Dark Arts – February 2023, Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

February’s instalment of Super Friendz’s Dark Arts event* happened to be a loud, fortuitous finale to a busy week or so of birthday celebrations for me. Ten bands descended upon the Belgrave stage from 1pm, and it was yet another fine example of their day-long festival offerings…

The Lounge Society, Dark Arts – February 2023

Mother Said, Eyesore & The Jinx and Human Interest were the first bands up, but it was the HAIM-like undertones of Divorce that really hooked me early on. Upbeat and on-point, their 30-minute set was laced with a mix of fan favourites (including ‘Pretty’) and new tunes. And their particularly impressive USP was undoubtedly their mic duties being split between three super-talented, harmonised vocalists.

Divorce, Dark Arts – February 2023

Cementing that Leeds is never devoid of party spirit, the city’s very own Adult DVD emerged ahead of the biggest crowd they’d ever played to. The venue was nothing short of packed-out for the six-piece’s performance, which delivered massive electronics and synths, underpinned by guitar strings and a full drum kit. ‘Bill Murray’ was an obvious crowd-pleased that conjured up a rave-esque atmosphere at just gone 5pm.

Adult DVD, Dark Arts – February 2023

Acid Klaus had paved the way for a slight change in style, which saw Egyptian Blue serve surfer vibes, masterfully jaunty changes in tempo and a healthy measure of old-school Foals. While they’ve certainly carved out their own niche, drawing similarities between the two outfits was easy to do based on what was so enjoyable to hear.

Egyptian Blue, Dark Arts – February 2023

The cool thing about this particular Dark Arts line-up was how it darted from indie-meets-post-punk to borderline techno. And the shift was felt again during Regressive Left, who nailed the video game theme tune sound effects through thumping, ‘80s-ready synths and SPD. Yet for an added layer of sheer skill, there was light but ultra-intricate guitar work, creating an ironically progressive set.

Regressive Left, Dark Arts – February 2023

As 9pm chimed and the wafting aroma of burgers and pizza slices from the canteen below had diffused, DEADLETTER assumed their positions — cowbells and all. They presented us with an exciting penultimate crescendo that engaged the bodies in the room perhaps beyond the point of Adult DVD’s reception. Their frontman sprang into the crowd on multiple occasions, and their saxophonist was their crowning glory. DEADLETTER’s blueprint was entirely unique, with playfully tongue-in-cheek yet on-the-nose lyrics, alongside exceptionally perfected instrumentals that you could groove to.

DEADLETTER, Dark Arts – February 2023

Then, to inject one last dose of energy to the shaking Belgrave dancefloor, Hebden Bridge’s The Lounge Society, AKA the headliner, rose. They were frantic and frenzied from the off, with experimental guitar work oozing ‘70s rock vibes in an otherwise melting pot of indie, post-punk and alternative noise. It’s no wonder they’ve been touring overseas and delighting playlists left, right and centre. A buoyant end to a stellar day.

The Lounge Society, Dark Arts – February 2023

*With thanks to Super Friendz for the press access

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