Mike from Leeds Band "Five Foot Four" has a valid point:

I am sure you'll agree with what I am about to say...
Basically all the bands in Leeds want the same thing, its so obvious there's no point even mentioning it. How many other local bands have you actually been to see? We're as guilty as anyone of not going to as many gigs as we should and supporting each other but lets change that, lets get a buzz around the city again, build up a scene. It's hard enough when venues like the Duchess close down and bands are forced into more "out of town" or obscure venues to pull a crowd in sometimes, especially mid-week.
I have the utmost respect for Charly Six having the balls to go down and try London out as nothing is happening for them really here. It shouldn't be that way though. Why should we have to go down to the industry? Surely we should be making it come to us?
Lets all get down to gigs, see each others bands, learn from each other and network a little more, we'll all benefit in the long run. I'm not saying you should like every local band you see but how about at least going out to see one new band each month? On a cold winter Tuesday night we're all ready to complain that the crowd could have been bigger but how many times do you go out to see other bands unless they're your mates? I'll hold my hands up and say hardly ever, but I plan to change that and try see more bands. If we all get down to each others gigs, bring our mates down it'll be a good start to really building a community up between bands. Not everyone will get on but networking and keeping in touch with each other, passing on gigs that you can't make etc is a lot more productive for us all than slagging each other off. Many of you will think I'm a wanker just for writing this but I'm a wanker who could put some gigs your way or put you in touch with someone useful. Be nice to people on the way up cos you see them all on the way down.
Think of how many support bands you've seen who you've not heard of before. Many are shite but I can think of plenty who are excellent. In recent years I've discovered Feeder, Soulwax, Brassy, Mover and many more just by checking out support bands at gigs like Reef and Bluetones. Try stepping down a level and catching those bands earlier. Everyone says now "I wish I'd seen Nirvana at the Duchess", I'm sure you can figure out the point.
So try it, go down and see a band you haven't even heard of, you might just enjoy it and you may make some very helpful new friends.
All comments of support or abuse welcome.
Mike 5'4"

JFK Replies:

Even though I've been promoting in West Yorkshire for over 23 years (half of that time being the only promoter!) I still haven't got my head around the conundrum that is Leeds.

In the late '70s I brought bands in from Merseyside (Echo&the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Wah!Heat, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark,etc.),
from Manchester (Joy Division, Durutti Column, The Fall, Magazine, Frantic Elevators, etc.) and from Sheffield ( Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, Vice Versa [ABC} etc.).

Nobody had heard of these bands, sometimes they were an opening act, sometimes they were part of a package tour. The thing that impressed me was that they all were supportive of each other and, occasionally, would interchange musicians. What they call a 'scene', in fact.

When these groups played there would be a posse down the front going wild and applauding with mad enthusiasm. These people, usually around 40-50 had travelled to support these bands. Enthusiasm is infectious and normally the locals would be drawn in, therefore enhancing the reputation of the acts.

In the days of Music Hall new turns would pay a group of people (known as a 'claque') to initiate and generate applause. These hired hands would turn to a neighbour and say things like  "Aren't they good?" or laugh uproariously at a joke, thereby lifting the atmosphere and making the audience believe they'd seen a popular act. This approach is ages old and it still works. Yet, whenever a Leeds group plays away, excepting a few circumstances, they struggle to bring even half a dozen people to the gig...and they wonder why it's difficult to get re-booked!

In recent years attendances for local bands have dropped dramatically, there was a time in the early days of the Duchess when I could put certain local unsigned acts on and be guaranteed a full house of at least 300. These days there are more bands around Leeds than ever before, but who can draw that amount now? In Sheffield, Monday 18th December, local unsigned band Boy On A Dolphin sold out Sheffield City Hall, capacity 2,500. Which Leeds band could do that? (Assuming we had a venue big enough!) What are we doing wrong?

You could say it's the bands slagging each other off, pulling down anyone who makes a move, or just being apathetic. I know from experience that I could package together 3 of your usual young Leeds acts and be lucky to get 30 customers and that's with the same publicity afforded to a major act. I could say the solution would be for all Leeds Musicians to pull together, go to each others' gigs, create a scene, be positive about other acts, if one rises others follow, get a foot in the door - let someone in with you...and loads of other obvious clichés...but I've been spouting those homilies for years. The real answer is...I haven't got a clue, and if I did I'd be a wealthy man by now. Friends have said to me "If you had put the same energy into anywhere else but Leeds you would have been a millionaire."  I used to shake my head and say  "No! No! Leeds is going to happen...It's only a matter of time." 
... I'm still waiting.

Leeds is becoming staid and predictable, with venues closing down, good bands splitting up through sheer frustration, you are bound to hear some bickering. You can't blame these agitators if they occasionally throw a brick at the beehive. Live music in Leeds needs shaking up, it's all about supply and demand. Now that the Duchess and the T&C have closed people are losing the habit of going to gigs...reverse that trend and new venues will appear...It's only a matter of time!

 Good Luck! & Merry Christmas!


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