Leeds Music Scene

Gig review of Alex Clare + Bipolar Sunshine + China Rats + Witch Hunt + City of Lights + Battle Lines

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Reviewed on 27th August 2013.


Alex Clare

Live at Leeds Festival 2013 on Friday, 23rd August 2013

Recovered and dry after the soaking of Thursday night, I was up early and eager to see what the day had to hold. My first trip of the day was to see the Futuresound competition winners, who get to open the Festival Republic stage. I have to admit being previously unimpressed by Battle Lines, but they have a lot of fans in Leeds so I thought it was only fair to give them another shot. I enter the Festival Republic stage at midday and (as expected) there is a heavy Leeds contingent in place. Carly Humphries has a great voice, but the repetitive lyricism throughout becomes boring, sounding like a lot of generic rock-pop bands kicking around and present nothing really new. The overall feel is that of an enthusiastic bunch of musicians, experimenting with good sounds, but not consistent enough to fill this space. Having said that, there are moments where there is a spark of what could be, I can see what they are trying to achieve, they are just not there yet and it falls a little flat.

I take a trip across to the BBC Introducing stage where I happen to catch the last of the set from City of Lights. Instantly drawn in and they have energy in abundance with a great sound and stage presence. Their sound is that of a commercial rock band would suggest Biffy Clyro/Frightened Rabbit fans should check them out, I certainly will and they are worth a mention despite only seeing a snippet of their set.

I am starting to feel in the festival spirit and in the right place to see Witch Hunt. Already a fan, I have seen them play live and acoustic, so it is good to see how they can adapt to a festival set up. Despite only two members, they create an intensely brooding sound, drawing the passing crowds and hold their attention. Louisa swaps from the impassioned vocals to hit the drums with such vigour, backed up by Chris' seemingly effortless and understated presence, you can not fail to engage with their energy. An incredible performance and they get better each time I see them.

Back to the Festival Republic Stage, there is the unmistakable sound of the grungy guitars from Leeds' own, China Rats. A great festival band, proving a success all over Europe, it is great to see them getting recognised by a bigger UK festival. They bring a classic indie vibe to the proceedings, with '(At Least Those) Kids Are Getting Fed', delivered with attitude and energy. Clearly loving the stage, the feeling is reciprocated in the form of a sing-along for 'To Be Like I', the hit of the day. The bass is the star though; I can't get enough of Jedidiah, great talent and great name!

Scheduling was earlier than expected (so I missed the start), but after catching a hefty part of Hadouken!, Bipolar Sunshine were just the ticket. Cool, calm and collected, using a few sound bite samples, they brought an intriguing collection of music to the Radio1 Xtra Dance Stage. Channelling the vibe of a sunset evening somewhere a thousand miles away, they play an amalgamation of the beautiful harmonies of Arcade Fire, tempered with an essence of Hercules and Love Affair. Tight harmonies were the order of the day and some beautiful drumming techniques that were unfortunately a little lost amongst the vocal. This was more to do with the level of the sound (difficult to balance in a festival setting), rather than the talent of the band. I think there is an EP to be purchased when I get home!

Feeling suitably refreshed, I walked over to see what the NME Radio1 Stage had to offer. Alex Clare was in full swing and his unmistakable husky tones welcomed me. I was just in time to hear the song that first introduced me to him; his own version of 'When Doves Cry' by Prince. Alex's version, as expected, was impeccably and emotionally delivered, his powerful voice resonating through the tent. However, when he sings the first line of 'Too Close', the crowd erupted and the whole tent sings back to him. Noticeably elated with the reaction, Alex puts all his effort in to it and as the dub drops and it turns in to a dance tent. Although his notoriety came after he provided this song for Internet Explorer Commercial, his talent spans so much more than that.

A great start to what promised to be an interesting few days!



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6 bands associated with this article.

Alex Clare

The Witch Hunt

Leeds based band with a sparkly sinister edge