Live at Leeds (1-4th May), the city's annual music festival, boasts a little something for everyone: soaring rock ballads, hard-hitting 3-minute post-punk ditties, throwback electro-dancepop, and a bit of hip-hop grime. All the hits! Acts like Eagulls and MNEK are sure to bring big crowds (for good reason), but dozens of others will be vying for your attention, and with Live at Leeds' history of helping break artists like James Blake and AlunaGeorge, it behooves you to take notice - gems are plentiful!

Like Julie Ann Campbell of Manchester, better known as Lonelady. The disco shuffle on her track 'Groove it Out' might be DFA-approved given the opportunity. And 'Last Chance to Dance' by Ekkah is earthy and soulful with a '90s R&B flare. But rock acts seem to be the bread and butter of the festival this year. If Carl Barat & the Jackals' bright, guitar-driven rock tunes have live energy the way their records do, they'll be a must-see. Expect even more intensity from Slaves, and the aforementioned Eagulls.

For the more faint of heart, I'd recommend the gentle croon of East London's Dry the River or Sunset Sons, whose 'On the Road' sounds like it was lifted straight from Kings of Leon's A Ha Shake Heartbreak.

But my sleeper pick for Live at Leeds is Black Honey. Their track 'Madonna' peaked at #1 on Hype Machine when it debuted, and showcases purposeful vocals over slinky surf rock guitar, setting a serious groove.

Generally speaking, the Live at Leeds roster often pulls from the past, whether it's punk, disco, or grunge, to name a few. To be sure, referential, nostalgic pop music is in. And while 'referential' and 'derivative' are close cousins, they are not the same thing. The acts that will rise to the top are the ones that know the difference.


To win a pair of tickets to this year's Live at Leeds festival, all you need to do is tell us which band you're excited to see. That's it. Email with your pick, and we'll select someone at random.


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