Live at Leeds 2023

Live at Leeds was the first festival to take place at Temple Newsam of the weekend and it was easily the smoothest of the two. God knows Slam Dunk needed everything to be as smooth as possible because they had their own problems. 

Chris and I planned for the doomsday scenario of insane traffic, nonsensical queues and difficulty getting to basic amenities but none of that was the case. Food, water and toilets were plentiful, the grounds were being maintained fairly well as the day went on and queues were never really a problem.


By the time we got there, we were two hours early and once the VIP queue started moving we were straight in and we headed down to the Rolling Stone Big Top Stage to see Pillow Queens

Pillow Queens

Pillow were the first band we saw and they were what I’d describe as “Daria Music”. It’s that 90s alternative style that you’d hear all over MTV and in the interstitial scenes in Daria which was a TV show from back then. 

They’re set was really dreamlike and chilled but there was still a super tight rhythm section that was easy to follow and vibe to. Check them out but be careful when you Google them, if you know you know. 

Skinny Living

Skinny Living were over on the Cockpit stage and they were a bright Soulful band with really powerful vocal performances and harmonies. The vocalist took a minute to find the notes and it was a bit rocky to start with but once he’d found his footing, he sounded amazing. 

It was still fairly early in the day and people still wanted a taste of all the bands across all the stages so their audience probably wasn’t as big as it could have been but there was still a massive group enjoying themselves. 


Gengahr were over on the Big Top Stage and by now there were delays that this stage would never really catch up to but they still got to perform a full set of jangly twangy indie rock and do a lot of infectious dancing that seemed to rub off on the crowd. Gengahr was far from Ghastly and they’re definitely worth your time and energy. 

Lottery Winners

Lottery Winners were over on The Cockpit Stage and they were one of the first major standouts of the day. Tom Rylance had such a down to earth stage presence that could only come from someone from up North plus it helped that he was fit (you’re welcome Tom). 

It was the perfect sunny day soundtrack complete with rich synth and a tight rhythm section that complimented the fun sing along choruses. they’ve won over a sizable group of fans including me, I will be checking out Lottery Winners when they return for a headline tour in November. 

If you can’t wait though, you can see them in July as part of Sounds of the City in Leeds. 

James Marriot

James Marriot was over on the DIY stage and he had one of the most voracious and passionate crowds so far. It was composed of a mostly younger audience who know of him through YouTube but there was still a good variety of people checking him out. 

James Marriot is a really likeable person and his music comes from a genuine place of passion. Even if it isn’t the most original form of indie rock it still represents an authentic desire to express himself and that’s the goal of every musician really. 

Lime Cordiale

Lime Cordiale were excellent, they had such amazing stage presence and their music had such infectious energy that even spread around the crowd. They felt like an Arctic Monkeys type band but with some ska influence as they had a brass section. Thoroughly worth checking out next time they tour around the UK which could be very soon given most of the lineup is from the UK. 

The Beths

The Beths were one of the bands I was desperate to see having fallen in love with Expert in a Dying Field last year and they didn’t disappoint. They ran a bit late due to technical problems but all was forgiven once they started playing and talking to the audience with this timid adorkable attitude. Feel free to yell at me in the comments for saying “Adorkable”. 

The crunchy guitar tone and chill atmosphere was the best example of Daria Music I’d heard all day and you should definitely check them out when they come back to the UK next month. 

Kate Nash

Kate Nash was over on the Cockpit stage and she’s a legend in the British alternative pop scene with legendary classics like Mariella and Foundations. The crowd was fairly dead and unreceptive but she absolutely killed it. 

She had so much energy and her backing band was really tight even going so far as to have Thrash metal style drumming towards the end on Mariella. Kate Nash came from that group of alternative singer songwriters who got crossover pop hits and she deserves all the acclaim she’s gotten over the years and her love show matches that perfectly. 

Go see her because like she said “we’re all gonna be dead some day”. 

Tom Walker

Tom Walker was back on the Cockpit Stage and his set was a more laid back set filled with acoustic guitar driven singer songwriter songs. There were still rock songs with surprisingly solid drumming. His set was full of songs that have meant a lot to people over the years. 

Just You and I and Better Half of Me were really emotionally driven songs and clearly connected with a lot of people over the years as they’ve been used for weddings since they came out. It’s a beautiful experience seeing this type of music connecting with so many people and you can tell that seeing it live was important to them. 

Everything Everything

Everything Everything were on the Big Top Stage and they were one of the bands I’d known about long before coming to Live at Leeds. It was interesting to finally hear what they actually sounded like instead of just seeing their names. I hadn’t expected them to be so synth and electronica driven but I did expect the stratospherically high falsetto. 

Everything Everything are indie royalty by now and their set was really engaging without having to devolve into frontman clichés like “everybody open this pit up” or the Freddie Mercury bit that absolutely needs to die. 

No Reptiles was a highlight for me and something I’ve since gone back to after the festival. It’s also worth mentioning that every male in the audience looked like they’d be named Tom or Jack, I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone reading this but it really felt that way. 

The Big Moon 

The Big Moon were on the Big Top Stage and they had an atmospheric yet rhythmic approach. At times it felt like a middle ground between acoustic guitar driven indie, emo and disco. All that may sound like a negative but it made them really stand out amongst the rest of the lineup. 

They’re a more lively and fun example of Daria Music with bright and colourful tracks like Your Light being standouts on their set. Definitely worth looking into if you’re after some mid tempo sway music. 

The Lathums 

The Lathums are perhaps the biggest band to come out of Wigan since The Verve and as a Wigan native, it took no time for me to clock that these lads are from my hometown. The big give away was them coming on to The Snake

By this point, it was cracking the flags and everyone was dancing around and there was a particularly wholesome group of kids that started a dance circle which is as close to a mosh pit as you’ll get at an indie festival but it was still cool to see so many people vibing to harder indie rock music that sounded vaguely reminiscent of The Smiths at times with its emphasis on songwriting and guitar driven sound. 


DMA’s were on the Cockpit Stage, Chris described them as Australian Stone Roses but I got Oasis vibes which is probably a bit pedantic considering Oasis is just watered down Stone Roses. Unlike those bands, DMA’s seemed to enjoy being around each other on stage. 

There was a bright hopeful tone on tracks like Silver and Delete, it was a really wholesome experience. The stand out track was a cover of Life after Love by Cher which stripped away all the grandiose production and stayed fairly grounded. 


Crawlers were on the DIY stage and were probably the heaviest band on the lineup but they were still fairly accessible to a new audience. Crawlers are most notable for supporting My Chemical Romance in Warrington so they already had some fans backing them. 

The drums in particular sounded huge and the shoegaze feel really connected with people. It’s clear that this set meant a lot to Crawlers and that connection always rubs off on people in the best way possible. Come Over (Again) was a particular standout and totally worth checking out. 

The Hives

The Hives were the headliners on the Big Top Stage and they probably should have been on the main stage. The energy was incredible and it felt like such a far cry from all the other low key and relaxed plinky plonky indie bands that played before them. 

The band all came out in their best suits and burned the tent down to the ground. Howlin’ Pelle was doing amazing tricks with his mic while playing iconic tracks like Main Offender and he even had some really entertaining banter when you could actually understand it. 

They ended their set with the all time classic Tick Tick Boom and then the audience left and made their way to the main stage for… 

Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema Club headlined the whole festival over on the Cockpit stage and it was arguably a bit of a let down compared to The Hives but this whole article is written from the perspective of a rock fan, not an indie fan even though the two converge at certain points. 

Two Door Cinema Club put on a lengthy set full of visually engaging visuals and amazing light fixtures but the bands stayed largely stationary and let the production do most of the work as they played some fairly technically demanding tracks. 

Two Door Cinema Club are a band that are best left to die hard fans but it does make sense that they’re headlining such a huge festival. They’ve been beloved for years and their fans likely loved this set and got a great deal out of it. Perhaps they would have gone down better if The Hives hadn’t been so incredible. 


Live at Leeds is a fairly relaxed time with plenty to do and see without being mobbed by crowds or having to struggle to get to the basic amenities. If you’re looking for a fairly laid back time for the whole family with plenty of new music for an affordable price then maybe consider Live at Leeds 2024.

Photos by Chris Ryan 

Words by Dale Unsworth 

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