With an exclusive performance from much loved and lost Leeds band ¡Forward, Russia!, appearances from some of the most talked-about bands of 2014 including Royal Blood, Clean Bandit, Fat White Family and Wolf Alice, perennial local favourites Pulled Apart By Horses and The Sunshine Underground, and about a hundred other bands playing all across town on Saturday (3rd May) you’ll never be far from a great live set, and if you’re really determined, you could get to see rather a big star close up and personal…
A late addition to an already packed bill, Frank Turner will be gracing one of their stages (to be announced, keep your eyes and ears peeled!) with a special acoustic set, this is “a unique opportunity to see Frank in an intimate and exclusive setting, playing the folk / punk songs you know and love”. No, we do not have any inside info on this; to be honest if it was up to us to put on an arena-filling singer in a tiny venue we wouldn’t even be telling him where it was until nearer the time. All we can say is if you’re a Frank fan good luck and we’d love to hear how it goes.
Bigger than ever before, this year sees a couple of new venues added to the schedule. The Belgrave Music Hall, up near the Merrion Centre, dates from the 1930s when as Leeds Children’s Palace the three-storey recreation hall and nursery school provided childcare support for the working families of Leeds. Much like Manchester’s Deaf Institute, it had been standing empty for a while (and was a snooker hall for a bit) before someone thought it would make a great music venue – and it does. Bipolar Sunshine, AKA Mancunian Adio Marchant, is the big draw there (10.15pm) though those of you with more of a leaning towards dynamic and textured post-rock type sounds should kick off the day there with a midday set from OtherPeoplesLives. They do food as well – the venue, obviously, not the bands.
Even older, building-wise, is Leeds Town Hall. Built between 1853 and 1858 the project was widely criticised as the original estimated costs were vastly exceeded at a time when there was great poverty among the Leeds’ working classes. Sounds familiar? Yep, thought so. The ever wonderful I Like Trains are on the bill there (9pm) where they might (or might not) play this cheerful little tune about the government and its rich pals “taking apart what we made with our hands and our hearts” – in the 1960s. We’re seeing a kind of theme here.
Going on immediately after them in there (10.30pm) will be ¡Forward, Russia! whose programme entry “Indie-rock kids return once more for a hometown show. Expect an assault of convulsing post punk guitar lines with a smattering of disco beats, post rock surges and wannabe metal riffs” doesn’t even begin to do them justice. Exploding across the local music scene in 2004 their career was brief, fast and incendiary: debut album “Give Me a Wall” (2006) was basically the masterclass in the angular, twisting indie-punk-funk of the day while its follow-up “Life Processes” just two years later tore up all the rulebooks, introducing sprawling prog influences and cathartic bleakness among the riffs and spikes. By the end of 2008 they had burnt out completely – this (below) their often overlooked final single.
They got back together at the tail end of last year to do a one-off for the Brudenell Social Club’s 100th birthday, so this appearance is something of a bonus.
What else? Loads. Too much to list here. Rather wonderfully, though, the organisers have produced a fully clickable online schedule which you can access here – though at the moment it doesn’t have the listings on for the legendary fringe show at Milo’s, so you’ll have to click through to the PDF version to find out what time Kleine Schweine will be doing their customary 20 minutes of mayhem (half six til seven, apparently, though as we have never seen them fill a half hour slot take this as a guide only. But get there early anyway, it always gets full).
Or if you want to feel really, really old (even if you’re only 20) then try the Packhorse at 8pm where The Orielles – average age about 16 and from Halifax – will play excellent indie pop music much like this.
Have a click about in that timetable, anyway, though we always like to go and see at least one band we have never heard of before. Weirds (4pm, Packhorse) look like a good bet – they’ve been recording with MJ from Hookworms and promise a “feral, pulsating sonic barrage” whilst if you fancy deviating from the bands with guitars thing for a bit then Arc Iris (Leeds College Of Music, 5.30pm) AKA Jocie Adams, a former core member of The Low Anthem “shifts between cabaret-infused jazz, orchestral sophistication, grimy outlaw country, delicate and whimsical harmonies, and big-band exhilaration”. Imp (1pm, Brudenell Social Club) get the prize for daftest sentence in the programme description – apparently they’ve “caused a stir with their riffatronic polymaths, transplanting mothra-sized sonicbooms to the denizens of Wakefield and beyond” – we caught them on their home turf back in 2011 and described them as “the missing link between organ-led garage psychedelia and early Pavement….and by the end of their half hour I’ve decided they’re fucking brilliant” then a few hours later at the same venue Holy Mountain’s hairy hard rock (10pm) should make a good warm-up for Pulled Apart By Horses (11pm).
Usual wristband festival rules apply, and you should know what they are by now. Advance tickets to be exchanged for writsbands on the day cost £25 (buy here from your favourite online vendor, or visit Jumbo or Crash Records, The Cockpit or Brudenell Social Club) – you may be able to buy a wristband directly on the day if it’s not sold out, but we can’t guarantee it won’t be. Either way, the wristband exchange is in the new Leeds First Direct Arena, open from 10am.