The Brighton-based art rock band put on an assured and energetic show during Independent Venue Week to mark themselves as ones to watch.
Independent Venue Week – celebrated by over 200 venues in the UK – started on Monday 30 January and I unknowingly marked it by seeing the art-rock band Youth Sector at Oporto in Leeds.
I’d shortlisted them for a previous Live At Leeds slot but didn’t get around to seeing their set back then. We both went into this gig only knowing a handful of songs, impressed enough to pay the reasonably priced, sub-tenner ticket. That said, we also weren’t awestruck enough on our research to buy tickets well in advance. We were open-minded, intrigued, and hopeful.
After just one song live though we shared a look that showed mutual happiness that we’d come out. We were impressed from the outset. Contrastingly to the support act, who came across timid and insecure, Youth Sector came out dressed the part (black and yellow retro suits) and could have passed as assured indie veterans.
The all-male fivepiece, from Brighton, performed like they had done enough touring rounds: tight, slick, and confident. They looked ready for the next step, primed to graduate into a household name. A debut album surely isn’t too far away and a larger fanbase will naturally, and unsurprisingly, follow.
For now though, they had a few EPs (Adult Contemporary & Mundanity) and singles to effortlessly breeze through, and it was very enjoyable.
Their Talking Heads influence is so blatant that at times it feels like you’re watching a tribute act perform unreleased material. Voice-wise and even performatively, lead singer Nick Tompkins channels his inner David Byrne.
The singing is impressively strong enough to stay in the foreground, complimenting rather than jostling with the bright guitar riffs and playful keyboard.
‘Self Exile’ was a fantastic song live that perfectly encapsulated their sound: urgent, throwback and catchy. In terms of modern reference points, there’s a Sports Team feel to this track – especially in the chorus.
‘The Ball’ is their latest single and it was another impressive one that felt instantly familiar. Despite being about the recent UK political scandals, lyrically it manages to still be loose and fun: “Well, you know what's worst of all, What's off the wall, who had the gall, who made the call, who dropped the ball?”
At the end of the set, the band squeezed their way through the crowd but were met with a warm repeated chant of their name, which brought them back for a traditional, fan-requested Encore.
They performed ‘Fanfare’ on their one-song return, which happened to be one of my favourites on pre-gig listens. It seemed to not make some of their previous sets, so I was delighted they played it.
Youth Sector should be a name you look out for in any small fonts on festival lineup posters. Whether you want an old-school feel, or something quite fresh, they somehow have you covered for both.
The band are also currently trying to raise funds to fix their broken touring van, and you can donate by buying their unique merch here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-youth-sector-fix-their-van#/
As an independent artist, the cost for this fix is obviously sizeable so this donations-for-merch trade is mutually beneficial for themselves and fans alike.