The first festival of the official #DMMFestivalSeason was welcomed by sunshine, the Bank Holiday vibe and a vibrant buzz in Leeds when we arrived at midday on Saturday 4th May. Now in its 6th year, Live At Leeds would be taking over various venues across the city from 1pm onwards for the day/night, celebrating “the best in upcoming local bands alongside more established national acts”. It was clear to see just how popular the event had become from the hundreds of people queuing up outside the grand Leeds City Museum to collect their wristbands; from indie kids to rockers, students to a more mature audience, this was a festival with a difference and we couldn’t wait to get the party started.
Our first stop was the O2 Academy where Leeds boys, The Pigeon Detectives, kickstarted the day for what was a very special, homecoming show. The packed crowd showed their admiration and love for the 5 piece as they smashed through their pop-infused indie tracks, mixing in records from their highly anticipated new album, ‘We Met At Sea’, with popular classics like ‘I’m Not Sorry’ and ‘Take Her Back’. We must highlight lead singer Matt’s brilliant performance as a front man, his energy was contagious and the cheekiness of his banter with the crowd was amusing – “What time did you lot get up to be as pissed as this time of the day?” had us laughing. The Pigeons simply blew the roof off during their hour-long set and set the day off to a cracking start.
After a few cheeky drinks in between, we headed down to The Cockpit to see four piece rock’n’roll Leeds band, the China Rats. I’d seen the guys a few times before where they had the crowd dancing around to their catchy, 50s punk/pop inspired sounds and as mates, I was keen to see them as part of the LAL festival. Although the guys were great on stage and I personally felt proud to see them up there, we were rather disappointed with the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd, which we felt didn’t do China Rat’s music and performance justice. The lads have a lot of potential and we hope that future sets will see more movement from the crowd that they deserve!
Not wanting to miss London Grammar, we ran over to Leeds Met (The Stage) to catch the last half of their set. After being mesmerised by their ethereal, chilled-out and melodic tracks like ‘Hey Now’ and ‘Metal & Dust’, we were keen to witness the beautiful, haunting voice of main singer, Hannah Reid. Her voice translated perfectly in a live setting and had the audience encaptured in a stunning performance from the three-piece, which pointed towards the likes of The XX and Massive Attack in its serenity, making a nice breather from the higher tempo, rockier vibes of the rest of the festival.
Leeds University Union, The Refectory, was our next stop for Californian 5 piece, The Neighbourhood. We’d fallen in love with their evocative combination of hip hop/soul elements with rock, dub and electro vibes, resulting in dark, moody but irresistible tracks and couldn’t wait to watch a live performance. Looking effortlessly cool on stage and playing with passion, the guys certainly did not disappoint and treated to us to an incredible set, featuring well-known tracks, ‘Female Robbery’, ‘Sweater Weather’ and ‘Let It Go’ which had us singing our hearts out to. The only thing we felt let it down was again, a rather unenthused crowd, who we expected to be rocking out to this fantastic music; perhaps the Leeds crowd is becoming more conservative?!
It was a tough choice of who to see after 9.30pm, with Peace, Rudimental, Everything Everything or Darwin Deez being the main contenders; we decided with the latter and headed back over at Leeds Met (The Stage). A curious, entertaining and complex individual, Darwin Deez’s whole set offered toe-tapping tracks with positive, almost hippy-ish energy, which spread through the crowd as they bounced along and enjoyed the likes of ‘Radar Detector’ and ‘Constellations’. A more dynamic reaction compared to other sets throughout the day, the band’s random bursts of dancing injected fun into the set, ending the night on a happy high.
It wouldn’t be a festival without an afterparty and decided on the Propoganda night back at the O2 Academy, where the Pigeon Detectives and Rudimental were later playing DJ sets. We must say, starting out in the basement bar, the resident DJ played some absolute classics which got us both dancing our feet off (what was left of them) – the Higgy Wiggle was out in full force and even I extended on my ‘Spammy 2 Moves’ nickname!
Later on upstairs, we caught one of DMM’s favourites, Rudimental, take over the decks and fill the space with an awesome selection of drum’n’bass/jungle sounds – including their popular tracks too, of course. Good to see a personal favourite, Andy C, up there joining the lads in the bass-heavy offerings!
As our first Live At Leeds experience, we’d like to thank and shout out everyone involved in the festival, from the organisers to the press agency, i LiKE PRESS, to the friendly, helpful security guards across each of the venues we visited. Every aspect of the festival, particularly the materials like the website, app and programme, were first-class and further established the event a key date on the festival calendar!