With a capital of culture bid in the works now is a great time to explore Leeds’ DIY and underground scene where friendly music, art and food venues flourish and the nightlife is among the best in the country
‘Leeds is quite modest,” insists Bryony Bond, creative director at the Tetley gallery. “It doesn’t market or push itself, which is endearing – but the stuff going on here is brilliant.”
That may be changing. Leeds is, after all, bidding to be a European Capital of Culture in 2023. But compared with Manchester or Liverpool, Leeds has been reticent about celebrating its creativity. Historically, it has preferred to sell itself as a glitzy shopping-and-dining destination. Perhaps such modesty is rooted in an inferiority complex. Leeds has never had a seismic pop-culture moment – a Merseybeat or Madchester – and its big bands (Sisters of Mercy, The Wedding Present, Kaiser Chiefs), are also-rans in the grand annals of rock history. But at a far grittier, more chaotic, underground level, there is always plenty happening here.