5 Bands* You Might Not Know Are Killing it in a Field This Weekend (or Leeds Festival 2015: An Alternative Preview)

By August 24, 2015

Music. Leeds.

[All images courtesy of Leeds Festival]

*strictly speaking, 4 bands and a comedian.

Leeds Festival, glutted as it is on big names and bigger attending numbers, needs no introduction; it brings the abridged version of today’s musical map to a field in Bramham and television screens the country over, and in the process delivers a cultural institution of stadium music twinned with excessive hedonism. The downside of a festival of such gargantuan repute is that its true gems are often, accidentally, whited-out by the pyrotechnics and big-budget promises of international stadium headliners. Here, then, is the preview that circumvents Metallica’s 60ft flames, and turns an eye instead to 5 underdogs that might just be worth your time this weekend – 2 of which hail from Leeds.


Pulled Apart By Horses

While this Leodiensian band might not be exactly what you call ‘underground’ by virtue of their entry into the top 40 album chart with ‘Blood’ last year, Pulled Apart By Horses are nonetheless an underdog highlight. They head the bill for the early-bird-only Thursday night festivities; through their expertly-crafted niche of boundless energy, chaotically neat riff-wizardry and reckless charisma, they are the perfect initiation to a heavy weekend of Galahad Export and plastic-bottled rum.



NARCS are another of the Leeds breed, representing everything good with God’s own county on home turf. Signed to local label Clue Records, NARCS bring politically infused ‘narc-core’ to the BBC Introducing Stage on Friday afternoon. For squealing guitars, angry leftist-sentimental shouts and a heavy, heavy introduction to the weekend proper, look no further.


American Football

This mid-west band have a cult following to end all cult followings. They, their constituent members and their related side-projects, one-offs and solo acts are responsible for cultivating, curating and progressing a genre which oddly sits both in the realms of popularity and obscurity. American Football play the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage on the Saturday; if you’re into melodic, calm, complex interminglings of instruments, plaintive barely-in singing and gut-wrenching emotional clout, bring your cut-price lager here and sip softly at the back while lamenting and nodding your head slightly, ever-so slightly.


Adam Buxton

Speaking frankly, no one has ever chosen to go to Leeds Festival for the Alternative Stage. Only a few may ever have even planned on visiting it after that fact. Leeds is largely and predominantly for necking lukewarm, still-crunchy Pot Noodles and skanking your nuts off to mid-day ska before watching a headline band you never liked ‘just cos’ – but here’s where all that could change. Adam Buxton is the famed man-child half of Adam And Joe, responsible for such japes as an X-rated puppet parody of The English Patient and the inimitable song ‘We’re The Jazz Queens (Poo-poo-pee-doo)’; to Leeds Fest he most likely brings the latest iteration of his genius: BUG, the show where internet comments by silly people are realised and ridiculed in character by the man himself. He fools around on Friday; catch him!


Spring King

NME named them the ‘top band of 2014’, and Zane Lowe held them publicly in extremely high regard, but they still line the walls of your favourite toilet-venue along with the sweat of 130 hyperactive fans. Producer-writer prodigy Tarek Musa brings his band Spring King to raucous life at the Festival Republic stage on Friday, whereupon you can expect frantic gone-in-60-seconds surf-rock stylings punctuated with distorted drawl and general fuzzy excitement; they are an excellent band to cater for your jager-induced fever-energy.

Whoever you see this coming weekend, Leeds Festival is sure to be an absolute riot. The little guys are often they that maketh the experience though, so be sure not to miss out on the acts that well and truly sum up the festival experience: good times, good friends, and good music of every type heard bleeding through tent walls and over steamy-stinky hot dog stands (or ‘artisanal-hand-rolled-pork-hot-dogs-in-Cristal-glazed-brioche-bun stands). Go forth, sweat and profit!

James Grimshaw