FESTIVAL PREVIEW: Live at Leeds 2019

It’s confirmed, Live at Leeds will return on Saturday, May 4th of 2019 for its annual bank holiday weekend jamboree where music lovers from all across the country commune to enjoy a day of new music discovery and live performance. The festival has built a world-class reputation over its 12-year span, known for its immaculate ability to recognise talent early on and showcase those seminal performances even before most catch a scent. The general appreciation we have for this trendsetting frontrunner goes beyond mere adoration but reaches near kinship.

But don’t be fooled live music is not the only pastime that can be gratified while investigating Live at Leeds, situated in the heart of Leeds’ buzzing metropole the festival offers much that the untrained eye might overlook on first glance. Hotspots like pizza haven, Belgrave Music Hall or local culinary cultivators, Ox Club at Headrow House spring to mind when thinking about good eats. The heavenly architecture of the Church and Chapel are seared to memory as incredible monuments of the city’s rich history. The list goes on. What’s certain is that Leeds offers great value and appeal to every figure that finds itself wandering through its backroads and passageways, it could never be just an average festival locale.

As duty orders it’s a city ramblers life for us, so without further ado, who is worth your time this year? Keep reading and find out. Below, we’ve compiled a simple guide to help with the highlighting of key acts and must-see newcomers.

Certain buzz will be directed towards Sundara Karma, the indie heroes return to the festival now in full glam attire for a show that will be as head-turning as their latest album. Brummie brothers Drenge will parade new music off of their recent LP while Geordie superstar Sam Fender will tantalize with a showcase of hits from his forthcoming debut album – and it’s sure be epically emotive. Competing for main stage acclaim includes Tom Grennan, Metronomy, Kate Tempest, Black Honey, Goat Girl, The Sherlocks, Swim Deep and Sea Girls, plus in an exclusive guest appearance slot joins Pigeon Detectives frontman, Matt Bowman, who will be performing a rare acoustic set.

The Slow Readers Club make their debut at the festival for what will be a widely-attended performance, they are somewhat of a word-of-mouth phenomenon, in turn this is reflected by the utter dedication of their fanbase. It’s something truly special and certainly not hype-based at all, the band have the talent to back up the claims and validate every single achievement. It’s one thing to hear this band on record but another to hear the songs up close and personal. A must see.

On the other hand, festival favourites whenyoung will honour their growing fanbase with a sizeable set of meaningful bops and tight musicianship. Quickly rising up the ranks this band has become a staple on the live scene of recent years, honing their ever-brilliant stage smarts and musical prowess performing to audiences big and small, whether on tour with Blossoms, Dream Wife or The Vaccines, or headlining shows themselves. Always a joy to watch.

Another band close to our hearts and ears, is Kawala. The duo transform into an energetic five piece band when playing live, their calypso-blended indie pop is the perfect fusion for early Spring endeavours, the music warms the soul while an active rhythm section briskly sets the feet grooving. Both dynamically engaging and entertaining at the same time, Kawala provide the best of their acoustic trainings alongside a thrilling vibrancy of sonic character. Arrive early to avoid missing out.

London-via-Barcelona singer/songwriter Odina debuts at the festival this year, her melancholy writings are reflective of an artist true to their voice and connected with their humanity. Her set will inspire emotional moments, melodic magnetisation and a love for her beautifully simple but moving songs. A piece of serene calm amidst the hazy drone of city bustle.

Reading guitar heroes Saltwater Sun are the potent, precocious vision of a ferocious voice set for the big leagues if they could just get in front of more eyes. Their uplifting, lyrically-pertinent style is what hooks you in first, the live show will then seal the deal. We’ve been talking about this band for a while now so the excitement is definitely fizzing over when thinking about this performance. Join us and we’ll celebrate together.

It’s not just homegrown talent that’s on display this year, focus must be placed on Australian export Confidence Man who will bring their phenomenal dancefloor jams to a late night slot and fellow Aussies, The Jungle Giants are also in the mix too, offering their brand of scintillating indie guitar pop. Flying the flag for the US, we have California’s Jesse Jo Stark and Nashville’s Ruston Kelly, both are gradually growing a profile overseas but it hasn’t taken long for each to be recognised for their seminal works. Highly recommended. 

Closer to home and raising awareness of the excellence that lies on its doorstep, Live at Leeds’ bookers have outdone themselves confirming that Talkboy, Team Picture, Sea Legs and Cruel World, to name but a few, will all be playing sets on the day. The genres are considerately mixed, the quality of musical output and technique is staggeringly high, translating the broadness of each artists’ sound palette into a distinct live experience. Well worth examining further.

Tickets for Live At Leeds 2019 are on sale now, starting from £36 +BF – available from

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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