With Eagulls, Bos Angeles, Wild Beasts and more
Eagulls, Constellations Festival

Taking their cues from the annual Live at Leeds, the second ever Constellations Festival has taken the concept and revamped it. Setting up camp this year in the nooks and crannies of Leeds University, there’s thirty bands and five rooms, all under one roof – no lengthy treks between venues, no brave forays into the biting November wind – job’s a good un.

First, local lads Stalking Horse draw a surprisingly large crowd who stand in rapt appreciation of their arresting dreamy, dramatic rock-scapes, while still early in the day, Louisiana’s Givers manage to be running late. “They seem to be making us start even though we’re not ready,” complains front man Taylor Guarisco after keeping everyone waiting for thirty minutes (incidentally the length of their set). Lucky for them their zippy, Southern-fried sunshine pop leaves no room for bad vibes and their skittering Afrobeatisms and joyful yelping quickly win over new fans.

If reports are to be believed, Leeds’ Eagulls have had an eventful weekend. Performing last night as part of Liverpool Music Week, apparently they found themselves embroiled in a scrap with Brooklyn punks Cerebral Ballzy - evidently these men have balls more brassy than their appearances gives credit for. Sure singer George Mitchell, with his clean-cut blonde crop and boyishly handsome looks, seems like the least likely candidate to lead a garage punk revolution, but his guttural squalls and dangerous stage-stalking tell a different story. Granted he’s wasted, in fact they all seem to be, but make no mistake their set explodes with devastatingly precise demolition.

It’s a shame the room empties immediately afterwards, presumably everyone’s buggered off to get a good position for Yuck and Wild Beasts, because Boscombe’s Bos Angeles are easily one of the best bands on today’s line-up. Their low-slung, naval-gazing beach rock deserves more and the band must be gutted but they never show it, singer Richard Board thrumming through the impossibly nonchalant ‘Beach Slalom’ with an indifferent look in his eyes.

Later though while The Big Pink play to an unfathomably small crowd in the Riley Smith Hall – not helped by the fact it’s an alcohol free zone usually used for prayers – Wild Beasts have become a real live proposition. Having cut their teeth on the Leeds live scene there’s real fondness here from those who’ve watched them go from arty oddballs for the hipsters to one of the best bands the UK has to offer. Taking in tracks from all three albums, ‘The Devils Crayon’ and sultry ‘Albatross’ are greeted with whoops of appreciation while ‘All the Kings Men’ is bellowed back with football terrace-like enthusiasm. And halfway through ‘Lion’s Share’ a couple behind Clash grab each other and start slow dancing in the centre of the crowd, front man Hayden Thorpe simply smiles, raising his glass of red wine to his audience in a toast of appreciation. They have it all, seduction, romance... and class all the way.

Words by Dannii Leivers
Photos by Thomas Walton

For a photo gallery of the festival, click HERE.

Follow Clash: