Live at Leeds 2011

While London has its Camden Crawl the north of England goes live…Live at Leeds. Now in its fifth year, 2011 shows that this kind of inter-city festival has longevity in showcasing a multitude of music from around the country. Around 150 bands invaded Leeds City Centre in order to play to the masses and of course Counterfeit were only too eager to pop along and see what was going down.

Saturday started as a leisurely meander with the aim to get sorted, check the schedule and pick up our passes from Leeds Met. The only issue we had, so far, was the spectrum of bands involved and the scheduling as it all seemed pretty tight.

Nevertheless we set about and wondered down to the Nation of Shopkeepers , quite simply billed as ‘a pub with music’. The truth is, it is simply ‘a pub with music’, a nice one at that. Southern band Yaaks took to the stage. A five- piece The Guardian, pitch as those ‘most likely to make students dance’. It’s actually true. Though to be fair their Delphic-esque and New Order trimmings got my foot tapping and I’m not a student. I guess there’s more to them than appealing to the great unwashed. Yaaks are a cheeky little electro-pop unit, saying that there’s a fair few about at the moment, think Foals and Friendly Fires to name but two. It probably didn’t help, that for me, the set was ruined by some lass screaming ‘go Matt’ in my ear for the first ten minutes of the set.

After a quick hop, step and jump we were O2 Academy bound for The Duke Spirit. Having been round for eight years or so The Duke Spirit certainly know how to rock in their own certain way and how to work a crowd. Lead singer Liela Moss dressed in a sparkly silver jacket strutted across the stage as if she owned it. Throughout their set, they certainly showed the crowd the shape of things to come, given that their third album, Bruiser, is soon to be released. They were energetic, deep in places and certainly enduring in a rocky way. It was then time for something rather different and off we trucked back down the road to Milo’s where South Yorkshire trio Heebie Jeebies were working the crowd with their uniqueness. They describe their sound as an ethnological space adventure, though some would say it’s more a case of trial and error, but it works. Ferocious, mind numbing and fearful are three traits to describe their music. A simple one word review would be instinctive. They just do what they do and enjoy.

Photos by Gary Wolstenholme

Once again a quick run back up the hill to Leeds Met and The Twilight Sad were on stage. The Twilight Sad are one of those bands who simply just keep evolving. James Graham’s distinctive vocals give rise to the honesty and openness of their lyrics. Live they are heavy and and enigmatic they simply gave the crowd what they were after, a sterling good performance. Back down the road at the O2 Academy Frightened Rabbit, were headlining. Having recently stepped up into the limelight after endless touring and the release of three albums, they presented a unique show encompassing what the faithful rave about a full on energetic live performance.

A quick taxi ride later and we’re up in studentsville in a fit to burst and well sweaty Brudenell Social Club. Paul Thomas Saunders and his band are about to take the stage. Saunders a slight lad with a huge mop of hair depicts the ‘little boy lost’ look down to a T. He’s purely wondersome. It’s a breath of fresh air in the staleness of the uptempo bands we’ve seen throughout the day, not that they were a bad thing at all. With haunting harmonies set adrift to a folkess background it’s all slightly magical. A total contrast to the last band of the night, the Young Knives. It’s easy to take the piss here, they’re a little bit messy. With their narratives on daily occurrences, you could have them down as (cough cough splutter) the new generation of hipsters, though they’re far too brash for genres. Fast flowing, deathly beats catchy in a post punk Rocket From The Crypt kinda way, they beat the Brudenell up and raise the temperature to way beyond boiling point.

A good end to a good day.

Photos by Ben Statham

That was that, Live at Leeds was over for us, such a shame it’d been a hectic and fantastic music filled day. My only gripe would be that there’s far too much choice for one day and some major clashes with bands/artists but hey ho, that’s a festival for you!