The Touch, Venpos, Victors: latest bands out of Leeds

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Touch

HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN YOU FIT INTO ONE PHOTO? Members of The Touch live up to their band's name by getting touchy-feely with one another. The band is one of the most popular unsigned acts in Leeds, England.

Letters from Leeds is a feature by Gazette writer, Gennelle Smith. Smith is currently on exchange in England, and will be dispatching articles about the local music scene to Canada.

The Touch w/ Venpos, Victors, and Tom Hunt
Oct. 25 @ The HiFi Club

LEEDS, UK " Cozy venue, exposed brick, and coffee-scented air aside, it was a great night for raw, down-and-dirty Yorkshire music in Leeds.

Four very different acts were in the house, showcasing just a taste of the reliable talent fans have come to expect of Leeds in the past few years.

Singer-songwriter Tom Hunt, along with guitarist Andy Gallagher, started the night off with a sombre acoustic set, providing a mellow soundtrack for the gathering crowd. Hunt’s expressive voice combined with the duo’s acoustic rhythms to form a soft, pure sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a David Gray tribute album.

Hunt hopes to gain more exposure by taking advantage of the attention currently surrounding the Leeds music scene.

“There are millions of bands around, and loads of gigs,” he says.

But, as Ciaran Ross, booking agent for The Faversham (the HiFi Club’s sister venue) points out, “The city’s awash with talentless, boring indie bands as well as the good ones. You really have to be quirky to stand out.”

Britrock act Victors fits that criterion. The band offered catchy hooks and a tight, percussion-based second set (complete with tambourine) that benefited from lead singer/guitarist Andy Duggan’s supremely confident performance.

Having just self-released its latest single, “Oh Samantha” (a galloping track about love and yearning), the band has attracted a growing fan base in West Yorkshire through word-of-mouth, constant local gigs, and solid live performances.

However, Victors’ fan base is pocket-sized compared to that of Venpos, a baby-faced quartet of Leeds natives that brought a surprisingly dynamic sound to the table.

The members are no strangers to self-promotion; all four were selling their own tickets outside the HiFi Club before the show. It paid off, as the band " which strongly resembled a younger-looking (if possible) Arctic Monkeys in look and sound " attracted a loud concentration of girls to the front of the stage during its set.

Having gained the crowd’s approval, Venpos made way for established local act and headliners The Touch, a blues-indie trio hailing from the nearby city of Bradford. Although still unsigned, the band has been busy promoting its self-titled EP by touring widely in the UK, shooting its first video for “Mad Man On a Cliff” and even playing the festival circuit in the southern U.S.

But for all its extra efforts, the band’s strength is in its live performance. With George Quinn wailing on vocals and lead guitar, Andrew Kniveton delivering head-banging basslines, and Jason Winder “bashing the drums hard,” as he puts it, the band filled the room with a Led Zeppelin-inspired sound.

Perhaps as a testament to the band’s dedication to the music it calls “big dirty blues,” Winder was shirtless before the show even began, much to the delight of the leftover Venpos fans.

This display of impressive local talent begged the question: is every band in the area out to nab a record deal and become the next big thing?

“Well,” Hunt says with a grin, “that’s the plan.”

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