Having built a steady fan base since its inception in 2007, this year the organisers have upped the ante and introduced a fully fledged one day indie festival in the park. The location is Temple Newsam and will be familiar to some music lovers as it is the same venue used earlier for Slam Dunk North, with a slightly amended layout. Whilst it might not be quite as sunny as the previous day, the forecast is looking good and it looks like there is no need for wellies! There’s a real mix of people in the crowd too from groups of teenagers through to families with young children and buggies in tow.
The first act to take place at the Hill Top Stage (excellent name choice as the stage is at the top of a hill!) was The Royston Club, a four-piece indie band from Wrexham. The band is comprised of Tom Faithful (lead vocals), Ben Matthias (lead guitarist), Sam Jones (drums) and Dave Tute (bass). These guys only formed in 2017 and when you consider the Covid forced break in live music, they deliver a strong set. With today being their third festival of the summer so far, following on from their sets at Neighbourhood Weekender in Warrington and Neck of the Woods festival in Norwich all on the back of a UK Tour, they have been busy honing their style and sound, and it shows.
Over on the MTV Main stage, Lauran Hibberd strutted her stuff in a bright orange feathered suit and warms the crowd up nicely with her effervescent personality and chat between songs. With a debut album due for release in August, she is definitely one to watch!
For a festival with 4 stages, the location is surprisingly compact. Whilst it’s great when you’re hotfooting it from one stage to another and don’t want to rack up those steps or miss some of the acts, there are moments when you can hear two performers at the same time. When you’re in the thick of the crowd near the stage this doesn’t impact but certainly when you’re wandering around it can be a bit bizarre!
It was then the start of some serious yoyo-ing between both the DIY Big Top and the MTV Main Stage, trying to catch as many acts as possible. With the stages being not too far away from each other, so long as you’re not too bothered about being front row, this festival really provides the opportunity to do this without time being wasted walking between stages.
Cassia, Dylan John Thomas and Alfie Templeman all played well and whilst perhaps not being the most ‘out-there’ in terms of performance or energy, it provided a good balance for a more chilled out vibe.
In a complete 180, Dream Wife ramped up the performance levels though and delivered an explosive set as is synonymous with them.
Dedicating their track ‘Somebody’ to all the bad bitches further exclaiming that anyone can be a bad bitch irrespective of gender, the crowd sing, dance and mosh their way throughout the whole set.
Back over at the main stage, it’s slightly more subdued with Holly Humberstone. Holly is definitely shyer in terms of finding the chatter between songs slightly more awkward, but more than makes up for this with her pitch perfect vocal. She has a large following and it’s easy to see why.
It’s then a quick transit again over to DIY Big Top to catch Confidence Man. I’d heard good things about this band and was encouraged to check them out and I’m so glad I did – definitely up there with one of my favourite performances of the day. The Australian, electro-pop band made up of Janet Planet, Sugar Bones and Clarence McGuffie + Reggie Goodchild (all pseudonyms) provided an all encompassing set from the strong vocals down to the perfectly synced choreography and they even had time for two costume changes. It’s a real feast for the eyes and not just the ears with the drummer and keyboardist wearing all black gowns and veiled hats, to the Madonna-esque light up coned bra of Janet – anyone remember the High Voltage music video from Electric Six? Think of this and you’ll be on the right lines…….A brilliant set from start to finish with a champagne spray for the crowd in between and as they wrap up their gigs in the UK over the next two months, don’t miss the opportunity to catch them live!
Another band I was looking forward to was Sports Team. The 6 piece band from London have plenty of festival experience and enter stage to the currently trending‘Running up that Hill’ by Kate Bush (if you’ve seen the latest season of Stranger Things you’ll understand the reference). With crowd surfing galore and a mix of old tracks alongside some newer material with tracks ‘R Entertainment’ and ‘The Game’, the album due for release in July will almost certainly do well.
I was lucky enough to catch Sea Girls at their album launch in Leeds last month so knew they would almost certainly entertain the crowd. From the opening track ‘Sick’ to joining the crowd during ‘Violet’, frontman Henry had the crowd in the palm of his hand. With this being the second singer in a full orange outfit, I was beginning to wonder if there was a secret dress code happening somewhere that no one else had been clued in on?
The next hour involved more backwards and forwards between stages to try squeeze in as many acts as possible – if it had been a bigger festival site, I’m sure I’d have been in marathon territory for distances covered but fortunately not and I had my comfy shoes on!
I managed to briefly catch the opening sounds of ‘Burn the Empire’ by The Snuts before rushing back to DIY tent to take in the chilled vibes of Arlo Parks to then return back to the main stage tocatch The Vaccines. Entering to ‘Pump It’ by The Black Eyed Peas, they were on it from the first track. With hit after hit, it was a real nostalgia filled set spanning their 12 years in the business and they are accomplished performers.
Closing off the stage at DIY’s Big Top was Easy Life, a five piece band from Leicester. With a full clash with festival stalwarts Pigeon Detectives who were at the Hill Top Stage, it was probably one of the harder choices for festival goers to choose between and lead singer Murray was quick to acknowledge this with the crowd. With the band coordinating outfits and all wearing double denim, they opened with ‘Pockets’, their first single from back in 2017. Much to the annoyance of security, Murray encourages the crowd to sit on each other’s shoulders and even crowd surfs himself at one point. Overall, an energetic and fitting end to this stage!
As the night draws in and the temperature drops, the crowd gathers both on the hill and around the main stage for Bombay Bicycle Club. With the set times ensuring that there were no clashes, it was an opportunity for everyone to attend. Whether you were sat on the hill or in the throngs of people in front of the stage, everyone sang along and swayed through the whole set.
On the whole, Live at Leeds In The Park was really well organised from shuttle buses through to food and choice of artists. The organisers selected a range of bands from those starting out through to more recognised bands from the festival circuit which provided a real blend and I for one can’t wait for Live at Leeds In The City in October. Tickets for both the In The City event and next years In the Park are available here.