So, you’re riding the wave of nervousness and excitement as you arrive at your new Leeds digs; you’ve said the tearful goodbyes to protective parents and you’ve finally figured out where to put your new collection of cacti. A tapestry is draped on your wall and IKEA candles litter your windowsill. You’ve met your new flatmates and booked tickets to the freshers club nights — you’re finally ready to relax into your new home and get some info on what the city has to offer. Exploring the Leeds music scene should be at the top of the list, and this is the one-stop-shop guide to the best venues to get yourself down to if you’re ready to expand your musical tastebuds and get into the groove of one of the UK’s sonically coolest cities.
Brudenell Social Club
Ask anyone you meet in Leeds about where’s best to pop to for a fun gig and they will all most likely recommend the beloved Brudenell Social Club. Set into the heart of Hyde Park, this venue is a student’s dream: cheap beer, foosball, and a cool pizza truck ready and waiting to take your mid-gig munchies order. The Brudenell most definitely holds a place in anyone’s heart who has visited; offering musical tidbits for every flavour of genre, be it rock, pop, indie or funky sets featuring sporadic beats on a xylophone, Brudenell lives up to its reputation for holding some of the best gigs in the city. This is definitely a venue not to be missed.
Belgrave Music Hall
Similar to the Brudenell, Belgrave Music Hall is another student favourite. The gigs hosted here normally have much more of a relaxed, indie vibe than what is typically offered elsewhere, but their multi-layered floor setup allows for you to mix together a cocktail night out with some sweet and dulcet tones of whoever Belgrave are hosting that night. This is always a plus if you’re not initially in the mood for a gig, as you can always head downstairs for a few more beverages to help butter up your ears and open your mind to a new genre you might not have listened to before. All quips aside, this venue is fun and funky and has introduced many to the impeccable music scene in Leeds.
The Key Club
For all things heavy, The Key Club is where you want to be. A relatively small basement club attached to the far end of the Merrion Centre, this venue gets pretty hot and sweaty during their (usually packed) gigs. While they don’t limit themselves exclusively to rock (hosting regular indie, pop-punk and hip-hop sets also), The Key Club is most generally known for the heavier genre of music. This venue is a hidden gem which showcases some of the best local talent Leeds has to offer and, even if you’re not a closeted Papa Roach fan, it will give you a great taster of the different types of musical genres that you’ve yet to discover.
Last but not least is a personal favourite of mine. The Wardrobe is a cool little venue close to Leeds bus station, which hosts a plethora of bands in its downstairs space. With red neon lighting and a consistently packed audience, The Wardrobe is a fun place to be if you’re wanting to experience the edgier type of vibe that Leeds as a city is famous for. One of the best gigs I’ve experienced was set here (shoutout to VANT), and while sweatier times have been had, it was definitely one that gave me the best initial impression of Leeds’ music scene. If you’re looking for a lesser-known favourite, The Wardrobe is where you should get yourself to.
While Brudenell Social Club, Belgrave Music Hall, Key Club and The Wardrobe are not the only venues Leeds has dotted around the city, these are the first initial tasters to ease you into the awesome musical set-up you now have access to. After trying out these different venues, you will undoubtedly begin learning of the also much-loved Hifi, Old Red Bus Station and many more bars-slash-venues that will get your blood pumping and ears singing. Leeds offers such a fantastic mixture of music and sound that you now have at your fingertips so have a Google of all of the above, book some gigs, and get yourself as addicted as the rest of us to the incredible artists and bands that are just waiting to get you hooked.
Featured Image: Rocco Caruso