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Live at Leeds 2015: Editor Mary’s Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 6th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

For more of my photos from Live at Leeds 2015, visit my Flickr.

It’s always a bit daunting to come to a brand new city and hit the ground running at a music festival you’ve heard about for years and have only heard the highest praise for it. Such was my personal trepidation ahead of Live at Leeds 2015, the 9th annual installment of an event where artists descend on the West Yorkshire town, drawn in like moths to a flame.

I’ve no idea how anyone ever did this festival prior to the advent of the smartphone. It seemed by the time I finally sussed the lay of the land and knew where all the venues were, it was all over. In between 11 AM of picking up our press credentials at the First Direct Arena until midnight, the 13 hours were packed with bands; running around to see said bands; catching up with friends, many of whom were in some of those said bands, but others who were new mates; and familiarising myself and falling in love with nearly every venue I had the pleasure of stepping into. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kindness, hospitality, good food, and of course the amazing music that makes an event like this so worthwhile, ensuring my first Live at Leeds experience was a good one.

Despite the intention I set for myself at every festival – “Don’t get lost!” – construction and obstructed signage at the Leeds Coach Station turned me around and made me late for Longfellow performing at the Wardrobe on the east side of the city centre. The group from London recently released the new EP ‘Remedy’ on Fierce Panda Records (read my review of it here) and were eager to perform in front of their first-ever audience in Leeds. Ever the testament to the city as supportive to the British music scene, the 1 PM gig was well attended. Good on you, Leeds!

I arrived just in time for EP standout ‘Where I Belong’, showing their knack for anthemic songwriting. Their set also included BBC 6 Music stalwart ‘Kiss – Hug – Makeup’, another EP number ‘Chokehold’ and what frontman Owen Lloyd calls “their birthday song” they bring out for celebrations, ‘May the Light’, which appears on their 2014 mini-album ‘Prelude’. Longfellow’s set ended on a high note with live fan favourite ‘Medic’.

Staying put at the Wardrobe, I got a full dose of Racing Glaciers. I have to admit in recent years, I’ve had a jaded eye for any band that has a synthesiser set up centre stage; I’m half expecting a couple of plinky-plonky notes being dropped not for any good reason but just because it’s required these days. Seeing that they appeared directly after Longfellow and also have a keyboard player, logic would dictate that the sound system would make Racing Glaciers’ anthemic style I sussed from them on record translate to something similar sounding to the Londoners who played before them. Instead, the massive loudness and brashness from the band from Macclesfield, including, dare I say it some funky bass notes live, suggest to me that they’re a band who should not be so easily pigeon-holed. Their self-titled and ‘Don’t Wait for Me’ EPs certainly deserve further attention.

After a brief catch-up on the way with TGTF friends The Orielles who had just finished their own gig at Leeds Beckett Stage 2, I was on to my third band of the day. I had a general idea that I would be trekking north and upwards towards the Mine in the Leeds Uni Student Union, but I had no idea the labyrinthine path Google Maps had laid out for me would take me up steps of Rocky-isian proportions. But if there’s anything that will inspire me to get somewhere and quickly, it’s a band.

Half out of breath by the time I reached Leeds Uni, I arrived just in time for the final soundchecking by Oxford indie pop band Pixel Fix, whose ‘Running Thin’ EP of summer 2014 was one of my favourites from last year. They have that poppy, bouncy synth thing going that’s not quite as dancey as Friendly Fires but nearly there (see ‘Lungs’) and that’s where they shine; I’m not as convinced by the oozy, woozy, r&b jam attempts but hey, that’s what sells on Radio 1. What is entirely evident is the undeniable energy that can only radiate from youth, with frontman Marcus Yates definitely looking the part with his spiky blonde hair. With the right kind of promotion, Pixel Fix are the kind of band you expect playing to a crowd of screaming teenagers in a venue near you. Soon.

Despite my prior impression that the place would only be filled with hipster uni kids bopping their heads side to side to the beat, there were plenty of adults too, many of them chatting with each other and saying how good this band was and how quickly they expected them to “make it”. This isn’t a common occurrence from where I come from, so I base on these overheard conversations that the older generation of Leeds music fans has excellent taste and hopefully good prescience!

What goes up must come down, yes? Or so the saying goes. Once I figured out how to get to and up to Leeds Uni, it was reasonably quick work to get back into the city centre. In my rush to not be late to my next band appointment, rushing through the corridors of Leeds Student Union, I nearly collided headfirst into Tom Ogden (you can’t miss him with that gorgeous, flowing Pantene hair of his) and the rest of Stockport psych band Blossoms, who were checking out bands before their set at the Stylus later that day.

Following a quick hello and a run back into town, I was at the Academy, whose front door oddly shares frontage space with pretty amazing Gothic architecture (the whole thing is a Grade II listed building). As much as I adore Oxford’s Stornoway, Leeds Academy has a capacity of 2,300 in the main space, and I had a hard time believing their folk pop sound would translate well into such a cavernous location.

Boy, was I wrong. As I am sat here typing this up while on holiday in Ireland, it occurred to me yesterday while seeing a larger than life mural of U2 on the side of a building in Temple Bar that Bono has nothing on Brian Briggs at this point. I enjoyed a good portion of their third and latest album ‘Bonxie’ that was released a short time ago on Cooking Vinyl, but I found the collection uneven and hoped against hope that the new tracks would sound amazing live.

At least I was right on the mark with that prediction! My feeling is they had such a good time working with an outside producer for the first time, it freed them as both musicians and people, and it gave them just the right encouragement to step outside their comfort zone that perhaps they might not have felt without working with Gil Norton. Straight out of the gate, frontman Briggs seemed much more at ease speaking to a throng of people than I have seen him ever, which was incredibly good timing, seeing that a massive crowd had assembled at the Academy to see his band play.

Their opening salvo ‘Between the Saltmarsh and the Sea’, smartly continuing the Stornoway tradition of artfully arranged harmonies, was simply and devastatingly beautiful, its expansiveness reaching into every nook and cranny of the Academy and certainly into each and every heart present in the venue, and album single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ followed suit. The uplifting nature of both ‘Get Low’ and ‘Lost Youth’ can’t be beat, and in a surprising turn of events, a rousing, folk-ified cover version of Yazz’s ‘The Only Way is Up’ had fangirls and fanboys of all ages singing along – loudly, I might add – to the Oxfordians. Nods to their early years with 2010’s ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’ were also included, including an unexpected but completely appreciated dedication to your humble editor on ‘I Saw You Blink’. All in all, it was a performance that you couldn’t ask for anything more from. Except more songs: calls for an encore went sadly unheeded.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Live at Leeds 2015 review, which will post tomorrow here on TGTF.

 

Live at Leeds 2015 Preview: Chris’ best band bets

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Please note: as with all of 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 2015 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the festivities in Leeds on Saturday the 2nd of May are still available at the bargain price of £27.50. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

Under top secret cover earlier this week, TGTF were given the Live at Leeds 2015 band schedule before its official release this morning. We’ve had a read through of the massive schedule, and in this post, our newest contributor Chris Donnelly offers in this Live at Leeds 2015 preview his best band bets for the festival.

Ady Suleiman
Nottingham’s soulful songwriter Ady Suleiman has finally put out his first studio recordings in recent weeks, taken from his debut EP ‘This Is My EP’. His debut single ‘So Lost’ is a fusion of spoken word poeticisms and smooth R&B tempos, as the half English, half Tanzanian youngster delivers a sophisticated jazz swagger. A live appearance will showcase his impeccable harmonies and on stage charisma, as he looks ahead to a year where his song writing looks to finally gain the recognition it deserves.

Ady Suleiman performs at Holy Trinity Church at 3 PM.

Port Isla
Producing catchy folk-rock comes easier to Port Isla than most, with their recent EP ‘In The Long Run’ turning heads (and ears) across the UK. Vocalist Will Bloomfield and his bandmates have taken some Coldplay inspiration in writing electrifying songs with catchy choruses and expansive instrumentals. A tour with George Ezra has increased support for them, and their recent signing to Parlophone signals even greater things are to come since their debut ‘Sinking Ship’.

Port Isla perform at Leeds Met Stage 2 at 4 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpAW9CbiTq8[/youtube]

Twin Wild
This indie rock four-piece have already supported You Me At Six, and hit the road with Nothing But Thieves earlier in the year. Their first year at Live At Leeds comes off the back of immense success with their breakthrough track ‘Fears’, which even AlunaGeorge reposted on their Soundcloud. It’s full of soaring, anthemic rock climaxes, whilst latest single ‘Another Stranger’ has an even sharper set of riffs at it’s core, both of which are set to make a frenzied set at The Key Club.

Twin Wild perform at The Key Club at 4 PM.

Osca
Not to be confused with any other Oscars at this year’s festival, these Londoners spurn ambient guitar-pop, with a wistful touch. Their debut EP ‘Blood’ is the perfect introduction to the four piece, as they introduce their prowess at mixing folky, Kodaline-style harmonies with brooding stadium rock, and well-crafted electronic production too.

Osca perform at Leeds College of Music at 4:30 PM.

The Mispers
This five-piece know how to put on a good show, having started their own ‘Missing Til Monday’ parties in the capital during their formation. Frontman Jack Balfour Scott and his bandmates have a riotous presence, backed with a set of killer folky, alt-rock inspired songs, such as ‘Brother’, ‘Dark Bits’ and ‘The Weekend’. Somewhere amongst their passionate live performance you’ll even discover them finding room for violin arrangements…..

The Mispers perform at Wardrobe at 5 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHacGqpbdN0[/youtube]

The Amazons
Hailing from Reading, this band are keeping their cards close to their chests, keeping a mysterious presence despite an intense industry furore to manage them. On ‘Something In The Water’ it all fits into place; “If I close my eyes, and I fall asleep, will I think about you?” come the gravely lyrics from their frontman, with some gripping Alt-J and Maccabees influences in the indie guitars and tropical synths that drive through their eddying choruses.

The Amazons perform at The Faversham at 6:30 PM.

Lauren Aquilina
Three EPs into her journey as a songwriter, Lauren Aquilina continues to astound at just 19. Currently working on her debut album, each release so far has shown a marked maturity and progression in her work, from the chart ready heartbreaker ‘Fools’, to the dramatic cinematic sound of ‘Lovers or Liars’. She’s capable of some spine tingling piano balladry, and coupled with impressive vocals, her legion of young fans isn’t going to stop growing anytime soon, from the UK’s teens to Taylor Swift….

Lauren Aquilina performs at Leeds College of Music at 9:45 PM.

Lucy Rose
Having seen Lucy Rose and her work their magic in a church setting 2 years ago, I simply can’t recommend this set enough. It’s a chance to catch her fresh from her first UK headline tour in over a year, and with some new material from her follow up to her 2012 debut ‘Like I Used To’. Expect an evening of spine-tingling acoustic numbers, with the perfect blend warming folk-pop feist too.

Lucy Rose performs at Holy Trinity Church at 10:15 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8tOngmlES0[/youtube]

 

Live at Leeds 2015 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as with all of 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 2015 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the festivities in Leeds on Saturday the 2nd of May are still available at the bargain price of £27.50. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

Under top secret cover earlier this week, TGTF were given the Live at Leeds 2015 band schedule before its official release this morning. We’ve had a read through of the massive schedule, and in this post, editor Mary Chang offers her best bets for the festival in this Live at Leeds 2015 preview post.

Get Inuit
Eskimoes aren’t known to be all that musical or quirky, so imagine my surprise when Kent’s Get Inuit was both. They have a single called ‘Dress of Bubble Wrap’, for god’s sakes. And it’s amazing in its pop brilliance. Like your indie pop / rock a little off-kilter with loads of great guitars and titles like ‘Cutie Pie I’m Bloated’? (I’m not kidding.) This is the band for you.

Get Inuit perform at the Key Club at 3 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__wF1ciSmxs[/youtube]

Pixel Fix
2014 was a good year for Oxford’s Pixel Fix. The indie pop trio from Oxford released their ‘Running Thin’ EP in the summer, featuring the ultra catchy ‘Lungs’ and the smooth jam ‘Change This’. In terms of touring, they got to gain many more fans supporting Cheltenham TGTF Bands to Watch success story Young Kato on their spring UK tour, and then later on in November, they were chosen for Communion Music’s New Faces tour. They might be playing an absurdly early time in the afternoon, but I view this positively: you have a better shot of figuring them into your schedule.

Pixel Fix perform at Leeds Uni Mine at 3:30 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbChXEZkqHg[/youtube]

Stornoway
No strangers to major tours and festivals, arguably Oxford’s biggest band of the moment Stornoway come to Leeds to promote their new and third album ‘Bonxie’ (out on the 13th of April on Cooking Vinyl), their first with an outside producer (Gil Norton, who has worked with the likes of Pixies and Foo Fighters). And the results are spectacultar: early taster tracks like the reflective single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ and the upbeat ‘Get Low’ prove while beefing up their pop sound, they’ve been able to keep the harmonies and wittiness they’ve always been known for.

Stornoway perform at the Academy at 4 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN1L-eyUAk[/youtube]

Astronomyy
As an editor by trade, I’ll usually scoff at song titles and band names that are purposely misspelled. However, in my research ahead of SXSW 2015, the Worcestershire musician’s music truly impressed me and enough for me to put him on my must-see list for SXSW 2015. All was well until he broke the news to me that he wasn’t coming to Austin. (Cue sadface.) To my delight though, he’ll be in Leeds to drop his chill, surf guitar-laced, r&b infused tunes. A recent collaboration with London singer Denai Moore on the track suggests he’s poised to be the next big, in-demand, young producer in the UK.

Astronomyy performs at the Hifi at 4:45 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQs9hco8HVw[/youtube]

BAD//DREEMS
Certainly winning the award for having travelled the furthest for Live at Leeds, Adelaide, Australia band BAD//DREEMS come highly recommended from many Aussies I met in Austin last month. They’re a guitar band with ‘Dumb Ideas’, out to have a good time and they want to bring you along for this loud, raucous ride. Bring marmite, I’m sure they will be wanting some. They also mentioned to me on Twitter about wanting crumbed sausages…I don’t know if Leeds has those but I guess if all else fails, bring some Greggs.

BAD//DREEMS perform at Nation of Shopkeepers at 6 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeFzlUygDJE[/youtube]

Honne
London soul / electro duo Honne will have a reason to celebrate at the festival – just 2 days after, they’ll be releasing a new EP on their own new record label Tatemae Recordings. EP track ‘Coastal Love’ has already passed 4,500 likes on Hype Machine, and the song follows the already great success of their first track released to the wild, the super sexy ‘Warm on a Cold Night’. Get on this train before it leaves the station without you.

Honne perform at the Hifi at 6:45 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the duo is this way.

LoneLady
In Manchester, the shadows of electronic heroes New Order still haunt music makers, but it’s about bloody time for someone else to bring the city fully into the 21st century. Enter musician/producer Julie Ann Campbell, who records under the name LoneLady presumably to emphasise this is her project and hers alone, because we all know there are some very backward thinking men in this business who think it’s impossible for a woman to do all of this. (Sad, really…) ‘Groove It Out’ is getting a lot of radio airplay at the moment, and deservedly so for its ineffable catchiness and yes, sick groove.

Lonelady performs at Belgrave Music Hall at 7 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlFe8yfYSHw[/youtube]

Tom Williams
Though he’s more famous for his band of brothers, their “Boat” and the three albums to their name, Tom Williams decided last year during the down time of recording of their third band LP to start writing a new set of songs fit for an acoustic setting and strike out on his own in a new stripped back endeavour. Just released last week, his debut release as a solo artist, the ‘New Guitar’ EP, places the focus back on Williams’ songwriting talent, guitar chords and the rich timbre of his voice.

Tom Williams performs at Leeds College of Music Recital Hall at 10:30 PM. For past coverage on Tom Williams and the Boat, head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-9Q_HP9ZWc[/youtube]

New contributor Chris Donnelly’s Live at Leeds 2015 preview with his best band bets will be posting shortly here on TGTF.

 

(Live at Leeds 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1775: High Hazels

 
By on Tuesday, 31st March 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Things have been quiet on the High Hazels front as of late, but the Sheffield band have released this week a new video of ‘Valencia’, their new single from their self-titled debut album released last year on Heist or Hit Records. (Read John’s review of the 2014 LP here.) Watch the video below.

‘Valencia’ will be released as part of a limited edition CD package hand-painted by the band; the CD will have exclusive b-sides and can be preordered from Rough Trade now ahead of its release on the 27th of April. High Hazels are scheduled to appear at Live at Leeds 2015 on Saturday the 2nd of May.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17h_Mw4tKdg[/youtube]

 

(Live at Leeds 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1769: Stornoway

 
By on Monday, 23rd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Having championed wildlife conservation charities and the teaching of birdsong alongside the more conventional languages French and German, Stornoway are science geeks after my own heart. There isn’t an obvious connection of the lyrics of ‘Get Low’ from their upcoming third album ‘Bonxie’ to flying feathered friends, but their new promo video to go with the song neatly brings things round back to nature. Somehow I doubt they would have hired trained ducks for this shoot, so for the fact alone that their guest stars so gracefully and take to the skies – and by their side – is worth viewing this video alone. Beautiful.

‘Bonxie’ sees the light of day on the 13th of April on Cooking Vinyl. The band’s previously revealed single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ and ‘Josephine’ in demo form will also both appear on the new LP. The band begin a new UK tour in Southampton on the 21st of April and have also announced a high-profile appearance at Live at Leeds 2015.

Keen on reading past coverage of Stornoway on TGTF? Head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN1L-eyUAk[/youtube]

 

Preview: Live at Leeds 2015

 
By on Wednesday, 4th February 2015 at 9:00 am
 

For the average music festival-goer, summer is their season. For music reviewers like us here at TGTF, May is go time, for it’s the one month of the year starring the most important emerging music events in the UK. We’ve already done initial previews for both The Great Escape (14-16 May) and Liverpool Sound City (22-24 May), and now it’s time to turn our attention away from the Southern seaside and the Northwest to go due east into Yorkshire for the winner of Best Metropolitan Festival 2014 at the UK Festival Awards. Annual event Live at Leeds, celebrating 9 years this year, have just revealed their first list of bands scheduled to perform in clubs, bars and performance spaces on the 2nd of May, the Saturday of the first May bank holiday.

You’ll recognize the bigger names. Oxford’s Stornoway (pictured at top), who announced in January details to their third album ‘Bonxie’ to be released in April, will be raring to go with an appearance in Leeds smack dab in the middle of an already announced UK tour. Carl Barat with his new band the Jackals will be releasing their debut album ‘Let It Reign’ is less than 2 weeks; critics are already saying that it’s Barat’s fine return to form and his best since the ‘Up the Bracket’ days. Emmy the Great, who showed off a brand new, outward-looking side of herself in her latest ‘S’ EP released in mid-January will also appear. Homegrown talent is also represented higher up the bill, with the psychedelic rock of Eagulls and Hookworms sure to please.

Further down the bill are the hopefuls that truly make emerging festivals like this one so special. London electro soul duo Honne, who just played a triumphant sold out show at Electrowerkz last night, are sure to be one of the biggest indie draws of Live at Leeds this year. Pixel Fix from Oxford, who released the fantastic ‘Running Thin’ EP last year as well as hold the distinction of having been chosen as one of four acts on the Communion New Faces tour in November 2014, is another good bet. Hype is building behind Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, having moved up from Edge Hill University’s own Label Recordings onto indie Heavenly Recordings, making them a must see as well. London rockers The Mispers, who have been chosen as main support for Kodaline on their UK tour in February and March, are ready for their close-up too.

Keen? Tickets for the 1-day event in May are on sale now for the bargain price of just £27.50. For more information, visit the official Live at Leeds Web site.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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