Live at Leeds is one of the earlier events as festival season begins, and year after year proves to be the perfect start to the summer.
This year the weather wasn’t brilliant but that didn’t stop music fans in their droves making the most of the city center festival. Headliners Metronomy sadly had to cancel due to a burst pipe at Stylus but a whole host of other brilliant acts played throughout the day, and we were right there in the middle of the action!
We checked out VANT first on the Dork Stage at the Wardrobe, the politically-charged brainchild of Mattie Vant. The singer and his live band were ultimately a fantastic opener for the day ahead, reminding the audience of the global issues we face despite the setting. It was quite the contrast then to head over to the Brudenell Community Room for Rachel Chinouriri, the Croydon singer-songwriter whose sun-tinged material delivered the small crowd away from the cold and drizzle of Leeds.
Drenge opened up the Leeds Festival Stage at the O2 Academy with a mixed bag set that had both highs and lows. Their performance of older material certainly seemed to keep the crowd energized, but some of their newer music fell flat as it wasn’t so familiar. The Momentum & Independent Stage at Leeds Beckett SU had Gengahr up next, and we tried our best to focus on the set despite being momentarily distracted by a six-foot-tall man dressed as Princess Leia. It was Star Wars Day, after all, but our attention was soon turned back to the Hackney four-piece who dazzled with top hits such as ‘She’s A Witch’ and ‘Before Sunrise’.
Back to the Dork Stage for SPINN, who suffered quite a few technical difficulties but still managed to persevere and deliver a set that demonstrated their skills and showed the crowd that they’ve got what it takes to make it big. A top pick of Highwire Magazine’s for the day, Faux Pas wowed the crowd on the Yorkshire Music Forum Stage at Hi-Fi. Their unique brand of Northern “Slacker Indie” is what the future of this genre will no doubt be built upon, and tracks like the anthemic ‘TV Made Me Paranoid’ will go down in history.
Then on the very same stage, it was time for Sports Team, a band that seems to be going from strength to strength. They’re all the buzz right now and music fans continue to flock to them, so it was no surprise that they managed to draw a sizeable crowd at Live at Leeds despite some of the gutting clashes. It was their second of two sets that day, with the six-piece playing a secret set on Briggate High Street earlier that afternoon. This is a band that knows how to delight the masses, and so really were the only band who could pull off two sets in one day as part of the same festival.
The Leeds University Refectory hosted the Farah Stage and Black Honey absolutely sizzled, with lead singer Izzy Phillips wearing what looked like pyjamas but still proving to be brilliantly seductive in her delivery. The band played both older tracks and cuts from their recent eponymous debut, giving each and every person in the crowd what they wanted.
Swim Deep have played only a handful of shows over the last couple of years as they work on the follow-up to 2015’s Mothers, so the Dork Stage was packed out with excited fans looking to visit the ghost of indie’s past. For many, Swim Deep have waited far too long to release new music and so they’re no longer relevant— this was certainly not the case as they performed a set jam-packed with not only old favourites such as ‘She Changes The Weather’ and ‘Honey’ but also new material that has not yet been released. The new music is more reminiscent of the band’s work on Where The Heaven Are We than Mothers, and that seemed to be highly appreciated by those packed into the Wardrobe. The energy was positively electric, feeding off of Swim Deep themselves who have always been well known for their excellent stage presence. New band members Tom Tomaski and Robbie Wood who replaced Zack Robinson and Tom Higgins respectively were introduced by lead singer Austin Williams, who’s bucket hat was quite frankly an additional highlight of the evening.
Our final stop of the night was at Headrow House for Big Wild, one of the few American artists on the Live at Leeds lineup. Big Wild, also known as Jackson Stell, is better known for his production and composing work but has recently moved into singing himself. The way Stell performs is electric; he himself is as upbeat, unique and downright groovy as his music. His new album Superdream provided solid material for his live set, combining electronic beats with tender vocals that made for the perfect conclusion to the Live at Leeds experience.