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Live at Leeds cements the need for music festivals that celebrate emerging talent

19 October 2023, 08:00

With over 100 artists and 15 venues, inner city event Live at Leeds retains its title as a must-see for new music discovery.

With a strong presence in new music discovery, Live at Leeds has become an essential part of the thriving music scene not only in Yorkshire, but for emerging artists across the world.

The festival, which takes place both in the summer and the autumn, prides itself on creating a platform for emerging talent. This past Saturday saw the return of Live at Leeds: In the City, with a plethora of acts taking the stage at various venues within the city.

Since launching in 2007, Live at Leeds has upheld its vision to platform emerging voices, whilst driving revenue to local businesses. All 15 of the venues used by the festival are crucial spaces for the community in Leeds, particularly local favourites such as Brudenell Social Club and Belgrave Music Hall; places that have become temples within the local scene.

Opening the Best Fit stage at the Wardrobe, HotWax bring a vibrant energy with heavy guitars and lofty drums that awaken the intimate venue. The three-piece, who have won acclaim over the last couple years through the success of anthems like Rip it Out and A Thousand Times, are met with an audience who need no introduction to their music.


Sticking with the heavy energy brought by HotWax, the Wardrobe welcomes North East-natives Benefits. The Teesside collective arrive ready and angry - with brutal drums and harsh noise-wielders emphasising the talent of frontman Kingsley Hall’s spoken/screamed words.

The setlist is a selection of hard-hitting, intense cuts from April-released LP Nails, radiating extreme and hyper aggressive sound throughout the Wardrobe. Opening with the pulsing traits of single Marlboro 100s and ending with an aggressive yet conversational play of Traitors, Hall invites the audience to reflect on the human condition in a digital age, speaking on how we are more than just a statistic, a YouTube view or a tweet. Benefit's music encourages a space of empowerment and self belief through a mastery of chaos.


There's a buzz in the air as the stage prepares for local heroes, English Teacher, a special guest on Best Fit's stage. Met with an overwhelming applause from the venue, the band captivate with a selection of fan favourites such as recently released tunes Worlds Biggest Paving Slab and Nearly Daffodils, through to fan favourite A55 and closing with the heavy statements of R&B.

The early sets taking place in the Wardrobe push heavy guitar music and a perfect punk agenda, leaving a craving for tender and softer sounds. Heading down Call Lane, Leeds’ infamous strip that has been the backdrop for many a boozy night out in Yorkshire’s capital, we pass Oporto which hosts the BBC introducing stage. Rising star Ellie Bleach is playing, alongside indie duo Lucky Iris and alt-popstar Jessica Winter.

English Teacher

Next door, charming bar and favourite amongst the music nuts in the city, Northern Guitar Cafe is hosting intimate sets from the likes of Cartwright, Ben Gregory, Terra Kin and Shaun Farrugia.

We catch a charismatic and wholesome set from Irish voice Brad Heidi. Arriving on stage with a beaming smile and eager to share his music, Heidi beams at the packed out venue, making conversation with the audience in his charming irish accent and sharing thanks to those who have come to watch him play.

Heidi’s set begins with Put a Ring On It, a song he jokes his management worries would leave him sued by Beyoncé. He is joined toward the end of his set by a friend from home for a delicate cover of Ya Vagabonds Blue is the Eye.

Lucky Iris

Sticking with the theme of Irish music, we head over to music haven Belgrave, where indie-folk angel Nell Mescal is playing. With music that has the crowd dancing and a vocal that raises hairs, Mescal shares not only her musical talents, but the relatable messaging behind the earworms she plays to the buzzing venue, with a crowd that bleeds out into the bar area.

Crowd pleaser Homesick locates Mescall’s folk roots, with a vibrant melody that explores her experience making the move to London from her home in County Kildare, Ireland. Supported by her band, Mescal follows with a glistening performance of latest release Teeth.


At Hyde Park Book Club, a venue that has deep roots in the Leeds music scene. We catch 20-year-old bedroom pop, Tinyumbrellas. Donning a crochet hat, a pair of tea-shade glasses and cute as a button smile, Leeds-based DT charms with delicate DIY dreams taken from her recent EP Somewhere To Fall Asleep and popular 2022 ditty Tough to Be a Bug.

A short walk back toward the city takes us to the Leeds Beckett student union where a queue snakes around the venue for London rising stars The Last Dinner Party. Arguably one of the acts on the top of everyone's list, fans of the indie rock powerhouse flock inside the venue, many donning flower crowns and renaissance inspired outfits that match the aesthetic of the London quintet.

The Last Dinner Party

Angelically arriving on stage, the band deliver a lightning performance with a set that features popular cut Sinners alongside latest release My Lady of Mercy, which is introduced by frontwoman Abigail Morris as “a song about going to Catholic School”. Closing with Nothing Matters, Morris skips down to the barrier to embrace the swathes of fans, receiving a bunch of roses from a fan before joining her bandmates for a final bow.

We join the crowds flocking toward Brudenell Community Room where Honeymoan are playing. The band, who stem from South Africa, beam under the blue lights of Brude’s community venue, sharing deep cuts from recent debut album Sorry Like You Mean It. Frontwoman Alison Rachel dazzles with her velvet vocals, enhanced by the jazzy guitars and indie-pop mastery of her band.

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We end the day back at the Beckett Student Union, this time heading to the second stage in the venue that again places new music discovery at the forefront. Headlining the stage are rising alternative pop offering Human Interest.

It is near impossible not to dance with groovy singles such as Feel Good and Spiced Apple. Delicious and sexy, Human Interest’s set feels like the perfect way to end the day. With delicious earworms Step On and Cool Cats pricking ears.

Live at Leeds will return in 2024; find out more at

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