Long Division Festival 2014 Review

Known as the ‘Merrie City’ in the Middle Ages, Wakefield hasn’t had things quite so rosy in recent times with the decline of the British coal and manufacturing industries in the 1980s. With new investment in infrastructure coming into the city over the last decade, could Long Division help the city be ‘Merrie’ again?

Arriving in the city, there’s clearly a lot of potential with many striking but run-down buildings in the centre. In fact, the first stop of the day was at one of these success stories, Unity Works, a Grade-II listed building dating back to 1867, recently restored into a multi-purpose event venue by a co-operative of investors. In fact the restorations to the main 700 capacity main hall are so recently completed, there still a faint whiff of paint in the air.

With Candy Says pulling out of the festival due to a broken down car, Tuff Love was an alternative in the Unity Works Minor Hall, billed by festival organisers as music for driving. Starting at a slow tempo, introspective plod, the Glaswegian trio were unpolished, but progressed into a more jaunty sound as the set progressed, with the vocal harmonies of the guitarist and bassist mixing well over the fuzzy bass. They deserved some sympathy for the sound issues they experienced, including repeated feedback, amp problems, then a broken string which necessitated finishing the set on a borrowed guitar.

After a few tours of the surrounding blocks trying to find the venue, Juffage took to the stage at Westgate Chapel. When he asked, “Are you guys ready for some pop songs?” this was assumed to be sarcasm, considering his proclivity towards complex, layered math rock, however his set was definitely accessible. It felt as though Juffage was delivering his own feverish sermon at the chapel; with his voice soaring and intensity building up in each song, the set was absolutely captivating and technically excellent. Juffage clearly takes his music seriously, lamenting throughout his set that the sound set-up lost the top end of his vocals, but his perfectionist tendencies paid dividends as his slot was one of the highlights of the day.

Back to a packed Unity Hall, Post War Glamour Girls got underway with ‘Sestra’, the brooding album opener from ‘Pink Fur’, clocking in at over six minutes long. The Leeds quartet showcased new material, ‘Pseudo Macho’, ‘Felonious Punk’, ‘Wax Origins’ and ‘Count Your Blessings’, with ‘Felonious Punk’ and ‘Wax Origins’ standing out as potential highlights from their next album. Final track ‘Gustave’, from their latest EP perhaps demonstrates the best qualities of PWGG, with James’ harsh, growling vocals countered by Alice’s serene tones and ending in a frantic jam with both vocalists kicking over mic stands.

“Just play the tunes Gruff and do that voodoo you do”, shouted a member of the crowd during the delay to the start of Gruff Rhys. The Super Furry Animals lead singer’s solo set was halted for about 15 minutes with problems getting the accompanying background video presentation to work. Eventually, Gruff nonchalantly strolled on stage with a faux-wolf-head hat and a muppet-style puppet of the Welsh explorer John Evans, whose story of sailing to America to discover a tribe of Welsh Indians was recounted. Gruff’s acoustic strums combined with his soaring, echoing vocals were entrancing and backed up the grandeur of the storytelling.

Next up at Players Bar were The Sunbeams, although upon entering, seeing the drummer playing topless almost resulted in seeing what else was on nearby! The Sunbeams are a young, loud and in-your-face Leeds trio, and when a member of the crowd shouted “you’re like the Cribs”, although this displeased the band, they weren’t too off the mark. With catchy riffs and heavy drums backed up by boundless energy, the band really clicked in the songs which involved backing vocals from the guitarist. The young but small crowd were delighted by their high tempo, angular guitar riffs and screaming vocals.

Under an absolutely huge spinning disco ball in the trendy Havana bar, Chorley’s Then Thickens took to a makeshift stage on a dance floor. A project started by Kong’s Jon Lee Martin, the band pumps out a vibrant, foot-tapping sound and deserve their recent plaudits. The band’s sound didn’t suffer appreciably from the absence of co-vocalist Helen Thorpe, with their snarling guitars and funky riffs making their tracks sound even better live than on the album.

Next door in Mulberry, Salvage My Dream’s bassist quipped “This is the furthest north I’ve ever been in my life” to the small crowd. Travelling from London on the National Express early the same morning, the band had quite a trip, but their usage of violin differentiates them and works well with their jangly guitar hooks.

“This is our first ever daytime gig in a graveyard with no alcohol” declared Too Many T's at the outdoor stage in the Orangery. The lack of alcohol available at the Grade II listed Orangery did affect crowd numbers throughout the day but Too Many T's energetic raps harking back to the early 90s 'golden age hip hop' was a festival hi light. With fun rhymes over funky beats, there's definitely a nod to Beastie Boys and Jurassic 5. Free stickers too!

Back to the Unity Works Major Hall, I Like Trains came into full swing, entrancing the crowd with a setlist mainly from their back catalogue but also showcasing a new track. Their fantastic instrumentals were displayed in ‘A Rook House for Bobby’, building into an epic finale. Introspective and contemplative, the band made the grand seem effortless, barely breaking into a sweat over their 45 minute set.

A peculiar fusion of Math-rock with American Punk-rock influences, Wot Gorilla? played one of the most energetic sets of the day back at Havana. With complex, mathy guitar strokes and shrieking vocals overlaying heavy drums, Wot Gorilla? aren’t for everyone’s taste, but their vigour is captivating. They’re well worth watching just to see if your eyes can track the speed of the guitarist’s chord changes – it’s exhausting even just watching!

After giving up on a Slow Club set three tracks in due to poor sound quality at Warehouse 23, it was over to see Islet at the Unity Works Minor Hall. With an intriguing description in the show programme describing them as “a band without rules, where everything is possible”, they were definitely worth a look. Islet are characterised by fluidity, both in terms of swapping instruments between each other and also for not staying on stage. It’s clear that the band sees themselves not only as musicians, but as entertainers, as they’re constantly popping into the crowd, walking, hopping, running and even crawling between the audience members. Most of their tracks are discordant at first, with each member appearing to do their own thing in a disconnected, jarring way, then connecting together into a vibrant, catchy sound. Some of the tracks did miss the mark though, but the band deserves full marks for effort and showmanship and were a memorable and fitting end to the day.

So did the festival make Wakefield “Merrie” again? There was a friendly buzz around the city centre during the daytime and the overall organisation of the festival was fantastic, with the few cancellations communicated well by social media and most venues running close to time.

Unless you’ve a penchant for fast food, options for eating were limited. Sunday's fringe festival which we unfortunately were unable to attend promised craft and food stalls. It's a shame that apart from a lone baked potato van at the Orangery, there were no such stalls available on the Saturday. More options for eating near Unity Works would have been very welcome, created a central focal point for the festival and added to the atmosphere.

Amongst a backdrop of festivals which will do anything to wring extra money out of attendees, Long Division feels like it is trying to give back to the public rather than take, with the availability of free festival programmes, free badges and outrageously cheap £5 t-shirts.

Perhaps the jewel in Long Division’s crown is the accessibility of the venues. Many other festivals, whether city centre or field based, planning the logistics of your day taking into account band clashes, the walk between venues, long queues for toilets and bars can be a headache inducing. With most remote venue Players Bar, just a couple of minutes walk from main venue Unity Works planning your day just isn’t a problem with Long Division. For the indecisive, it’s even practical to see two band half-sets within a 30 minute time period.

As a whole, Long Division represents outstanding value for money and draws in some household name artists such as The Cribs, Slow Club, The Wedding Present, and Gruff Rhys. As the festival organisers point out, when the first festival took place in 2011, Unity Works, Warehouse 23 and Players Bar didn’t even exist; Wakefield is a growing city and Long Division is a growing festival – and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us next year!


Photos by Katie McGuinness


Long Division Preview

Wakefield will play host to the fourth Long Division Festival between September 12th and 14th. Initially conceived as a way of putting Wakefield under the spotlight by acclaimed local music fanzine Rhubarb Bomb, Long Division has grown remarkably since 2011 and has showcased big names including The Fall, The Wedding Present and Los Campesinos!

This year’s bill is bigger than ever, including a headline Friday set by Yorkshire legends The Cribs. Saturday headliners are Welsh Singer-songwriter Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, twee Sheffield duo Slow Club, Psychedelic rock act Toy, London indie-popsters Summer Camp and Long Division veterans The Wedding Present. Sunday sees a free Fringe festival, with acts still to be confirmed.

Admission to The Cribs gig on Friday is £30, whereas a Saturday all-day pass is £22.50. Alternatively, VIP passes granting access to both Friday and Saturday are available for £50. Sunday’s fringe festival is free apart from a separately ticketed headliner which will be announced in the coming weeks. Admittedly this isn’t the most straightforward ticketing structure, but separately-ticketed headliners ensures that fans won’t be turned away disappointed from headliners despite having a wristband.

One of the things which makes Long Division special is its distinctive venues. The jewel in Long Division’s crown this year is the historic Unity Hall, a derelict Grade-II listed building currently undergoing restoration and only due to reopen the week before the festival. Other confirmed locations include dedicated music venue Warehouse 23, Players Bar and listed building The Orangery.

The festival sticks to its local roots with Leeds contributing three top picks from the rest of the line-up, including a Union Hall slot for Leeds quartet Post War Glamour Girls, riding high on the release of their sublime debut album ‘Pink Fur’ earlier this year and a series of festival appearances this summer. Following their tour supporting Embrace this May, brooding post-rockers I Like Trains can be relied on to deliver a theatrical and dramatic set. Solo instrumentalist Juffage is not to be missed, known for his complex, multi-layered live-looping and collaborations with Katie Harkin and Tom Evans.

Saturday and VIP passes are available online now from See Tickets, Jumbo Records and Crash Records, or in person from Wah Wah Records and Debut Records.

Full Long Division 2014 line-up:

The Cribs, The Wedding Present, Slow Club, Gruff Rhys, Toy, Summer Camp, Roddy Woomble, I Like Trains, Mazes, Kid Canaveral, Frankie & The Heartstrings, The Membranes, Beans On Toast, Post War Glamour Girls, Holy Mountain, Islet, Milloy, Casual Sex, Too Many T's, Patterns, Randolph's Leap, Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, Candy Says, Joel Rl Phelps, Bleech, Sam Airey, Brawlers, Then Thickens, Theo Verney, Radstewart, High Hazels, The Witch Hunt, Versechorusverse, Tuff Love, Allusondrugs, Cowtown, The Ainsley Band, Nadine Carina, Cut Ribbons, Buffalo Skinners, Crybabycry, Juffage, Aztec Doll, Treason Kings, The Wind Up Birds, Adore // Repel, Protectors, Ruby Macintosh, Dead Party Scene, Clandestines, Narcs, Samuel S. Parkes, Cactus Knife, The Sunbeams, The Castellers, Deadwall, Flowers, Forever Cult, The Grand, Salvage My Dream, Knuckle, Gunnarson, Yard Wars, The High Club, Jack's Attic, Jamiesaysmile, The Reacharounds, Whales, In Cubicles, Secret Society, Clown, Alpha Shallows, Wearenotdolphins, Yawning Dog, Loz Campbell, Wot Gorilla?, Chanel (C.Nicole), James Coley

Tramlines Festival 2014 Review

Tramlines Festival has become one of the biggest events on the inner city festival calendar. From its early days as a free-to-enter event subsidised by the local council and corporate sponsors, the festival now attracts visitors to Sheffield from all over the country due to the fantastic value of £28 for a full weekend pass to see some of the biggest names in a wide range of music genres including Katy B, Sister Sledge, The Cribs and Public Enemy.

Last year saw over 100,000 music lovers attend the festival, and although this year’s statistics are yet to be announced, attendance had been forecasted to be even higher, which is feasible judging from just how packed the city centre was over the weekend.

Tramlines brought a carnival atmosphere to Sheffield. The city had a palpable buzz, with bars and pubs full to the brim, revellers spilling onto the streets and people of all ages and music tastes enjoying the wide variety of artists on the bill.

Walking around the city, it felt like bands were playing everywhere they could be squeezed in. From car parks to beer gardens, to squares, libraries, museums and even double decker buses, music could be heard. If it wasn’t a band, it was a DJ or an acoustic singer/songwriter. The city was host to a three-day long party, fantastic for the profile of Sheffield and the local economy.

Tramlines has been described as an ‘Urban Glastonbury’ by its organisers. Big boots to fill for a festival only in its sixth year. How did it stack up against its contemporaries and does it deserve such lavish acclaim? We tried to find out.



When the first song by the first band you see at the festival makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, you know you’re in for a special weekend. That’s exactly what happened during Post War Glamour Girls who opened proceedings at City Hall. Roaring single ‘Little Lands’ from the talented Leeds four-piece kicked off a 25-minute set mainly showcasing material from their upcoming second album. Due to being scheduled to play Deer Shed festival at 11am the following day, their relatively early starting time meant they were missed by many, but they fully deserve to be back headlining one of the venues next year.

Bathed in purple light, Sheffield Blessa played in the hugely impressive Cathedral. With parallels drawn to The XX, the dream-pop act drew a crowd of around 300. They couldn’t have suited the venue any better, with vocalist Olivia wearing a nun-style robe and her soaring vocals accentuated by the reverberations of the Cathedral’s acoustics.

A hot, sticky and packed Leadmill was headlined on Friday night by The Wedding Present, an indie-rock band whose success spans a period of almost 30 years and 8 studio albums. Inexplicably starting at 9.30pm rather than 10pm as billed, a constant theme running through the festival, their hits ‘My Favourite Dress’, ‘Corduroy’ and ‘Brassneck’ got a rousing reception from the crowd.


Day two kicked off with the masked and feathered post-rock duo Nordic Giants, who drew a near-capacity crowd to the City Hall. The band played soundtracks to five short, surreal and disturbing films designed to provoke an emotional response from the crowd. Right at the start of the unforgettable set a member of the audience asked, “What the hell is this?” but the originality and compelling showmanship unequivocally won the crowd over.

Next up in City Hall were instrumentalists Brontide, delayed around 10 minutes due to guitarist Tim’s broken looper pedal. Luckily, Talons who played earlier donated theirs to save the day – and it’s a good job they did – the trio are all about complex, multi-layered riffs backed up with hard-hitting drums. The short set of five songs was one of the highlights of the weekend; Brontide’s technical intricacy is softened and made accessible by catchy bass hooks and Tim’s fist-pumping and infectious enthusiasm.

“If you added our ages together, we’d probably be over a thousand years old,” joked Chuck D of Public Enemy. Although his comment was tongue-in-cheek, the experience and calibre of the group showed through in their fantastic hour long headline performance. Many fans were left disappointed as they were unable to get into the full to capacity Devonshire Green. Those lucky enough to gain entry were treated to DJs spinning old-school hip hop tunes which got the crowd in a party mood before Flavor Flav in his trademark clock pendant and Chuck D exploded onto the stage blasting out classics including "Bring the Noise" and "Fight the Power”. Their hour long set finished off with "Harder than you Think" before Flavor Flav declared in a final parting rally cry for peace and unity, "The only race is the human race."

Psychedelic indie rock sextet Neon Waltz drew a crowd of around 150 to the Leadmill. Their set was characterised by slow-tempo tracks breaking out into feverish jams. Although the young Scotsmen rarely showed signs of originality, they ended on a high point with ‘Perfect Frame’.

Leicester instrumental outfit Maybeshewill played a captivating 45 minute slot back at the City Hall. Deviating from a typical post-rock formula, the band relies on keyboard and samples, in addition to having a guest cellist and violinist for Tramlines. No surprise that there was a grand, orchestral feel to the gig, which climaxed in a spine-tingling version of ‘He Films the Clouds Pt. 2’, with the vocal sample sung by the crowd.

Headlining a rammed City Hall were Future of the Left, who provided a contrast to the mainly instrumental bands so far in the venue. But FOTL were distinguished by more than just Falco’s vocals; the star of the show was Jimmy, not only a fantastic guitarist, but whose antics included taping a bottle of beer to the head of one of the crowd members, lifting him up and using him as a drink dispenser. All in all a thrilling and memorable end to the day by the Welsh quartet.


A sparse Sunday afternoon calendar was livened up by Physics House Band at Corporation. The experimental trio from Brighton at first glance seem like a band aimed at other musicians, with mathy riffs and complex time signatures, but their tracks are definitely ‘noddable’ by the crowd, who appreciated the quiet/loud dynamic. Despite the bass being a touch too loud, Physics House Band were one of the top performers of the festival.

Also in the nearly pitch black Corporation were Rolo Tomassi. This is certainly a band to keep in mind the mantra, “appearances can be deceiving”. Softly-spoken vocalist Eva welcomes the crowd and mentions that Sheffield is her hometown. But she’s not softly-spoken for long – once the track starts, she’s growling and hurling blood-curdling screams down the microphone, making for an utterly spellbinding 30 minutes whether or not you like mathcore.

Back to Devonshire Green, The Rifles kicked off a snoozefest on the main stage. Another victim of cranking up the bass volume, there’s frankly more life in roadkill than the Chingford quartet and this reflected in the bored-looking crowd.

Luckily the main stage finale was spectacular with a rousing performance by The Cribs. One of the UK’s top live bands, the Yorkshire trio launched into a crowd-pleasing set heavy on tracks from the album ‘Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever’, ending with the explosive ‘City of Bugs’.

Tempted for one more band before the trip home, Bo Ningen appeared to be an intriguing option for Sunday night. The official programme, describing them as ‘Psychedelic art-rock’, didn’t hint at what was to be the most thrilling and unique set of the weekend. Bo Ningen are a quartet of absolutely insane Japanese guys with waist-length hair, wearing dresses and catsuits. With Queen’s Social Club so rammed that the crowd spilled out into the corridor, the group made the air fizz with their hypercharged brand of glam rock. In an electrifying finale, lead singer Taigen jumped off the stage onto a table at the front of the room and whipped the onlookers into a frenzy, miming stabbing himself with his bass guitar, all the while playing it with sublime technique.

It’s clear that musically the festival was an absolute success, but what about the organisation? A common theme over the weekend was inaccuracy of the printed schedule guide. The Wedding Present, Brontide and The Beat suffered from either having conflicting times published in the programme or being moved without proper communication. Yes, the unexpected usually does happen and bands have to be rescheduled. But how about having an app to send push notifications to attendees when things change? Or even just clearer social media communication. On Facebook, the organisers had announced High Hazels would take Catfish and the Bottlemen’s slot on the main stage. In fact, they took The Beat’s place. We were left having to check various bands' twitter/Facebook accounts directly to determine what time they were due to play.

Another theme of the festival was overcrowding. It’s understandable that world famous acts such as Public Enemy have a pull larger than the capacity of Devonshire Green, but one example of avoidable disappointment was Slow Club on Sunday evening; a homecoming for the successful Sheffield duo and the Leadmill was one-in-one-out, with a queue right down the road and round the corner. Surely O2 Academy, Devonshire Green or another sizable venue would have been a more sensible choice, especially as the festival was winding down and there were so few gig choices at this point.

But even with these minor gripes, the atmosphere in Sheffield was electric over the weekend. It may not be Glastonbury in terms of scale and organisation, but Tramlines is definitely up there with the most enjoyable of the inner city festivals and a bargain for £28 for the whole weekend's entertainment.

Long Division Festival Review, Wakefield

You’re going to Wakefield? Why? This was the reaction of several people when I mentioned we’d be spending the uncharicteristically hot, sunny day, not outside enjoying the weather in a festival field, but inside watching as many bands as possible in 7 of Wakefield’s venues.  As Post War Glamour Girl’s frontman proclaimed later on in the day, Wakefield has a thriving music scene at present, and boasts a printed fanzine Rhubarb Bomb and record label Philophobia.  Knowing this makes it a not so surprising locatioin for a multi venue city centre festival after all.
It was a return visit to Long Division Festival for me after being there in 2011, but a first visit for photographer Katie.  I was looking forward to how things had developed and to seeing the new venues.  Straight after arriving we popped upstairs at The Hop to catch a bit of The Dissolutions. Their rock was solid enough but not particularly original so we decided to make our way to another venue. The Orangery was almost ideally suited to the vocal talents of Jasmine Kennedy who kept the attentive crowd totally captivated, especially when she performed a song acapella. Her guitar strap also sported an impressive collection of Brownie Badges.  Next it was over to another new venue for me, the Drury Lane Library, for St Gregory Orange who I’d caught last time at the Cathedral. Unfortunately we only caught the last song with singer going out into the crowd as far as his mic lead would allow but it was enough to remind me not to miss them next time.
Downstairs at The Hop was the next port of call for a bit of Humanfly. I was initially intrigued by the metal stylings of the first song we caught but this was followed by a more straight forward rock so we decided to move on only to find them reprising their metal influences as we were leaving so maybe that was a hasty move. We were determined to visit all the venues so continued on our way to Velvet intending to catch Harry George Johns. Unfortunately the venue was running late and had an ammended schedule.  After a bit of a wait we caught Halifax’s punk, skiffle/country group Spirit of John who were initially meant to play two hours earlier.
I then made it over to the Theatre Royal for what turned out to be my highlight of the afternoon. This Is The Kit were definitely the right band in the right place with the beautiful pure folk voice of Kate Stables allowed to shine through. Yet it was the guitar effects that moved them up another level for me and made we want to investigate more.
Katie (photographer) headed over to Warehouse 23 to catch Wakefield band The Spills, their indie-rock has more of a nod to America than Yorkshire, but the changing time signatures and dual vocals from Rob and Chad set them apart from others.  Definitely a band to catch again.
In need of a little rest I remained at the Theatre Royal for first experience Post War Glamour Girls who were Katie’s hi light of the day.  They were preceded by Skint & Demoralised aptly doing one John Cooper Clarke poem (albeit Kung Fu International and not band’s namesake) and a well placed poem highlighting the contradictions in the tenets of EDL and BNP policy. Initial assumptions about the band themselves being moody and distant were dispelled by singer Andy’s inter-song chat. Their material was firmly grounded on the darker side of things and sounded great in the acoustics of the Theatre.
Taking a food break back at The Orangery we (and possibly the rest of Wakefield) could hear the call of Eagulls through Library’s open windows so we popped in for a couple of songs. After an initial assault of noise I was enjoying a darker and moodier song but a decision had be made and that was to go back to The Hop for Sky Larkin. However Ed Tudor Pole who I didn’t expect to see, was still performing downstairs and as he’d just started Who Killed Bambi it would have been rude to walk past. At the end of his boisterous set he was joined on stage by a few invited friends and later by a few who quite possiby weren’t for final song Swords Of A Thousand Men.
Next it was time to head over to the main venue of Warehouse 23. I had seen That Fucking Tank before and the guitar and drum duo can’t be simply pigeonholed asmath-rock so it’s very handy that they have such self-descriptive tunes as Acid Jam. The sizeable crowd of waiting Fall fans (easy to spot as they were all sporting Fall Fall T shirts and badges) seemed to enjoy their set too.
The Fall had had originally been the reason for me wanting to return to Long Division but a recent gig in Clitheroe had been a bit of a testing experience that made consider giving it a miss. However I shouldn’t have worried and even though Mark E Smith spent several songs seated on a dining chair, he and was on great form from the off. It was great to have a lot more new material in the set. Other highlights were Strychnine with Mark showing real attitude, Sparta FC and Reformation. It has to be mentioned the packed Warehouse was one of the hottest gigs I’ve ever attended, with many in the crowd having to use their programmes as fans but MES, ever the contrary bugger, was wearing a full lenght coat for much of their gig!
All that would have been enough for me, but Katie enjoyed Middleman’s set so much at last month’s Live at Leeds, she had to catch them again.  Initially, the crowd was a little sparse, probably people outside grabbing some needed fresh air after the stifiling gig, but the venue soon re-filled. Middleman’s energetic rap, rock has shades of The Prodigy and single Can’t Hold me Down and gets several fans joining singer Andy in crowdsurfing.
Overall another great Long Division.  Long may it continue especially with the promise of the Unity Hall being developed into another venue.  The variety of bands playing to help make this one of the best and importantly most compact city festivals there is.
Check out more Long Division Festival photos here

Hurricane and Southside Festival Preview 2013

In recent years more and more Brits are heading out to European Festivals. Sometimes it's for the experience of visiting different country, often for the (usually) better weather and line-ups, but surely the major reason is most European festivals are much better value, with tickets often half the cost of their UK counterparts.

Hurricane/Southside festivals are twin three day music festivals and takes part from Friday 21-23rd June. Hurricane is a long established fixture on the European Festival calendar and his has been held near the picturesque town of Scheeßel in Northern Germany since 1997. It's slightly smaller sister festival Southside, located in Neuhausen ob Eck in the very south of Germany, has been held since 2000. Reading and Leeds festivals would be the obvious UK comparison, with the line up being shared between the two twin festivals, their size, the variety of bands playing and the fact they're all about the music.

Hurricane is a cheap festival to get to from the UK. Although located in a rural area, Hurricane is located near the cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover which makes getting to the festival relatively easy thanks to Germany's super efficient train system, and also means you can extend your trip with a visit to one of the cities before/after the festival.

Whereas many European Festivals don't get going until the evening and run right through the night, Hurricane/Southside's timings are more similar to the British festivals and start at midday, running throughout the day, with the head liners (This year The Arctic Monkeys, Sigur Ros and QOTSA) playing from 10pm until midnight.

The line up is quite possibly the best in Europe this summer and features many UK and international bands, as well as local German bands and includes:

Arctic Monkeys/ Queens of The Stone Age/ Sigur Ros/ Smashing Pumpkins,/The National/ Kasabian/ Bloc Party, Alt J/ Portishead/ NOFX/ Rammstein/ The Gaslight Anthem/ The Vaccines/ Editors/ Tame Impala/ Peace/ I am Kloot/ The Hives/ Modest Mouse/ Frightened Rabbit/ Frank Turner/ Chase and Status/ Darwin Deez/ Of Monsters and Men/ Gogol Bordello/ The Maccabees/ British Sea Power/ Miles Kane/ Ska-P and Steven Wilson..

The full 4 stage clashfinder for it's 4 stages has been published at http://www.hurricane.de/de/line-up/#!programmation=timeline$ to allow you to plan your weekend already, though with so many great bands playing, clashes are inevitable.


Hurricane being situated in Northern Germany, has suffered from the odd downpour in previous years so wellies, and waterproofs are recommended, just like with UK festivals. Southside being situated near the Swiss border, usually has slightly warmer, drier weather.


Friends who have frequently attended Hurricane in previous years report minimal queues for the bars, toilets etc and the whole festival run with German efficiency! It's not a gourmet boutique festival but the usual festival grub of noodles, burgers, falafel etc is available.


Both Hamburg and Bremen are relatively close to Hurricane Festival with Easy Jet and Ryanair having cheap flights to Hamburg and Bremen from many UK cities. (My Manchester to Bremen return flight has cost less than £50 !). It's slightly more expensive to fly to Hannover but is well served by Flybe and German Wings. Train-wise advance group tickets are available (Länder-Ticket) for transport on all transport systems for up to 5 people anywhere in the region for a day for a bargain 22 to 38 euros)


Hurricane Festival's tickets were priced at a great value 137 euro (around £117). Reading and Leeds's weekend tickets by comparison are £202 this year. Both Hurricane and Southside's tickets have sold out already, which is testament to their fantastic line up and reputation.



Preview: Dot to Dot Festival

Like Camden Crawl, Live at Leeds and Brighton's Great Escape. Dot to Dot is a city centre based festival.  Since forming in 2005 initially in Nottingham, Dot to Dot festival has expanded to three cities and now runs on three sucessive days over the Whit bank holiday weekend. Dot to Dot kicks off in Manchester on Friday 24th May, travels to Bristol on the Saturday before closing at Nottingham on the Sunday 26th.

Manchester's day, is centred around 8 venues in the the Oxford Road area from Witworth Street to Grosvenor Street. Your wristband entitles you into any of the featured venues (capacity permitting) and ranges from the 1,500 capacity Ritz, The brilliantly wallpapered Deaf Institute which is a favourite for many bands and fans,  long established student favourite The Thirsty Scolar, new cool venue in town Gorilla,  and my personal favourite Sound control which is hosting 3 rooms of music from 3pm to 3am
At many of these city centre festivals, visiting every venue is an impossible task due to the long walk and distance between venues.  However, with the exception of the SSI (which is still very walkable), every featured venue at Manchester's leg of Dot to Dot is within about 5 minutes walk of each other, meaning it's quite possible, to check out and visit every venue if you so wish.
Unlike most of the muddy field based festivals which force you to pay for a program for the privelidge of finding out stage times, the full venue listings and timings for all three cities have been announced and can be found at: http://dottodotfestival.co.uk/times meaning you can plan your day and check out the band's playing in advance.
The impressive line up features several acts playing at all three cities including Hottly tipped acoustic singer songwriters Tom Odell and Lucy Rose. Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Dry the River also play all days. The Manchester leg features many local must see bands who are producing music a million miles away from the old Oasis and Madchester stereotypes, and include the ambienat trippy beats and haunting vocals of From The Kites of San Quentin, fun, post- rocky insturmentals from Tribal fighters with party poppers almost guaranteed. If you can last until 2am then Manchester's Mount Fabric will be your new favourite band with their acomplised, complex, math-rock with astonishingly good vocals.
The key to these city centre festivals is adhering to any plan too strictly and allowing yourself to stumble across some new bands who you have not encountered before, and hopefully leave with a new favourite band for the summer.
Tickets are still available at a good value £20 from Alt Tickets: http://www.alt-tickets.co.uk/alttickets/home_dot_to_dot_festival_2013.html

Live at Leeds 2013 Review

Live at Leeds, now in it’s 7th year is a city center festival featuring over 100 bands local and international.  A wristband entitles you (subject to capacity) to visit any of the featured venues, including The O2 Academy, Leeds University, The Cockpit, Milos and The Nation of Shopkeepers.  Due to the distance between some of the venues and wanting to cram in seeing as many bands as possible, we predominately stayed in the Leeds Met/Uni area, so had to give a visit to our favourite Brudenell a miss which would have meant a long walk or taxi ride.

There were early teething problems with a long queue snaking round the musuem for the wristband exchange but due to the beautiful weather, people were in high spirits and did not seem to mind the wait in the sunshine too much.  The Cockpit had long queues from opening so we also gave it a miss.

The first venue I visited is Nation Of Shopkeepers. It’s already 1 in 1 out at the small pub venue when I arrive, and The 4 piece Night Engine are thrilling the packed crowd with their set of intelligent energetic pop. Reminiscent of Pulp and Richard Hawley with a nice take on 80s synth pop thrown in mid set. They’re definitely one I would catch again.

I spent most of the day The University where there are 3 stages, the largest of which is The Refectory which holds 2000, and also houses the smaller 500 capacity Stylus and even smaller The Mine in the basement which featured heavier rock and punky bands during the day.

Katie the photographer headed over to a rammed 02 Academy to catch The Pigeon Detectives usual sing-along raucus set in a surprisingly early afternoon slot.  Disappointingly the pit was so narrow and so many photographers present, they were only allowed one song was allowed to photograph the band, which for a band who’s songs are in the 2-3 minute region was sadly too short.  Not really her cup of tea musically, their set was fun to watch though from the calm of balcony though.

When I arrive at the University  Department M are just about to take the stage in The Stylus. Their name makes them sound like an 80s synth duo, which indeed they are, but with the addition of a very tribal sounding drummer. The male singer looks like a Doctor Who era David Tennant in a lab coat, but bizarrely sounds like Alison Moyet! Halfway through they ramp the speed up and drop some sequences into the mix, it becomes quite danceable.

In the Refectory hipster Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs have certainly upped their game, and all the songs are much more catchy than when I last saw them. I can see why they’ve been snapped up by a major label.  I can also see their skuzzy guitar pop being a big festival hit in the summer.

Katie  made the short walk to Leeds Met to catch Leeds based Middleman who played an absolutely blinding set, and was her hi-light her the day.  Their mix of intelligent hip hop lyrics, rock and Prodigy style beats had the crowd dancing away and trying to catch one of the many CDs thrown into the crowd.  Singer Andy topped their energetic set off by launching himself into the crowd superman style (and then proceeded to lose his phone)

Post War Glamour Girls are named after a John Cooper-Clarke poem which gets them off to a good start. They’re dark, doomy and catchy and have me tapping along from the start. When the dual male and female vocals come in together its heavenly. “Service Station Blues” is a dark indie blues song and

Back in The Mine Castrovalva is wishing someone “happy birthday you motherfucker”. There’s lots of pelvic thrusting from the larger than life rapper over a hard metal rhythm.  There’s also synth samples in there too. Bonkers is the only word for it!

Once again I head over to The Stylus to catch Deep Sea Arcade, who start off as shambling indie but by the third number have progressed into the most wonderful shoegaze pop noise.  There’s even a bit of happy Monday’s vibe going on, they’re totally glorious by the end, another one I’ll catch again

Over in The Refectory, Australians Splashh make a huge pop sonic wall of sound that deserves more of an audience than turn up for their early evening spot. They have dual vocals over groovy fuzzy pop. Pretty good.

Katie tthen made the fairly long walk across the city centre to Milos to witness a magnificently shambolic punk set from Kleine Schweine, whose sub two minute songs all appear to be about Eastern European former communist countries and dictators.  It was a bit cramped in Milos to say the least, with the band literally in the crowd’s faces and a brief mid set break to down some shots!

Savages are soundchecking in The Stylus, and it’s loud. As they come on the temperature rises as their disturbing intro tape plays. the dry ice rises and the band kick in to their first number, but the volume has already dropped, but we have our first moshpit of the day to the throbbing bass and hypnotic drums. Unfortunately there’s something wrong with the lead vocal mic, after 2 songs, the band jam quietly in the background while its fixed, later in the set the band launch into a jam of “Don’t Let The Fuckers Get You Down”, which consists of the title of the song repeated over and over for 5 minutes, its brilliantly incendiary and mesmerizing under the monochrome lighting. They’re the best band of the day for me.

Dutch Uncles wow the crowd in The Stylus with their spiky pop music, they’re massive over the Pennines and it can’t be too long until the rest of the country wakes up to them. One fan has even got his own Dutch Uncles flag, on a Dutch flag, obviously. They are the only band I’ve ever seen with a lead xylophone part in their songs. They end a stunning set with an unbelievably good cover of Grace Jones’s “Slave To The Rhythm” which the crowd lap up.

Katie saw veterans of the Leeds music scene, Hawk Eyes at last year’s Beacons Festival and liked them so much live she caught them again at Leeds University Mine.  Not quite as energetic as their set at Beacons, which may have something to do with singer Paul having his leg strapped up, they nevertheless put on a great 30 minute set of riff laden hardcore rock/ punk.

The Walkmen in the Stylus play a geat set to a packed crowd who love it. The band have been celebrating the last date of their tour today by playing darts in The Fenton. The singer is quite drunk, which may explain why he sang half a song from the moshpit which he appeared to fall into, but drunk or not, what a voice!

Live at leeds 2013 was great festival, exhausting and very heavy on the legs after 12 hours on the feet walking from venue to venue. It had a brilliant vibe, everybody we chatted to was so friendly from the teenagers to the 50+’s, and every genre of music covered. I can’t believe two natives of Manchester have never made the short trip over the pennines to the festival before, and will definitely be returning in future years.

Check out the photos here

Live at Leeds 2013 Preview

Now in it's 7th year, Live at Leeds returns to Leeds City Centre over the May bank holiday.  For those who dislike muddy fields and need their creature comforts and a nice bed not cold, muddy tent at the end of a busy day watching music, city centre festivals such as Live at Leeds are ideal.

The weekend kicks off on Friday 3rd with the free Unconvention event comprising of talks debates, discussions with respected people from all aspects of the music industry. The weekend comes to a close on Monday with he annual inter-band 5 aside football tournament.

Saturday is the main event which sees over 100 bands descend on the city centre area.  Venues include the 2,500 capacity Leeds Academy, Leeds Met, the Cockpit club next to the train station and ace pub the Faversham.  Our personal favourite is the Brudenell Social Club, which is a Phoenix Nights type social club, but in an indie way, with amazingly cheap beer.

If your goal is to see as many different bands as possible throughout the day, we suggest you concentrate your attention around the Universities / Academy / Nation Of Shopkeepers area with several venues a few minutes walk away.  That way if one band isn't your thing you can quickly move catch another band just down the road.

At the time of writing the full venue timings have not yet been published, but we hope to catch the twangy guitar sounds of The Walkmen, the quirky Darwin Deez, Manchester’s Everything Everything, the post-rock, the Gothy sounds of Savages, the off-kilter spiky pop of Dutch Uncles, and  Birmingham's Peace who are currently gaining good NME and 6 music exposure. If you prefer your music noisier and rockier, Leeds' Hawk Eyes put on a good, energetic gig.

Everything Everything

Other bands playing include local boys and headliners The Pigeon Detectives, electro Swimming Pools, wierd noiseniks Maybeshewill, folk sisters The Staves, hottly tipped Londoners Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, Manchester's the 1975, Sheffield's The Crookes, and the grungey, feedback laden Splashh. The real joy of these city centre type festivals is wandering into one of the smaller venues and catching a band you've never heard of and coming away with a new favourite band.

With a little forward planning, it should be easy to catch 5-10 bands over the 12 hour period which makes the £22.50 a bargain by festival standards.