Recently I was asked to write for the Betta Kultcha Blog, so here is my entry for them!
Recently a forum post asked:
“Generally, is the scene dying on it’s arse??
There are a distinct lack of venues, less gigs and when there is a gig the attendance is shocking.”
Now, whether he was just trolling, or genuinely thought this, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ve lived and worked in cities all over the UK, and can hand-on-heart say nowhere has a music scene quite like Leeds.
Venues & Gigs
I’ve been in March of Dimes for about two years now, and in that time the places we’ve had the opportunity to play has done nothing but grow – as has the competition for other nights. Running the Foxes and Convicts night in Milo simply wouldn’t have been possible two years ago because a small venue like Milo wouldn’t be able to take the risk of a monthly night putting on local acts. look at a gig listing for this week and you’ll see small nights like ours on all over the place.
Bigger acts get good homes here too – with dance club Creation giving way to live venue O2 Academy Leeds and checked-ben-sherman-shirt-no-trainers townie venue The Courtyard being taken over by achingly cool Nation of Shopkeepers, and even the Holy Trinity Church handing itself over to the odd band (some odder than others), it finally feels like live music in Leeds has everything in place to be one of the main forms of night out entertainment.
Of course, there are a finite number of people that are going to come to gigs. Turn a townie venue into a music venue and you’re not going to get townies realising the error of their ways, putting down their stella and stripping off their shirts, to replace them with Herman Dune t-shirts and picking up a nice cider, but the fact that there are so many venues out there, and they seem to be doing WELL, suggests that the audience is there, it just needs to be treated a bit nicer. Great though it can be to see a gig in a sweaty room with sticky floors, sometimes you want something a little less intense. Leeds now offers that.
Obviously the most amazing band in the whole of Leeds right now is March of Dimes, but that aside in running Foxes and Convicts for the past year or so I’ve been totally bowled over by the sheer number, variety and quality of bands on the scene at the moment.
Strumming, boring acts are ten a penny. They always have been and they are in every city. Especially in Manchester, oddly. But, take a wee look at what else is out there and you’ll be as stunned as I am by the incredible creativity and talent on offer.
Pairing up incredible vocalists and guitarists has given rise to people like Jack, and Gill’s Daughter:
And while it’s not strictly Leeds, Charlie Barnes is just up the road in Barnsley – and what a magnificent talent he is. If you ever get the chance to see him live, do, for one of the most intense but easy going shows you’ll see.
People are getting smarter about how to get their music out there too. Aside from the YouTube videos that more and more people are getting more and more creative with, local starlet-to-be Hannah Trigwell has been knocking out tunes on Briggate, and it sure has an impact – barely a week goes by without someone asking either on a forum or directly “Who’s that busker on Brigate?”. She’s also got the hang of web-cam bedroom broadcasts. Not like that. But hopefully that’ll bump up the search engine results for this article. Take a look here to see her in action. NOT LIKE THAT.
I could easily mention over a hundred acts that have caught my ear over the past year, but the best thing to do is tell you about…
Leeds Indie Radio
One of the most amazing things to come out of Leeds in the past 6 months is Leeds Indie Radio. Started by Adam Williams after popping along to one of our nights, he gives an opportunity for bands in Leeds to get their music heard. Any band in, or around, Leeds can get their music played on this online station, just by dropping him a line. The system is genius, giving more frequent plays to newer tracks, there’s always something great to listen to. I’m told avarage listening time is 2 hours, which shows that once you’re tuned in, people generally find something they like.
So, if you want to hear some of the amazing results of this brilliant musical environment, just tune in to Leeds Indie Radio for an hour. You will find something that makes you go “Ooh! That’s good.”
Sean Murricane is a Leeds based blogger, web marketer and musician.