The annual metropolitan new music festival, Live at Leeds, is back in its eleventh year. New music takes over the city of the year, appearing across the city’s plethora of different venues, including Brudenell Social Club, Holy Trinity Church, Headrow House and loads more! At this year’s festival there were well over 100 sets, so we’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s who The Yorker thought was unmissable at Live at Leeds 2017…
No, not just one of the Pixies. Instead, this 21-year-old Pixey is one of the brightest stars emerging out of Liverpool with her brand of sunshine fuelled pop. Despite the early start, her set at Nation of Shopkeepers was rammed, with the Red Stripe wielding crowd climbing on chairs just to get a glimpse of Pixey. Check out her song, ’Young’, with its low-fi infectious pop hook it certainly makes Pixey one to watch!
Next up at Headrow House was KLLO. The Australian duo pay tribute to the best of early UK garage with sweet, romantic melodies and glossy production. Despite the rather sparse crowd, the crowd are totally mesmerised by frontwoman Chloe Kaul, who’s voice is tender and captivating. ‘Boldie’ is a high point of the short set, reminiscent of a glitchy Caribou.
In stark contrast to the KLLO’s UK garage tribute is garage rockers King Nun. It’s still only 4 pm when King Nun arrive, yet the London four piece attract a strong crowd to Leeds Becket Student Union. Rightly so, the London teens have signed with Dirty Hit, who can boast The 1975, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House on their roster. So big things really are expected of the ‘White Stripes-esk’ King Nun.
Anyway, King Nun storm through a ‘Sponge’ and ‘Tulip’ in a half an hour set whilst frontman Theo Polyzoides leaps around chaotically. It makes for a truly electrifying, and deafening set!
Despite Black Honey being ‘under the radar’ for quite some time, they’ve certainly made a fair few ‘Headspin’ with their self-described ’60s alternative female fronted indie psychedelic rock’. With still no LP release from the Brighton four-piece, instead, they’ve opted for drip feeding EP’s over past few years – fuelling the buzz.
A wise decision indeed. Black Honey attract their devoted cult following to Leeds O2 Academy this late afternoon. Bodies fly and hands flail as Black Honey play from their ever growing repertoire including ‘All My Pride’ and ‘Madonna’.
Yet, the greatest intrigue of the set is front woman Izzy Baxter. Previously I had read that Baxter had been described as ‘Lana Del Ray fronting a rock band’, yet the comparison is far more in the Americana image than stage presence. Her stage presence was electric, thriving off every gasp of energy from the crowd. As a result, I’m a firm believer that Vogue’s Debbie Harry comparison is far more justified.
What a meteoric rise for The Amazons. Under a year and a half ago I was witnessing The Amazons play to a disinterested handful of people at Nation of Shopkeepers. Now, the Reading four piece are playing early evening at the O2 Academy, a 2,300 capacity venue! An impressive feat itself!
If that accolade isn’t enough for the band. The Amazons were included on BBC’s Sound of 2017 long list, MTV’s Brand New 2017 list and as I write ‘Junk Food Forever’ is Greg James’ tune of the week.
Live The Amazon’s music sounds meatier and each riff feels heavier- dare I say a four man Royal Blood? A particular highlight, ‘Little Something’ culminates in carnage within the crowd, suggesting that The Amazons are deserving of all these accolades coming their way. Keep watch, as before you know it, The Amazons could easily become king of the jungle…
Jaws have long been associated with the Birmingham B-Town scene. A scene that boasted the rise of Peace, Swim Deep and Superfood. Yet, it is a moot point as to whether these bands have lived up to the early promise they showed.
Jaws take to Leeds University Stylus in promotion of their sophomore album Simplicity. An album that is far more complex sonically and lyrically than their debut Be Slowly. This seems to be part of a growing trend for indie bands, as to many their second LP is them ‘waking up’ after their first album, thinking of it as irresponsible to not communicate a message in their work.
Luckily, the presence of a message doesn’t get lost on the crowd. Set opener tonight featuring a shoe gaze riff is ‘Just a Boy’. Frontman Connor Schofield yelps “I’m just a boy but I’ll be a better man”, and the crowd resonate as a youth struggle to keep speed in modern life. Older songs ‘Gold’ and ‘Stay In’ provoke chaotic reactions from the crowd of 20 somethings, transporting them back to summer days.
Temples at the brand new Church venue, seems like a match made in heaven! A large stained glass window sits above the Kettering quartet, injecting light into the church. It really works, as it feels like Temples are conducting some sort of exorcism induced by 60s psychedelica tonight.
Floppy haired frontman James Bagshaw looks comfortable onstage, demanding the presence of the audience. The Kettering quartet thoroughly deserve it, their melodies are mesmerising and the acoustics reverberating through the church are beautiful. Even Temples more instrumental, self-indulgent moments still mesmerise the audience. ‘Certainty’, off of their 2017 LP Volcano is spellbinding, the synth heavy organs are haunting yet delightful.
Nothing But Thieves
Headlining the Leeds University Stylus tonight is the alt-rock Southend five piece, Nothing But Thieves. You’d be forgiven if they’d escaped your attention, their self titled debut was released in 2015 and since then they’ve remained rather quiet. However, to the sardine like packed crowd tonight, they clearly haven’t been forgotten…
The feeling of excitement is noticeable as the lights dim and Nothing But Thieves emerge with ‘Wake Up Call’. Watching baby-faced frontman Conor Mason feels an emotional affair. He screams a stunning falsetto “Sometimes the hours are wasted/ no one will give you a wake up call”, as the veins pulsate out his neck.The result is a enthralling display of Mason’s vocal technicalities and strength.
Nothing But Thieves steal the show tonight, showcasing their sheer depth of alt rock songs. From the pop-rock riffs of ‘Trip Switch’, to the hear trenching ‘If I Get High’ and set closer ‘Ban All The Music’, it seems a fitting way to end Live at Leeds 2017.
Live at Leeds was billed as ‘the north’s leading metropolitan new music festival’ and rightly so! A stella line up, excellent organisation, and stunning venues mean that I will be buying my 2018 early bird ticket here.