Live At Leeds returns for its 10th year this Saturday, 30th April, officially kicking off the UK festival season.
Showcasing some of the biggest names alongside the best up and coming acts, Live At Leeds has played host to the likes of Bastille, James Blake, Wild Beasts, The Cribs, Bombay Bicycle Club, Rudimental and The Vaccines over the years, providing a snapshot of everything that is vital in music right now.
Topping the bill across 17 venues this year are the likes of All Tvvins, Ghostpoet, Formation, Rat Boy, Slow Club, Band of Skulls and The Boxer Rebellion, with Shura playing the O2 Academy Leeds stage ahead of Jess Glynne, and Corrine Bailey Rae set to light up Holy Trinity Church.
We went all out and listened to every single band listed on this year’s schedule, and the talent factor is so high, that we pushed our top 10 to a top 21, and had to pull a few to get down to that. And we got word from almost everyone on the list… check it out.
1. Miamigo | The Brudenell Social Club Games Room | 22:30
Kicking off our top 20 are Brighton-based duo MIAMIGO who have a couple of EPs under their belt, including Soda Lime Love and Hard To Love. We gave them a shout to see if they’d played there before, “Never, we’re very honoured to be playing the tenth year alongside some cool acts,” said vocalist, Liam. “Love Leeds, we’ve played there before, the crowd were pretty electric. There’s a few new numbers we’ve added to the set, hopefully we’ll have people dancing. Psyched to release new material we’re been working on (what seems like forever), this summer!” As for the bands they’re out to watch, “Mystery Jets are one of my favourites, I love seeing them on stage. Looking forward to see Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Shura for the first time live as well!”
2. Loyle Carner | The Brudenell Social Club | 22:00
Loyle Carner has just unveiled his latest track ‘Stars & Shards’. His music is planted at an intersection between the boom-bap of East Coast hip-hop, jazz-inflected portraits of South London, and soulful, laid back poetry; there’s solid, honest and raw sentimentality running through his sound. You get the sense he leaves no door closed, as though he’s inviting the listener in to come in, sit down, have a cup of tea, confess, and work through their problems together. ‘Stars & Shards’ is about one of his friends who lost their way – it’s brimming with honesty and humble perseverance, it’s a warm bath of studiously relaxed hip-hop and soul. Check it out.
3. Sundara Karma | The Faversham | 21:30
Reading four-piece, and Radio 1 favourites, Sundara Karma are back for a second year at Live at Leeds, with ‘a lot of new stuff’ for the crowd, “We’re in the process of finishing our debut album so are eager to play a few new tracks for the masses,” tells lead singer, Oscar. “The last time we played we met this older couple who we’re obviously enjoying the finer things in life, they had this toy stuffed mushroom which they referred to as ‘moosh’ and kept introducing it to Haydn (our drummer). Great times.”
4. Lola Coca | The Headrow House | 21:00
She’s a ‘Bad Girlfriend‘ but we love her. Portsmouth underdog Lola Coca bowls through our speakers with an unapologetic stride, carrying her love for 90’s Hip-Hop and Ska along for the journey. Lola Coca has been working alongside London’s own multi-instrumentalist, writer-producer Stefan Skarbek (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse) and legendary mixing engineer, Tony Maserati (Beyonce, Notorious B.I.G.).
5. Blossoms | The LUU Refectory | 20:00
Blossoms have just revealed their latest track, ‘Getaway’. The five-piece band from Stockport – Tom Ogden, Charlie Salt, Josh Dewhurst, Joe Donovan and Myles Kellock – formed in late 2013 and have fast become one of the hottest live bands on the circuit. The new single follows on from the band’s At Most A Kiss EP, which went straight to No.1 in the iTunes chart, with the title track making the A-List at 6 Music, B-List at Radio 1 and Absolute radio and the daytime playlist at Radio X.
6. Avante Black | The Brudenell Social Club Games Room | 19:30
Formed under a year ago, Avante Black reads like the United Nations of Indie Rock with frontwoman Ottilia and guitarist Emil hailing from Sweden, bassist Gabs from Italy and keeping the beat, Dean on drums from the United Kingdom. Barely out of their teens and with just 10 gigs under their belt, the shoegazy pop band sounds something like Wolf Alice crossed with The Jesus and Mary Chain. Avante Black have just released their newest single and video, a lament for unattainable crushes entitled ‘Imaginary Love.’
“It’s gonna be our first gig outside of london so we’re really excited,” they tell FMS. “We don’t know much about the festival but really liking the line-up, can’t wait to catch some great shows! Up till now every show we’ve played has been different now we got a fresh playlist, some new tracks so yeaaaah it should be a good show (;
“So stoked to finally see Mystery Jets!! And also one new favourite is Sweat who’s on after us, on the same stage. They’re incredible live.”
7. Willie J Healey | The Faversham | 19:30
We were torn between posting 20-year-old Willie J Healey’s more recent, and much punchier, track ‘Dude Like Him‘ and this one. You should definitely check out the other, but we went with ‘Subterraneans’ as we’re loving the more typical, hazy and meandering tracks by this surf-rock n stroller. His sound and attitude adds a refreshingly British twist to the slack, grungy singer songwriting template popularised by the likes of Mac DeMarco, Twin Peaks and Kurt Vile.
8. Blaenavon | The Oporto | 19:00
Transgressive-signed teenagers, Blaenavon, have just unveiled brand new track ‘I Will Be The World’ and its accompanying video directed by fast-rising filmmaker, Claes Nordwall. The song caught the attention of Zane Lowe at this year’s SXSW, who convinced label Transgressive to let him play an unfinished version of the track on his Beats 1 show and declared them “one of the most talked about, breakthrough bands” playing the festival.
9. Izzy Bizu | The O2 Academy Leeds | 18:30
Izzy Bizu has chart topper written all over her. Hailing from South West London, the singer/songwriter grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Swan, Betty Wright and James Brown and draws on these influences alongside newer influences, Amy Winehouse and Adele to create a fusion of soul, funk, jazz and pop that sounds classic and brand spanking new all at once. She was also nominated for BBC Sound of 2016.
10. Treetop Flyers | The Leeds College of Music | 18:30
For Treetop Flyers, the last few years have been a case of needing to fall apart, in order to rebuild, and come back stronger. Two and a half years on from their acclaimed debut album, The Mountain Moves, fate showed its macabre sense of humour in dramatically shifting the ground beneath the London five-piece. Up from the ashes came sophomore album, Palomino, released just last month, and ’31 Years’ tracks a goodbye to a friend who passed away during the recording of their debut.
Like many on our list, they’re looking forward to seeing Mystery Jets live, “We like their new record,” says Sam Beer. “The best bit about festivals is seeing bands you don’t know and finding new music. We haven’t played Leeds before but we’ve always heard that Leeds as a city has a great and vibrant music scene, that’s one of the reasons we are excited to play the festival. We will be playing a load of new songs from our new record. It’s great to play them to new audiences. Expect new instrumentation and a mixture of influences.”
11. Declan McKenna | The Brudenell Social Club | 18:00
We’ve got big feels for young Declan McKenna and are loving his latest track, ‘Paracetomal’. His songwriting is class and his lyrics unswerving – oh won’t you let me finish/you drive me insane/the world will keep on turning/even if we’re not the same – as he sings tales of love, gender and imminent adulthood – what kind of man/what kind of man are you/showing love like you do/like you do… ‘Paracetomal’ is our new favourite anthem. Play it again.
12. Zuzu | The Leeds Becketts Second Stage | 18:00
We’re loving the demo track by Zuzu, a female singer-songwriter from Liverpool. Having already supported Courtney Barnett on tour, 2016 is looking to be very promising. “We have played Leeds before but never Live At Leeds,” she told FMS. “We’ve had friends play the festival before and we’ve only heard good things! Cool that they support new bands. We’ll be sticking to our usual set with a sly new one in there!” As for who they’ll be watching, “Looking forward to catching Circa Waves! Fellow Scousers! We’ve never seen them play before.”
13. The Sherlocks | The LUU Refectory | 17:30
Fans of the Courteeners should definitely lend their ears to The Sherlocks, as lead vocalist (and rhythm guitarist) Kiaran Crook is a dead ringer for Liam Fray. Or young ringer we should say. The indie/alternative band from Sheffield consists of two sets of brothers, and their new single ‘Heart of Gold’ has received plenty of airplay from BBC Radio 1 DJs and BBC 6 Music.
“We’ve never played at Live At Leeds before but we are really excited to play at the festival, we’ve heard a lot of great things about it. We are expecting a huge crowd!” tells young Kiaran, who promises something, “Explosive! Plenty of energy and emotion, this is going to be fantastic! We are really looking forward to meeting up with DMA’S, Blossoms and Circa Waves. They’re all playing on our stage and they’re fantastic bands!”
14. Tiggs Da Author | the O2 Academy Leeds | 17:30
Tiggs Da Author is a 25-year-old rapper, singer/songwriter and producer from South London, channelling ‘experimental soul’. He’s never played Leeds before but is really looking forward to it, “It’s great, there is so much variety among the acts that are on. There’s loads I want to see this year. I toured with Jess Glynn recently who puts on a brilliant show, I’m a big fan if Izzy Bizu and also Jones. My Live show is really energetic and fun. Have added a few new tracks in recently which will be on my forthcoming EP.”
15. Otherkin | The Leeds Becketts Second Stage | 17:00
“Fast, loud, sweaty party music. A proper rock and roll show.” That’s what you can expect from raucous newcomers, Otherkin, who are already all over the likes of Radio 1, Radio X and MTV Rocks. “We’ve never actually played the festival, but one of our first ever UK shows was in Leeds,” tells Luke Reilly. “We played with a couple of great local bands in Nation of Shopkeepers, it was wild! Needless to say we’re pumped to be heading back. Excited to catch Autobahn again, we shared a stage with them recently and they were killer. Looking forward to stumbling upon some new music too!”
16. Carnabells | The LUU Stylus | 17:00
Carnabells are a thriving five piece from an old mining village in the heart of Yorkshire, and are set to play their biggest slot at the festival to date, “We’re on at 5pm at The University Stylus, really excited for it,” say guitarist, Mitch Thompson. “It’s the perfect inner city festival for bands to play, as it mixes all levels of the best and buzziest bands at this time. We’re hosting the official after party at The Wardrobe too, called Bigmouth. Ends the day of perfectly as all the bands and fans get together for one big party at the end.
“There’ll be a couple of songs revamped, we’ll be playing our latest release ‘The Belle Of The Strutters’ Ball’ and some brand new tracks also. Really happy with where the set is at, at the minute, definitely our strongest yet. Hoping to catch DMA’s, heard quality stuff from them lately. Blossoms, Sundara Karma, The Sherlocks, Spring King are also kicking up some noise at the minute so will hopefully get to see them!”
17. Girl Friend | The Belgrave Music Hall | 16:00
Expect some intense pop music from Manchester outfit, Girl Friend. They made waves with their first track ‘Perfume’, a hot and heated, quivering number taken from their Everyone Wants To Be Wanted EP. “This will be our first time at the Festival!” tells vocalist Amory. “We can’t wait to play; it’s been a few months since we last visited Leeds, such a cool city. This year’s line-up is great, a perfect mix of established bands and newer acts (like ourselves). We’ve only played a handful of gigs this year so we’re really excited to try out our new material. This summer will mostly be spent touring the UK – looking forward to playing a few other festivals too, Dot to Dot and Great Escape.” As for bands on their radar at the festival… “Almost too many to mention! Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Blossoms, Shura and We Are Scientists.”
18. Will Joseph Cook | The Wardrobe | 16:00
While most 19-year-olds will be attending festivals like Glastonbury this summer, English wunderkind Will Joseph Cook will be rockin’ out on their stages. The Kent singer-songwriter has amassed a legion of fans last year thank to the success of his debut EP You Jump, I Run, which earned him the top spot on Hype Machine’s charts.
“This will be both my first time visiting Leeds and playing live at Leeds. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the city so I’m gassed to be playing the festival,” says Will. “I’ll be playing a bunch of unreleased songs off my album so plenty of fresh tunes. The current live line up is fairly new and it’s got me the most excited I’ve ever been about playing shows. There’s a lot of stuff I’m gonna try to see. In particular I wanna catch Fews and Pumarosa.”
19. Hannah Lou Clark | The Holy Trinity Church | 14:15
Hannah Lou Clark has just released her brand new EP Its Your Love, on her own label Quatre Femmes Records via PIAS. Produced by Hannah and mixed by Tarek Musa of Spring King, the EP offers an artist in full command of her voice and her instrument, a woman who knows exactly what she wants to offer listeners and who isn’t afraid to cover sunlight with clouds. Its Your Love is a knockout front to back, and clear cut evidence that we have a powerful and lasting voice on our hands.
20. FACE | The Oporto | 14:00
You’re going to have to trust us on this one, as we’ve seen these boys play live twice in the last year! They’ve signed a record deal with Warner Brothers since then and are currently working on their debut EP, which is bound to make waves in the world of indie-pop rock.
“Leeds is one of the few cities we haven’t had a chance to play yet, so absolutely buzzing to show Leeds what we got, we’ve heard big things about this event from past years,” tells frontman, David Arthur. “We’re on at 2pm on Saturday 30th which is around about the time our drummer wakes up from a deep sleep, so looking forward to it!” As for the set, “It’s all new! We’re hoping it’s going to go off like one of Noel Edmunds’ house parties!”
They’re also looking forward to seeing a few bands themselves, “Corinne Bailey Rae is incredible. Boxer Rebellion and Shura all looking good too for a slice of cake, but everyone’s talking about this new band called FACE this year. Can’t wait to see them. They smell good. They are ridiculously good looking and word on the street is they don’t like cake.”
21. Natalie McCool | the Nation of Shopkeepers | 13:00
Finally, be sure to catch one of the first on the bill, alt-pop artist, Natalie McCool, who lends a modern twist to pop music at its finest, “I have never played at Live At Leeds but always heard about it from friends and contacts as a great place to play and see music,” she tells FMS. “I really love city festivals – there is a great vibe about them and especially if they occur in spring/summer!
“I’ll be playing a new song called ‘Feel Good’ from my upcoming album! We’ve never played it before so very excited to perform it. It’s a really fierce song. I really enjoy the electronic aspect of playing live as we have drums pads and some backing tracks, it’s quite an elaborate set up and interesting to watch.” On her agenda are, “Clean Cut Kid, VITAMIN, Circa Waves and Rat Boy to name a few – also Loyle Carner, Mabel and Isaac Gracie.”
Live at Leeds takes place on Saturday, 30th April 2016. Check out their website to see the full line-up.
Words: Sarah Hardy