There’s something nice about mini-festivals in city centres. No more standing around in fields or sleeping on the ground in the rain. Leicester’s first Handmade Festival got under way this weekend, with bands and performers playing across five venues in the city. With a main base at Firebug, the organising team, led by the able John Helps, have managed to open-up some spaces in Leicester that wouldn’t normally be used for gigs, but which work really well.
Last night’s performances by Maybeshewill and Rolo Tomassi started the weekend off for me with loud thrashy guitars and some curious vocal performances. This wasn’t Starbucks friendly new-folk. By using the Leicester People’s Photographic Gallery as a performance space, it was possible to get an idea of what a great venue the Old Leicester Library could be, and how it could become Leicester’s foremost arts and performance space.
Later, I caught Arcane Roots upstairs at Firebug, but at which point I was a little worse-for-wear after stopping off in a couple for bars and catching-up with friends over too many beers. Town centre festivals certainly have a clear advantage over the field or farm gated-festival. The beer is a lot cheaper and there is much more choice of places to keep out of the rain.
Today I’m looking forward to seeing performances at the The Guildhall, The Cookie Jar and the Bishop Street Methodist Church. It’s great to see venues like this opened-up and used to bring live performance into the heart of Leicester, and help to establish a more diverse mix of music in the city.