From the front: Live at Leeds 2016

From the front: Live at Leeds 2016

With all the bands, all the venues and only a single day to enjoy it all, this year’s Live at Leeds Festival was a flurry of Uber rides and scheduling abandonment – we sent roving reporting Jennifer Ho to scoop up the glorious gifts of Yorkshire’s burgeoning music scene.

2016 marked the festival stepping into double digits, celebrating its tenth year with some stylish branding and new pop up stages. Yet amongst all the frenzy, people and venues, the festival still managed to retain its intimate, Northern soul.

Pop a stage on the high street? Why not. This was a brilliant way to bring music to the people. The Briggate stage attracted a mix bag of onlookers, from curious Saturday shoppers, ticket holders to kids just wanting to dance. Party Hardly’s afternoon slot brings in just that, with their lo-fi bedroom sounds entertaining the diverse masses.

Over at the O2 Academy, Mystery Jets play a superb set to a packed out crowd. Their new material from Curve of the Earth is cinematic and powerful live. Mid-set, lead singer William Rees shouts out, “who wants to go back to the nineties?” to the reply of much cheer. Their backdrop logo changes colour and they proceed to blast out their earlier hits, including Young Love and Two Doors Down. From epic to infectious, the set affirms that indie bands can indeed live forever.

Upstairs at Belgrave, Kloe’s attempt at sultry pop is an amusing watch. She sashes and sways across the stage, but the performance is interjected with sound checks long into her set, resulting in an unconvincing performance. However, hats off to her for falling over, laughing it off, and quickly getting back into persona. A solid ‘A’ for effort, despite the rickety outcome.

Over at the Leeds Student Union, Spring King have energy bouncing off all walls and into the very crevice of your ear hole. Their music is quick to take over the crowd, creating circle pits with each song. When they ask the crowd if folks knew them already, the crowd shouted ‘yes’. When asked if people were stumbling across them for the first time, the crowd equally shouted ‘yes’. A perfect example of festivals doing what they do best – facilitating musical discoveries. That, or just a sea of yes-men.

Despite knowing what a tiny venue HiFi is, and despite knowing what an adored local darling she is, we nip over to the other side of town to test our luck at Corinne Bailey Rae. As expected, we’re greeted with a snaking queue and a one-in-one-out policy. No fret, as here’s a chance to watch a band with some breathing space. Lola Coca performs at the vast industrial space that is Headrow House. It’s a sparse crowd, which suits the low stage. She raps, sings and engages with the crowd. At times it sounds polished, others a bit karaoke. But the common thread throughout her performance is that she does it with a whole lot of ‘tude.

As the evening settles in, we head to The Wardrobe to see Ghostpoet. The artist and his band are shrouded by smoke, adding to the air of mystery. It’s smooth, jazzy, intimate and utterly captivating. Baritone poetry is juxtaposed against instrumentation, and indie rock licks complement his electronic tinged beats.

Band of Skulls ends the night perfectly. They open their set with a thumping performance of their new track ‘In Love By Default’ and go on to perform a mixture of old and new – with each song bringing with it a roar of energy and an air of kick-ass.

Thanks Live at Leeds, that was reet good.


Words – Jennifer Ho
Photos – Sam Huddlestone

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