Live at Leeds – Our preview pick of the best bands

by Hannah Kirk


Live at Leeds headliner Rag’n’Bone Man, shot by Abi Dainton. Photo used under a Creative Commons license.

Live at Leeds – the “metropolitan festival” – is back on Saturday 29th April – and venues across the city will be hosting loads of bands and solo acts.

Heading the line-up this year is Brit Award-winning blue-eyed soul soul hipster Rag’N’Bone Man. He follows in the footsteps of ginger tramp Ed Sheeran, pseudo 80s Muppets The 1975 and Sam Smith, composer of the second best theme for the Bond movie SPECTRE. All played Live at Leeds at the very start of their extravagantly mainstream careers.

Despite this, Live at Leeds is known for championing up and coming talent. Boasting over 100 different acts over the day, it’s going to be tricky to pick who to see.

Fear not. We did a bit of chin scratching over the full line-up, and here’s who we think you shouldn’t miss.


Punk duo Slaves are returning for a second go at the festival, after smashing it in 2015 at the Brudenell.

With two top 10 albums under their belts, a ton of touring and a huge collaboration with Mike D from the Beastie Boys, this pair is on a rapid rise to the top. Drummer and vocalist Isaac Holman is accompanied by Laurie Vincent, who plays bass and guitar at the same time, while providing backing vocals and presumably riding a unicycle. Currently touring the States, Live At Leeds will be the perfect opportunity to see Slaves in a more intimate setting while you still can.

The Pigeon Detectives

Leeds lads The Pigeon Detectives released their first album in four years this January, so 2017’s perfect for a Live At Leeds return. The festival veterans have a huge back catalogue of indie rock tunes, but it’s the element of homecoming that will make this gig a bit special.

Tweeting “It’s been 4 years since we last properly played our glorious hometown… Hurrah!!!” the band are clearly stoked to be playing.

Dead Pretties

Dead Pretties have made their name playing live, scoring multiple mentions in this year’s ‘ones to watch’ lists. An impressive feat, considering their debut single was only released a few weeks ago. After a string of incredibly successful supporting slots, opening up for bands such as The Orwells and Drenge, their Television meets Oasis sound has earned them a strong following.

They’ll be appearing at a bunch of festivals this summer, so Live At Leeds will be a brilliant opportunity to support some prime, up and coming talent before they go huge.


22 year old Laurel is often compared to Lana Del Rey, Lorde and other female alt-pop sensations. She says indie-folk star Laura Marling was the inspiration for her picking up a guitar – and you can hear that too. Bloggers love her, BBC Radio, Radio X and Spotify featured her and Apple Music made her New Artist of the week.

What’s more, she writes, records and produces everything herself. Did we say she’s just 22? She’s 22.

It’s an impressive list of accolades from someone who hasn’t even released their debut album yet. All you really need to know is that she’s really good. Stop weeping about how little you’ve done with your own life and go see her.


VANT are back for a second go at Live At Leeds with their impressive live show. They’ve only been going for three years, but have already supported You Me At Six, Royal Blood, Biffy Clyro and Catfish and the Bottlemen. They were Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’ on her BBC Radio 1 show too. Jammy.

They like to mix a bit of politics into the 90s grunge they so clearly revere. There’s nothing bad about that.

Gang of Youths

Australian five-piece, Gang of Youths, are killing it on the other side of the world. Their debut album reached Number 5 in the Australian charts and got them nominated for a number of ARIA Awards in 2015.

They are writing songs about things that no one in mainstream music wants to talk about. A lot of their material has been inspired by songwriter David Le’aupepe’s relationship with a girl who was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

It doesn’t sound like much fun, but this is paired with driving, angular riffing, offbeat layered percussion and extraordinary ear for melody and arrangement.

They are a big addition to this line up, with an impressive reputation for kickass live shows.


Formed in 2012, these two Scots have taken the underground scene by storm. With a garage punk sound, an edgy image and a name inspired by a last minute Halloween costume, these girls have become popular fast.

They toured with Foo Fighters, Palma Violets and Wolf Alice then followed up a promising debut with producer James Dring of Jamie T and Gorillaz fame. This polished, fierce second album, ‘Babes Never Die’, came out in late 2016 and has successfully put their bluesy, lo-fi pop-grunge back on the indie map.

The Amazons

Called ‘a band to believe in’ by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, the Reading-based alt-indie band have been on everyone’s radar since 2014. They’ve been championed by the likes of NME, MTV, The Independent and the BBC for their powerful, high-intensity live shows.

Named one of the BBC’s Sound of 2017, a coveted award in the music industry, The Amazons play soaring post-indie rock anthems, like Muse with poor diction.

Jagwar Ma

The Australian-trio are heading to Leeds, after 2016’s second album, ‘Every Now & Then’.

Back in 2013, Noel Gallagher claimed he was ‘too busy talking about Temples and Jagwar Ma’ to even think about reforming Oasis, which is pretty damn high praise from a man who has spent most of his career slagging off anyone who isn’t Noel Gallagher.

It’s easy to see why he’s a fan. Jagwar Ma pay homage to the Madchester scene of the 1990s with wavy basslines, filtered 808s and stoned vocals. They could so easily have been stable-mates with the Mondays or the Roses.

Their experimental, psychedelic vibe is insanely popular over in Oz and it seems to be taking off in the UK too. Time to borrow your dad’s Kangol hat and practice those old skool rave moves.


Brummie bands Swim Deep and Peace have become incredibly popular over the past few years. JAWS are riding the same wave of B-Town success.

Frontman Connor Schofield put a demo online in 2012 that went down pretty well, so he put a real band together to capitalise on its success. Since then, they’ve supported fellow Birmingham indie giants The Twang, sold out shows and released two full-length studio albums.

Catch them Live At Leeds if you’re in the mood for summery, surfer vibes and an all round good time.

Live At Leeds takes place on Saturday 29th April 2017, with tickets costing £32.50. To find out more and to check out the full line up, head to