Since it’s beginnings back in 2007 with just 1,500 attendees, Live At Leeds has grown to be the huge festival it is today. Now boasting 186 acts across 23 stages, the festival was well deserving of its win of Best Metropolitan Festival back in 2014, and of course that award can still apply. Now in it’s 10th year, LAL sees 10,500 people take over Leeds City Centre for one day of music-filled fun, and Gigslutz were lucky enough to join in!
Not expecting a big crowd (we overheard 5 people as an estimate), Trash seem pleasantly surprised at the huge turn out for their intimate show at Oporto. Opening the day for all, the Chesterfield lads adorn the crowd with their cheery noise pop that has gone up a level with the release of their new track ‘Workout’. It’s only been 30 minutes into the festival and there’s already been pits and crowd surfers. The added energy in their set sees everyone ready to take on the rest of their music-packed day.
Not knowing who to see next, the new Briggate stage calls and what a good idea that proves to be. Ahead of his set later in the day, Fletcher Jackson and his band take to the stage in the busy shopping street to blast out his 70s style blues to those missing out on the rest of the festival fun. Even the buckets of hail falling on everyone’s heads, nothing puts a downer on the mood as they push on through their set full of tracks reminiscent of Bob Dylan and classic rock.
Wandering around town takes us to Nation of Shopkeepers to check out Babeheaven. Unknowing of what to expect, their set turns out to be one of the highlights with frontwoman Nancy’s delicate vocals entrancing the crowd. It’s music that fits perfectly with summer; relaxed, easy-going melodies that complement the ethereal vocals seamlessly. It’s easy to see they’ll go far.
Indie veterans Mystery Jets take our fancy next. Just managing to get a space on the balcony for the end of their set, new track ‘Bubblegum’ greets us and leaves the room singing along with the catchy melodies of the chorus which give a nod back to the nostalgic early Mystery Jet days. It’s not long till everyone’s teenage and younger selves return fully with fan favourites ‘Young Love and ‘Two Doors Down’. Screams erupt with every possible harmony and lyric, and the crowd downstairs can hardly stay still due to the excitement. Finishing off with ‘Alice Springs’, everything has one last chance to go mental whether this be the strobes, band onstage or the crowd. Mystery Jets might be the band of everyone’s youth, but they’re proving to be a band of the moment too.
A short taxi ride to Brudenell Social Club sees us there in time for Declan McKenna’s set. After a pit stop of a beautiful pizza and pint in the sun, we head inside to hear his charming take on indie pop. Even with the loss of his Korg leading to some technical difficulties, it doesn’t hold him back. Singles ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’ hold handfuls of emotion and haunting imagery behind their jaunty keys and catchy rhythms. Finishing one track early due to strict time constraints, he leaves the crowd eagerly waiting for the next time he heads back up to Leeds.
Next on our schedule are the Aussie Oasis, DMA’s. Bringing 90s Britpop into the 21th century, the guys from down under, clad in their typical baseball caps and sports gear, fill the packed Refectory with a mix of the tracks off their debut album Hills End. ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Too Soon’ get the crowd involved with pits and grooving along to the fuel-powered tracks, whilst the likes of ‘Delete’ calm things down for a good old singalong. It doesn’t matter that Noel Gallagher says he would boo them if he ever saw them live, Leeds love them and that’s what counts.
Picking between Catholic Action, Beach Baby and Blossoms was always going to be a hard decision, but it has to be Blossoms. Their last Leeds show saw them play to just 400 people at Brudenell Social Club, but now with a capacity of 2,100 on the Dr Martens stage at LUU Refectory, things have gone crazy. Starting off with ‘Cut Me And I’ll Bleed’, it’s soon clear the crowd have come for them. Crowd-pleaser ‘Blown Rose’ sees everyone join in with singer Tom Ogden’s croons, and dance along with the swirling keys. Though having to miss the likes of ‘Charlemagne’ to sprint across town, the start of their set proves how big they’re going to get. Who knows what the next year will see for Blossoms? All we can hope is they can get even bigger, one year they might even headline.
A quick run across Leeds to try and get a spot in Holy Trinity Church sees us bag one of the last spots in the venue. Though only managing to catch the last two songs of Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s set, it’s far from disappointing. Taken from his debut album, Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm, both ‘Shine’ and ‘Atlas Hands’ show off his delicate vocals that silence the church in admiration. Just playing solo with an acoustic guitar, the Yorkshire born and bred musician needs nothing else to impress, as the acoustics of the church do it all for him. Even with his long break, he’s lost no fans as as soon as the last he plucks the last string, cheers erupt making him feel at home.
With a gap to fill, we head back to trusty Nation of Shopkeepers and run into Meilyr Jones’ set. Formally in Race Horses, the now solo singer looks the least likely guy to be hiding a secret eccentricity. His sound shares elements with the likes of Kate Bush, his stage presence reminisces back to Ian Curtis, and then he has the lyrical genius of the poets that inspire Jones, like Keats and Lord Byron. It’s all so technical but played out live so well.
To end the day on a high, we stay in Nations to follow an earlier recommendation of checking out White, a funk-pop band from Glasgow. Think Bowie, mixed with a little bit of Franz Ferdinand and you’d be pretty close. Kicking up one last grove, the art-pop band take the crowd back the early 80s with bass lines so playful and memorable, no one would be able to leave without one stuck in their head. Debut single ‘Future Pleasures’ ups their game with its disco-pop beats, whilst ‘Living Fiction’ draws on post-punk attitudes with frontman Leo Condie’s commanding vocals. Ending with the whole room grooving along, they’re ones to watch in the next few months.
The great thing about Live At Leeds is that it’s not all about the headliners. Pushing the smaller bands gradually up the line-up is something all festivals should do, and mixing the line-up so you have a chance to see everyone you want from headliners to upcoming acts, it all works seamlessly. Though, now it’s over for another year, we’ll just have to wait till 2017 to have all the fun over again.