With the world in a ‘bit of a state’ right now, it’s more important than ever before to support the bands, venues, labels, and small businesses you love, where you can.
Leeds’ Come Play With Me are doing their bit for local acts by releasing a new compilation that will see all profits going to the featured bands, including Talkboy, Team Picture, Dead Naked Hippies and more. They’re currently Crowdfunding with pre-orders, have a gander here.
Also on the release, you’ll find Magick Mountain – aka Lins Wilson (Grammatics / Blood Red Shoes), Tom Hudson (Pulled Apart By Horses) and Nestor Matthews (Sky Larkin / Menace Beach) – who are celebrating the release of their teaser-track ‘The Shitty Beatles (Live)’ by highlighting some of their favourite spaces who could really use a hand.
Have a listen – and get involved – below.
Wharf Chambers has been a vital part of Leeds’ grassroots creative scene for as long as I can remember. I first played there well over 10 years ago, back when it was called The Common Place, as part of an all-dayer run by the legendary Leeds DIY feminist group Manifesta.
I’d never seen anything like it. The few gigs I had under my belt at the time were in the back rooms of pubs complete with dingy lights, sticky floors and a lingering sense of unwelcome, but Wharf was something totally different. People were actively talking to each other! Sharing ideas openly! Hanging around, watching incredible band after incredible band, drinking delicious local beers and listening to enthusiastic, proactive conversations about music and art and action is probably no small part of why I’m still hammering away at my drums today.
I’ve since been lucky enough to play at Wharf Chambers with every band I’ve been a part of, the last time being with Magick Mountain at a riotous Halloween 2019 party organised by Leeds promoters Pizza for the People, and I’ve never felt anything other than welcome. I realise I’ve not really written about the venue itself here but I think there’s good reason for that. The live room itself is kind of uninviting on its own, a low-ceilinged concrete box with a tiled floor and peeling walls, but when it’s full of like-minded people soaking up the ever eclectic selection of minimal electronica, furious punk rock and outsider art on offer on any given evening, there’s not many places I’d rather be.
As you’re no doubt aware, the smaller, independent venues around the UK have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Wharf Chambers have had the inspired idea to turn themselves into an off licence, keeping Leeds in supply of Club Mate, but they’re still worried about when or if they might open their doors again. This scares me to bits because Wharf Chambers isn’t just a venue for countless brilliant bands, scenes and communities, over so many years it’s become their home too.
Hyde Park Book Club is one of those places you just want to hang out in for hours. It’s more than just a venue – an awesome veggie cafe, book and gift shop – but at its core feels like a real community space for locals, artists, students and more. We go way back with the Jack Simpson, who set up HPBC, previously founder of Vibrations magazine (which I think featured most of our other bands!), Eiger Studios, a promoter and all-round good egg. His community ethos really spills into the Book Club, and you can see how much everyone loves it.
I love the fact it’s so eclectic, from poetry to jazz, DIY fuzz to DJs, and that Jack is really up for supporting local artists via opportunities to play or put on their own event. We’ve played a few shows there now, Thee MVPs single launch, a Come Play With Me X Hide & Seek showcase with Glass Mountain and most recently Dense’s single launch back in December. In fact, that’s the last show we played and probably will get to for a while! That was a great night, and we really hope there’ll be more soon.
I know they’re currently doing everything they can to stay afloat as an independent but at the same time, commendably, supporting the local community where they can through initiatives such as Digital Access West Yorkshire. These grassroots spaces are so important for so many reasons, but for us, it’s because they are the perfect place to share our music and connect with peers and audiences.
They’re currently hosting plenty of live streams to keep us busy and are now open for socially-distanced takeaway services.
Mabgate Bleach has only been on my radar for the past couple of years, but over time it’s become one of our favourite places to play and watch other bands! It started out as (and still is) a co-op run rehearsal space for bands, but over time we’ve seen it develop into being its own little microcosm in the Leeds music community, attracting DIY psych / punk / garage rockers from all corners of the world.
The first time we played there, we were supporting LA psych-rockers, Levitation Room which was an awesome show all round and a perfect introduction to the place. All the guys that run the place are super friendly (and all in bands themselves so they totally ‘get it’), they always have a decent selection of local beers on the go, the sound is always great, there’s always some sort of mind-melting projections going on when the bands are playing. AND (selfishly) it’s a stone’s throw from our own practice space so we haven’t got far to lug our gear! Another one of our favourite shows there was supporting Aussie psychedelic rockers – Stonefield on their first UK tour. This is where the live track ‘The Shitty Beatles’ was recorded for the upcoming ‘Come Stay With Me’ compilation.
As most people are aware… the UK music industry has taken a massive hit because of COVID-19 leaving most small / medium-sized venues in a really bad way. Without these venues and spaces, we wouldn’t have anywhere for new artists to nurture and grow. We would also be without the cultural hangouts that enhance each city / town, weaving together the rich tapestry of our creative world.
Mabgate Bleach have an emergency fundraiser site for donations: gofundme.com.
They are also currently offering a Patreon service where for a small monthly membership fee they will send you live video and audio of bands playing sessions at Mabgate Bleach in order to support the venue and artists: patreon.com/MabgateBleach.
Come Play With Me’s ‘Come Stay With Me’ compilation is out 17th July.