The first ever StreetFest Leeds took place on Saturday 11th May – the first of a three city festival series kicking off in Leeds, followed by Liverpool and London this summer.
StreetFest, the leading live arts festival and the country’s first and only ‘counterculture’ festival, levelled up in Leeds by assembling a line-up of the most seminal names in British Hip-hop, including DJ Semtex and Foreign Beggars, for an epic 12 hour event.
StreetFest, which has built a reputation for combining counterculture creatives across live art, dance, fashion, urban sports, music, food and more, was held at Canal Mills, Leeds the ultimate space for creative arts.
Capital Xtra’s DJ Semtex graced the decks as headline act and dropped the biggest hip hop, grime and afrobeats tracks, setting the pace to the delight of the crowd with a bass heavy throwback to UK rap anthem ‘Walk In Da Park’ off the debut album by Giggs, one of the UK’s most loved rappers. The evening closed with an electric and mesmerising performance by the critically acclaimed hip hop trio Foreign Beggars, who just days before had announced that 2019 would see the end of the ground breaking group, with a forthcoming final record release and show on 31st December!
The StreetFest dance stage, curated by women in hip hop organisation b.supreme, kicked off with an old skool hip hop and electro set by Leeds based DJ collective Fresh Jive that drew in crowds from across the festival site. There was loud applause and appreciation for Explosive UK, an emerging dance collective from Leeds City College, who gave an energetic performance with impressive street dance choreography that brought the house down. The Leeds dance scene were out in force to take part in StreetFest’s real-time dance battles and demonstrations hosted by B-Girl SunSun, plus a panel of international judges including B-Girl Candy B (NYC). The competition saw local dancer Lauren Haywood decorated as the StreetFest Leeds Dance Champion.
Throughout the festival, over 40 skateboarders including acclaimed pro skater Ben Groves and celebrated skaters Daryl Dominguez, Martin Hill, Lee Rozzee and Bibs competed on StreetFest’s legendary Mini-Ramp Jam – a 32ft half pipe curated by Learn to Skateboard. Professional and amateur skaters showcased and demonstrated their skills for a £1,000 cash prize, which was awarded to local skate legend Dean Greensmith of Leed’s Welcome Skate Store, for his powerful and relentless flips and tricks.
StreetFest revellers perused the perimeter of the festival to watch legends Veno and Simon Hook create real-time graf pieces alongside PaintFreaks a collective of local and internationally celebrated street artists, painters and illustrators who covered the external walls of Canal Mills in vivid acid tones and graphics.
Next in the StreetFest trilogy – StreetFest Liverpool at Constellations Complex on Saturday 10th August.
StreetFest Liverpool will be the second in this summer’s festival series and will be headlined by legendary DJ duo The Nextmen, before coming home to round off the series in London’s Gillet Square on Saturday 14th September, with DJ Semtex returning once more to headline the main stage, alongside more special guests to be announced!