Live at Leeds 2013 [Review]

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For only ₤22.50, Live at Leeds has to be one of the cheapest prominent music festivals out there. Combined with a stellar line-up and an absence of ques, LAL makes for a pleasant and low key weekend festival. A few complaints aside, it made for one of the more memorable weekends of the past year.

Georgia Thursting

I began the day at A Nation of Shopkeepers not really knowing what to expect. I had heard a track or two of Georgia Thursting, the Leeds College of Music standout, but was not sure how it would translate to the stage. The gig was intimate, filled with a wide-variety of age groups, though a significant portion of the audience seemed to be fellow students at the university. Thursting, a specimen of modesty, spoke few words between songs, and quiet words at that. This first gig gave me a glimpse of the painful feeling of a show being cut too short that I would continue to feel throughout the day. Thirty minutes was not nearly enough time spent with Thursting's standout voice. However, she ended on a great note, covering a Miguel track, though the name escapes me right now.


Originally I was supposed to catch YADi during this time slot but due to illness she had to cancel. In place of heading to the Faversham I decided to take my chances and head to The Wardrobe. I had no idea who would be playing this time slot but I got lucky as it turned out that Leeds-natives, Backyards, was playing. The group matched the mood of the venue and audience well. Boasting sweeping, brooding violin riffs and reverb heavy guitar, I can only describe the group as Yndi Halda with vocals. Their soundcloud hardly does them justice.

Jacob Banks

Another brilliant result by serendipity, Jacob Banks has found a new fan in me. Perhaps the most tragically short set of the festival, Banks took to the stage opening with "Is This Love" before quickly running through a medley of emotional tracks, some happy, some sad. Upon realizing that Banks was covering Bob Marley, I was quickly turned off but found myself giving it a second shot as the song drew to a close. Banks fully won my attention with his cover of "Valerie," a song that made me think back to my friend Yang from back home and the killer rendition she does herself. Left in a haze of sentimentality, I was caught off guard when Banks announced twenty minutes in that he would be performing his last song. I took it all in, gathered my things and was on my way.

On An On

The only plus to the abnormally short Jacob Banks set was that it allowed me ample time to run across town to A Nation of Shopkeepers for On An On. Prior to the show I had only heard "Ghosts" and "The Hunter." What began as a mediocre show, with heavy reliance on a vocal effects, eventually built to a raw frenzy framed by the intimacy of the cozy bar. A stunning brunette stood to my right and most of the show I found myself torn between taking in the set and asking for the girls name and number. Maybe it was the nuanced complexities of On An On or the girl being intimidatingly gorgeous but On An On won out. Walking out along The Headrow, the closing lyrics, "Take me out of here," ran through my head though I in no way agreed with them.

Hunting Bears

Sadly, Hunting Bears were my biggest disappointment of the day. From a little research done before the gig I was expecting them to be a bit like Eliza & The Bear. They were very musically tight but lacked the real pickup I was craving. Notable, however, was their "Heavy Tree," which granted them and the audience a bit more steam. A talented group for sure but just not what I was expecting or feeling at the moment.

King Krule

King Krule's performance in the Holy Trinity Church hit me flat in the face with a number of shocks. Firstly, never thought I would see a Fosters Beer tent in a church. Secondly, the size and demographics of the crowd took me back. While I was expecting to be watching King Krule amongst a pristine, "holy" atmosphere filled with reverent fans, what I found was painfully different. Surrounded by hulking and chanting rugby players and over chatty tweens knocking down some of their first ever pints, I could not help but feel that I had been cheated. Don't get me wrong, I knocked quite a few pints back myself that day, but is a church really the right venue for all of this?

Complaints aside, it quickly became a notable set. Archy Marshall took the stage with little more than a scant word, launching into his set. Marshall has made a name for himself with his deep, booming voice that bespeaks little of his meager frame. His vocals started out a bit on the belicose side, even for Marshall, before settling into an easier rhythm. Pretty soon the Church became enthralled in Marshall's rhythmic sermon. The second half of the show was remarkably better than the first and salvaged my hope for the rest of the evening.

The Neighbourhood

One of the biggest factors in my decision to attend Live at Leeds was when I saw that The Neighbourhood had been added to the bill. Staying true to their dark-pop movement, everything about the show was black and white. What stays with me most was the amount of bass, every pick and every kick of the bass drum made it feel like more of dubstep drop than a indie concert. I can't remember the exact song where it occurred but I recall struggling to get my beer down because the bass was so strong that the vibrations were rattling by Adam's apple. I eventually gave up and put the beer down till the song finished out. Their set transitioned back and forth between songs like "Wires" from their debut EP I'm Sorry and tracks from their debut I Love You. I was expecting them to close out with "Sweater Weather" but found myself pleasantly surprised when they wrapped it up with "Afraid." The biggest downside to LAL is there are never encores and I could have gone for a couple from The Neighbourhood. Fantastic show through and through that led me to buy tickets to catch em again later this summer.


Terrible, terrible choice on my part to walk halfway across Leeds to catch Sóley. After The Neighbourhood, retiring to a church for what amounted to be lullaby music probably was not the best choice. I know I would have enjoyed Sóley's act a lot more had it been earlier in the evening or afternoon. I still hold that Sóley possesses bucketloads of talent and her set still proved strong. I think LAL could have done a better job however in regards to her time slot. From what I gathered, I imagine that I would have appreciated her a lot more as a standalone act and not in a festival setting.

Robert Delong

Nothing could have been a bigger shock than moving from Sóley to Robert Delong. If this transition had been a car it would have a 0 - 60 rating of about one second. The Faversham was bleeding utter chaos when I walked in the door. Drumsticks and headphones had taken flight, limbs were flailing, and above all I felt like I was in an episode of Skins (Take a gander). The show proved to fantastic and one of the better surprises of the day highlighted by "Happy." An audience numb with euphoria and a stage drenched in Delong's sweat awaited the closing act of the night, MS MR.


If asked to describe MS MR in one word I would reply schizophrenic. The NYC duo take to the stage looking like your standard, unquestionably hip band. However from the moment the synths followed by the drum dropped the intensity Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow shined more clearly than anything else I had seen that day. Plapinger held a mesmerizing and to be completely honest, frightening gaze with the audience. I questioned repeatedly whether I was at an America's Next Top Model photoshoot as Plapinger's hair caught the breeze from the AC unit and she put on stare reminiscent of Derek Zoolander's "Magnum." In between songs the duo would slip back into being the nicest sounding people you would ever meet. The audience and MS MR enjoyed a beautifully symbiotic relationship that built into a frenzied intensity as the set concluded with "Hurricane." The show stayed with me throughout the rest of my night and boarding the plane back to Rabat I was pleasantly surprised to hear MS MR playing over the airplane intercom.


  1. im excited to see MS MR live in june! check out the visual video accompaniments they created for their tracks:


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