Saturday, May 7, 2011

Live At Leeds 2011 Review

Live At Leeds was over a week ago, but I'm still feeling the aftereffects of one of Leeds's musical highlights of the year (Leeds Festival? Never heard of it).

We started the day at the Cockpit with a fresh dose of Wot Gorilla? who hails from Halifax and brings with them a formidable collection of math rock goodness. I was very surprised at this change in musical direction since the last time I saw them (the first thing that came to mind was how much more they sounded like The Mars Volta). It's not a bad thing. In fact, it was an unexpected delight.

Read the rest of the review (which includes Aviaries, Kong, These Monsters, Tall Ships, Stagecoach, Bearfoot Beware, Humanfly, Frightened Rabbit, Dunch Uncles and Pulled Apart By Horses) HERE

Then we headed upstairs to Cockpit 3 for a taste of Aviaries. Aviaries somehow successfully manages to incorporate pop and post-rock - two traditionally different genres - into their own winning template. This results in songs that are filled with hooks and climaxes that have been built from the ground up. Unfortunately it was their bassist's last performance with the band. If they manage to find a suitable replacement, Aviaries can definitely be a mainstay in the Leeds scene.

Shortly after we headed back down to the Cockpit to see the ferocious Kong. There's not much about Kong that can be said by me that others already have. Their live performances are completely mesmerizing. The destructively devastating power of their show was aided by their creepily transparent masks and lack of clothing. Hardcore at its progressive best.

Staying at the Cockpit, we then caught another band from the Brew roster. These Monsters were known for their jazzed-up brand of progressive hardcore, but with their saxophone/synth playing having left the country a few months ago, I was mighty curious to see them for the first time with their new sound.

And my, what intense sounds they make. Old songs become reworked and are more punchy and heavy as ever. New songs abandon their old 7-8 minute epic sound for 2-3 minute bursts of brilliance. Taking their cues from previous stage-conquerors Kong, These Monsters were monstrously monolithic in their performance.

Tall Ships had quite tough acts to follow then, but hey, no problem. The math pop trio's unique brand of instruments-swapping, loop-dependent performance bring about sing-alongs and toe-tapping of the most excellent degree. Their upcoming Pink Mist tour with Three Trapped Tigers is shaping to be quite a tasty prospect indeed.

After a little break we headed to Leeds University for a little powerpop punk action from Stagecoach at the Stylus. While the venue itself seems quite unfitting for band performances (it is mainly a club for students), Stagecoach managed to work around such minor details with their energetic, exuberantly enthusiastic set.

Still in the same building, we then strolled our way to the Mine, where we saw Bearfoot Beware for the first time in what felt like a million years. Fresh off the release of their frankly quite brilliant No Face's Gold, the band brings with them Blakfish-influenced, Tubelord-loving musical melting pot that points to many exciting future endeavours.

Afterwards, we headed to Leeds Metropolitan University, where yet another Brew band were busy conquering ears. Humanfly is another sonically devastating powerhouse of a band whose heavy riffs, guttural vocals and intense drumming all added up to a highly impressive, stage-conquering performance.

For something different, we decided to walk down to the O2 Academy, where we saw venue headliners Frightened Rabbit take the stage. Filled to the brim and with hundreds of fans singing along to every word of their biggest songs, they certainly know how to work the Academy. This is one of the more emotionally inspired shows from the weekend, and it will not be hastily forgotten by the people who were there.

Dutch Uncles with its quirky pop charmed us at the Leeds Met Back Room with their strangely captivating performances punctuated by the vocalist's jerky dancing and vocal execution. For the penultimate show of the night for us, it was quite a strangely wonderful experience.

To end the night on a high note, we proceeded to watch one of the most talked bands of the day, Pulled Apart By Horses. After having just flown in from Norway, the Leeds sweatmongerers showed no signs of fatigue as they completely tore apart the rest of the line-up. If not for the frequency in which they masterfully rile up the crowd to a glorious frenzy, one would think this kind of reaction was because this could be considered as a homecoming of sorts. Crowdsurfing, walls of death, moshpits, pain, sweat, tears, these were all present. Pulled Apart By Horses is an all-too-apt description of how you would feel going home after a show like theirs.

Signing out

Over and out

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