Culture Vulture: Leeds Music City

Published on Saturday 1 October on The Culture Vulture

There’s a swathe of excellent gigs happening this autumn in Leeds, and not without good reason.  Leeds is a fine musical city, and alongside household names such as the Kaiser Chiefs and Corrine Bailey Rae, there’s a thriving DIY music scene bubbling underneath the surface.

If you’re looking for something a little different from an overpriced bar and funky house, then don’t worry, you’re spoilt for choice!  Here’s a pick of the plethora of events coming up in October:

Raise The Roof Festival

7 October, Leeds West Indian Centre, Chapeltown

If you’ve never been, then you have to go.  Simple.  Held every year at the West Indian Centre, this year’s title is ‘The Twisted Ballroom’ – there’s a circus, theatre shows, visuals, healing areas…like a little Glastonbury under one roof.  And of course, there’s the music, with headliners this year including the legendary DJs Utah Saints and 7-piece Radio 1 favourites Dub Pistols.  ‘Dubious attire and fancy dress recommended’, they say.  Tickets and information available from

Brainwash Festival VI

14 – 16 October, The Brudenell Social Club / Royal Park Cellars, Hyde Park

What happens when you take a huge lineup of artists that you’ll never see on Jools Holland, some of the finest bands Leeds has to offer and sprinkle it with respected underground musicians from around the world?  The answer is probably Brainwash.  From grinding rock to electronic experimentation, the bill includes Glaswegians Dananananaykroyd, Chicagoan multi-instrumentalist Juffage, a side-project from someone in Pavement and much more.  It’s a great opportunity to discover music you’ve probably never heard of, and to buy a round of ludicrously cheap beers while you’re there.

Zun Zun Egui / Runners / Ex-Cissy Band

20 October, Wharf Chambers, Wharf Street, Central Leeds

Fomerly the Common Place, this old pie factory in Central Leeds has been saved from becoming another set of swanky apartments and is instead home to a new live music venue.  Literally centimetres away from the gaudy (and much more expensive) Call Lane area, it’s miles away in terms of music.  Bristolians Zun Zun Egui are, according to what I’ve read, ‘a multi faceted, all night kaleidoscopic party rock band that consume musical and cultural styles like they do hot meals’.  That’s reason enough to go, surely.  Also appearing are Leeds’ excellent synth quartet Runners, and a set from the remnants of local funk band Cissy.  Membership is required for entry, but it’s just a pound, and you get unrestricted access to a well-stocked Sam Smith’s bar.  More details at and here.

Jeramiah Ferrari / Cowtown / Tantz

21 October, The Packhorse, Woodhouse Lane

Raising funds for a good cause, in support of the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s mission to the UN climate change talks in Durban, South Africa this November.  And there’s an excellent coalition of music on offer: headliners Jeramiah Ferrari blend upbeat calypso and reggae with heavy, head-nodding rock, and tore the roof off Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival earlier this year.  Also appearing are Leeds’ favourite electro-synth rockers Cowtown (all with matching jumpers), and probably the only klezmer fusion band in the city, Tantz, laying down Eastern European grooves with some hip-hop thrown in.  Plus, there’s a raffle, the prizes up for grabs including two free tickets to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, a chocolate making workshop and much more.  Just a fiver, and all proceeds to the UKYCC.  More details here.

…and many more…

All the larger and more established gigs and clubnights are well publicised and can easily be found.  But there’s plenty more independent events not mentioned in detail above due to lack of space.  So,here’s a brief list:

14 October: Rainbow Road, Wharf Chambers, Wharf Street, Central Leeds

Excellent new clubnight at the former Common Place from the people who used to run ‘Let’s Be Friends’ there.  Membership or guest entry required.  More here:

22 October: Empire Strikes British Wildlife, Empire, Bridge End, Central Leeds

All-dayer at the new Empire live music bar, opposite the Adelphi pub in central Leeds.  It’s put together by those responsible for British Wildlife Festival, a multi-venue DIY festival in central Leeds each year.  Star Wars fancy dress recommended.  Check out the lineup at

29 October: Runners / Lazarus Clamp / Chips for the Poor, The Fox and Newt, Burley Road

Lovely little pub with its own brewery, just out of the city centre.  Excellent bands covering electro to Fall-esque rock.  More details here.

Support your local music scene!






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *