Mayhem and Live At Leeds always go together like a peas in a pod. Plan all you want, create your spreadsheets and pace yourself, but as soon as you hit the city something makes you dash from venue to venue like a headless chicken catching snapshots of music.
Only in Leeds would you see The Pigeon Detectives play at two in the afternoon sandwiched between AlunaGeorge and The Walkmen. Even trying to decipher the schedule is a headache. Among the queues and beer gardens we hop into Jacob Banks at the cosy Wardrobe, who, aside from promising us a ‘Rainy Day’, manages to restore our Zen, at least temporarily.
Little Comets, a band overshadowed by the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, play to an opportunistic crowd at the Academy who remain transfixed as long as they’re piping through their happy-go-lucky chiming pop. As the band tries to reclaim the crowd during a low-key ballad chaos ensues, and it’s only 4pm.
A nip over to the Met and Leeds’ own Witch Hunt muster up their best Kills impression with mixed vocals and electro drum loops. Louisa’s soaring vocals become the epicentre of each song with little stringing it together. Each moody hair toss comes with an unimaginative guitar throng and little else. Instead we’re tempted away for a split second to enjoy King Krule in the beautiful Holy Trinity Church.
But it’s not long before Splashh's fresh retro sounds encompass The Refectory. Bound in baggy t-shirts and matching long locks, each lyric is incomprehensible as the washed out guitars rumble around the half-full arena. The songs chug along slowly working their way into your skin and suddenly Splashh become the unassuming highlight of the day.
For AlunaGeorge it’s a snapshot of a band on the verge of domination. Dressed in glittery hotpants, Aluna adds some glamour to the day as she works effortlessly through ‘Attracting Flies’ and ‘You Know You Like It’. Twisting perfectly under the spotlight each rich vocal shines over the laid back beats.
However, as the crowd waits for the bait, the band makes their short set an uphill struggle. Unheard songs are the priority and although each track comes with its distinct AlunaGeorge sound the crowd don’t have a chance to erupt until ‘White Noise’ emerges.
As night falls music fans intermingle with hen parties and lads' nights out to create a rather sinister tone in the city centre. A trip to The Cockpit is short lived as most of the audience are unaware Unknown Mortal Orchestra are creating their '60s washouts on stage. Among the booze and the tiredness, the performances are lost in the background.
That is until The Walkmen thrash us back into the real world, introducing with ‘In The New Year’, ‘The Rat’ and ‘Angela Surf City’ back to back. Bursting with their pounding rhythms and distinct vocals their performance comes with an air of intensity so strong that lead singer Hamilton Leithauser almost collapses with exhaustion after a particularly long note.
After a triumphant finale we’re left hobbling for the exits, broken but content. As usual, Live At Leeds has taken on a life of its own and even we can’t avoid the mayhem.
Words: Ruth Offord
Photos: Tracey Welch
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