Live At Leeds celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday, with a successful day full of live music. The annual festival’s line up boasted 180+ acts, performing on twenty-two different stages across the city. With such a huge variety of bands and artists for the 10,000+ strong crowds to see, there was certainly something for everyone. We headed down to the festival to catch the best up-and-coming artists from across the UK.
2:00pm – Flawes – The Wardrobe
The first act we went to see was Huddersfield-based band Flawes. The alternative pop trio performed in the basement of The Wardrobe, a dark venue lit by multi-coloured fairy lights, giving the feeling it was more like 2am than 2pm. The venue filled out nicely with around 200 people coming to see the band perform their synth heavy and well-rehearsed tracks. An undeniably chilled out vibe was present in the underground venue, with many members of the audience fixated on the gorgeously eerie vocals of Brighouse boy, Josh Carruthers. Flawes set a high standard for the other performances for the rest of the day.
2:30pm – George Cosby – Leeds College of Music Auditorium
After hotfooting it across the road to the auditorium inside Leeds College of Music, we sat down for a performance from London-based singer-songwriter George Cosby. The well-spoken Southerner shocked the audience with his voice. With a similarity to George Ezra, in that his voice is not what you would expect to come from his mouth, Cosby’s deep, soulful vocals, accompanied by the huge sound from his 5-piece band, filled the auditorium. The audience sat in awe, so quietly that you could hear a pin drop. Cosby’s performance was unexpected and mesmerising to say the least.
3:00pm – Xylaroo – Leeds College of Music Recital Room
After Cosby’s performance, we headed downstairs to the small recital room inside Leeds College of Music. Next up was Xylaroo, a two-piece band consisting of sisters Coco and Holly from Papa New Guinea. The duo gave a very simplistic performance, with just an acoustic guitar to accompany them. When they sang in unison, it was as if just one of them were singing, with frequent harmonies adding texture to their sound. At times they came across as awkward and shy, but that just added to their unassuming nature. Their songs rarely mentioned love, which was surprising but refreshing, as this theme dominates commercial music nowadays. Xylaroo’s stripped-back performance was a nice break from the busy festival vibe across the city.
4:00pm – Will Joseph Cook – The Wardrobe
It was back to The Wardrobe for a set from 18-year-old singer songwriter Will Joseph Cook. Having had his single ‘Girls’ recently put on the Radio 1 playlist, the venue was full of fans waiting to see what this new kid on the block had to offer. Heading on to the stage with a pink electric guitar in hand, the young singer gave a well-polished performance of his alternative pop/rock songs. For someone so young, he clearly knows his style and what direction he wants to pursue. His hit ‘Girls’ had the audience smiling from ear to ear and singing along to every word, much to Cook’s surprise.
5:00pm – The Carnabells – Leeds University Union, Stylus
After a long walk from the bottom of town all the way up to Leeds University, we headed into the packed-out student nightclub, Stylus, to watch local indie band The Carnabells. If you didn’t already know they were an indie group, it was quite clear when the five-piece walked on stage in their brightly coloured and crazy, patterned shirts. Lead singer Luke wondered around the stage shaking his mop of hair to every beat of the drum and swaying from side to side in a drunken fashion. Whilst the band offered nothing particularly new or exciting for an up-and-coming act, the highlight of the show was instead the drunk girl stood at the front of the crowd, dancing like a ballerina and pirouetting along the barrier – quite a sight for 5pm.
8:00pm – Mystery Jets – Dr Martens Shop
After a quick break for some dinner, we headed to the Dr Martens Shop for an intimate, and modestly advertised, performance from Mystery Jets. The band was supposed to start at 7pm but it appeared that a piece of equipment was missing, so there was a delay in setting up. This didn’t seem to dampen the moods of the fans waiting outside in the queue to see this exciting cosy gig from a band that had played the O2 Academy earlier on in the day. When the band finally came out to perform, they apologised profusely for making everyone wait, but no one seemed to mind once they started performing. Their latest single ‘Bubblegum’ went down well with the crowd who quietly sang along and hummed the riff in the chorus. The acoustics in the shop were superb and it was great to see the band in such an intimate setting.
9:00pm – Blood Red Shoes – Leeds Beckett Union Stage 1
We had planned to watch headline act Jess Glynne close the day but she had pulled out earlier in the morning due to medical problems. This was a disappointing blow for the festival, as many punters claimed to have bought tickets just to see her. We didn’t let this stop our Live At Leeds experience, so headed up to Leeds Beckett University to catch alternative rock band Blood Red Shoes perform their first live show in nine months. The duo were clearly excited to be back performing live, with drummer Steven sweating within minutes of coming on stage. The band weren’t the only ones excited, with the audience, who consisted of mainly 30-40 year old men, going crazy and jumping up and down throughout the set. The band’s heavy rock sound blasted away anything that Jess Glynne would have brought; a great way to end the day.
It’s fair to say that Live At Leeds 2016 was a successful day, jam-packed full of some of the best in live music. Although the line-up was sparse of big name acts, the festival prides itself on bringing great live performances from up-and-coming musicians and they definitely delivered on that. If the festival continues to grow and put on greats bands at a reasonable price, it’s sure to become the best street festival in the UK.