Bearded’s Guide To…Leeds

Ruth Offord takes Bearded back to Leeds to discover why the city's independent music venues are bucking the trend of nationwide closures.

Posted on Feb 23rd, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Dum Dum Girls / By Ruth Offord
Bearded’s Guide To…Leeds Over the UK the music scene is dying of independence. Record shops are closing in favour of Amazon sales and more and more music venues are disappearing, only to appear a few months later with an ‘academy’ sign over the entrance.

In the North we’ve seen O2 Academy’s crop up repeatedly over the past two years. Sheffield, Leeds and now Leicester have all received spanking new academies that promise to bring in bigger touring acts and create a hive of musical activity.

But the results aren’t always great. Sheffield- a city with a thriving music scene- has become a hollow shell in recent months, with independent venues like The Plug and the Leadmill struggling to draw acts. A new academy shortly followed in Leeds but it has had a different effect.

Larger acts are drawn towards the city- yet Leeds has kept its bubbling independent scene. It has two record stores and a whole list of small venues including an old gem- the Brudenell.

Music venues are such hollow warehouses that we forget to cherish places like the Brudenell Social Club. A venue which is a so unusual bands plan their tours around it. Hidden in the depths of Leeds’ student area it’s wedged between an old picture house and a mechanics. The venue itself is also split into two- go to the right you’ll find a few old men chuntering over a pint, turn to the left and you can see some of the best bands touring the country.

Last year Deerhunter, Ariel Pink, British Sea Power and Edwyn Collins all played at the quirky venue. It has also played host to secret Franz Ferdinand gigs, The Cribs and the Kaiser Chiefs. The club originally opened in 1913 and therefore keeps a rather unusual atmosphere. With circular tables at the back and a stage so small a five piece would be struggling to stay upright, it’s a venue with a twist. The bar sells t-shirts and Fruit Tella while music fans are left sweating at the front.

This year the venue already has Dum Dum Girls, Noah and the Whale and The Mountain Goats booked so why not pop down and support a truly original venue.