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Highlights of Live At Leeds 2019

The arrival of Live At Leeds on Saturday the 4th of May officially kicked off festival season, and what a start it was.

Although it was not quite festival weather yet, it had music lovers out in full swing. The UK Festival Awards winner in 2018 for Best Festival for Emerging Talent, Live At Leeds is established for being the unrivalled home of music discovery. With over 200 acts to choose from, we definitely had our work cut out for us, but every drop of sweat was completely worth it. Here, in no particular order, is our list of highlights of the day:

Ed The Dog

The indie/alternative band from High Wycombe is the brainchild of Ed Wetenhall, who made his debut album Shame in his parents’ attic following the demise of his other band, Fish Tank. Following a slight delay in soundcheck (or, as Ed puts it, a surprise warm up by support band The Soundcheckers), Ed The Dog wasted no time at the Brudenell Social Club, jumping straight into high energy, hook-filled songs, including Funny Turns, A Good Thing, and title track Shame. An absolute delight to see them perform, this is definitely one to keep an eye (or two) on.

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HalfNoise

Not exactly the first band that comes to mind at the mention of the name Zac Farro, Nashville-based HalfNoise still managed to build a following of its own with its infectious alternative pop rock. While we’re not used to seeing Farro take center stage, watching him deliver the lead vocals while brandishing (and totally owning) a tambourine immediately convinced us that he is more than just the drummer of Paramore. With not one, but two drum kits on-stage at the Brudenell Community Room, it was only a matter of time before Zac jumped behind one of them and started hammering away in perfect synchrony to the other drummer.

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Sam Fender

Just when you thought everyone would be sick of the singer-songwriter guitarist kind, out comes Sam Fender with six strings at the tips of his fingers and a vocal prowess that have captivated like few others have before him. With the Geordie lad’s name on everyone’s lips, it’s no wonder the queue to see 23-year old Sam went on for days. Prior to the release of his long-awaited debut album, Hypersonic Missiles, Fender has already sold out numerous shows on tours and on this day managed to bring the O2 Academy Leeds to capacity, blessing us all with some old favourites such as Play God and Dead Boys, and most importantly, an impressive cover of Oasis’ Morning Glory.

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Black Honey

Indie rock quartet Black Honey from Brighton is fronted by Izzy B Phillips, who from the moment she steps on stage demands your attention without even asking for it. Clad in white and blue striped pyjamas, red-rimmed sunglasses and a beehive do, she leads the band into opener I Only Hurt The Ones I Love, followed later by their latest single Crowded City. Beckoning the girls to the front of the crowd at the Leeds University Union Refectory, she dedicates Corrine to them before launching into Dig. We have no doubt that even if we’d had our eyes closed the whole time, Black Honey would still have been a true spectacle (pun intended).

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Swim Deep

It’s been awhile since Swim Deep have given us a taste of anything new, but tonight at The Wardrobe, they played not one, but two new songs in anticipation of their third album. Armed with a paper cup filled with a honey lemon elixir, frontman Austin Williams refused to let a little cold take him down as he bounced around the stage and a little later, off the stage and into the crowd. The set began with Francisco and included a good balance of old and new songs before ending with She Changes The Weather leading into King City. All we can say is, it’s good to have you back, boys.

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Gengahr 

Speaking of bands that have been hiding away, alternative rock quartet Gengahr from Hackney made a reappearance at the Leeds Beckett SU for their second show of the year. With a third album in the works, they treated us to some new material, which we can guarantee will be well worth the wait. Fill My Gums With Blood, Embers, Carrion, and She’s A Witch were just some of the songs we had the privilege of hearing. Their fierce, monstrous riffs made us think that the band’s Pokémon-derived name was absolutely fitting.

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Photos: Abigail Shii