This Must Be the Place 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

By on Monday, 6th June 2016 at 2:00 pm

Words by Adam McCourt

The first and hopefully not the last This Must Be The Place festival took place this bank holiday Monday in Leeds city centre. It was held primarily in two of the city’s most well known music venues Belgrave Music Hall and recently established Headrow House, with a few additional gigs at the Live Art Bistro, a short 10-minute walk towards the bottom of the Headrow. The brand new festival set it sights on “bringing together music, film, art, food and drink” and compacted it all into one grand all-dayer.

As I made my way towards Headrow House to catch the opening act of the day, Oh Peas, I noticed there wasn’t as much of the hustle and bustle that naturally comes with an all-day festival held in the heart of a city, especially one notable for its high percentage of students. However by the third or fourth act of the day, it became clear that TMBTP had a particular scene in mind when organising and promoting the festival. With headliners The Wytches just above Dilly Dally and Joanna Gruesome on the lineup, it was clear that TMBTP was created for fans with a love of new wave, indie rock, psych and surf rock, and garage and noise rock. A specific market indeed, but one that proved more than successful after experiencing the crowds it attracted throughout the day.

Easing us into the day was a scene I can only imagine being influenced by the Ryan Gosling film The Place Beyond The Pines. In a mildly lit room, on a stage decorated with a banner of makeshift leaves with strings of fake ivy hanging from the rafters was a solo female artist with just her voice and guitar. Oh Peas, a soft singer/songwriter whose songs touched upon personal, very sensitive and gloomy subject matter. So sensitive to the point where I felt I was imposing on her problems just by listening. Although she stood idle onstage as she was serving up her issues on a plate, Oh Peas successfully managed to mask them in rather light-hearted overtones and bullish melodies, creating an interesting mix of emotions among her small collection of observers.

Cutting her set slightly short, I ducked out to Belgrave Music Hall in order to catch the first band there, Leeds’ own Chest Pains. It is worth noting at this point the venture between the two main venues was a mere minute walk. And considering the non-overlapping stage times, it was virtually impossible to miss much more than half a song at a time. They sauntered onstage at 2:00 PM with a deceptively casual demeanour that was shattered as they struck the first chord of their opening song. They appeared looking like the ’70s skateboard team Z-Boys at different points in their career. Guitarist/vocalist Sam Robinson and drummer Harry Rogers both sported the bleached blonde hair, sand-washed jeans and Vans look, which seeped into their music with added elements of psych rock and garage.

The mass wall of fuzzy chords and disjointed melodies left room for James Tkaczyk-Harrison to create his own melodies on bass, which acted more as hooks than bass lines. As a unit, they were solid and steady from start to finish. Their songs incorporated elements of poppy surf rock, old American Johnny Cash-style folk, and original ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, yet completely covered in the sculpted style of Chest Pains. Perfectly executed with an equally as energetic performance these guys well and truly set the festival off into a sprint.

Making another round trip of both venues, witnessing equally quirky yet a little cringey performances from Two White Cranes and Dirty Girl, the day was well underway. Each time I returned to the venues, the crowds grew more and more, reaching its highest as of yet for Dirty Girl at Leeds’ legendary Belgrave Music Hall. I next settled in Headrow House for one of the most honest performances of the day. Showered in an oversized poncho, Lail Arad openly told us she had stepped off the train a specific “17 minutes before reaching the venue”. But by no means did this stop her from transporting her audience, through her stories, to a time she evidently wished she had experienced: Greenwich Village, New York City in the ‘60s. As she invited her audience to take “at least one and a half steps forward”, she was inviting us into her world.

Her crowd interaction was very engaging, allowing us at one point to choose a cover between Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon and after finally deciding jokingly stating, “you can fight amongst yourselves later”. Her performance filled with conviction, well crafted in every way, even down to seamlessly covering up mistakes by making them an element of her show. Arad set herself apart by baring her innocent, playful nature while producing equally as lovely songs. Overall, she was an absolute delight to share a half an hour with.

The Orielles’ performance was another example of the excessive level of talent in the UK surf-psych scene. Although they played off the quirky, unsure yet cool characteristic their songs and stage presence were crafted well enough that proved they were serious about what they do. In particular, Henry Wade gave an extremely energetic performance, constantly hunched over, head banging and smashing the chords on his guitar. Their music covers a vast array of styles in their music. ‘Sliders’ and ‘Joey Says We Got It’ portrayed the poppy, relatable side of garage rock, whereas their final song ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ showcased the more obnoxious, slightly sinister side, the song dragging out in a hypnotic fashion.

Stay tuned for the rest of Adam’s review of the first-ever This Must Be The Place festival in Leeds, which will follow in the coming days.

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One Response

5:35 pm
6th June 2016

I’ve seen better writing on toilet walls than this sexist bellendry.

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