The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

PREVIEW: 10 Bands To See At Live At Leeds 2016

by John Tindale & Hannah Binns

The annual Live At Leeds indie and pop marathon is due to celebrate its tenth instalment. Named in honour of The Who’s seminal live album of the same name, recorded in the unlikely environment of what is now the Leeds University refectory, for the past decade the city-wide event has dedicated itself to showcasing the best up-and-coming acts in the British music scene and beyond.

Taking place across nearly two dozen stages scattered across the city, from The Wardrobe to the Brudenell Social Club, nearly 200 artists will be showcasing their talents. The three-time Number 1 hit-maker Jess Glynne is by far and away the biggest name, bound to draw in the pop kids, and indie veterans Mystery Jets are probably the biggest established guitar act on the bill, having recently released their fifth album Curve Of The Earth.

Previous participants have included Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, Disclosure, Bombay Bicycle Club, Wild Beasts, Royal Blood, The Maccabees, Hurts, Jake Bugg, The 1975 and Alt-J – all before they hit it big in the charts. So if you plan it carefully and strike it lucky, by the end of 2016 you might be saying to your friends that you saw the best new guitar band before they did.

In the spirit of such hipster-dom, here’s 10 artists worth checking out at Live At Leeds 2016, and a playlist for good measure!


Following the release of his Mercury-nominated third album Shedding Skin, Ghostpoet (aka Obaro Ejimiwe) has added another layer to his already full repertoire. Combining rap, Radiohead-esque indie and spoken word to dazzling effect Ejimiwe and his band have developed a unique sound which can make a listener dance and swoon in an instant.

See Ghostpoet at The Wardrobe at 9:30pm

Band Of Skulls

Some bands are just meant to be heard live and Southampton’s Band Of Skulls most definitely fit into this mould. After building on previous commercial successes from their debut record Baby Darling Doll Face Honey in 2010, an album which would have tracks featured on ‘Guitar Hero’ and ‘Twilight’ the three-piece have gone from strength-to-strength. If excellent new single ‘Killer’ is anything to go by we can expext the Southampton band to keep their core sound of hard-rocking and accessible choruses.

See Band Of Skulls play The Leeds Beckett Main Stage at 10:15pm

Declan McKenna

Want to see the next big thing? Then see Declan McKenna. Despite only releasing three singles the 17 year old has already won the Glastonbury ‘Emerging Talent’ award, supported Mystery Jets and Foals and gotten significant airplay from Radio 1. By combining a multitude of genres and influences from around the globe, with insightful lyricism into modern day topics it is no surprise that the Hertfordshire-born star is one to watch at the festival.

See Declan McKenna play at 6pm at Brudenell Social Club

Future Of The Left

Hard rockers Future Of The Left – formed from the ashes of McLusky, for those of you with very long memories – may not have much commercial appeal, but by releasing consistently brilliant music they are most definitely a highlight of the festival. Latest album The Peace And Truce Of Future Of The Left came out just a couple of weeks ago, and is already a strong contender for best rock record of the year as the now-three piece combine their own style of dark humour and Melvins guitar sound to make them an essential listen for all fans of loud guitars.

See Future Of The Left play The Key Club at 9:30pm

Meilyr Jones

Delivering a unique style of chamber pop Meilyr Jones is well worthy of a preview on this list. The Welsh multi-instrumentalist recently released his fantastic debut record 2013 after spending time in psych-pop band Race Horses and the Royal Academy Of Music. The album is fantastically upbeat as Jones delivers a faultless vocal behind layer upon layer of melodies to captivate the listener.

See Meilyr Jones play The Nation of Shopkeepers at 9pm


Emerging talent from London here in Pumarosa, a band no stranger to creating drama in their sound. After signing to Chess Club Records (who have released work from Wolf Alice, Mumford & Sons and MǾ to name a few) after only one single in the seven minute epic of Priestess which broods with guitars and brass to deliver the perfect backdrop for lead singer Isobel Munoz-Newsome to give her defining vocal –there is no telling the potential rise of this five-piece.

See Pumarosa play The Wardrobe at 9pm

Natalie McCool

Liverpudlian Natalie McCool may not be the most obvious of choices to see at Live At Leeds but when Paul McCartney, Boy George and Bernard Butler (the latter she has worked with on track ‘Thin Air’) are all stated as fans-it becomes clear just why this songstress is worth your time. New single ‘Fortress’ has seen a change in direction as she moves away from her electronic sound to a more authentic one, but one thing has remained true; her pure vocals that can captivate even the most casual of listeners.

See Natalie McCool at The Nation of Shopkeepers at 1pm


Since forming in late 2013, Blossoms have gradually become one of the most formidable live acts on the circuit. Coming off as a kind of greatest hits playlist of the last 20 years of indie, their versatility is matched by their tunefulness. Four EPs and over half a dozen cracking singles in, we await their debut album with immense anticipation.

See Blossoms at Leeds University Union Refectory at 8pm

Sundara Karma

Hailing from Reading, this four-piece deal in soaring guitar anthems and have been busy making a nuisance of themselves on Radio 1 playlists with their recent single ‘Vivienne’, after featuring on many a critic’s 2016 preview lists.

See Sundara Karma at The Faversham at 9:30pm

Mystery Jets

The band famous for featuring the lead singer’s dad on bass when they broke back in 2005, Mystery Jets’ sound has become smoother and more mellow with time, but the sense of playfulness and chaos from their earliest releases is still to be found in their recent fifth album Curve Of The Earth.

See Mystery Jets at the O2 Academy Leeds at 4pm

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