Festivals: Live At Leeds head booker Andy Smith picks his festival highlights and top tips for 2017

Live At Leeds head booker Andy Smith picks his festival highlights and top tips for 2017

The one-day festival comes to the city on Saturday 29th April.

Live At Leeds has gained a reputation across its lifetime for being one of the most chaotic, brilliant days of music the festival calendar has to offer, and it’s back on 29th April with a line-up for the ages.

Slaves, Wild Beasts, Jagwar Ma, Black Honey, Honeyblood and more head up the names, and we’re taking over both rooms of the legendary Brudenell Social Club, with our faves The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Sälen and more all on board.

To whet your appetite for the all-dayer even more (if that’s possible), we phoned up the festival’s head booker, Andy Smith, to talk through his Live At Leeds highlights from the past and top tips for this year’s fest (he booked Ed Sheeran way back when, you know, so his tips come highly recommended).

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You’ve got a tonne of brilliant newer bands at the festival this year: The Big Moon, Yonaka, Vant, The Magic Gang and Black Honey, to name but a few. Does it feel like a really exciting time for music - and to be putting on a festival - at the moment generally?

Yes, definitely. There is a load of great new guitar music coming through at the moment as you have highlighted but alongside this there also seems to be lots of exciting emerging electronic, grime and hip hop artists which makes for a nice rounded bill. New music is what makes Live at Leeds what it is, we want people to come and discover something new that they will go away and listen to again and maybe come along to the next show. For me it’s all about establishing that platform.

What’s the biggest challenge to festival organisers in 2017?

Offering a really high quality and unique event for an affordable ticket price. Tickets for Live at Leeds are £32.50, and for that you get access to see over 200 bands all in one day, in some fantastic venues across Leeds. We do everything we can to keep the cost of a ticket as affordable as possible for music fans. We’re constantly reviewing what we do to make sure we can stay this way.

And what’s the best thing about being a festival organiser in 2017?

It’s great to work with bands at the very beginning of their career and watch them go on to bigger things. Alt J were a band that formed in Leeds, I promoted the band from the beginning, they performed at the festival before going on later that year to win the mercury price and then onto selling out Arenas. It’s amazing organising a festival that connects new artists with a fan base in the North and to see success stories like that.

Why do you think Leeds has such a vibrant, active music scene?

There are loads of proactive, passionate people involved in the Leeds music scene and some of the best venues in the country. It’s no wonder the city keeps producing new exciting artists.

What’s changed most about the festival in the time it’s been running?

I think people are now more familiar with the metropolitan festival format, moving between venues to see the various artists. It was very new when we first started out, people are more open to the idea now which is proven by the fact we now have over twenty stages running concurrently, there were four in the first year.

It must be cool for you to spot bands like Wild Beasts, James Blake, Pulled Apart By Horses, and even some bloke called Ed Sheeran - who played the festival almost a decade ago - going onto massive things now? Which bands on the line-up this year do you see doing similar in the future? Which bookings are you most excited about?

I’m looking forward to seeing the Pale White, Dream Wife, Matt Maltese, Idles, Liv Dawson and Mosa Wild to name but a few. There are a lot of acts on our bill that could be the next big thing so if you’re going, do your research and go and watch something you’ve never heard of before.

You’re holding your traditional Live at Leeds football tournament this year - which 5 players would you pick for your dream squad?

A tricky one so we asked around the Live at Leeds office, you can clearly see who follows who from our keeperless squad.

Jay Jay Okocha
Ian Wright
Eric Cantona
Alan Shearer
Lucas Radebe

Live At Leeds takes place on Saturday 29th April. Pick up tickets here.