Alternative Leeds

Where to catch the best live music


I proudly welcome you wide eyed freshers and lost undergraduates to the glorious live music scene of Leeds. We’re spoiled for choice here in the Paris of the North, for that dank odour of stale beer and debauchery lingering in every good gig venue. So here’s the lowdown on (probably) the best live music scene in the UK.
Despite once being a working mens’ drinking well, Brudenell Social Club is the treasured centerpiece of the Leeds music scene. With the massive student population sat on its humble doorstep, it’s slowly become a legendary gig venue (anyone see Mikill Pane there on sunday?). Being deceptively large, with a decent stage somehow seen perfectly from anywhere in the room, and bang on sound, its success is evident. Nothing pretentious. No shit made up drinks. Just cheap beer and exclusively great music. Go.

Don’t judge…

An absolute fucking shiny diamond in the rough is The Cockpit. Basically a big dingy sweaty bomb-shelter built under some railway arches in town but this place attracts some decent bands, and the sound ain’t half bad. Look out for Everything Everything and Alt-J there in the next few weeks.

Oh, the o2 does gigs? An obvious choice, but a needed one. Yes, ticket prices are scandalous, there’s a dreadful drinks selection, nobbish bouncers, the toilets are a state, everything is sticky and it has a horrible corporate feel. BUT it’s the biggest venue in Leeds and thus attracts big names, which we’d otherwise miss out on. If you do feel the need to spend far too much money though head over for Bloc Party and maybe Ben Folds Five, who are there soon.

Right smack in the centre of town is the quirky trendy little Nation of Shopkeepers. Think eccentricity. It’s a cozy ole’ hang out. And they put on some cracking bands on a tiny stage at the end of the bar- very intimate. Definitely check out PEACE and Palma Violets, both playing there in a few weeks. Oh yeah and apparently their burgers are just dandy.

Oporto. There’s enough trendy bars on Call Lane to make Captain Swank bust his wank tank, and Oporto is one of the best. This dark, scuzzy indie bar is a nice way to start off your night, with ace music on the playlist to accompany your slightly overpriced beer. They stick on some good bands – 4th October they’re hosting Sausagefest, which they advertise as “dirty blues, beers and banging dogs”. Sounds incredible.

And there we have it. The venues and the bands they support are nothing short of fucking splendid, and if you neck enough vodka and squint, at times it feels like something approaching a family. Welcome.