Local. Live. Leeds. Three words that stand at the forefront of the northern music industry in this post covid era. Local musicians have become integral to our community, especially in the wake of a time when interaction through music was virtually impossible. Gigs have never been as important as they are this year and the coming together of people should be hugely celebrated.
Local Leeds band Free Party embodies the current values of the music industry, bringing people together with their emotional lyrics and unique post punk instrumentals. Kieran Pratt, Bradley Thomas, Harris Johnson, Henry Swales and Joe Cook: five lads who began demonstrating their talent at open mics, now bursting onto the music scene with gigs at established venues such as the Lending rooms and the Key Club in Leeds. The boys have an incredible stage presence, clearly enjoying their talent and making sure everyone else can feel that too.
This band excels at welcoming an expansive audience of different music tastes by hosting interesting gigs with unique and varied support acts; ranging from solo acoustic acts beginning the night to full on DJ sets following their performances to round off the night at various different venues around Yorkshire and around the country.
At the end of the month, Free Party held an intimate gig at Vinyl whistle in Headingly, Leeds, following a very successful evening at Northern Guitars on Call Lane a mere two weeks earlier. I had the pleasure of attending this gig, organised by the wonderful Oran Wood, who has worked very hard with the lads to secure venues and coordinate gigs. The cosy bar was taken over by an excited audience, feeding off of the boys’ energy on stage. Previously this year, Free Party took over ‘Off the Cuff’, an ‘under the railway’ bar set back off the street in Herne Hill, yet another example of their ability to adapt to various settings.
I accompanied Free Party to London to watch the gig in Herne Hill and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere at Off the Cuff was electric. As soon as I walked into the gig room, the boys were already showing their excitement for their music which was mirrored in the reactions of the audience. Despite playing in a location far from the northern setting of Leeds City Centre, the audience were immediately joining in with the catchy lyrics that are quite literally contagious. Considering that this was an audience that consisted of mostly new listeners, amongst a few regular supporters, the people loved Free Party and what they did that night. The combination of small, cosy venues and larger, more elaborate locations embodies what these talented musicians create. With songs ranging from slow, personal tunes to more upbeat, crowd inducers like their hit summer single “Before”, they engage their audience and provide a cracking night out.
During Summer 2022, the boys released their single “Before”, starting on their journey to music production. Amassing around 17,000 streams and 117 monthly listeners, Free Party’s online music following is taking off, leading to their current work in the studio. Over the past few weeks, they have been spending time in recording studio working on a brand- new project that will end 2022 on a brilliant note.
Henry Swales, drummer for Free Party, explained to me the nature of their new single, particularly the different tone that they have explored. Upon listening, it sounds like the last song you would hear as the world was ending; a powerful image to picture as you listen to the strong lyrics and instrumentals. Their new exploration could even be described as a melancholy ballard. Appropriately named “Joe’s song”, after group member Joe Cook, the boys have been spending precious hours in the recording studio working to create a successful follow up to their first single “Before”.
The month of November signifies a continuing success story for these five lads as they take the stage at the Lending Rooms in Leeds City Centre on November 5th. Something about their passion and drive has helped them grow a big following, with an array of people venturing with them to these new venues to enjoy their exciting performance and on- stage interactions. Each month, Free Party has shown their dedication to their talent and also to their friendship; they are incredible to watch, and each of them display such amazing personalities through their gigs that it’s impossible not to want to be a part of their fan base.
Social media is a big part of their image. Taking to Instagram to initially inform their following of upcoming gigs and updates on singles, they now post unique imagery and graphics, along with video footage of recording sessions and gigs. It wouldn’t quite be 2022 band footage without some use of TikTok and, of course, they are no exception. @freeparty_band is a great example of how to utilise current trends and show some behind the scene footage on a much more casual and intimate platform. It is on their Tiktok that you can see Kieran, Brad, Joe, Harris and Henry in their natural element, enjoying time in the studio, exploring new ideas and doing what they absolutely do best.
Following the release of their first single, Free Party are booked and busy, creating new music and gigging as often as possible. “We are always trying to find a new sound in every song, we enjoy blending all of our unique tastes into this new post punk sound”, said singer Brad Thomas. For those of you who might be unaware of that term; post-punk refers to the broad music genre that came about in the late 70’s as artists moved away from the traditional punk genre. Bringing the energy of the punk scene, post-punk artists are known for their wacky sound experimentations. Free party feeds straight into this modern take on punk, exploring their unique outlooks on relatable and familiar events, thoughts and philosophies.
If you are interested in attending any upcoming gigs or just want to get involved, follow @freeparty_band on Instagram and TikTok or @Freeparty on Facebook.