Live at Leeds Festival 2012 on Thursday, 23rd August 2012
Local four-piece Likely Lads drew a hefty crowd, kicking off the weekend in a great fashion. The band's large following was justified by a huge boisterous intro, displaying a compromise between glimmering indie and gritty punk. Shuffling rhythms and a lilting indie glisten were tempered by a small dose of distortion. Big aspects of the Mancunian music scene were present, especially reminiscent of Oasis. Their name conjured an image of a Libertines tribute band, and the music matched this preconception. Their sound was very easy-listening and approachable and they had great crowd interaction; brash arrogance from the front-man stimulated the festival crowd, who were up for anything. However, a little more movement from the band would have livened up the show further and the vocals lacked direction and power in comparison to the rest of the instrumental sound. But these negativities diminished as the set progressed, and an energetic outro to the set was observed, showing that the best songs were saved until last.
Rock n' roll quartet China Rats were full of punk energy, great driving rhythms and shout-along chants. Their tone, a cross between anthemic rock n' roll and Buzzcocks-esque punk, gave a real forceful edge. Powerful gang vocals and occasional screaming added power to the band's strident music. They mastered the punk genre perfectly, but were a little monotonous towards the beginning of the set. However, high-riding melodies later on prevented any further monotony, keeping it vibrant and progressive. Rhythmic conjunction between the band members was sometimes lost in sacrifice for an excellent stage presence. A greater dynamic contrast would have also complemented their songs; drop-outs were rare and short and a piano dynamic was virtually non-existent. However, mid-way through the third song, the band stopped playing suddenly, leaving the audience begging for more. The front-man, cool as a cucumber, got a drink and casually resumed as if it was a rehearsal. This gimmick was carried out fantastically, and showed great professionalism from the band. For the final song, the front-man ditched his guitar, giving a single-guitar texture and an energetic finale to the set, in the form of a brilliant punk onslaught. In short, a great band with great promise.
Boy-girl fronted sextet Scars On 45 displayed a lovely take on folk-indie, adding a heavy beat from the rhythm section. Arcade Fire are no doubt a large influence upon this band, and glorious chords bounced off one other. Great musicality was shown from the whole band, with a full and complex texture and variety of timbres from the large band. Soulful alto vocals sent shivers down the spine and harmonies between the two vocalists were angelic and flowing. Despite the mellow music, the band was lively and energetic, engaging with the crowd brilliantly. Transitions between legato and staccato were slick and smooth, and contrasting dynamics were used expertly. Catchy choruses gave a real sing-along element, but were far from tedious and repetitive, retaining a sense of complexity and development. They had a great stage presence, displayed great song-writing capability with great emotive lyrics. This performance was a fantastic introduction to a brilliant band that I will no doubt see again soon.
Likely Lads are a 4 piece alternative rock band from York