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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Leeds, UK

By Dave Jones and Mike Howitt

"Everything in Leeds is Brilliant" shouts the Kaiser Chiefs t-shirt, adorned by the Leeds masses. Although this is ever–so-slightly not quite true, it’s fair to say that the Leeds indie music scene is currently massive – the "Bands of New Yorkshire" are darlings of the NME, with gigs full of hacks from the Big Smoke seeing what all the fuss is about. Not since the heady days of the 80s "Goth(am) City" when the Wedding Present laid their claim for the Smiths crown, has the Leeds music scene been so vibrant and popular. The lack of a big arena appears to be no hindrance to the indie scene. The Killers and their ilk play LUU and LMU, current faves and up-and-coming hopefuls play the Cockpit, Faversham, Irish centre and the Brudenell, and many others play the vast number of venues and pubs, currently awash with fine bands from near and far. You will be totally spoiled for choice for indie nights, with excellent nights on at The Faversham, and Wire Club in particular. Check out the smaller bars, rather than the many town centre chains, for a pre-gig drink, and if you get chance, nip into Jumbo or Crash and spend that wad on the latest Cud box set. Enjoy a great night out………..


The Hifi Club, 2 Central Road. Last Tuesday of every month, 10pm–2.30am. £4 / £3.50 Members
Cutting edge new wave and electro to US hardcore and beyond. If you go to nothing else, check this fantastic night out. Arrive early, as often sells out.

Club NME
The Faversham, 1-5 Springfield Mount, every Wednesday
Indie, alternative & electro

The Cockpit, Swinegate, every Wednesday, £3 Door 10.30pm – 2am
Indie, punk, new wave & rock‘n'roll

Fuzzy Logic
Wire Club, 2-8 Call Lane, every Thursday, 10pm – 2am. £2 before 11pm £3.50/£3.00 members and NUS.
The philosophy here is “guys, girls, guitars and great hair”. Quite simply, one of the best nights, in one of Leeds' best clubs. Drink promos as well.

Halo, 177 – 179 Woodhouse Lane, every Thursday
Indie anthems, allegedly. Halo promotes sensible drinking. Strictly over 18’s and photo ID required.

Wire Club, 2-8 Call Lane, third Friday of every month, 10.30pm – 4am. £5/&4 members and nus.
Residents Hans and Jonny (aka Gojonnygogogogo) playing a smorgasbord of musical stylings and leftfield, lo-fi, indie-pop, electro and new wave. Guaranteed to play The Fall, and a fantastic club night.

The Session
The Cockpit, Swinegate. Fridays, 11pm – 3am £5 Door/£4 NUS £4 Adv
Indie, electro, guitars & pop

Star + Electric Head
Leeds Met Students Union. Every Friday from 9.30pm. £3.50 Adv, £4 Door
2 Rooms of metal, rock & indie

Wire Club, 2-8 Call Lane, every Saturday, 10 – 3am. £6/&5 members and NUS.
The best in classic indie, new wave, 60s pop and modern guitar music.

Bad Sneakers
The Faversham, 1-5 Springfield Mount, every Saturday
Bad Sneakers is a night in twoparts - a gig from 9pm-11pm with two live bands showcasing the best international, national and local new music. The second part of the evening starts at 11pm and is a club night lasting until 3am. Guests from the gig can stay in free for the club night.. Past acts who have performed at Bad Sneakers include: Bromheads Jacket, Forward Russia!, Arctic Monkeys, Long Blondes, The Futureheads, Larrikin Love, Jamie T, Duels. Expect a playlist of electro, rock, indie, disco

The Garage
The Cockpit, Swinegate. Saturdays, 11pm – 3am £5 Door/£4 NUS £4 Adv
Rock, indie, punk, emo, metal, grunge, alt.80’s, goth & post punk.


The Wendy House
Leeds University Union 3rd Saturday of the month. £5 Door 9.00pm – 2.30am. Open to all
Floor 1 : party darkly to alternative and ‘80’s. Floor 2: the mutate room… hard dance industrial

In The Pines
The Faversham, 1-5 Springfield Mount. Every Sunday)
An evening of acoustic singer-songwriters, alt-country bands and folk artists. With some of the best local and touring artists all performing under candle light in a relaxed atmosphere. Past performers have included Son Of Dave, Johnathan Rice, M-Craft, Paolo Nutini, KT Tunstall, Akron / Family, Duels (acoustic), Jawbone, Owen Richards, Jens Lekman, Euros Child, Eileen Rose.



Leeds has more music venues than you can shake a stick at. Check out for listings, the excellent Sandman magazine, free from all good record shops (, and for listings in Leeds and Wakefield. Above all, check out for the bands, gigs, reviews and stuff.

The Cockpit
One of the most popular live venues around on the gig circuit and one of the best places for touring bands with recent shows by The Others, The Spinto Band and the Ordinary Boys.

The Faversham
1-5 Springfield Mount
Recent shows include The Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Camera Obscura, Peter, Bjorn & John.

Leeds Metropolitan Student Union
City Campus B Building, Calverley Street
The music scene is closely linked to the student population in Leeds and both unions provide the biggest venues in town, which means the gigs are always lively! Recent acts include Goldie Lookin’ Chain and The Damned.

Leeds University
Woodhouse Lane
The great and the good have all played here; The Who recorded their classic live album here, and loads more rock heavyweights have made their mark here. Recent shows include The Killers, De La Soul.

Brudenell Social Club
33 Queens Road
According to their website, The Brudenell is most famous for hosting secret gigs for bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Kaiser Chiefs. Hosts gigs most nights of the week, including many music festivals. Recent shows include British Sea Power and Architecture in Helsinki.

Josephs Well
Hanover Walk
A great venue with a genuine underground feel and a reputation for kinetic punk and emo shows. Recent acts including The Thermals, Cosmic Rough Riders.

Carpe Diem
Calverley Street, opposite Millenium Square
Bands Wednesdays and Saturdays. Home of legendary Tasty gigs and Art of Kissing. Bands played include Pocketbooks, Band Club, Bobby McGee’s.

Hifi Club
2 Central Road
More a jazzy soulful club, but home of The Teatime Shuffle, live music between 6pm and 10pm on Fridays. Live music at a sociable hour. Also home of legendary Pigs night.

Also, look out for bands at the following venues : The Irish Centre, The New Roscoe, City Varieties, The Mixing Tin, The Packhorse


18 Merrion Street.
Bar now on two levels. Standing room only at weekends ‘till the early hours. Rockin’ sounds all night long. More relaxed lounge upstairs.

The Faversham
1-5 Springfield Mount
Home to great bands and club nights. Excellent food at lunch times. Home of the brilliant Nastyfests. Loved by hipsters and those who can live without an expensive haircut alike.

10 Call Lane
Great DJs mixing it up, free entry, and it looks like the Flintstones house; and a great rockin’ atmosphere. Music quiz on Wednesday nights – sometimes!!

North Bar
24 New Briggate.
The authors’ fave bar. This is one of the friendliest pubs in town, a welcoming and cosy, busy bar with loads of great local art on the walls. Vibrant tunes on the jukebox, tasty bar snacks and lots of speciality beers.

31-35 Call Lane
Cool venue, full of cool dudes open till the early hours. Evenings are an indie fest with all your fave sounds. DJs at weekends. Live bands on Monday nights. Send your demo and play!!!

The Elbow Rooms (Pool Lounge and Bar)
64 Call Lane.
American pool hall on two levels. Music all night, every night including big name DJ’s. Food, drink, pool and TV screens everywhere.

Fab Cafe
46 Woodhouse Lane.
Retro kitsch with everything that you remember from years ago. Daleks, Wham bars, games, comics, a veritable smorgasbord of childhood memories. Oh and a bar too!!

Record Shops


Jumbo Records
St John's Centre.
A legend of the Leeds music scene for over 30 years, with a large selection of vinyl and CDs. You can also buy tickets to most of the local gigs and clubnights. Watch out for in store shows as well.

New Briggate
2nd hand CDs and DVDs upstairs and ace selection of used vinyl downstairs.

Crash Records
The Headrow
A fantastic CD selection, including an eclectic mix with loads of excellent indie stuff.

Local Bands


The Sugars
Leeds based doo-wop cabaret act, apparently. Play those blues, Matt. Stablemates of The ‘Beasts. (

Wild Beasts
Bright young things on the burgeoning Bad Sneakers label. Tipped for great things.

Forward Russia!
Number 1 in the indie charts, loved by Lamacq, and stars of MTV2. What more do you need to know. On the seminal Dance To The Radio label.

Pigeon Detectives
Already making huge waves. Next big band from Leeds? Darlings of the NME, and been packing festivals throughout the year.

Four Day Hombre
According to their myspace page: "...what has influenced them; glimpsed in early Genesis or Bowie; in Scott Walker or Nick Drake; in Prefab Sprout, Tears for Fears or REM. Their modern equivalents might be The Frames or Elbow; or Death Cab for Cutie; or what Keane would be like if they had bigger balls. Eclectic to be sure, but gripping and passionate."

The Lodger
According to Tasty, The Lodger have "a keen ear for a classic pop melody. Take Watching, a relentless keyboard driven effort that engages on first listen and is spawned from a fine line of English pop (the Kinks, Housemartins and Pulp spring to mind) and a little Aussie (the Go-Betweens)". Hard to disagree, really.

Band Club
OK, so they’ve just left Leeds, but they are fantastic and they are the great undiscovered band. Catch their rare live appearances, and be prepared for ping pong.

And not a mention of the Kaiser Chiefs, The Wedding Present or the magnificent Cud band.


Excellent local music mag.

The Art of Kissing

Occasional indie pop and band night at Carpe Diem. Well worth watching out for, with punters as far afield as London, Blackburn, Sheffield, Nottingham and Wakefield.

Also runs – a vaguely indie pop webzine. Puts indie pop gigs on in Nottingham and Leeds. If in doubt will always turn to MJ Hibbett & the Validators.

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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