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Les Savy Fav 5

A Stellar Live-Up at Leeds’ Constellations Festival

Constellations had an ambitious and strictly alternative line up for a new festival. Filing into the mid-November flow of human traffic at Leeds University, we find ourselves in a dinging hall, transformed into Space – a Constellation of course, hanging discs and particles of the world’s newest galaxy stretching from the bar to a blue and purple lit stage where Sky Larkin are battering away.  A large crowd for any band at 4:30pm and in their hometown their jumbled live charm clearly marks the stark arrival of a great new festival.

Following them are new indie darlings Esben and the Witch, with ‘oooooos’ layered like an early RJD2 album, skull props and Victorian street lamps adding to their gothic mood – the guitars shift hauntingly through minor chords, twisting and building with the soft vocals into theatrically trashing riffs.

Skipping out early, we watch Liars.  Live, their pulsating beats massage your insides before crashing around you, and it’s intense; singer Angus Andrew clasps both hands around his microphone, hair across his face whilst the sonic synths soar into dirty Stooges-like guitars.

Hopping next door for Local Natives it’s striking how inconceivable it seemed five years ago that a group of moustachioed men delicately singing four part harmonies could hold a room so firmly.  Their intricate songwriting is crystal clear, confident and sweeps everyone into joining their swelling vocals that make their music stand out.

Next and easily a contender for the ‘Best Live Band in the World Today’ title, Les Savy Fav take to the stage facing a sweaty “bowl of flesh” as front man Tim Harrington called it.  Dressed in traditional graduation get up complete with graduation speech, this is the first of many outfits he’ll strip this evening and the crowd are riotous with joy about the antics.  This is the first show where we witness the crowd swirl and bash around chaotically to the classics like ‘Patty Lee’ with Harrington leading the procession; from tarzanning into the audience on his mic lead to hanging upside down off balconies, massaging a fans feet and leading the room through some spectacular synchronised dancing to their raw grinding punk aesthetic.

The finale for the evening is toss up between Sleigh Bells and Broken Social Scene and having already donated four hours of our gigging life to BSS this year, we settle on party band Sleigh Bells. The crush of the crowd means the front line are crawling on to the stage, bodies sliding over one another as ‘Infinity Guitars’ takes off.  The room is clearly too small to hold such an explosive crowd as the two man show rolls frantically about the stage, proving triumphantly that Constellations is a party that the North has long been waiting for.

- Camille Ainsworth

Photo Credit: Bart Pettman



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