Long Division Festival 2022 Review
Updated: Jun 24, 2022
We went down to Wakefield for the day and caught Fuzz Lightyear, Pit Pony, Mollie Coddled W.H. Lung and more…
Showcasing some of the best parts of West Yorkshire’s musical ecosystem, as well as hotly-tipped and widely recognised touring acts, Long Division festival put a spotlight on Wakefield. There was an overwhelming sense of optimism and lovely weather too. Who said you had to go Primavera to come back with a tan?
Here’s a rundown of everything the team at Basement Leeds managed to catch.
Opening proceedings with a healthy dose of tinnitus was Leeds’ own Fuzz Lightyear. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them a few times now and this set was my personal favourite. Despite being the venue Vortex's first band of the day, and also being without synth-player Alex Calder, the band lurched through an explosive set of Jesus Lizard-esque sonic attack. There is a garage band sensibility, but Fuzz have acquired a clinical precision and sonic expanse which makes their tunes feel otherworldly, but never spacey, and fresh-faced, but hauntingly familiar.
(Photo: John Jowett)
Pit Pony dominated the stage at Mechanics’ Theatre in the early afternoon of Saturday. The raucous five-piece made the stage feel small, and frontwoman Jackie clearly sensed this, moving her mic stand off stage to make room for her pacing and dancing. She occupied the stage in full force, backed by fuzz-heavy riffs from all angles, with a lyrical delivery that was both confrontational and personable.
Straight after Fuzz was Straight Girl, the project of Leeds-based producer Remy Enceladus. They’ve developed a slightly prodigal reputation in the noisier corners of the Leeds scene. At a recent show for Drab Magazine, they used their soundcheck to write and mix two completely new songs that were performed later that night. At Long Division, they tested their synth with an effortless rendition of Debussy’s ‘Arabesque’. Any reactionaries expecting more classical music were swiftly uppercutted by Straight Girl’s introduction: ‘I’m not straight and I’m not a girl, so if you call me either of these things, I will fucking murder you’.
What followed was a fun, and gleefully chaotic, set of goth-tinged PC Music. There’s an intricacy in their instrumentals, which fizz and twitch, whilst Remy danced like the nightmarish hallucinations of Satoshi Kon’s film Perfect Blue. You should definitely see Straight Girl, if you fucking dare.
(Photo: Andrew Benge)
Komparrison were electric, offering glam indie rock at The Establishment. Vocalist/guitarist Kaitlyn joked that she knows “it’s not a panto, but we like to think it is”, and this perfectly sums up the energy of their set. The band played, moved and laughed with a candid air that was infectious. Halfway through the set, lead-vocalist Elise pulled out a fan and proceeded to fan herself and her bandmates. Their music is vibrant, catchy and upbeat, with powerful, witty lyrics to match. A stand-out track was “He Doesn’t Get It”, a song about coming out, which the band gleefully dedicated to Pride Month.
(Photo: Andrew Benge)
Mollie Coddled provided painfully honest dream-pop in a flowery outfit that matched her guitar. Her outfit perfectly embodied the contrast between the dreamy soundscape of her music and the soulful, stark honesty of her lyricism. Mollie Coddled dabbles with subject matter such as isolation, insecurity and narcissistic exes. This set was a joy to watch, and though nerves did show through at times, this only made it more endearing.
Playing with all the intensity of a falling leaf, indie-folk artist Elkyn delivered Long Division’s most peaceful set to a fully-pewed audience inside Westgate Chapel. Despite snapping a string, he whispered his way through an emotive and authentic collection of songs – it didn’t feel a million miles away from another great, and equally quiet, Leeds artist, Mage Tears. If you blinked, or coughed, then you could be forgiven for wondering whether this dreamy performance ever really happened.
Blue Bendy’s set was multi-layered, drifting and mesmerising. It was also chaotic at times, including a shambolic 30 second cover of The Cribs’ Another Number (when in Wakefield). Frontman Arthur Nolan performed with a nonchalance that bordered on arrogance, but stayed just on the right side of likeable. Presumably a stage persona, this made the impact of the music hit harder; as much as at times you wanted to dislike it, you couldn’t deny it was fucking cool.
Long Division firmly cemented, for me anyway, that W.H. Lung are going to be very, very popular soon. Sounding like Frankie Goes to Hollywood if they discovered ecstasy and hit the autobahn, this band are an incendiary live-act.
Playing to the Grade 1 Listed interior of Wakefield Town Hall, I wondered if this is the first time that anyone’s played an acid-house bassline inside a court room. Their songs are driving and enthralled by dance music with a DJ set smoothness. They communicate in an electronic lexicon that feels uniquely northern; a language inspired by the collision between industrial pasts and the benign natural world. If you visit the band’s new base in Calder Valley, you can feel this for yourself.
It was a theatrical and dynamic show. Their cheekboney and chisel faced lead singer Joe Evans commanded the courtroom. He’d frequently lunge towards the front row and dance in fits of rage, before stopping in wonder and looking off into the distance, like someone that’s watching a meteor shower, or a baseball player that’s just hit a homerun. Watching this band feels like a sip of coffee – or maybe something stronger.
They captured the spirit of the festival.
(Photo: George Orton)
Words by George Orton and Rhiannon Kane
If you like the sound of Long Division, head to the recently announced Wakefield Live on 17th September 2022.