The Leeds festival that’s always one step ahead of spotting ‘the next big thing’

Every Live At Leeds: In The City route will be completely different. It’s one of the joys of attending a city-wide festival.

15 venues, some 100 artists and 20,000 steps later…

Live At Leeds: In The City is one of the biggest events in the indie music lover’s calendar in Leeds, and for good reason.

The festival, no matter how big it’s grown over the years, still manages to hold onto its community feel, and given it’s track record of spotting up-and-coming artists, it’s no wonder that people across the north will travel over for a day of none-stop hits from those ‘one’s to watch’.

Ed Sheeran, Royal Blood, George Ezra, Catfish and the Bottleman, Jake Bugg, Rudimental, Bombay Bicycle Club, Mumfords and Sons, The Cribs, Spector, Stormzy, Alt-J, Frightened Rabbit, The Ememy, Pulled Apart By Horses, Everything Everything, Clean Bandit, The Maccabees, Frank Carter and the Rattle Snakes, Sam Fender, Lewis Capaldi, Rag n Bone Man, Northing But Thieves, DMAs, Tom Grennan, Easy Life, Arlo Parks… the list is truly endless: this festival has seen some huge names over the years.

Hosted at fifteen venues across the city centre, the 12-hour festival is like almost like a scavenger hunt for musical talent, and a great opportunity to venture into venues you would never normally would have step foot into.

Every Live At Leeds: In The City route will be completely different. It’s one of the joys of attending a city-wide festival.

And this year’s was no different…

Paris Paloma kicked off the Stylus at Leeds University Union, bringing a fusion of dark pop, folk, and indie tunes to the stage. Following her viral success for Labour, a song ‘giving a voice to feminine rage‘ with strong repetitive beats that wouldn’t be out of place in a battle march, the Derbyshire-born artist explained that she thought “that would be the peak of my career”. How wrong she was.

The SU begins to pack out for new single Dry Wall, a song that’s only been out for three days, but every syllable is already uttered by the front row.

Paris Paloma at LUU Stylus. / Images: The Hoot Leeds

Our route took us down to Mill Hill Chapel opposite Leeds Train Station to listen to the soft melodies of Katie Malco, a singer-songwriter that’s well atuned to the festival circuit. Describing herself as ‘post ironic and overly emotional’, Malco’s emotional acoustic set touched on breakdowns, boyfriends and breakups “where you still have to live in the same house as them because you’re not rich”.

Sat on pews taking in the architecture of the Grade II listed chapel, surrounded by candles, LGBTQ+ flags and a well-stocked bar, once you’re inside the doors of Mill Hill, you really do escape reality for a moment – it’s got to be one of the more unusual music venues in the city, but one that’s built for acoustic sets like this.

Katie Malco at Mill Hill Chapel. / Images: The Hoot Leeds

The festival is all about exploring different genres and undiscovered talent, and as the sun began to hide away for another day, ever Live At Leeds: In The City venue started to fill out with indie music enthusiasts searching for a new favourite band.

Bedroom High Club, a Barnsley-based band packed out Oporto, and nodded as the ‘one’s to watch’, the four-piece arrived hot from supporting Seb Lowe on tour. For anyone that missed the rock band, tickets to their now sold out gig at The Leadmill will be like gold dust to find, but well worth every penny.

‘Alternative Rock Project’ Tummyache, brought The Key Club harsh guitar riffs and Delights, hot from a performance over the Pennines at new Manchester venue CANVAS MCR, had The Wardrobe on its feet. Since performing an intimate headline gig at The Lending Room last year, the band has had a whirlwind year, ticking off nine festivals prior to Live At Leeds.

Tummyache at The Key Club. / Image: The Hoot Leeds
The Last Dinner Party at Leeds Beckett SU. / Image: The Hoot Leeds

Over at Leeds Beckett Student Union, The Last Dinner Party, brought a mesmerising performance that showed just how far the band have projected themselves since their last performance at the Brudenell Social Club (that they say had a very small turnout), “look at us now!” proclaimed lead singer Abigail Morris as she introduced her band members to the stage.

Running around the stage for the full set and hopping down from the stage on more than one occasion to serenade the audience, Morris truly kept the crowd alive and made this one of the most memorable performances of the day. The five-piece band dressed in their signature floaty dresses and structured corset-style tops, only have three released singles on Spotify, but packed their set with six confident, well-rehearsed tracks.

The Last Dinner Party at Leeds Beckett SU. / Image: The Hoot Leeds
Kid Kapichi at LUU Stylus. / Image: The Hoot Leeds

Having signed with Island Records (think Foals, Muse) even before releasing their debut single, supported names like Lana Del Ray and Florence and the Machine, and now selling out an upcoming US tour, there’s a lot of hype around The Last Dinner Party with a momentum that just keeps building.

By contrast, over at Leeds University Union Stylus, Kid Kapichi brought circle pits and handed out English muffins and gravy from the Co-op. The four-piece British indie punk band from Hastings draw some similarities to Soft Play (formerly Slaves) and Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, both bands that have graced the Live At Leeds stages in previous years.

@thehootleeds Kid Kapichi spotted at @Live At Leeds handing out gravy! #liveatleeds #leedsfest #leeds #leedsuni #gravy #northern #north #kidkapichi #livemusic #leedsfestival #leedscitycentre ♬ original sound – Thehootleeds

As the night drew in new crowds, Wunderhorse took to Leeds Beckett SU for one last rock set, whilst Antony Szmierek at The Wardrobe, Lynks at the Brudenell Social Club and The Covasettes all brought the small Leeds venues to their final crescendos.

Walking away with plenty of new musical inspiration, Live At Leeds: In The City continues year-after-year to predict artists destined for global success, and we can’t help but wonder who we’ve seen this weekend that’ll be on the Main Stage at Leeds Festival in a few years time.

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Feature Image – The Hoot Leeds

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