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

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