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THE organiser of what turns out to be a memorable mini-festival, David Procter is well known to Harrogate audiences for numerous appearances with visitng bands in Harrogate venues from the late 90s to mid-Noughties.
At one point this ever-active, ever-changing musical maverick contrived to be in three of Leeds’ artier rock bands at the same time, no small feat .
Such was his omni-presence that beloved music fanzine of the time, Charm accorded him the epiphet ‘King of Leeds.’
KoL for short, Procter has rarely shown any characteristics in common with those other KoLs, Kings of Leon and tonight is no exception.
Swinefest is a show for musical outsiders held in a venue for political ones.
The Common Place, a centre of radical politics and culture set on a side street near the flash bars and restaurants of Call Lane, was originally set up by members of the city’s most famous agit-prop popsters Chumbawumba and is run as a collective.
It’s the perfect place for tonight’s line-up, looking and feeling like a scruffy venue from the days before arena tours and Ticketmaster, when business needed music more than music needed business handing the advantage to bands and their fans.
The best acts the crowd of 100 or so do whatever they feel like doing to are the ones who live on the line between control and loss of it.
Opener Miles Matt Dixon, who is also drummer with Leeds’ band Slowcoaches, uses his laptop to create dramatic and striking sounds capes.
While appearing a random mix of sampled noises and electronic gimmickry, if you translated the peaks and troughs into traditional song structures, there is direction and melody to be enjoyed.
Next up are Insect Guide whose deep roots lie in that great Leeds modern punk band of a decade or so ago, Lorimer.
A three-piece with the sort of spiky femme fatale singer who would fit perfectly into Black Rebel Motorcyle Club, the first impression is of a classic late 80s indie guitar band with the dynamics of Jesus & Mary Chain and the poppy tunes of The Primitives, a little like under-rated late 90s Leeds’ hopefuls Pop Threat who were The Ravonettes before The Ravonettes were.
What’s best and most unique about this instantly impressive band is the groove. Powered by rhythmically gripping drumming to a click-track, Insect Guide’s beat motors relentlessly forward like a great Can tune without the metronomic aspect of some of Krautrock or shoe gazers Ride at their occasional best.
The calm before the storm, from now on things get noiser and sweatier, save for an avant-garde interlude halfway through the night from Legion of Swine.
‘They’ turn out to be organiser David Procter who eschews any music whatsoever in favour of electronically sampled extracts from recent British politics.
Echoing through the room like the rays of a lighthouse cutting through the fog, the voices ground the event in these times.
Perhaps the message is the medium?
Equally stormy are the delightfully wayward Leeds-based Normal Man who combine doom-laden noise rock with likeably anything goes stagecraft from a front man who looks and acts like the particularly drunken, bearded one in The Hangover, that comedy about the disastrous stag weekend in Las Vegas.
Forever teetering on the precipice between awfulness and brilliance, they are never dull.
And neither are Middlesborough band Drunk In Hell who follow Normal Man’s basic template before taking away the humour and adding some tunes. The result is the best moshing/pogoing of the evening which, to be fair, does continue with headliners War All The Time, despite the night’s toll starting to tell on the slumped bodies in the relaxed dishevelment of the Common Place.
The only thing is, this Leeds’ hardcore speedniks’ undoubted reputation wasn’t won by being amateurish or sloppy.
Everything they do is good, I suppose, but everything they do is by the book, everything they do is controlled.
Who could have predicted the otherwise glorious Swinefest would end on a note of predictability?