Live at Leeds In The City 2023 review: Citywide festival showcasing up-and-coming bands remains a staple on the UK festival scene

The citywide festival returned to venues across Leeds this weekend with over 100 up and coming and established acts taking to the stage.
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Live At Leeds has become a staple on the UK festival scene, both as one of the last of the season, and for showcasing over 100 bands from different stages in their careers across a large number of well-known venues.

Having attended the one-day festival a number of times in the past, I have figured out how to get the most out of the event. With so many new up-and-coming bands, there is a good chance that many of the names are new to you. 

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For what has become a bit of a tradition - mainly because it is right next to where the wristbands are collected - I started my day off at The Wardrobe.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs played a brilliant early show at the Leeds Beckett SU. Picture by National WorldPigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs played a brilliant early show at the Leeds Beckett SU. Picture by National World
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs played a brilliant early show at the Leeds Beckett SU. Picture by National World

This year, the first show at the venue saw rock trio HotWax take the stage. I was extremely surprised to see how many people had made it to a concert starting as early as midday, but The Wardrobe was completely packed.

The Hastings band opened the festival with a bang to cheering crowds. But unfortunately, I had to leave early to catch a band I had been looking forward to seeing for quite some time.

Making my way to Leeds Beckett Student Union (buying a bus day ticket is very much value for money during Live At Leeds), it was time for Newcastle stoner metal act Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, or Pigs x7 for short.

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A band very much to my taste, I can’t think of a better way to kick off LAL, although my friend joining me for the day had differing opinions. 

The 45 minute set featured songs across the band's decade-long career, with skull crushing riffs which left my ears ringing - a solid eight out of ten stars from me.

After Pigs x7 I made my way to Brudenell Social Club, one of my favourite venues in Leeds, to catch some of the smaller acts. 

Punk duo BIG SPECIAL was my personal favourite of the day. Picture by National WorldPunk duo BIG SPECIAL was my personal favourite of the day. Picture by National World
Punk duo BIG SPECIAL was my personal favourite of the day. Picture by National World

Here, ERNIE and Siobhan Winifred both played the main stage. Two relatively new acts with only a handful of singles released on streaming services, I was positively surprised by their well written, thoughtful indie pop. 

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My personal highlight of the day was BIG SPECIAL at The Key Club. Having discovered the band through BBC Radio 6, this new punk duo that mixes spoken word and singing over heavy drums blew my mind. I am sure we are going to hear a lot more from them in the future, and I for one am here for it.

The night ended with this year’s headline act, London post-punk outfit Shame at Stylus. 

Shame closed the night at LUU Stylus. Picture by National WorldShame closed the night at LUU Stylus. Picture by National World
Shame closed the night at LUU Stylus. Picture by National World

I have seen Shame four times before, the last time being at the Stylus earlier this year, and they never cease to amaze me. The 75 minute set packed with hits from the band’s three albums included mosh pits, singalongs and crowd surfing - the perfect finish to a long day of great music.

Live At Leeds In The City truly delivers the best of new and up-and-coming music. It might be one of the few festivals where you go in knowing two or three acts, and end up with a whole new playlist full of songs from bands and artists you didn’t know previously existed.

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The festival does have one downside; with over 100 acts playing across 15 venues in one day, you are going to have to carefully select a handful of bands, while missing out on a whole host of potential new favourites.

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