Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Live At Leeds 2012 Preview

Why I am so excited about Live At Leeds:

So I’ve just been emailed the final band announcements for this year’s Live At Leeds, which takes place May 4th to 7th. That the top line of billing includes Example and Alkaline Trio suggests just how diverse it has become and how much they are trying to push it as a broad, but quality festival.

In all honesty, I’m not really a headliners kind of guy but the mix of bands towards the top of the poster is quite impressive. Marina & The Diamonds, The Enemy and Ladyhawke aren’t names that strike an ounce of emotion in me, but equally, they are quality, big names and ones I’ve not seen on EVERY SINGLE FESTIVAL POSTER over the last few months, so good picks. Obviously I can vouch for Los Campesinos! after last year’s Long Division as being essential and The Subways; I thought they were washed up a long time ago, but they may well do what The Futureheads did last year and pull out a set that reminds us why we loved them so much in the first place.

Of the bands slightly lower down the bill, Ghostpoet is the name everyone is talking about. It seems crazy now but I saw them supporting Metronomy at The Hop in Wakefield just last year and they were excellent. It will be interesting to see them in a bigger venue. I Like Trains is a big one for me. Again, we had them at Long Division last year but I missed them and am very excited to hear material from their forthcoming third album. Bands like Howler and the more local Spector are also tipped as ones to watch. So all in all, a pretty decent mix.

BUT! It is the bands further down the billing that excite me and the reason I love my day in Leeds so much. There are bands that have only existed on the periphery of my knowledge and understanding and Live At Leeds is a great way to ‘top up’ your enthusiasm for new and live music. Alt-J, Blacklisters, Black Moth, Fanzine, Moody Gowns, Post War Glamour Girls, The History Of Apple Pie, This Many Boyfriends; all bands I know of but want to know more about. The journey round the city on a scorching hot summer’s day searching them out can’t be beaten for me.

As a fellow festival organiser I really appreciate the efforts that go into making my day effortless. I’ve always been impressed with the setup over the last few years; it couldn’t be less stressful. That and the pleasant traipsing around the city combine to help make this one of the most sociable festivals on the calendar.

This aspect has been built on with additional events over the rest of the weekend. Sunday and Monday Hangover events take place at Brudenell Social Club (the public acknowledgement of a two day hangover is pleasing) whilst The Unconference takes place on May 4th (Friday) before the rest of the celebrations. It features a panel of speakers talking about the current state of the music biz, especially in relation to digital media / distribution etc. Tom Robinson of BBC 6 Music and Sean Adam, founder of Drowned in Sound, will be there aswell as many other industry people. This is the kind of thing some unscrupulous people will try sell tickets for, whilst these ‘experts’ pass on their wisdom. But here it is free. A great example of Live At Leeds’ commitment to quality music and community.

And finally, there will be the Live At Leeds annual 5-aside Football Tournament on the Monday. I can’t bloody stand football, but this sounds like a great idea; a real communal thing and a proper good laugh.

At £20 for the Saturday all-dayer, this is bloody good value. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, I love the city based festivals and the fact that, alongside kick ass music, I can also have a really nice dinner, or sneak off for a quality pint in The Adelphi and make a full day of it. Live At Leeds is a fantastic advert for The City of Leeds, music both local and live and for the importance of a strong, social community. Here’s to another great year.


Dean Freeman

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