Inner City Electronic hits Leeds this weekend taking over almost every club in the city from Freedom Mills to the Brudenell Social Club and filling them with some of the biggest talent in the world of underground music. This is the second part of a two part series to guide you through the festival. Part 1 is available here.
Inner City Electronic hopes to make Leeds the “contender for club capital of the UK” Inner city not only brings the party but curates a lineup that really does celebrate what the city has to offer to the dance music and electronic community. The lineup is scattered with familiar names all hailing from Leeds, some in their infancy and others at the height of their careers. Headlining is Nightmares On Wax, a Leeds local who has gone on from running club nights in Leeds to stardom in both the UK and U.S. As a composer, producer and DJ expect to hear deep soulful cuts and pumping rhythm filled beats from the Godfather of the Leeds dance music scene.
Co-founder of Hessle Audio, presenter on RinseFM and all-round dance music aficionado Ben UFO comes back to the city he studied in, and co-founded his label in. A return to Leeds never goes unnoticed for Ben UFO or Hessle Audio’s other co-founders Pearson Sound and Pangea. For this year’s Inner city we are left with just Ben, but that is nothing to scoff at. Starting from their bedrooms spinning records and playing on internet station Sub FM, the boys from Hessle Audio have grown into one of the UK’s most highly ranked labels and DJs known for their breadth of music knowledge and selection, growing with the times whilst pulling from gems of the past. Expect a unique music experience from Ben UFO this year at Inner City.
Also making an appearance, is a DJ dubbed the “UK’s best kept secret”. Ralph Lawson, who is best known for his record label “2020vision” and a host of residencies around Europe, including ‘Back to Basics’ in Leeds, ‘We Love Space Ibiza’, Barcelona’s ‘The Loft’ as well as regular appearances at Berlin’s ‘Watergate’ and London’s ‘Fabric’. Lawson’s influence on underground electronic music is almost second to none, and whilst his name may be tucked away in the lineup for Inner City, believe me when I say he’s not one to miss.
If these heavy hitters weren’t enough to get your legs twitching then the introduction of DJs that are still very much ingrained in the Leeds dance music scene should get your knees up. First Inner City brings the boys from Dimensions Soundsystem. Most known for their festival out in Fort Punta Christo, Croatia, Dimensions have also played around Europe at a host of respected dancefloors, honing their skill for controlling the crowd in expert fashion. Also on the lineup we see the emergence of Equaliser, a Leeds Based DJ collective with the mission to nurture and promote the talent of all women, trans men, and non-binary people. Equaliser also throws parties for everyone which they then use to fund workshops to help train the up and coming talent that Leeds has to offer in a safer environment.
With parties also being hosted by the likes of Flux, Brotherhood, Brudenell Groove and Cosmic Slop, the range and diversity of talent coming from Leeds both old and new plays homage to the city as a breeding ground for talent and paints an exciting picture for what’s to come.
The Spaces in which we move
Venues are dotted all over Leeds for the Festival. As a celebration of music and culture in Leeds the scattering of events spaces pays homage to some of the best venues – old, new, weird and wonderful – that the city has to offer.
As announced the ‘Festival Hub’, hosted by Flux, will act as the main stage, hosting the likes of Motor City Drum Ensemble, Nightmares On Wax, and Ralph Lawson. Located in the heart of the city, just off Albion Street, The Hub will also be the place to collect wristbands, check out the vendors for drinks, street food and more.
Around the city centre are a range of venues all within walking distance of The Hub, great for those wanting to jump between venues and catch as many acts as the festival has to offer. The iconic Wire comes back to the festival, Hosted by Resident Advisor. Previously playing host to many of the world bests DJs in the past, this time around the venue doesn’t disappoint with ‘Hessle Audio’s’ Ben UFO, Shanti Celeste, Josey Rebelle and Ralph Lawson making appearances. Just a stones throw from Wire are two more basement venues Hi-Fi and Distrikt. Hi-Fi hits the ‘shabby-chic’ vibe to a T. Transmission Funk Host Ross From Friends as the headliner at Hi-Fi.
Also dotted around the city are Old Red Bus station, The Wardrobe and Church Leeds. The ‘Old Red Bus Station’ is an intimate bar venue that turns into a scene for underground music popping up around the city. Once again another basement venue, ‘The Wardrobe’ is one of the more established venues for live music on the list, playing host to a range of live acts throughout the years.
Set to soon close in the coming summer, Church is undeniably one of the more impressive venues on the list. A grade 2 listed Church that has any music lover dancing underneath the stain glass windows hailing the preacher of the hour, which this time around will include Nina Kraviz, Octave One, and DJ seinfeld, this space is certainly an experience within itself.
Located on the outskirts of the city Inner City also brings Hope House Gallery, Freedom Mills and Open Source Arts. Each really do bring with them the essence of DIY venues that is beloved in Leeds. Hosted by Brotherhood and Brudenell Groove, Open Source Arts will play host to world class selector Dan Shake alongside Brotherhood and Brudenell Groove DJs.
Hope House Gallery is the home to MAP charity, which provides alternative education for young people who are having difficulty accessing mainstream education. Hope House Gallery is an event space holding art exhibitions as well as playing host to the underground music event Cosmic Slop, who will be hosting the space as well as playing alongside a yet to be announced special guest.
Moving closer to Hyde Park there are two venues on the list for Inner City Electronic: Hyde Park Book Club and Brudenell Social Club. Hyde Park Book Club is a gem of the city, located just off Hyde Park corner, this bar, cafe and events space hosts studying students and coffee drinkers by day and an array of creatives from techno loving DJs to spoken word poets by night.
Brudenell Social Club is a legendary Working Men’s Social Club based in the heart of LS6 Hyde Park. Their open music policy believes that music should have no boundaries, as they play host to a diverse range of musicians and artists on a regular basis. Playing host to DJ Boring, make sure to dodge the Uber surge for this one!
Last but certainly not least is a space that has become one of my favourite spots this year, Sheaf St. A true hidden gem tucked away just over the River Aire in a renewed red brick victorian factory, Sheaf St offers a cafe, bar, multi-functional event space and terrace that have burst back into life over recent years. Sheaf St will have 3 of its unique spaces open for Inner City, all hosted by 20/20 vision. In the Yarden find Fabric resident Craig Richards with talks and classes by Nightmares on Wax, Octave One and Afrodeutsche during the day.
By Alex Storey