The closure of venues is a recurrent story within the music news of recent times. Iconic venues such as Sankeys, Sound Control and The Cockpit have tragically seen their final shows within the last five years. So when a grassroots promotion company (in the form of Now Wave) have the chance to open up a brand new, four floored, two roomed venue with a separate drinking and dining area, there is no dispute about the positive message it holds. And for everyone who has never been to Leeds’ Belgrave, YES is a completely original layout.
‘We’re the first band to play here’ announce Sprinters midway through their set. One for the history books. Within the first half of their set, ‘Is there anyone out there?’, is the dominant yet ironic lyric, as the song is performed to a crowd consisted of the other support band and a limited bunch of early punters. Not to take away from the jangly, easy listening repertoire which Sprinters bring.
The mood and volume are flipped onto its arse when Burnley psych rockers, Goa Express take to the stage. As the mood goes from one extreme to the other, the crowd fill out the front half of the venue. Keys player Joe Clarke never fails to not have his pint in his pint in his hand for longer than two songs. Teething problems frustrate the band occasionally but struggle to contain the youthful energy of Goa Express.
A snapped string sloppily begins the set of headliner's Bleeding Knees Club. ‘Thanks for sticking around’ announces frontman, Alex Wall. Anyone who has ever performed in a band knows the experience of performing to a limited crowd, and it’s not nice. But the way bands embrace and deal with the issue acts as a form of natural selection within musicians. At no point do the band come across as pissed off or frustrated with the lack of crowd; they are simply happy to be performing the songs they love. The mood is reflected in the limited crowd, the majority of which are shamelessly having a great time, highlighting one of the most important yet forgotten values of live music; just have fun.
The set holds a nostalgic value for fans of their 2014 album Nothing To Do, and is likewise inviting for younger fans who weren’t old enough to see them in their primetime. Bleeding Knees Club test the fine line between finding and sticking to a sound and having a set of songs which sound awfully familiar. The band attempt to use the accent barrier as an excuse for poor banter, before the dedicated fans video the performance of ‘Teenage Girls’.
It wasn’t a bad gig, they’re not a bad band. However, if Bleeding Knees Club were to learn to cover ‘Staceys Mom’, they may pull a better crowd by being a On The Rocks tribute band. There is some constructive value to that surely?