Welcome to The North @ Brundenell Social Club, Leeds – 1st July 2017

Posted by Gig Junkies on Saturday Jul 1, 2017 Under Festivals

Review by Simon Saynor with photography by John Bentley.

Certain parts of the mainstream music media will tell you that guitar music is dead and there are no good bands coming through. It is absolute nonsense. There is an absolute wealth of talent just bubbling under ready to explode. Go to any This Feeling gig, especially one of their festival stages, and you will witness the evidence for yourself. George Holmes has worked with This Feeling and was now putting on his own festival of some of the brightest up and coming bands from The North. 16 acts in 10 hours or so on 2 stages. This was gonna be intense. Welcome to the North 2017.

The Brudenell is the perfect venue for such an invent. The main stage is one of my favourite venues. Size, shape, acoustics – it is perfect. There is a secondary room (the games room) now done out to be an equally good venue. Also the Brudenell is still basically a working men’s club so bar prices are incredibly reasonable. (£2.50 a pint compared to the O2’s £6 a pint).

… And The Hangnails
And The Hangnails

York based duo …And The Hangnails kick things off. As always with an all day event crowds can be sparse early doors but this didn’t stop them putting in a blistering, furiously paced set of firebrand punk gems. Ever since I first saw Wet Nuns I’ve always been staggered by how just 2 people can make such an immense noise. Cracking start to the day.

Polar States
Polar States

Straight into the other room for the melodic indie pop of Liverpool 4 piece Polar States. (The back to back bands would become an issue later). These guys were my first find of the day. Together 2 years but with a musicianship that defies their age. Already with Radio 1 and 6 Music plays behind them they are definitely ones to watch out for. Perfectly crafted gorgeous songs. I loved them.

Heavy Suns
Heavy Suns

The last time I saw Barnsley’s Heavy Suns (and it was only 3 weeks ago at The Isle Of Wight Festival) they were a 5 piece. In that time they’ve dropped a guitarist and this was their first outing as a 4 piece. I was intrigued as to how it would effect their psychedelic blues indie rock. It didn’t at all. They sounded like Heavy Suns always have only a little bit better. At times there’s an almost Stooges feel to their grinding, filthy, beautiful tunes. The boys from ‘The Tarn’ are a class act.

Nick Ellis
Nick Ellis

The second Scouse act of the day and the first solo artist. ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris called Nick Ellis’ music “fascinating”. Nick is a storyteller both with his music and between songs. (The grinder story was brilliant). For a solo acoustic act he manages to portray a dark, foreboding outlook but all built round stunning songs.

Four acts in and I was realising that there was no way I could watch every song by every act. Probably the only downside to the event was the constant live music. Even a non-smoking, non-drinking massive muso needs 10 minutes in the sun to recharge every now and then. (As a smoking and drinking massive muso I really needed it). Plus as always happens timings start to go a tad array and some bands ended up overlapping. I was determined to catch every act though, even if it was only a couple of songs for some of them.

Scott Quinn
Scott Quinn

Harrogate’s Scott Quinn was next up, alternative indie pop, just Scott and his keyboard. ‘Young’ stood out in the set, a song about a friend who had sadly took his own life but written as a celebration. That alone made Scott Quinn worth another listen.

The Lottery Winners
The Lottery Winners

Another band from t’other side of The Pennines and my second find of the day. I’d almost caught the band a couple of times previously supporting The Wonder Stuff but traffic issues meant I’d missed out. The Leigh 4 piece play what could be described as Lancashire Surf. Maybe it was because of Katie Lloyd on bass but there was a Pixies feel to them, Pixies when they surprise us with an upbeat joyous indie pop song admittedly. The overall feeling is one of fun though, singer Thom Rylance has a natural and ridiculously funny rapport with the crowd. Behind all the fun though they really have the songs to back up any joviality. A real highlight of the day and a band you will definitely hear more of.

Mint
Mint

Another favourite of mine and a band I’ve seen several times previously, these Grimsby lads always put on a show. Its pure balls out indie rock of the highest order. The room is sweltering but that doesn’t stop the band putting in the high energy performance fans have come to expect. They have catches and hooks to die for. Stand out song for me is ‘Jimmy’ (similar to Scott Quinn’s ‘Young’ it’s a celebration of a friend who is no longer with us). It’s a slow build of a song that powers into a stunning crescendo. Another great set. Not even half way yet and it’s already a memorable gig.

The Howl & The Hum
The Howl and the Hum

My first time of catching the York based quartet. There is a seriously diverse range of music on offer today and The Howl & The Hum slow things down with shoegaze, distorted, gorgeous echoes. Beautifully crafted, slow building songs delivered with an assuredness many bigger names would be jealous of.

Fronteers
Fronteers

I needed food. The pizza van outside was a cracking idea. It did mean I only caught the last track by Hull’s Fronteers. Again, 4 alarmingly young lads already with a sound and talent that I’m sure should be illegal. I made a promise to myself to catch a full set as soon as I possibly could.

The Strawberries
The Strawberries

The Strawberries are on home turf tonight not that they rest on their respective laurels. As tight a band as you could wish to see. They have a definite retro feel whilst always sounding fresh and original. Sam Neil slithers like an enigmatic snake round his mic stand when he’s not engaging guitarist Joe Dines in head to head combat. Backed by the Ben Heath (drums) and Ethan Sherwin (bass) rhythm section there is nothing not to love about this band. There are a lot of people touting this psychedelic blues foursome for big things. It’s obvious why. (Footnote: new single ‘She Rhymes To Get Away’ is one of the greatest songs ever).

October Drift
October Drift

The week before October Drift were opening up The John Peel Stage at Glastonbury. The organisers said they’d never seen such a crowd at that time of day. Through relentless touring and hard work this Taunton (though often based in Sheffield) band have already built up a sizable following with a lot of record company interest. It’s fully deserved. It is live that they come into their own. It is literally a wall of noise with the most alarming melodies diving in and out of the maelstrom, fronted by Kiwi’s frankly stunning baritone vocals. Another band who put everything into their performance. I’ve never seen them come off stage anything other than drenched in sweat. The Brudenell sound really does them justice today and you can hear every intricacy. It is simply the best I’ve seen them.

Dantevilles
Dantevilles

Dantevilles have already supported Blossoms at some high profile gigs and will just go from strength to strength. Sadly another band I didn’t catch much of today (but they are on the radar again when Tramlines comes round). They are keeping the Manchester indie flame burning bright with gorgeous, jangly tunes and infectiously catchy choruses.

Bang Bang Romeo
Bang Bang Romeo

The buzz about Bang Bang Romeo has been growing and growing for some time now, so much so that there is no doubt these guys will be massive. And soon. Showing the commitment bands have to put in these days they’d played a festival in Gloucester earlier that day then driven straight up to Leeds for this gig. Not that this distracted in any way from their performance. Singer Anastasia Walker is like a woman possessed when on stage as the music takes over. She has a voice without parallel (seriously, there is no better singer in this country right now) but she needs it to front the beautiful, terrifying cacophony that makes Bang Bang Romeo unique. They have the songs, the talent, the theatrics, the presence, the whole package. Guitarist Ross Cameron will one day be talked about as one of our finest songwriters. Just check out new single ‘Chemical’ and you’ll see what I mean. With the Richard Gartland (drums) and Joel Philips (bass) rhythm section in perfect sync whether it’s the indie pop perfection of ‘Natural Born Astronaut’, the pounding relentlessness of ‘Invitation’ or the nightmarish crescendo of set closer ‘Adore Me’ there really is no limit to what this band can achieve.

Hello Operator
Hello Operator

Another band touted for bigger things are York’s Hello operator. Pure rock ‘n’ roll distorted blues and another band with the presence to back up their class output. There is no doubt that (like the majority of acts on the bill today) in years gone by they would have been snapped up by now. Again though, with Hello Operator it will happen. Any band with ‘Vex Money’ in their canon deserve immediate success.

The Sundowners
The Sundowners

Another band who appeared on the This Feeling stage at The Isle Of Wight Festival 3 weeks ago are the North-West’s Sundowners. With Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly on vocals Fleetwood Mac comparisons are inevitable but to me it’s more Grace Slick or Sandy Denny. Another band bringing psychedelia into the 21st Century and doing it magnificently. Sadly again I only caught a couple of songs tonight but they have always been nothing short of awesome every time I’ve seen them before.

The Vryll Society
The Vryll Society

Closing up are Liverpool 5 piece The Vryll Society. Sadly due to train times I had to go just as they took the stage. In the past I’ve described them as the ultimate soundtrack to the best come down ever. Superbly crafted mesmerising, psychedelic grooves. Gutted I had to go because they are the perfect band to end such a staggering day.

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 01-07-17

So that was Welcome To The North. 16 bands well worthy of your attention. Ignore what the mainstream says, the future is very bright indeed.

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