Despite the closure of two iconic venues in Leeds and a couple in Sheffield the predicted decline in the Yorkshire music scene never really materialised. Indeed by the end of the year it was positively thriving with its diversity and we can look forward to the same vibrancy in 2016.
Leeds First Direct Arena continued to attract massive stars to the venue with the likes of The Kaiser Chiefs, Stereophonics, Alt-J, Duran Duran and Fall Out Boy playing to packed, enthusiastic crowds in 2015.
This will continue in 2016. Indeed in the first two months of the New Year the venue will host brilliant Black Stone Cherry, the magnificent Halestorm, the enigmatic Slipknot and the wonderful Foals amongst others. However, it has been the smaller venues, and indeed, smaller festivals that have excelled in 2015.
These smaller venues are of course the lifeblood of the music scene. Some have showcased rising superstars.
Most memorably perhaps Elle King who supported James Bay at the Leeds Academy. Unheard of then but Ex’s And Ho’s the lead single from her brilliant debut record Love Stuff rocketed to the Top 10 of the Billboard charts in America and gained three Grammy Award nominations. She is now the hottest property in America. By the end of 2016 she’ll be filling the Arena! Similarly Julia Holter, Vant, Millie Manders, Polo, Du Blonde and Blessa all received end of year “best of” acclamation and all played in Yorkshire venues, most notably the Brudenell Social Club which continues to reflect its iconic status as the place to play in Leeds!
The larger festivals suffered somewhat in 2015 due to the economic downturn: Leeds for example cut its weekend camping space by twenty per cent. Smaller festivals thrived however. Bingley Music Festival exceeded its expectation in terms of attendance.
Not surprising with such an eclectic array of artists like Funeral For A Friend, Ella Eyre, Super Furry Animals and post-punk legend Peter Hook. Urban Festivals such as Tramlines and Live At Leeds also thrived. Indeed Live At Leeds will be the first festival of 2016 that will be labelled “unmissable”. Rightly so when such as Jess Glynn, Circa Waves, Band Of Skulls and We Are Scientists have already been announced for the event that takes place on 30th April.
2016 will see a resurgence of punk rock to celebrate the genre’s 40th Anniversary. The bands who fuelled the punk revolution back in 1976 such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash may no longer be around but there are plenty who are and who will be appearing at the punk festival Rebellion in May.
However, one to watch at this festival will be The SoapGirls, the raw punk duo from South Africa who put on a raucous riotous show that has to be seen to be believed. Moreover, one of the first major releases of the year will be from UK post-punk group Savages will release their sophomore album on January 22nd. Adore Life. You can also see them at The Irish Centre on February 23rd.
Others you should watch out for this year are Leeds band Vitamin, York based Polo, Spanish band Hinds and a sublime vocalist called Starling; After touring with former ‘future sound’ tip-offs Rat Boy and Sundara Karma in the Autumn (both of which are lining up huge dates for next year), it seems only fitting to assume Vitamin are primed and ready to reach similar levels of success. Off-kilter rhythms, shimmering synthesisers, infectious choruses and bundles of energy erupt from every pore of everything this Leeds quartet produce.
Polo is Dreampop. They are an amazingly dreamy trio with Kat McHugh’s venomous oppressive vocals munching into your sub-conscious to the point that you simply cannot let their music go. Hinds will release Leave Me Alone out now via Lucky Number. Since bursting onto the scene last summer, Hinds have mastered a raw and playful sound all their own. Leave Me Alone – twelve charmingly lo-fi tracks inspired by contemporary American garage. It is interesting how you come across music nowadays: Quite by chance we came across an EP by Starling. Its brilliantly ruminating four tracks described as “the seasons of my heart” mesmerise and take you to places by painting vivid musical landscapes. Ostentatious lyrically and with the most skilful of arrangement. Starling’s voice saturated with exceptional emotion.