If you’re of a certain generation, the chant “Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!” will conjure memories of running around a Kaiser Chiefs moshpit or catching bands like The Pigeon Detectives and The Sunshine Underground in tiny bars, before they became massive with the early noughties’ ‘New Yorkshire’ movement.
But there’s more to the city than that. Leeds has been at the centre of vital new scenes and sounds for as long as we can remember, from the punk scene of the 70s and early 80s to indie, shoegaze and post-punk – and, perhaps most recently, the psych-rock revival thanks to the breakout success of (the actually far more complicated) Hookworms.
With a rich musical heritage (bands like Gang of Four, The Wedding Present and Scritti Politti all hail from Leeds), and a local scene at present that is arguably better than it’s ever been, the city is home to variety of influential bands and continuously spawns new talent.
Leeds has always had a strong DIY scene, with independent promoters putting on everything from challenging drone to hardcore noise in railway arches and sticky old pubs – but recently the DIY community seems to have gone from strength to strength, especially with the establishment of inclusive, ‘safe-space’ venues like Chunk and Wharf Chambers. It’s this vibrant DIY activity that sets Leeds’ music scene apart from those of Manchester, London and Leeds.
A similar ‘do it yourself’ spirit has inspired the founding of many homegrown festivals, too, including the annual Beacons – previously an outdoor festival near Skipton and now a series of gigs at Headrow House.
Of course, Leeds is also a hotspot for mid-level touring bands and musicians, so you won’t be short of options if there’s a particular act you want to see; and with the recent addition of Leeds First Direct Arena, the city now also hosts some of the biggest names in pop, rock and other entertainment.
Whether you’re in the mood for jazz or thrash, you can find a gig or concert to attend with The Skinny.