Live at Leeds never fails to disappoint. Some year have offered lineups that are strong from the outset, while others have required some picking over to find acts of interest – although these years have invariably thrown out some truly remarkable and outstanding, not to mention memorable acts.
2019 promises a real bumper year, with quality and variety running the full span of the bill, and an almost even balance of big-name draws and lesser-known up and comings – and the chances are that random punts won’t disappoint and that several acts you’ve never heard of playing early in the day will break through in the next 18 months.
So, if you’re feeling spoiled for choice (and really, you should be), here are our top recommendations….
Drenge – Leeds Festival Presents Stage - O2 Academy, 3:15
Drenge have evolved enormously since their emergence in 2010. Initially a straight-ahead grunge duo consisting of the Loveless brothers, their expansion to a three-piece in 2015 prefaced something of a stylistic shift for their new album, ‘Strange Creatures’, which was released in February.
Kate Tempest – Momentum & Independent Stage - Leeds Beckett SU, 9:30
Because literature is the new rock ‘n’ roll.
These New South Whales – Hyde Park Book Club, 2:00
Fucking yes. Self-proclaimed “Buzz Band” from Newcastle, Australia, have their own documentary series back home. Returning to the UK after touring with DZ Deathrays last year, they promise heavy smoke and sonic mayhem reminiscent of The Birthday Party delivered with a seedy S&M twist and some manic fury. At 2 o’ clock in the afternoon: c’mon!
Black Honey – Farah Stage - Leeds University Union Refectory, 8:15
The Refectory might not get as much use as a venue since Stylus opened at the University SU, but it’s back hosting a bunch of bands for Live at Leeds again this year, with Brighton Alt-Pop band Black Honey being the pick of the crop. Expect dramatic vocals and Dick Dale riffs, grooves, atmosphere and a lot of energy.
Seafret – Dance to the Radio Stage – Church, 8:45
The Bridlington indie-folk duo make their return after a triumphant set at Stylus in 2017 and are sure to provide some gentle but emotionally-resonant and melodic respite amongst the many electric guitars and synths on offer.
Goat Girl – NME Stage - Leeds University Union, 7:45
Goat Girl’s ascent has been rapid: having released their debut singe on Rough Trade in 2016, they’ve since appeared on Jools Holland and toured with Parquet Courts, they bring drawling vocals and a dash of country to the (post)punk party.
Body Type – Hyde Park Book Club, 6:00
The pitch of Body Type being ‘a 4-piece female Indie-Pop band’ doesn’t quite convey the range of their songs, which span jangly to brooding and even dark-edged post-punk and shoegaze.
Dead Naked Hippies – Yorkshire Music Forum Stage – Hifi, 4:30
Leeds’ Dead Naked Hippes are prime exponents of spiky post-punk: channelling the dark energy of Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-Mal Deutschland and Skeletal Family, they’ve got Leeds tradition on their side, while remaining very much contemporary. One of the most exhilarating live acts around, we can’t recommend them enough.
Faux Pas – Yorkshire Music Forum Stage – Hifi, 6:30
The Manchester quartet come on like a punked-up Placebo. What more do you need?
The Golden Age of TV – Yorkshire Music Forum Stage – Hifi, 7:30
Playing quirky indie with a hefty dose of retro-futurism, homegrown talents The Golden Age of TV are as much of a joy to watch as to listen to.
La Rissa - BBC Introducing Stage – Oporto, 12:00
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Leeds’ own La Rissa may only have one self-released EP to her credit, but with brooding gothy synth songs imbued with the theatricality of Zola Jesus it’s not entirely surprising the BBC have clocked her and we’re tipping her as one to check out, too.
Dream Wife – Momentum & Independent Stage - Leeds Beckett SU, 3:30
Female bands are well-represented this year, and it doesn’t feel like an attempt at rebalancing gender equality: there are simply a lot of really strong female bands around at the moment, and Dream Wife are up there with the best of them, with full-throttle punk tunes galore.
Metronomy – NME Stage - Leeds University Union, 10:30
6Music faves mark their 20th anniversary this year. The mellow electro-leaning indie-poppers have a reputation for visually stimulating live shows, and promise to provide an enjoyable close to proceedings on the NME stage at Stylus.
Mini Mansions – Dr Martens Second Stage - Brudenell Community Room 10:30
Their 2011 eponymous debut was described on this very site as ‘slightly weird and very accessible’. The LA supergroup, which consists of Michael Shuman (bassist for Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys touring member Tyler Parkford, and Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets) trade in ‘dark psych-pop’, and the chance to catch them play in a 400-capacity room is a rare treat.
Shadowlark – Dance to the Radio Stage – Church, 4:30
Because pop music very much has its place in Live at Leeds’ wide-ranging approach to booking, and at its best, pop music has the capacity to move both mind and body. Synth-based Lees trio conjure expansive pop tunes with credibility, and get the W&H vote.
Slow Readers Club – Dance to the Radio Stage – Church, 10:00
Sitting comfortably alongside the likes of Editors, White Lies, and Bloc Party, The Slow Readers Club have had a slow ascent spanning three albums before finally achieving the success they rightly deserve. Emotionally deep songs with a deep sense of melancholy, balanced by an accessibility an (dark) electro pop edge, they’re the full package.
Tallsaint – Dr Martens Boot Room - Brudenell Social Club, 12:00
The latest iteration of former Witch Hunt frontwoman Louisa Osborn’s musical career pushes a dreamy electropop vibe. Having played the Dance To The Radio Stage on the Thursday night of Leeds Festival last year, Tallsaint has attracted favourable press backing from Clash Magazine , Line of Best Fit, and The405 among others. It may be an early slot, but opening the Dr Martens stage at the Brudenell is a pretty prestigious slot, and so sure to be worth making early doors for.
With the lineup on offer this year, we could easily recommend just as many again… but we’d hate to be responsible for clashfinder meldtown, so will simply leave it with the traditional ‘see you down the front!’
Full lineup, stage-times, tickets and more at Live at Leeds