spot on the stairs, which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea as I was constantly bumped into by people trying to make their way up and down the staircase, struggling against the tide of people that had also decided on the same viewing spot as myself. But the struggle was worth it. From the minute Keith Murray and Chris Cain walked on stage they built up a cheeky back and forth between each other and the audience, with Cain immediately going over to the audience at this side of the stage and shaking hands with members of the audience.
We Are Scientists opened with ‘The Scene is Dead’, before following up with other hits such as ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘I Don’t Bite’, and ‘Buckle’, the first single from their latest album ‘Helter Seltzer’, released in April. I had to leave shortly after, but I was happy to have experienced the 20 minutes or so in the band’s presence, which was the cherry on top of an already great day.
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.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 18th April 2016 at 11:00 am
Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Live at Leeds is current at the time of posting, but we encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2016 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds on Saturday the 30th of April are still available at the bargain price of £32.50. This year for the price of £45.00, a VIP option is also available; it will allow you to jump queues at venues (subject to capacity), entry to the VIP bar at the First Direct Arena and free entry to the afterparty at the Wardrobe. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.
SXSW 2016 alums: I’d be remiss not to give a shoutout to the artists we saw in Austin that we enjoyed and we think you will too (in order of appearance):
Barns Courtney (5:30 PM, Leeds College of Music)
The Sherlocks (5:30 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Declan McKenna (6 PM, Brudenell Social Club main stage)
Clean Cut Kid (6:15 PM, Leeds Uni Union Stylus)
Autobahn (6:30 PM, Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1)
DMA’s (6:45 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Blaenavon (7:00 PM, Oporto)
Isaac Gracie (7:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church)
Pumarosa (8:00 PM, Wardrobe)
Haelos (10:00 PM, Belgrave Music Hall)
In addition to those acts, here are 10 more acts recommended from the amazing Live at Leeds 2016 schedule:
In the mood for sparkling, upbeat synth rock? This quartet with ties to nearly all of the great Northern towns (Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester) will start your day at Live at Leeds on an energetic note. Check out Atlantic Shore’s latest single, ‘The Comedown’, which was released last month.
Atlantic Shore are set to perform at the Faversham at 12:30 PM.
Staying in th’ North (this festival is in Yorkshire, am I right?), turn your attention to music of a harder edge. Forget Manchester for a moment: The Jackobins’ ‘Waiting on the Sun’ will remind you of Oasis in the brashness of their anthemic rock.
The Jackobins perform at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 1 PM. (Incidentally, Plaitum – who Rebecca introduced you all to when they received a shout for SXSW 2016 – will be playing at the same time of day at Headrow House.)
Let’s not kid ourselves, surf rock came back, so what’s to stop the other trends of past decades returning? Co-ed group from Leeds The Velveteens will be leading the charge when the revolution comes. ‘Simply Plain Mary Jane’? Hardly!
The Velveteens play at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 2:30 PM.
From Leeds, you can either go north to Newcastle or south all the way to the coast to Brighton for Demob Happy. As a science boffin by (day) trade, I am more than a little amused they’ve got a song called ‘Junk DNA’. “Gene Manipulator” should have been my nickname in uni. Make of that what you will… And we could all use a little bliss, eh?
Demob Happy are scheduled to play at the Brudenell Social Club’s main stage at 3:00 PM, which make them a nice follow-up after The Velveteens.
Cover me, folks, I’m going into Carrie’s usual bailiwick and into the singer/songwriter den. A girl duo signed to Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best label, Xylaroo have done a fantastic acoustic treatment to cover of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, turning a song I don’t even like to a palatable one (!), so suffice to say, I’m looking forward to their debut album ‘Sweetooth’ (not a typo) out the 3rd of June, which includes ‘Sunshine’.
So if singer/songwriter-y, harmonising type music is more your thing, you can catch Xylaroo at Leeds College of Music Recital Room at 3 PM.
Okay, I’m outta there and back to my specialty and having gone on to another duo. Girl Friend, a girl/boy pair from Manchester (seriously, where else would they have been from? ha), do clean, crisp electropop that’s music to my ears and heart, not to mention my feet. Check out the fab ‘Nocturnal’.
Girl Friend will play the Belgrave Music Hall at 4 PM.
Jones has the kind of voice music producers clamour over: soulful, rich, strong. Her voice lend well to both electronic/urban pop and acoustic treatments. Judging from her collaboration with TGTF friends Honne on their track ‘No Place Like Home’, she’ll be a sought-after vocal talent for years to come.
Jones is set to perform at the Wardrobe at 7:00 PM.
Ready to do some hand clapping in my favourite venue in all of Leeds? Then you’re definitely ready to have some fun with Catholic Action and fall in ‘L.U.V.’ with this band from Glasgow. We have!
Catholic Action will appear at Nation of Shopkeepers at 8:00 PM.
Staying in the pop realm, we arrive at London’s Anteros. Their sci-fi name makes them sound like they’re from another planet. However, to our benefit, they’re just writing really great pop songs. Have some ‘Breakfast’ with them below.
Anteros perform at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 9:30 PM.
I’ve been a fan of these Scots and their uplifting, swooning anthems since I saw them in Edinburgh 2 years ago. And it’s a great time for them to appear at Live at Leeds, as they’ve just released their newest single, ‘Just the Point of Breaking’.
Fatherson appear at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 9:30 PM.
Now that we’re into 2016, it’s time to get excited for the year’s festival season. We’d already seen a few of the lineup revealed for Live at Leeds (read this previous preview post), but now we’ve been not as much teased but inundated with over 65 new acts.
Joining the already stellar lineup of Circa Waves, We Are Scientists and Jess Glynne, we have a nice variety of genres being represented, from the small and unsigned to those acts who are well established in the festival circuit.
First of the major players is Ghostpoet (picture at top), who you may remember had his 2015 album ‘Shedding Skin’ nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. His is pretty much the name on the tip of the tongue of anyone involved in the industry at the moment. On playing the festival, Ghostpoet says, “It’s nice to be returning to Live at Leeds after playing it for the first time a few years back. Should be fun!”
Another name everyone should be familiar with is Mystery Jets, who over the past 13 years have been unrelenting in their output. Flirting with a mixture of genres has ensured they always have a fresh sound that’s apt for the time. They’ll no doubt be playing tunes from their latest album effort, ‘Curve of the Earth’, which was released last month.
There’s also Stockport’s Blossoms, who return after a triumphant show at Leeds Uni Stylus last year, as well as coming fourth in BBC’s Sound of 2016 list. They are certainly going to be a crowd pleaser and not to be missed.
Milk Teeth are another band that have been gathering a lot of attention of the past few months. Their style is reminiscent of early 90’s pop-punk with a twinge of grunge, a sound that is slowly making its way back into the mainstream consciousness. Their debut record ‘Vile Child’ is out now on Hopeless Records and will no doubt leave a massive impression on those who manage to catch their show.
Live at Leeds is fast becoming a staple in the festival season and is going from strength to strength. The way this lineup is shaping up, along with announcements for other festivals slowly creeping out into the daylight, 2016 could turn out to be one of the strongest festival seasons yet.
The entire plethora of announced acts can be found on the Live at Leeds Web site. Tickets are still available at http://lunatickets.co.uk/live-at-leeds-2016.html.
For a festival that was first created to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the fine city that houses it, Live at Leeds has managed to survive – no, thrive – and will be in its 10th year in 2016 (30 April). Which makes this one rather special. The recently announced first acts, which include pop songstress Jess Glynne (pictured at top) and madcap indie duo We Are Scientists, are the first of what will is sure to be many more recognised names and even more unsigned, local faces.
A metropolitan festival can be a strange affair: whereas the norm at a festival is to get lost in a field for a few days, when it comes to a metropolitan one, you’re encouraged to explore the city itself, take part in various activities that are normally happening, all the while being within walking distance from any amenity a city can offer. Metropolitan festivals have seen a great increase over recent years, with another Northern festival, Beacons, being moved to urban areas around Manchester and Leeds after receiving feedback from attendees that attending a tent and field festival is increasingly more expensive due to transport and other costs. Not to mention the idea that if – and we are talking about the North of England here – the weather were to take a bad turn, the venues are all indoor, so there’s no worry about it being cancelled or acts being rescheduled. There are many positives to a city festival, and while you can’t replace the ‘drunk in a field’ feeling, it’s possible to get close.
2016’s Live at Leeds, for the first time, will feature a program of digital events, a la SXSW or The Great Escape. This is a strong move for the festival: it will draw in professionals, as well as music fans, and gives the event even more credibility. More information about these events and more will be announced in due course.
Looking back at acts who previously played the festival, one can’t help notice names such as Catfish and The Bottlemen (2014), who have seen their career expanded exponentially this year after a Glastonbury appearance, not to mention Ed Sheeran (2010), one of British music’s current biggest stars. Live at Leeds has a great track record of signing bands who are heading for great futures, as well as those who are far more than established in smaller circles. With 200 acts being announced for last year’s festival, it’s bound to be an even bigger affair this year.
Jess Glynne, who had us all singing last summer with an appearance on Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’ and has her own fantastically bright solo career, will be a perfect artist to watch at this year’s event, along with the aforementioned duo of We Are Scientists, who are a staple in any independent festival lineup. They have the same draw now as they did when they first rose to prominence after releasing ‘With Love and Squalor’, which was 10 years old this year, pretty apt. Along with Band of Skulls, the ferocious rockers who brought us ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’ and more recently released their third album in 2014, ‘Himalayan’, and Circa Waves, the relatively new band from Liverpool, we’re looking strong already and the lineup is bound to get even stronger.
Tickets are on sale now via all good ticket sellers, which are listed on the festival’s official Web site.
Many a student night in Leeds has started at the University’s various music bars, and Live at Leeds 2015 was no different. The one key difference was that the action kicked off at midday. A trip to Mine saw Tibet, a young contingent from Wales with a ’60s sound and punchy guitars, take the stage. The Cardiff band have gathered support from Huw Stephens recently, and shows with Misty Miller are also helping raise their profile. They induced a vibrant punk sound to a crowd of 60 or so. ‘She Don’t Know’ takes influences from The Kinks, with attacking drums and an upbeat chorus, and it holds their set together. The blissed out B-side ‘My Girl’ has a mature sound, with building slacker rock and brooding harmonies. All in all, they deliver a cohesive and bouncy set and given their catalogue remains so small right now, that’s a feat.
Across town at Oporto we catch LIVES, a Liverpudlian contingent who have kept a quiet online presence so far. Sheltering from the drizzle outside, Oporto is almost shoulder to shoulder, and the quintet deliver a promising show of indie. “While you were waiting, use your imagination.” calls vocalist Jamie on ‘White Lies’ (streaming below), which is one of the few songs the quintet have actually released online. For the past year, it really has been a case of using your imagination, as we’ve waited eagerly to hear more. Since their breakout track though, they have been writing hard, and there are some exciting tracks played today. Sweeping indie riffs and rocky choruses course through the energy of this band, as they do on ‘Short Memory’, and despite the bright bursts of energy, frontman Jamie remains firmly in control. He makes it look so effortless that you almost forget he’s there during the thrashing peaks, before he throws himself towards the crowd and looks back to the stage as he takes in the hard-hitting soundscape his bandmates produce.
We pay a trip to The Key Club next, as things get heavier with a set from Get Inuit. Recently signed to Alcopop! Records, the Kent four piece seem to find the label “dirty pop” following them around almost inevitably, and it all makes sense in a live setting. They come across brutish, with psych riffs shooting through their set rapidly, as Jamie Glass leads the four-piece through their recently released EP. ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ has a penchant for supersonic hooks and gutsy cries from Glass, as they jump across the stage. If there wasn’t a barrier, then they would probably have jumped off it. The crowd gives a warm reception nonetheless, as ‘I Would’ slams into lofty instrumentals and ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’ offers another nod to their fuzz-pop panache, which should see its way onto a debut album before 2015 is out.
Up the road at Leeds Uni’s Beckett campus, Port Isla arrive slightly later than planned due to tech problems. The venue fills (and punters rapidly begin to get impatient) almost as quickly as the Suffolk band’s rise since opening for George Ezra and playing a host of festivals in the past year. ‘In The Long Run’ is where their set begins, with joyful harmonies and an upbeat melody. Ever the showman, Will Bloomfield quickly apologises for the delay…”we were doing our hair” he explains cheekily. With their original set list out the window, they fire off a volley of incredibly well written folk pop that includes ‘Volcano’. No sign of their equally upbeat numbers like ‘Steamroller’ or ‘Sinking Ship’, however they are energetic and heartfelt all at the same time, as Bloomfield leads the band as though he’s been a frontman for years. He’s engaging to watch and witty too, not to mention his talents across guitars and keys, particularly as he charms on a song which he explains is about the band’s native Suffolk. The show is slick, and the songs keep getting better as the instrumentation continues to come together and now has added synth treats.
From stadium sized folk pop to indie rock, a return to Mine sees Dundee’s finest Model Aeroplanes pull out all the stops. Rory Fleming (vocals and guitar), Grant Irvine (guitar), Ben Buist (bass) and Kieran Moyles (drums) are undoubtedly on their way to some big things. As on of the tightest bands playing in this overcrowded genre, they make sure you remember them with a bevvy of infectious tracks, and this set includes new single ‘Drunk in the Pool’. They’re in danger of being renamed the ‘single-slayers’ given their canny knack for exuberant melodies, as Irving and Buist provide jagged guitar thrills on ‘Club Low’ and Fleming adds lyrics and persona that other young bands spend years trying to find. This band click so well on stage that they make it look like every show they play is the only show that matters, and from ‘Innocent Love’ to ‘Crazy’, the fun they have on stage quickly rubs off on the crowd.
Leeds’ reputation for live music would struggle without the community-owned Brudenell Social Club, which is where Bloody Knees take to the stage next. The trio from Cambridge produce the most spirited performance of the festival, as their garage punk roars into life with the seismic likes of ‘Stitches’. “And I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun” yells vocalist Bradley Griffiths as the Brudenell comes to life with a circle pit.
Their energetic performance goes on to include a bloody moment no less, as the band’s close fans show reckless abandon to the slew of burly riffs, one reveller in the pit ending up with a bloody nose. The party continues until The Magic Gang bring a little more peace at first, the slow jam guitars of new single ‘Alright’ restoring some kind of normality. By the time their set launches into the JAWS-esque guitar lines of ‘No Fun’ however, bodies are flailing around the room again. There’s plenty of crowd-surfing from this loyal 50 or so fans who are present, with bodies tossed in the air triumphantly, before ‘She Won’t Ghost’ wraps things up. The Brudenell may have had one of the smallest crowds of the day, but it’s also clear this was the wildest crowd Leeds had to offer, clearly a sign of these fledgling band’s having some of the most passionate fans going.
Back in the city centre, Laura Doggett takes to the stage as part of the Communion-curated line-up at Holy Trinity Church. The West Country songsmith delivers a stunning performance, with spiralling vocals and an angelic soundscape of keys and percussion. Her breakout tracks ‘Phoenix’, ‘Old Faces’ and ‘Moonshine’ exemplify her graceful delivery; however, through the angelic twists of her songs, it all feels a little bit too well staged. There have been comparisons to the likes of Florence Welch sonically, but she remains rooted to the spot with only subtle hand gestures to inspire her performance. She proves stunning nonetheless, and more live exposure will hopefully see her sets become more vivid and expressive in the future.
Closing at Holy Trinity is Lucy Rose (pictured at top), on the path towards her second album, the follow up to ‘Like I Used To’, due out this July. Plagued by technical problems, she takes to the stage repeatedly to apologise for the delay, and some 45 minutes late appears acoustically and taking song requests from the audience. Humbled by the support of her patient fans, her acoustic renditions of ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’ were one of the most priceless ways she could repay them.
Despite being itching to show off her new material, she reluctantly succumbs to performing with a more stripped-back sound, until her band spring to life on ‘Bikes’ as the keys kick in and all technical problems are resolved. In an instant, the crowd grows delighted, whooping and hollering as Lucy and her band beam at the turn of events.
Taking to her electric guitar with defiance, she treats us all to her newest material that oozes of progression. There’s a marked development from the somewhat stripped back, even cagey stories of her debut, with the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ carrying a distinct set of bass lines and reverberating synthesis. “Wait, we are not fine, wait you are not mine…” she says with a grit that would have been out of the ordinary on her softer, folk tinged debut. This confident output makes for a striking arrangement of her other new tracks too; ‘Like An Arrow’ has the kind of resplendent, upbeat harmony she’s renowned for, but just carries an assertiveness that’s been missing in the past. ‘Until The End’ is another new track that has some punch to it, whilst she also performs ‘I Tried’, with a more left-field electronica influenced sound.
It’s a preview of an even more promising next step from Lucy and her band, and amidst the problems of this evening, the new tracks are well received. Seeing her perform in an intimate venue or church environment has been a must in the past, for the song writer who honed her craft at open mic nights. If her evolving sound and flourishing live show tonight is anything to go by though, she’ll be playing far bigger venues before the year is out and still captivating every member of the audience…