Festival preview: Scene Better Days at Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Scene Better Days Festival is the brainchild of folk-punk troubadour and promoter Andrew Cream.
Now in its third year, the event has expanded to two days – from Friday August 12 to Saturday August 13.
“I moved up to Leeds with my partner at the end of 2013 and we started putting on gigs at the start of 2014,” he says. “The first festival was in the summer of 2014. This will be the third year in a row that we’ve done the festival but we put on quite a lot of gigs between the festivals as well.”
Cream specialises in punk and indie. “It’s mainly geared towards my music tastes,” he says, “so most of the gigs we put on do have at least a punk overtone. There’s all kinds of sub-genres within punk, like post-punk and indie-punkand I put on a lot of acosutic and folk acts as well but they all seem to be part of the overall DIY punk scene.”
Wharf Chambers has become the city’s hub for punk gigs. “Along with the Brudenell it’s my favourite place to go,” says Cream. “It’s a really special place because it’s run and owned by the members, it’s a co-operative. Regular people just pay £1 for the year and that helps with the running costs. It really helps up and coming artists to play on a decent size stage.
“They have safe space policies as well which means it a really great place for people to go who might not feel so safe in other venues.”
This year’s bill includes The Spook School, Doe, Chrissy Barnacle, Bear Trade and The Kimberley Steaks. A local contingent includes Crumbs and The Party Kills.
“When we first started I always had visions of something bigger and better every year but it was a case of not wanting to run before you can walk, so the first two days were just all-day festivals,” says Cream. “Last year we introduced stalls and a food van from the Caribbean Cafe to cater for the punters and this year we’ve got that as well as having the Friday evening gig as well. Every year I’m trying to build it up more and more.”
Of the acts to look out for this year, Cream says: “Saturday evening is being headlined by a band called The Spook School from Scotland. They’ve been getting quite big recently, their new album got a lot of favourable reviews and they’ve been over to the USA and toured there and been playing around Europe. They’ve got a lot of tracion at the moment and they seem to be turning a few heads so we’re really excited to have them. Last time they played at Wharf Chambers it was a sold-out gig. Hopefully all their fans will come back to see them again.
“We’ve also got a few London acts playing. Doe are an up and coming indie-punk band and Happy accidents who have recently signed to Alcopop Records which is quite a big indie record label in the UK, they’ve just released their new album and they played on Annie Mac’s show on Radio 1.
“It’s helped me out but I seem to have picked quite a lot of bands who at the time were just gearing up for something special and now they’re all releasing new music and getting a lot of airplay and a lot of new followers so hoepfully that will really help when it comes to getting people down over the weekend.”
Cream’s new band Settle For Anything will open the Friday night gig. “We’re pop-punk mixed with melodic hardcore, which is the line I’m going for that the moment, but who knows?” he says. “It might be a little bit different in a few gigs’ time.”
Cream says his overall aim for the festival is straightforward. “With all the gigs I do I love seeing like-minded people, whether that’s like-minded in music tastes or even their extracurricular interests, [together]. Seeing a room full of people who are all excited about the bands that we’ve got playing that’s something that really appeals to me and I guess it’s one of the main reasons why I do this.
“I would love to see a nice busy gig full of really excited people watching what are essentially my favourite bands from around the UK.”
Tickets for the festival are priced £10 in advance from http://scenebetterdays.bigcartel.com/product/scene-better-days-fest-2016. Day tickets may be available on the door, priced £6 for Friday and £12 for Saturday.