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Ten Bands To See at this year's Live At Leeds

Live at Leeds festival takes place this weekend (2
nd – 4
th May)!

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  One of those new(ish)fangled ‘urban’ festivals which take place over a city wide smorgasbord of venues and seem to be oh-so popular right now (see also Liverpool Sound City taking place on the same weekend and sharing many of the same bands), Live At Leeds and the May Bank Holiday weekend in general are beginning to become know as the true start to the summer’s festival season.

Over the course of Live At Leeds' Saturday 3rd May all-day main event, over 150 artists will perform across 24 stages, a daunting prospect for any music fan attending the weekend. With that being said, we here at Subba thought we'd try and condense it all down for you, while simultaneously letting you in on our top secret itinerary for the day. These are the bands we are planning to take in come the weekend. There are of course a few that will have to be sacrificed for others acts (timetabling clashes are bound to happen at any festival), but where possible we have made mention of these so you can make alternative plans and avoid bumping into us at the bar at every stop. We’ve also taken into account walking distances and times, so unfortunately the Brudenell – arguably Leeds’ best venue – is out, but DIY Magazine do have a cracking line-up there culminating with Pulled Apart By Horses at 23:00 so check that out if you have the leg power/taxi money to do so.

One of the best thing about festivals is the discovering of new bands, and quite a few of the bands on our itinerary we know next to nothing about, aside from a few brief forays into their Soundclouds. So come say hello to some of the bands represented here by smaller paragraphs, and discover something new!

So without further ado, let’s go festivaling!

12:30 // Allusondrugs // Leeds Uni Mine

The Slowpokes over at Google Maps envisage that Leeds Uni’s trio of venues are a 16-minute walk from the First Direct Arena’s festival wristband exchange. It’s more like ten, and though it’s the longest traipse across town you’ll probably attempt all day, you won’t be doing it much this year. You’ll want to settle in at Leeds Uni, as here is where we find the most consistently rad line-up of any of the stages at this year’s event.

What better way to kick start the day’s music than with a shot in the arm from Castleford’s very own Allusondrugs. Perennial Subba favourites, the five-piece describe themselves as a ‘hard rock band’, but will be exploring the nuanced crevices of shoegaze, grunge and emo throughout their half an hour set. Poster boys of Leeds’ Clue Records (whose roster also includes the inconveniently timetabled NARCS in the Brudenell Games Room at 12:30 and Huddersfield’s Forever Cult at Milo at 17:00) they’ll no doubt be bringing their incredibly lively energy to the early slot. Last year we witnessed Castrovalva hanging from the rafters of the Mine, and there’s no question that Allusondrugs can top that!

They just released their latest single ‘Nervous’ this week, expect it to be getting a play:

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13:30 // Youth Man // Leeds Uni Mine

One down side (or up side, depending on how you look at it) to being a little bit removed from the city centre is that we don’t quite get to hit the festival schedule running, nipping in to other venues to catch a few songs of a band’s set while the band we really came to see are sound checking across the way. That picks up after a while at Leeds Uni, with bands staggered across the building’s three stages meaning your ears may never go unpunished by roaring guitars, but for the first few sets it’s a chance to grab some drinks and make those last minute alterations to your festival plans between bands.

Birmingham’s Youth Man are up next, bringing their ferocious punk noise to the table. Expect tracks from their Bad Weather EP released in November of last year, ranging from the 100-miles-an-hour barrage of ‘Heavy Rain’ to the slow swelling ‘Wide Awake’. We can’t wait for their riot-grrrl revivalism, and Live At Leeds is looking to be off to a very noisy start indeed.

You can grab the Bad Weather EP as a free download here:

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14:00 // Spring King // Leeds Met Stage 2

It’s a short excursion town centre-wards for our next band, and you’ll probably miss the first couple of songs even after sprinting down from Leeds Uni. But the lofty garage-rock of Spring King should be worth the brisk power walk, combining as they do the flower-pop scrawl of bands like the Black Lips with the ambitious reach of bands like Arcade Fire. Check out their Soundcloud for a taster:

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14:30 // Vukovi // Leeds Uni Mine

It’s back to Leeds Uni (hey, we told you you’d be spending a lot of time there) for Vukovi, who peddle “hard hitting riffs, catchy choruses and a front woman that Hayley Williams could learn a thing or two from”, but sound infinitely better than the Paramore rip-off merchants that description suggests. Again, you’ll probably miss the first few songs (something we’re just going to have to get over today I’m afraid), which is a shame because it seems that the awesome ‘Fire Kingdom’ may be their opening gambit of choice. Check it out at their Soundcloud lest you miss it on the day!

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15:30 // Menace Beach // Leeds Met

Ahh, what would a music festival in the Leeds area be without Menace Beach? Featuring members of Sky Larkin and Hookworms (as well as full-time members of Menace Beach who never seem to get a look-in in articles), last year’s performance by the band at the brightly bohemian Nation Of Shopkeepers was one of our highlights. This time they’re stepping up to a bigger stage, but can their sunny lo-fi brighten the relative gloom of Leeds Met’s main hall? Probably, but you’ll have to make your way there on Saturday to find out for sure.

They released the Seinfeld referencing Lowtalker EP earlier this year, and you can listen to opening track 'Fortune Teller' here:

16:30 // Big Ups // Leeds Uni Mine

New York punkers Big Ups back up at the Mine at half four. Expect a rampage of guitar noise that bridges the gap between the No-Wave scene and bands like Black Flag. Their debut album Eighteen Hours Of Static was released at the tail end of last year, go have a listen here.

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NOTE: Around about tea time the whole festival seemingly shifts gear, with awesome bands popping up in just about everyone of the festival’s 24 venues. As such, presenting our itinerary here in a form that is easy to read and interesting is a nigh on impossible task. So here, we present a choice few favourites; the bands we are definitely going to be sticking around for during the entirety of their sets. Bands who don’t have little notes next to them in our pocket books like ‘three and a half songs ONLY’ and ‘leave once they play the single’. Of course we’ll be milling around other venues and catching bits and bobs of other acts throughout the evening, but these are the bands you really must see. You MUST! Well, really you can do what you like…

18:30 // Royal Blood // Leeds Met

To be honest, we were skeptical when we first heard Royal Blood. On paper, their bluesy-rock aesthetic was one we’d heard a million times before from a million other two piece bands. But we recently caught them on the NME’s Awards Tour at Leeds Academy and were glad to report them as being much heavier live than they are on record.

From start to finish this will be an exercise in riff excellence, with the sort of hellish sounds Mike Kerr managers to wrangle from his overly distorted bass unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. We’re not quite sure how they’ll fill a 45 minute slot being less than a year old with only a handful of tracks to their name, but if an extended riff breakdown of ‘Come On Over’ is what it takes, then we’re willing to listen.

20:45 // The Wytches // Leeds Uni Mine

Leeds Uni Mine by this point will have hosted some of the loudest bands the festival has to offer. But the thought of The Wytches' exceedingly loud surf-grunge hybrid blasting through the sound system should have the sound guy or gal shaking in their shoes. Probably the band we’re most looking forward to the most, you really must make sure you catch them on Saturday!

21:45 // Palma Violets // The Faversham

Announced as the band filling the mysterious 'Special Guests' slot of the festival only last night, grot-rockers Palma Violets will be taking to the stage of the intimate Faversham venue as part of what promises to be an incredibly raucous set. Known for their beer fuelled rock 'n roll shows the band will no doubt rip it up in front of a lively Leeds audience. The London four piece’s fusion of indie, garage rock and psychedelia has gained them a legion of fans. Debut album 108 contained ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ which earned them the prestigious ‘Hottest Record In The World’ on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show as well as NME’s ‘Track Of The Year’, and the ‘Best Of Friends’, which you can hear below:

22:00 // Drenge // Cockpit

Finally! A date with a band that takes us off the beaten track that is Woodhouse Lane and plonks us under the railway tracks just outside Leeds station. Drenge will be taking up a headline slot of sorts atop the bill of the NME Stage at Leeds Cockpit, and what a fitting closer they will prove to be (provided you don’t snake off to catch the ends of some of the later playing bands or the official after party at the Academy). Last year’s debut self-titled LP was a defiant highlight from the brothers Loveless, and Rory and Eoin are sure to bring their A-game to Live At Leeds come Saturday. We’re sure you’ve heard the album a hundred times before (and if not, why not?) but here’s a choice cut to get you in the mood:

So there you have it, a pretty extensive (up to a point at least) breakdown of our plans for this year’s Live At Leeds. Feel free to take our word and stick to it rigidly, or alternatively, don’t be such a sheep and get out there and do your own thing. In fact, do that from the off because, what do we know?!

Tickets are still available at the low, low price of £25 for the day, and there are a number of supernumerary events separately ticketed. For all the information you could ever need head to

We’ll see you down the front!