Words by Daisy Summerfield, Robyn Claridge, Elli Brazzill and James Hughes. Compiled by Elli Brazzill. Photos by James Sutton.
Live at Leeds is the ultimate metropolitan festival and this year the line-up was stupidly good. Although our stage was one of the best (of course), there was too much going on for us to not send a few writers loose on the day to take on one of the North’s best cities.
We kicked off with brill fuzzy-scuzzy Leeds quartet, Wuzi. For twelve o’clock, the Brudenell is pretty packed – and for good reason. The four are aggressive and fast-paced, storming through their grunge-infested set with more energy than I’d expect this early on. Wuzi may be the opening slot, but there are no nerves here – only Demob Happy style vocals and sludgy killer riffs. The Brudenell continues to deliver with onstage TV’s and psychedelic visuals as Team Picture take the stage. With three vocalists and two guitarists, their hallucinogenic, Hookworms-influenced sound deafens Brudenell – much to everyone’s pleasure. Their aesthetics perfectly offset their garage anthems, rainbow lights and projections succinctly timed to every beat of the snare.
Across the city, the O2 Academy is filled with uber reminiscence as London-based trio White Lies performed a blend of old, yet much loved post-punk content from ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Bigger Than Us’ to their new brand of electronic funk such as ‘Don’t Want To Feel It All’. Frontman Harry McVeigh greeted the audience and acclaimed them for their energetic manner at only three in the afternoon. ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ was a particular highlight as the crowd passionately chanted along to the song’s crescendo. Headrow House is also packed out at this moment for Kllo, the Melbourne electronic duo with tasty UK garage influences. For an act that probably prefers the nighttime vibes, Headrow was a perfect venue to encapsulate the audience within its windowless room and take us to another world. The room is grooving, I think it worked.
Back at the Brude, David Nash’s menacing drums welcome us to Weirds, the hottest psych-doom quartet that Leeds has given us yet. “We’d love it if you came forward” vocalist Aidan Razzall shouts – but there’s no need to tell the crammed Brudenell crowd twice. He comically points out that we’re all missing The Pigeon Detectives, as heavy guitars chug to take us through songs from the soon-to-be-released debut album, Swarmculture. ‘Phantom’s dreamy synth and reverb vocals echo around melodically – but it’s ‘Weird Sun’ that’s the highlight of the set, a track that sees Razzall launch himself into the crowd and climb upon someone’s shoulders to scream the final eight minutes away. Next door in the Games Room, Lea Porcelain are about to begin. The Berlin-based electronic trio are drenched in darkness bar their spellbinding and erratic display of lights and strobes as they blow away this cave of music lovers with their brooding electronic tunes. ‘Warsaw Street’, ‘Similar Familiar’ and new single ‘Remember’ are all equally cheered by the stunned crowd.
Over at The Church, The Magic Gang deliver exactly what’s to be expected – infectious, indie-pop anthems that scream “summer” and “seaside” respectively. Hailing from Brighton, the four have cemented a solid Northern fanbase through their loveable charisma, with hordes of teens falling over one another to catch a lucky glimpse. “It’s such a pleasure to be back in Leeds”, vocalist Jack Kaye grins, before the quartet burst into the ever-groovy ‘Lady, Please’. “How Can I Compete”, the lead single off the imaginatively titled EP Three, is funky yet chill; ‘Alright’ throws us back to 2015 with some much-appreciated heavier guitar riffs. To play such a picturesque venue requires a band to captivate and amaze. The Magic Gang, fortunately, only ever seem to do just that.
Nöcturn were arguably the most impressive musicians of the day on the Headrow House stage. Their peculiar style, however, may lead to a bit of a Marmite situation for them. It will be very interesting to hear the first slice of recorded music that comes from the London-based foursome. Zach Said also offered something a little different to the rest of the acts. His playful, soulful vibe won over the 100+ people in attendance for the set. The mood was heightened by plenty of playful quips between Zach (frontman, on stage) and his father (banterman, off stage) who chatted about his swearing and a teenage date where Zach definitely took a girl to the “cinema”. Later on, the venue sees some of the best performances of the day from both Yellow Days and HAUS.
Yellow Days, otherwise known as 17-year-old George van den Broek, have been achieving a fair bit of praise recently – and it showed. The venue had to stop letting people in moments into the set as eager fans queued down the stairs in a bid to get into the room. Broek’s voice is equally impressive live as it is on record and this is a guy that you should definitely be keeping an eye on. Later, HAUS tear up the busy room, explosive energy and a set of all killer-no filler material is exactly what we need. From old tunes ‘Blinded’ to brand new single ‘Say What You Say’ frontman Ashley Mulimba doesn’t take a breather, continually bounding around showing the crowd what HAUS are all about.
Love In The 4th Dimension is only a mere few weeks old, but it doesn’t stop the Brudenell crowd from screaming out every word to ‘Pull The Other One’ as The Big Moon take to the stage. Frontwoman Juliette Jackson is on top form as per, her husky vocals in ‘Formidable’ pulling us all together for an intimate ballad. Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ is a cover that never fails to impress live, especially with Soph Nathan’s aggressive guitar playing. ‘Silent Movie Susie’ and ‘Cupid’ are arguably the two best tracks the London quartet have ever wrote, their anthemic choruses sounding huge under Brudenell’s low ceiling. Over at The Lending Room, the sheer brilliance of upcoming indie four-piece October Drift‘s set got us feeling a tad sentimental about the music industry. There is something so satisfying and heart-warming about watching a new, fairly undiscovered band perform with such energy and passion. Whilst delivering tracks such as ‘Robots’ and ‘Champagne’, their set consisted of high energy, guitar-blazing, frantic performance that was a treat to the eyes to watch and ears to hear.
“It’s quite far from the city centre, so thanks for coming” Childhood’s frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft smiles, grateful to everyone who’s made the pilgrimage to Lending Room. Latest single ‘Californian Light’ introduces a more mature, soul-influenced sound than what we’re used to, with Romans-Hopcraft’s high-pitched vocals sublimely hitting every note. More new album material showcases those newfound 70’s influences, with brilliant funky basslines offsetting the array of flared trousers. As Childhood headline the Lending Room, over at Headrow House Strong Asian Mothers are closing the day. The room is packed out for the Londoners and they bound around the stage with the sort of energy that’s required at midnight after a long day of watching a monumental amount of new music. ‘Sober’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ get hearty singalongs from the dynamic and slightly drunken crowd, and a Strong Asian Mothers remix of the Jurassic Park Theme between tracks goes down a storm. A day with too much music for any one person, how could we have not had the best time. See you in 2018.