Festival Review: Kazoopa Festival, 26/11/16

The state of the music industry is somewhat questionable these days. Record companies are more money grabbing than ever and focus on brands not musicians. The big dogs have turned their back on bands that would have been swept up a few years ago. Where there used to be a steady stream of talented musicians breaking through, there’s now just a few drops a year. The future looks bleak for young bands, which is why getting down to Kazoopa festival in Leeds city centre was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve had this year.

Kazoopa is a new inner city festival which features upcoming bands, predominately from around Leeds.  Over fifty acts were booked for this one day showcased across four unique sounding stages. Santiago’s was host to the heavier material of the day. The allure of a band called Sour Mandy drew me to the venue, and despite playing to about five people, they gave the performance their all. Their brand of angst laden rock is never going to see them play big gigs, but they were definitely worth a watch. Returning for the headliner Adore/Repel wasn’t as impressive. They brought along some devoted fans to listen to their never ending instrumentals. It was a welcome change having some background talking in between songs whereas there was just awkward silence the rest of the day.

I caught two bands at the home of conventional rock, Milo Bar. The Potenzas were first to take to the stage of the ship like gig room. Sadly, they were distinctly average and didn’t win me over. Luckily, The Doldrums picked the mood right back up. Despite being plagued with technical issues (two broken guitars, an iffy PA and a malfunctioning amp) they delivered an energetic set overflowing with Jack White–esque garage rock. This compelling band is truly worth a listen.

A set from Jack Jones of Trampolene presented the opportunity to check out Verve Bar. This set was one of few that had a full room. The crowd was left waiting for forty-five minutes for the young artist to show his face. Jack delivered a set divided between songs and poems which was as hilarious as it was compelling. As we left Mr Jones personally thanked us for coming which was a charming touch.

Headrow House was the main hub of the day. The industrial gig room was generally fuller than the other venues. I had the pleasure of seeing Judas, Treason Kings, The Barmines and Young Kato at the former textile mill. Ongoing with the trend throughout the day, the bands were phenomenal. Judas delivered a particularly convincing set filled classic rock tunes reminiscent of Kings of Leon. The only let down was the crowd. There should have been a wild jumping pit accompanying The Barmines energetic ballads and ecstatic dancing to Young Kato’s more electronic ballads. Alas, there was just awkward standing and intent staring.

Overall, Kazoopa festival impressed me. Paying £11 to see an array of bands that, on the whole, would be worthy of a slot at Brudenell in their own right was an absolute steal. Saying that, Glastonbury it was not. None of the venues were anywhere close to capacity, in fact in most of them it was just the next band on that formed the crowd. Despite the talent that was on offer, it is unfortunate that the lack of atmosphere let the day down. With a touch more advertising and a few more years under its belt, I have no doubt that Kazoopa will one day be a charming younger sibling to Live at Leeds.

Ben Roberts

(Imahe: Kazoopa Festival)

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