Constellations descended upon Leeds for the third year running, and the organisers were kind enough to keep punters warm in the Brudenell Social Club. The one-day festival, usually held at Leeds University, downsized in venue and tucked itself away at the Brudenell.
It was difficult not to compare the day to last year, when you could float from room to room, experiencing a whole host of genres and missing out the tedious setting up times. But this year it was either watch the nine acts on one stage, visit the bar or brave the unforgiving cold. The majority of people stayed to sample the music. The problem with that was the wait for each act to set up their equipment felt laborious. There were waiting times of up to forty-five minutes in some cases. The day was relaxed and setting up periods meant that you could talk uninterrupted to your friends or stretch your legs.
The venue gradually filled with people as the light outside disappeared and the standout feature, aside from the music, were the dodgy moustaches, unaware whether they were the result of charitable gestures for Movember or just an uncalled for facial hair trend. Either way it was distracting.
First a warm welcome with Swimming Lessons who performed a well constructed set of dreamy experimental pop music. Cheatahs pulled out of their slot due to illness, so next up Glasgow based lo-fi garage punk band PAWS took the stage. Front man Phil Taylor had a Tim Burgess air to him, with his messed up bleached hair and a baggy striped jumper. The drummer thrashed his set so forcefully that pieces of his cymbal flew across the room. Though the band had a hyperactive delivery, they produced a clean sound.
Saint Lou Lou came on like two female cat burglars, dressed in all black who crooned along to early ‘90s style synth pop. They entertained the front of the crowd but the lack of harmonies and dimension with their two voices beckoned a male singer to work alongside them.
Canadian act Hooded Fang asked the crowd for a bed for the night, "this one is called, we have nowhere to sleep tonight." They added a nice little dose of rock to proceedings, intermittently shredding heavy tracks combined with a slightly trippy feel to their music, they were the epitome of Constellations. A band that tread the line between music styles that you might not have otherwise discovered.
Haim, a female fronted American band, created country inspired indie to shake their long locks to. The trio at the front, with just a peek of the drummer, gave the crowd some interesting faces to look at, especially the bassist who seemed to steal focus. Every note she pulled out of her bass, she jolted with. Her expressions were in between ecstasy and disgust, along with body thrusts it was quite an attention grabber.
Kindness proved to be a massive hit with the crowd as individual reviews muttered around the room. The first thought that may have entered your head when seeing solo artist Adam Bainbridge could have been the question: is he a sound man or not? Adam tested all the equipment around the stage and frequently communicated with the sound desk. Kindness and his band weren't your atypical looking outfit, and without hearing them you couldn't have guessed their genre. Adam looking like Wayne Campbell from Wayne's World, with black jeans, a pale blue baggy shirt, a black cap and a long brown mane, quashed the question and grabbed the mic. The look was quickly forgotten after being sucked into to their energetic electro pop. The crowd were hooked and people finally started to dance (more than the obligatory head nod). Kindness had contagious energy and thrived on the performance, and even danced within the crowd during the colourful song 'Cyan'. Kindness was the first act of the day that the audience demanded an encore from, and seemed to be a crowd favourite.
The festival had a lot of obstacles this year, ticket sales, downsizing and Cheatahs’ cancelation. But despite the hiccups Constellations was a varied, entertaining show with some very happy customers and where others might have thrown in the towel, they adapted.
Words by Cat Marr
Photos by Danny Payne