Back in January we brought you news of this year’s Live At Leeds festival, which takes place on May Day bank holiday weekend (3rd-6th May) in venues across the city. Now less than three weeks away, we’ve got the full timetable and some recommendations.
With just short of three weeks to go, Live At Leeds has unveiled the timetable for its Saturday all-dayer. And with 15 stages running from early afternoon to midnight and beyond, you’re never going to be stuck for something to watch. Usual rules apply – if there’s a band you absolutely don’t want to miss then get in early, with the smaller venues likely to be one in one out for most of the day and even the bigger ones subject to queuing at peak times. Tickets are still available for £25 from all the usual sites – or why not support the city’s fine independent record shops Crash and Jumbo who will post out tickets as well as selling them instore. (As a non Leeds resident who goes to quite a few gigs there I make frequent use of this service, not least because they send tickets promptly and for minimal fees compared to many national ticket agencies).
For those of you who do live in Leeds, Crash and Jumbo also doing a little Live At Leeds / Record Store Day (Saturday 20th April) tie-in, whereby the first 125 customers on Saturday morning will receive a free Live At Leeds tote bag. Two of the exclusive tote bags will contain a Golden Ticket, which provides entry to all club nights and gigs at The Cockpit in the months of May, June and July.
Anyway, the schedule. Click here and see for yourself, or pick up a printed version from any of the participating venues. And for the first time this year there’s also a phone app: designed to provide ease of access to the programme, it features the ability to save and share your own personalised festival schedule. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and was created by festival partners Enjoy Digital following seed funding from Leeds and Partners.
As ever, there are going to be tough choices – not least here at LTW whereby two of the bands we’ve championed from the start are up against each other. Last year Savages were starting to break through after just a handful of gigs, their afternoon set on the Met’s bar stage drawing quite a crowd despite them being such a late addition to the bill they weren’t even on some versions of the timetable; then across town at Milo’s a raucous twenty minute set from Eastern European dictator obsessed local punk band Kleine Schweine saw people actually hanging off the walls of the little bar. Expect a repeat scene of the latter this year for the little piggies’ half seven slot at the same venue, while Savages are certain to fill the University’s Stylus whose strong bill sees Dutch Uncles and headliners The Walkmen follow them.
Manchester-based Everything Everything’s autumn tour is currently selling so well they’ve had to add extra dates, so expect their headline slot at The Refectory (the university’s biggest venue) to be a popular destination while across the campus at the little Mine bar much-loved locals Sky Larkin are also likely to pack a crowd, if there’s anything left of the place by the time the ever-explosive Hawk Eyes (who precede them) have finished. There’s a strong local showing across the rest of the bills too – former headliners The Pigeon Detectives this year open the O2 Academy’s bill with a blast at 2.30pm (maybe they have to go off and, er, detect some pigeons later?) and the cream of the city’s emerging artists are sprinkled generously across other early slots.
Sometimes half the fun is picking a band based solely on their name or the fact that you’re nearby, but if you’re after recommendations here are a few:
Post War Glamour Girls (4.30pm, Stylus)
Their new single “Jazz Funerals” is out this week (15th April) on seven inch vinyl through I Like Records and the buzz is growing, deservedly so, around this exciting local band. Deep dark vocals and all sorts of unsavoury goings on are the order of the day here and they’re always an intense experience live.
If you like the sound of this and can’t make the Leeds date, you can catch them at the following:
29th April – Cardiff, Undertone
30th – London, Waiting Rooms
2nd May – Leamington Spa, Zephyr Lounge
3rd May – The Head Of Steam, Newcastle supporting PINS (Stage time 9:15pm)
5th May – Sounds From The Other City, The Cresent, Salford (Stage time 9:30pm)
10th May – Wakefield, Velvet
24th May – Halifax, Arden Road Social Club
Department M (3.30pm, Stylus)
Leeds in the mid-00s, to an outsider at least, seemed to chuck out great bands faster than we could keep up with them – not least because they’d burn brightly (usually in the vicinity of the Dance To The Radio record label) for about ten minutes and then implode. This Et Al, Forward Russia, Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames, Grammatics… but look around Leeds and you’ll find alumni of many of that generation of bands still involved in music; if the voice of Department M sounds familiar that would be because it belongs to Grammatics’ Owen Brinley. This is more synth oriented than his previous incarnation, but no less twisted.
Menace Beach (1.30pm, Nation Of Shopkeepers)
Made up of people who are or were in Sky Larkin, Hookworms, Komakino and You Animals they were always going to be good. There are lots of US 90s influences going on there and some brilliantly catchy tunes.
Lulu James (8pm, Faversham)
Because it’s not all about white indie boys. Or indeed people from Leeds. Hailing from South Shields, Lulu has a voice and a stage presence you won’t forget in a hurry. Described as 21st century soul she’s a far cry from the belt-it-out brigade; often quite understated and influenced by James Blake’s fractured echoes, when she does soar it makes it all the more exciting.
Castrovalva (5pm, Mine)
Want something a bit heavier? Or even a lot heavier? This lot should sort you out. A regular favourite over at my former home of the ManchesterMusic site despite being from Leeds, I’ll hand you over to my colleague there Jon Ashley who summed them up perfectly: “Castrovalva’s angry mixed up noise math is something of an enjoyable enigma. When they get their wires lined up they sound like The Mars Volta on speed; the notable attack of “Dining With The Pope” cuts deep into the harshest moments of ATDI but that’s it if you’re looking for accessibility. Elsewhere their barbed wire tourniquet of calculus bundled post rock and futuristic exploding atomic kerplunk rock is something of a spectacle.”
The number one recommendation though is quite simply, if you can’t get in to see something, go and see something else. As well as the venues, festival activity is expanding to the streets and shops of Leeds through associated street entertainment, street food and in-store performances at Pretty Green, Dr. Martens, Made In Leeds and Trinity Leeds.