British Wildlife Festival – Day 1 @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 05.03.11

"It’s the fifth of March at four O nine p.m. This is the Brudenell Social Club and we are Blacklisters". And so began a day of live music from home-grown Leeds bands the likes of which is rarely seen - with the legendary Billy proclaiming the above statement before hurling himself like a runaway locomotive into the first set of the day. Pulling his usual antics of stumbling aggressively through the crowd and ‘getting his Fosters buzz on’, Billy relied on a fantastically tight band to provide constant, hardcore, rhythmically-mental metal for him to do his thing to.

Mar 5th, 2011 at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds / By Jack Sibley
British Wildlife Festival – Day 1 @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 05.03.11 Moving swiftly through to the ‘games room’ (a small room usually populated by pool tables and darts but currently in a state of gig-readiness), Ultra-Humanitarian played for a full thirty minutes without stopping once. With drums that regularly sounded tribal and a synth throwing blips and booms off the walls, Ultra-Humanitarian kept their sound interesting with a heavy emphasis on rhythmic and textural elements and innovative approaches to their respective instruments.

Back to the main room for prog-metallers Gum Takes Tooth. With only two members (a drummer and a vocalist), GTT have a large amount of technology onstage to give them a helping hand. This included drum triggers, a distorted megaphone and a mosaic of switches and dials laid out in front of the singer. When they weren’t thrashing maniacally through their heavier sections, the guys would regularly drop to half time and bring in basslines so deep and offbeat that it gained a dubstep vibe that was definitely helped along by the digital sounds that formed the foundation of the music.

Introduced by Gum Takes Tooth as ‘the best band in England’, Bad Guys were the next band in the main room. With some groovy metal and outlandish uniforms, one can’t help but think they’ve been listening to too much Pantera. Original they were not but they put on a fun show and have definitely got a good handle on their art.

Meanwhile through in the Games room, Juffage (maverick as ever) played a middle of the road acoustic set. Made up of songs that had clear verse-chorus structure and melodies you could sing back, this was an odd sidestep for the north’s rising star of experimental noise. When asked about it afterwards, Juffage said only that he ‘wants to play everything’ and that he’s ‘always trying to be better’. Strange words from a strange man, but his chameleon-like nature proven in this set only made it another enticing step in this artist’s journey.

Head still spinning from confusion, Bearded made it back through to the main room in time for something a little more expected in the form of Kong. As true unhinged madmen, Kong took to the stage in masks and construction style headgear and gave a terrifying thirty minutes of their time over to making us quiver. With drums like the galloping of a thousand horses and an unhealthy dose of guitar grind these guys stole the show in terms of pure heavy metal.

Jump back to the games room and Beards are in full swing. Their brand of punky pop comes across brilliantly live and sets a near hysterical mood. With a robotic but easy nature, the band hop across disjointed riffs and frenetic drum beats, always keeping a strong-and-steady hardcore punk bassline. They seemed to have a good time too with some good-humoured dancing from the front line.

Three Trapped Tigers were the first band to play on the main stage in the main room rather than on the floor and, despite some technical hitches, jammed out some decent post-rock. Having only three members can often be a drawback when trying to get such an atmospheric ‘building’ sound but it was handled well and, though they did feel a bit like a lead-in to Vessels, they were greatly enjoyed by the now beer-happy audience.

And finally the headliners Vessels took the stage. Worshipped in the Leeds alternative rock scene, Vessels have been gaining quite a lot of attention in the lead up to their new album Helioscope and this show was proof that it’s worth it. Tracks lapped like waves into the swaying audience until they built and built and thunderclaps ruled the sky and the waves had become tsunamis rolling out and knocking down what had come before. As many as three guitars were utilised at one time and the whole band bobbed on the sea they were navigating together. Synths created noise just for backing and formed wind-like noises adding to the atmosphere – the clouds in the storm. This was no longer just the Brudenell either; Vessels make a transportative sound and carry the listener to entirely new worlds. Watching the band you can see they are masters at work. As they tweak and twiddle with their instruments, they take time to turn and nod solemnly at one another to signal a changing passage. This was a treat to end a day full of them. Fantastic cohesive professionalism from the Leeds independent scene.