It goes without saying that Leeds is a hub for nightlife. It is a melting pot for interesting places to eat, drink and dance. Whether it’s a fist pumping, shape-cutting, sweat-box type affair or a more relaxed one, where you’d find people standing at the side gently nodding their heads and simply appreciating the musical prowess of the act they’ve come to see.
Headrow House, ideally situated in the city centre, offers all of this at once. Built in the early 20th century, this former textile mill suffered years of neglect until Simon Stevens along with Ash Kollakowski and Ben Davy (the guys behind the dive-bar chic Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen) saw an opportunity to really utilise the space. Headrow House caters for everyone across all four floors, boasting three bars, one restaurant featured in both the Good Food Guide and the Michelin Guide this year, one aesthetically pleasing beer hall serving over 60 beers from around the world, three outdoor areas to soak in the view over Leeds, one classy cocktail bar and one purpose built live room.
One interesting part of Leeds nightlife is the notion that a lot of clubbers are choosing more cost effective, headliner gigs that finish relatively early to see one particular artist either instead of or before a longer and most probably more debauched night out. Super Friendz, the promoters who organise most of the events at both Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall, appeal to this demographic by organising intimate shows and making considered bookings such Onra, Machinedrum, Rival Consoles and The Bug.
One of Super Friendz’s bookings in Headrow House’s 150 capacity live room this March was London based Romare. His African inspired cut-and-paste vinyl sampling approach coupled with his musical flare for a variety of instruments and tech really came across in his performance. With Romare himself at the helm of the operation, jumping from drum machine to loop pedal to monophonic synthesisers, and accompaniment on percussion, sax, flute and bass, it really was something to behold; an energetic and engaging performance.
The room itself is large for its capacity, giving revellers the space they need and avoiding that all-too-familiar battery farm feel one experiences at so many of music events. The bare red brick interior and fairy lights above-head give a spacious, creative and somewhat bohemian feel. There is a quaint smoking balcony and the stage itself has a very simple design, not taking too much attention away from the performer. The range of attendees – both students and professionals – is really testament to the way in which Stevens, Kollakowsi and Davy have created a space for everyone to enjoy.
With rumours of two new venues opening around Leeds under the same ownership as Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall, it’s apparent that these guys are doing something right. With Super Friendz as a promotion powerhouse, and such success at both the establishments, it seems that the guys behind this set up are quietly conquering the city.