A fortnight ago, on a mild Sunday in Leeds, the lovely folk at Raw Meat celebrated the birth (or death? One of ‘em…) of your Lizard King Jesus Christ, in the best way possible – by putting on a stonking all-dayer across two *choice* venues. In association with Upset Magazine and Super Friendz, the ‘Raw Meat All Dayer’ packed in 18 bands across Headrow House and the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen.
The real winner on Sunday was the Belgrave – a truly wonderful venue. A one-stop shop for all your wants and needs; a particular highlight arriving late in the afternoon with the discovery of delectable half price pizza’s, served downstairs from a geezer who looked like Jon Snow!
It wasn’t all just delicious ales and scrumptious pizza’s, mind. The Raw Meat All Dayer really kicked off with the mid-day arrival of The Hyena Kill. Near enough shaking Headrow House to its foundations, the Manchester duo were potentially one of the loudest bands on the bill (which is saying something when God Damn are also on board!)
Mid-way through a ferocious set, drummer Lorna sprung a leak in one of her fingers, mildly voicing her discomfort at having to bleed whilst drumming, to which guitarist/vocalist Steve suggested she remedy by walking it off! It’s testament to how hard she hits, matching Steve in intensity as he rips on the guitar.
The Hyena Kill are really picking up pace ahead of the release of their debut album, with Sunday seeing the pair at their discordant best.
Up the road at the Belgrave, Vulgarians were already putting the boot in to those assembled in the main hall when I arrived. There’s a real understated coolness about Vulgarians. The guitarist brings to mind Joy Division era Bernard Sumner in his approach; never letting his gaze move much further than the neck of his guitar. Vocalist Ryan Wilson-Preen continued on this 80’s theme with his baggy shirt and slacks, pacing around the stage with an air of unpredictability about him. The theme carries on into the music, with their gloomy yet bracing wall of sound often giving a nod to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth and other benchmarks of the era. They’ve only been knocking about for around a year, but it’s clear to see why people are getting all shook up about Vulgarians.
A couple of pints later (and on the recommendation of Steve from The Hyena Kill), I squeezed into the swollen room at Headrow House to catch a glimpse of Fizzy Blood. The Leeds based quintet are picking up plaudits left and right at the minute, with an energetic live show described on their site as ‘akin to shaking up a bottle of cola and plunging in a tube of Mentos’. They’ve just got back from SXSW in the United States of that there America, having finished up a run of dates earlier in the month supporting The Hyena Kill. The style of music that Fizzy Blood craft has roots deep in classic hard rock, played in your face and with bollock-grabbing intensity. As a live show, it feels that their set could literally go anywhere; such is their genre bending style and unpredictability, with the energy exhibited by the five-piece ensuring the crowd are fully on board with everything served up to them.
With intensity, unpredictability and noise being recurring themes throughout the day, it seems only fitting to find Heck toward the top of the bill. The epitome of unpredictability, Heck ‘s guitarists-cum-vocalists see the beginning of a song like a starting pistol; shooting off stage and causing chaos in whatever venue they’re playing. The Belgrave is no different, and within seconds of the opening song, the beardier of the guitarists had wrapped a microphone cord round my shoulders, returning momentarily to shout vocals into my new appendage. With an intensity like no other, the guitarists flit about the room like pinballs whilst the rhythm section has *slightly* less fun on stage.
Formerly known as Baby Godzilla, the quartet had to scrap that name due to threat of legal action from another chaotic beast. It clearly hasn’t made a dent in their confidence though, with Heck battering the baying crowd in Leeds.
Having demolished the venue, it was up to Black Country duo God Damn to pick up the pieces. “Who in their right mind would want to go on after Heck?” they wrote on their Facebook earlier in the afternoon. Indeed.
Just to ensure nobody felt left out and that everyone at the festival got a double dose of tinnitus, God Damn bought the ferocity in bucket loads. Sadly, due to the Belgrave falling behind somewhat with stage times, I had to duck out early. But what I did see was tremendous fun; the utter domination of Ash Weaver on the drums colliding head on with the DOOM riffs of front man Thom Egerton. Short and sweet for me. My drinking companion for the day stuck around for the duration, putting God Damn down as the best band of the festival!
Up the road at Headrow House, the tone was a touch more subdued for The Xcerts. I last caught the trio knocking it out the park at 2000trees; holding a few thousand punters in their collective palms. One of the major highlights on that boiling hot afternoon was the solo performance of ‘Aberdeen 1987’ from front man Murray. The heart-rending staple from the first record sounded incredible amongst a sea of people; an intimate moment shared between thousands. Take that moment and confine it to a small room above a bar – Goosepimple inducing. Murray gave the ears of everyone in attendance a minor rest, with a dewy eyed crowd singing along every word of the chorus.
The return of drummer Tom and bassist Jordan to the stage bought with it the fantastic ‘Slackerpop’, soon followed by the giant ‘Shaking In The Water’, the latter from their last record ‘There Is Only You.’ Whether it’s to thousands of people or a hundred, you can always count on The Xcerts to bring the goods. It was a bit of a conundrum picking between God Damn and The Xcerts, but I’m glad I managed to catch both – two major highlights from a wonderful Sunday.
With pints recharged and bladders emptied, the last stop of the Raw Meat All Dayer was the mighty Dinosaur Pile-Up. With a killer year behind them, DPU are looking to crush skills and kick arses throughout 2016. With all the momentum leading up to their arrival on stage, it was a bit of a shiter that it took what seemed like a lifetime for DPU to actually kick off. Well, they did *technically* arrive on stage. Multiple times. Some tiresome sound issues aside (hey – it happens!) when they finally did get going, it was worth the wait.
October 2015 saw the threesome serve up the most mouth-watering of albums in ‘Eleven Eleven’, with extra servings dished out live across the nation and beyond for the remainder of the year. Sunday night’s set was put together with lashings of cuts from their latest record, with heaviness being the order of the day. The mighty ‘Red and Purple’ kicked off an immediate pit, with the crowd not letting up throughout. This was pretty much the vibe on the floor all evening; the trio putting technical issues behind them on stage and feeding off the energy of the rapturous crowd below. Giants from the new record ‘Grim Valentine’ and the infectious ‘Friend Of Mine’ see Dinosaur Pile-Up at their head banging best, with the latter featuring, in this lad’s opinion, some of vocalist Matt Bigland’s best vocal hooks.
On the topic of vocals, ‘Anxiety Trip’ is skipped toward the end of the set in a hilarious bout of forgetfulness from Bigland. Not getting past the first verse, Bigland shrugged and said “Fuck it” much to the hilarity of drummer Mikey and bassist Jim. Whilst it sucked to not hear the utter DOOM that the breakdown of Anxiety Trip brings, it was skipped ahead in favour of the absolute smasher that is ‘Mona Lisa.’
The older material certainly doesn’t take a back seat, mind. Crowd favourites like ‘Peninsula’, ‘Arizona Waiting’ and the killer ‘Nature Nurture’ made appearances, sending an already amped up crowd into a mouth-frothing, frantic craze. The riff-tastic ’11:11’ has become the staple closer of their live shows for most of the past year, with Sunday being no exception. Sending the crowd home happy? Too fucking right!
A set rammed with wall-to-wall hits from the mighty Dinosaur Pile-Up was the cherry on top of what amounted to an incredibly fun Sunday. The Raw Meat crew did Leeds proud, providing a stonking bill throughout the day. Here’s to the next gnarly instalment from all the beautiful people involved!