Live Review

Constellations, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

A thoroughly disappointing end to what was otherwise an enjoyable day of live music.

Now in its third outing, the team behind Leeds’ Constellations festival chose to move this year’s event from the vast Leeds University to the smaller (but ever-dependable) Brudenell Social Club. The minimized list of bands shrank even further still, with Wichita’s latest signees Cheatahs having to pull out due to ill health.

With the event pushed back an hour; it’s left to local band Swimming Lessons to get things underway. Ben Hall’s newly created project certainly hint at a bright future, with their Animal Collective like atmospherics and slow building segments, they make good use of the opening slot, and definitely win the ‘visuals of the day award’ for their colourful projections.

It’s clear from PAWS’ opening number that the Glaswegian band plan on playing loud and fast. But, coming off a support slot with the lively Japanadroids can certainly take it out of you, and as the band leave the stage, drummer Josh Swinney is almost on the verge of fainting after his enthusiastic performance. You can’t say he didn’t ‘go for it’, at least.

As darkness falls outside, Saint Lou Lou (dressed like some very good looking Swedish ninjas) ease into their adorable electro-pop sound. They’re by no means revolutionary in terms of style, but the fact they possess a subtlety only Scandinavians seem to master proves more than enough for the accepting audience.

With things running a little behind schedule, we then take and a break from The Brud’s quirky interior in search of pizza. And upon arrival back it seems we made a good decision, as the remainder of Pale Seas’ set comes across a tad one-dimensional.

Canadians Hooded Fang, however, are evidently more vocal, despite the fact that they still don’t have a place to sleep for the night. Lead singer Daniel Lee playfully tells the tentative crowd to “move forward toward past the VIP line”, and they duly oblige, with the popular ‘Clap’ doing down a treat.

Finally, the room starts to look full for the introduction of Haim, who look more like Midwestern White Stripes fans than LA natives who dabble with folk. But the sisters produce a performance that has more edge to their records, with recent track ‘Don’t Save Me’ being a particular highlight.

The highlight of the night undoubtedly comes from Adam Bainbridge’s Kindness. After getting the popular ‘Cyan’ out of the way early, Bainbridge seems to find himself amongst the audience every couple of minutes, encouraging wild dancing and even offering the microphone to anyone confident enough to join in. Backed by an airtight band that includes the most enthusiastic drummer you’re likely to see anytime soon, they launch into a medley of covers that finishes with The Luniz’ ‘I Got 5 On It’. They then toy with the idea of covering ‘Return Of The Mac’ too, but unfortunately that doesn’t materialise.

And so, after a lengthy wait (again) that now sees proceedings running almost an hour late, an anxious and awkward looking Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti band take to the stage. But it’s clear from the off that we’ve not found him on a good day. Oh no.

Notorious for his indifferent performances, the previous evening in London had even seen the temperamental Californian sing from behind the stage. Here, we do get to see him at least, but his vocals are such an echoing mess that he might as well be singing from a cave.

There are occasional glimpses of the Ariel Pink we love, though, even if minute. ‘Round And Round’ and ‘Only In My Dreams’ are played effortlessly well by the Haunted Graffiti, but it’s Pink who takes things back to the absurd soon after as he chooses to sit down in the middle of the stage for the remainder of the evening. If you had to guess, you’d have to think that he’s had an arduous, long ol’ day o say the least.

As this point then – with Pink’s disinterest with the gig continuing to wane - the crowd’s loyalty is put to the test. And so, slowly but surely, more and more begin to head for the exit door. A dampened applause from the remaining hardcore following sees the band disappear backstage; and with it brings a thoroughly disappointing end to what was otherwise an enjoyable day of live music.

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