Thursday, 17 December 2009

Far North: adventures in Leeds


Idioteque @ Subculture - 11/12/09
Tiger Trap @ The Common Place - 12/12/09


So, I somehow find myself on a Megabus to Leeds, tearing up the M1 through blankets of pale fog jaundiced yellow by motorway lights. I'm excited to be going: I'm meeting someone at the other end, so I'm listening to a bunch of Detroit rock 'n' roll to stay awake. Two of the best records of this millennium came out of Detroit in the early noughties - the incredible pre-major-label Von Bondies punk-blues album "Lack Of Communication" and the incomparable soul covers record "Ultraglide In Black" by The Dirtbombs. I'm three hours into the journey with an hour and a half to go, stiff and cramped and surreptitiously sipping from a Reyka vodka miniature. But I'm happy. I feel a weird sensation passing through me... so much music at my fingertips in this 8gb phone, a pair of big old headphones on, tearing up the motorway towards exciting times. I feel calm, excited, buzzing, sleepy... and I feel lucky. Lucky to be alive, and lucky to be able to listen.


I pour off the coach into the freezing northern air and spark up a Marlboro Red instantly. Lauren Marie meets me shortly, and at 1am we tumble into Idioteque, in the grimy basement that is SubCulture, for the last couple of hours. A crowd of boozed indie kids cheer every song, and there's a nice atmosphere and a good mix of music. Nothing like comparable indie clubs in London, where stiff limbed posers stand around looking at each other, or clueless, foaming MDMA kids dance ironically to the awful pop music of the moment. This is a proper indie disco. Pavement, Grandaddy, Pixies. A flow of shots and pints. An argument with the bouncers, some taxi queue lols with random drunk lads, a ride home, a sleep, a morning in bed reading the Guardian and watching the snooker. A day spent hardly even peeking past the curtains.

Then to Tiger Trap. It's is a DIY indie night run by a bunch of friendly indiefied kool kids. TT has taken place in various venues around Leeeds, but tonight it's in The Common Place, an endearingly shabby social club tucked away just inside the city centre ringroad. The Common Place smells vaguely of lentil curry and Marxism. It's a friendly kind of place. The assembled indie kids and vaguely lairy lads make a great, receptive crowd. Makes me feel like I've been in cynical London for way too long.

IMP are first up. Brainlove have put these guys on before, at the request of their biggest fan, HRTBPS from Internet Forever. They play what sounds like blutacked together college-rock, with a sat down keyboard playing frontman. It's great - like a less twee Research chasing their own twisted song structures down the street on a clapped out bicycle.


Continuing the DIY vibes are This Many Boyfriends (pictured above), a Bearsuit / Los Campesinos style lean-to indie-pop supergroup that are getting a lot of attention of late. And deservedly so - they positively gush excitement and enthusiasm, expressing plenty of joy-of-being-in-a-band-ness and infusing their enthused mini-anthem singalongs with a sense of enjoyable onstage chaos. The playing is loose, the songs are catchy, the banter is fun and the spirit of the whole thing is completely great. TMB FTW.

Piskie Sits are positively slick by comparison. They play nice enough post-Pavement indie rock, to a high standard. I don't remember the tunes too well, though. Finally, Brainlove's own Napoleon IIIrd. I've been watching James play for five years, but his development in 2009 has been amazing to watch. He was always great, but after the sold-out tour with fellow Northerners Wild Beasts this year, things just clicked together better than ever, culminating in his current mind blowing collection of twisted pop, skronky, soulful indie and woozy psychedelia. Napoleon IIIrd totally bosses the show tonight, skipping from loops to keys to guitar to tape machine with acrobatic ease. He's writing now, and from the crowd's reaction tonight it's pretty eagerly awaited already.


Later, the throng descends on the dancefloor, and I escape outdoors to sit and smoke and stumble and shoot the shit. It's nice to be out of London. Leeds rules. Might just make the trip for the next Tiger Trap...

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Written for The Line Of Best Fit