With over 100 bands, from a wide range or genres, playing across 14 venues across the city of Leeds on Saturday, Roomzzz Marketing Manager (Gary Skipper) just had to check out this extraordinary festival showcasing the best up and coming musical talent from the UK and further afield.
As a big music fan, I was extremely looking forward to my first Live at Leeds in the City, and with so many great bands playing the festival, a bit of pre-gig prep was definitely required. There were a handful of bands I had heard of on the bill, but the majority of the artists were new to me. The Live at Leeds Spotify playlist was a great way to sample the new bands and short-list the ones that I liked the sound of.
The next step was to download the Live at Leeds app which made it really easy to select the bands that I was interested in, identify schedule clashes and make a solid plan for the day. It was also really useful on the day itself in terms of getting from venue to venue.
Due to the nature of the beast, and a testament to the quality of the line-up, I frustratingly had to miss out on quite a few new bands and artists that caught my attention such as Keg, The Joy Hotel and Mickey Callisto. However, they can still count me as a fan and I will continue to listen to their music and look out for them when they tour/ play festivals in the future.
2.00pm: Cowboyy, Belgrave Music Hall
The first sets started at 12pm, but I couldn’t get into Leeds until 1pm. Having dropped off my things at Roomzzz Leeds City on Swinegate, it was just 10 minutes’ walk to collected my wristband from the Wardrobe (VIP…why not treat myself?), and then it was just a short walk to the Belgrave Music Hall for my first band of the day.
Cowboyy, an art-pop collective from the South East, weren’t just the first band of the day but also the first of my new discoveries from the LAL Spotify Playlist. What surprised me was that I thought their rhythmic sound must be generated with the help of computers and synthesisers, but all the songs such as GMAp , Plastic and Tennis were created live by effects pedals, exceptional fret work and some clever guitar noodling! It was the perfect sonically charged start to the day.
3.00pm: Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird, Belgrave Music Hall
There was no need to go anywhere for the next band of the day as they followed on the same stage. Of all the bands on my schedule, I was looking forward to Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird the most. I only discovered them from the LAL Spotify playlist and they are already a firm favourite of mine due to a discography of gorgeous songs including When This is Over, Love is Heartbreak and Cool Parties. It was such a small stage for the Australian quintet to perform but with founder Lachlan Rosehas distinctive voice and a collective of such talented musicians their music soared. The only disappointment was that it was only a 30-minute set. I hope they come back to the UK to tour soon and also bring some records with them as I can’t seem to buy them anywhere online!
4.00pm: The Bug Club, Leeds Beckett Student Union
It was a quick turnaround with only 30 minutes to get from the Belgrave Music Hall to Leeds Beckett SU for The Bug Club. This was the only occasion my VIP wristband really came in handy, but I did feel extremely guilty waltzing past everyone else queuing to get into the venue with only a few minutes to spare.
I have been a fan of The Bug Club for a while and I have seen them live on a few different occasions. I would describe the trio like a Welsh Moldy Peaches but with better guitar solos. Their loud guitars, DIY style and sometimes nursery rhyme like lyrics are probably not for everyone, but I am a big fan and they made a big impact with an energetic set as they have done on every occasion that I have seen them.
5.15pm: Hamish Hawk, Leeds Beckett Student Union
I first heard Hamish Hawk (both the name of the band and lead singer/songwriter) at Sitting Room comedy club in Harrogate. They played the wordy-titled ‘The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973’ in the playlist prior to the gig, my ears pricked up, I Shazamed it, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. I’ve seen him/ them perform at a gig at Gorilla in Manchester, a solo-performance/ record signing at the Vinyl Whistle in Headingley and now at Live at Leeds.
Not that it is an unflattering comparison, but Hamish Hawk often gets compared to Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) due to his cleverly written lyrics. However, I feel this is a lazy assessment as both artists are extremely talented and unique individuals.
The Live at Leeds set list didn’t disappoint with a high energy whistle stop through the best songs off his last two albums ‘Heavy Elevator’ and ‘Angel Number’, brought to life by the whole band and Hamish’s distinctive vocal style and dancing.
7.15pm: Feet, The Wardrobe
After a quick bite to eat at My Thai and it was off to The Wardrobe for my final band of the day. I can’t remember when I first heard ‘Feet’, but my first taster was the song ‘Ad Blue’ – Check out their quirky western video for the song on YouTube to get a good feel for the band.
I think Feet, who met at Coventry University, unfairly gets described as some sort of out-of-step Britpop band due to the Englishness of their songs and lyrics (Dog Walking, English Weather, Library), but they very much have their own style and are miles apart from a 90s indie tribute act.
Having seen them at the Brudenell Social Club recently, in comparison, the five piece could have felt quite constrained by the small stage at The Wardrobe, but singer George Haverson made full use of the venue as a whole and spent a good chunk of the set either within or on top of the audience! This made for a high-energy performance (as always!) of a good mix of fan favourites (Chalet 47, Changing my Mind Again) and teases from the up-and coming album. The perfect ending for my first Live at Leeds in the City.
Although 8pm seemed like an early finish, the scheduling didn’t allow for me to get to one of my final chosen bands of the day in the shape of Lime Garden, Automation or Wunderhorse, and with a busy day scheduled for Sunday, the after-show party at The Wardrobe just wasn’t on the table.
However, having had a great day watching a good mix of bands I was a fan of and newly discovered talent, I’ll definitely be back next year.
Walk from Roomzzz Leeds City
- O2 Academy -14 mins
- First Direct Arena -14 mins
- Belgrave Music Hall -10 mins
- The Wardrobe – 10 mins
Walk from Roomzzz Leeds City West
- LUU Stylus – 12mins
- Brudenell Social Club – 13 mins