Yesterday we reviewed the first half of our day at Live At Leeds capturing Polo, Clay, Glacier Pacific, The Vryll Society and Gulf. Today's review covers the final five bands we saw at a festival we'll definitely be back at next year.
As Gulf finished in the Mine venue at the University, we hotfoot it back upstairs where Vitamin are just about to go on stage. The venue has filled out considerably as they have a substantial local following and it's not difficult to see why. They trade in dramatic big electronic-tinged calls to arms with an infectious energy that transmits from the stage to the crowd. Their second track To Believe is a case in point, frantic, almost breathless vocals in the chorus, clocking in at around three minutes and it's followed by Lights, that has that uncanny feeling of familiarity that really great pop songs have even if you've never heard them before. Previous single Did It For You has a similar effect as does Waterfall, which should appear on their forthcoming EP.
They put on a great show as well. Front man Jared is a natural showman, both during the song as he prowls around pulling shapes and ensuring eye contact with his audience and between songs engaging with the audience. They've got the benefit of playing to a home crowd, but the neutrals amongst us are suitably impressed.
Next up is Misty Miller and this is the first time we've seen her for a few years, in which she's transformed herself and added a much harder edge to her sound. Gone are the butter-wouldn't-melt sensitivities in her songs and they've been replaced by anger, cynicism and the will to take on the world and her enemies. The ukulele has also been replaced by guitars and a band that isn't afraid to join her in using them. And, unlike so many bands, they look like they're having a lot of fun up there, no more evident than in the introduction to her brilliant new single Next To You.
Her set is jam-packed full of songs that work perfectly with this transformation. Stars, Taxi Cab and Girlfriend are short, sharp blasts wrapped up in a combination of loud guitars and drums whilst Misty's control of the range of her voices means that they hit the spot every time. Even when the set is slowed down for Fall Away and recent single Best Friend the impact Misty makes isn't diminished and when you look at the accolades thrown at the likes of Anna Calvi, you wonder why so little of that has gone her way. It's the most intense emotional performance we witness all day.
Next up are Blossoms and even before they start their unstoppable rise is confirmed by the fact the venue is now rammed out. It's one thing playing to crowds of this size supporting people, but this is a crowd that's come to see them and they don't disappoint. In the short few weeks since we saw them at Gorilla, they've been off to Japan and it's as if we're witnessing their transformation from potential to the best new band in the country before our eyes.
They start with a new song, which, deep in Blossoms' tradition, hooks you in on first listen, a dark groove underpinned by Miles' keyboard and a familiarity that you can't quite pin down because of the wide spectrum of influences that permeate their sound. Recent single Cut Me And I'll Bleed and early track You Pulled A Gun On Me already sound like stone-cold classics that will be eulogised in years to come, the moments that they captured the hearts and minds of audiences outside of the Manchester area. Without losing any of the fluidity that makes their live sound so special, they sound more purposeful, more totally in control with every show they play.
They also touch all bases of their catalogue of songs as well. They slow things down mid-set with the melancholic acoustic My Favourite Room, which sees Tom and Charlie ad-lib a line of Echo And The Bunnymen's Nothing Ever Lasts Forever half way through, and the Kinks-tinged Blown Rose and the audience, in an unusual turn of events for such festivals, shut up and listen. They close the set with Smoke, a big brooding psychedelic epic and then their I Am The Resurrection for their generation Blow. They depart with another few hundred new converts won over.
Next up for us is Bully down in the Met University's second stage. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, it's their first trip to the UK and only their second gig here and the room is disappointingly only half full, but it doesn't matter to those of us there. They preview tracks from their forthcoming debut album Feels Like and come across all Kim Deal-fronted Pixies, a mesmerising mix of loud guitars crammed to bursting point into two to three minute blasts, overlaid and interspersed at different times by sweet pop harmonies that will make them accessible to a wider audience.
They have all the star quality they need too. Singer Alicia oozes charm and effortless cool, puts down a heckler who thinks it appropriate to comment on her looks with a nonchalant disinterested "thanks" that says everything it needs to, takes a microphone misfunction in her stride and possesses a voice that will stop people in their tracks and an anger and a will to make herself heard that forces its way through the wall of the sound she and her band create. The great thing about these festivals is the unexpected discoveries. We'll hear a lot more about Bully in the coming months no doubt, but make a note of their name now.
The final band before we give in to aching backs and feet is Kid Wave on the same stage. Whilst not as immediately in your face as Bully, they also possess that uncanny habit of being able to fuse loud guitars with an intuitive understanding of melodies to create something that works on so many levels.
Their debut album Wonderlust is due out at the start of June so their headlining set focuses around tracks from that. The wonderful I'm Trying To Break Your Heart is the highlight of their set. Lea's voice, soft and seductive in parts, rough and not to be messed with in others is perfect for the sound they create. The likes of Baby Tiger, All I Want and Best Friend in particular, although there isn't a weak song in the set, raise expectations that the album will be something special if it recreates what they generate up on stage, particularly in the way Harry, Serra and Mattias's backing vocals lift the songs in a way so much great guitar music benefits from more than one voice.
And that's us done, other than to fight our way against the evil one-way system that traps unsuspecting visitors to Leeds. We'd class our first Live At Leeds as a success, generally well-organised, well-curated stages that allow you to catch as many bands as possible close together and avoid too many interminable walks up and down the hills of the city or out to the Brudenell. We don't go near the bigger stages of the O2 Academy and the Town Hall, but still managed to catch ten great bands for the price you'd pay for one of the headliners.
Vitamin are on Facebook and Twitter.
Misty Miller's website can be found here. She is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Blossoms' official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
Bully's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
Kid Wave's website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.