Bunga Bunga.

1st January.
Hope Works.

Reviewer - Tristan Shorrock.

It's often a struggle to decide where to be when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. But from the early hours of the morning of 1st January Bunga Bunga hosted their eighth party, which gave people the opportunity to watch Jools Holland's countdown at home and then attend their much longer electronic hootenanny.

Party number seven back in early December saw DJs Oneman and Melé take the stage at the infamous Yellow Arch Studios. Though the NYE venue may not have been as exciting as that labyrinth, the team managed to locate another gritty and cavernous warehouse in the form of Attercliffe's Hope Works to create a unique, party-proof space, small enough that the dance floor didn't ever feel empty but spacious enough to mill about.

The line-up was less techno and house oriented than Faction, happening in parallel down at Dirty Little Secret on Snow Lane. It was instead much more focused on grime, garage and dubstep. A last-minute addition to the bill was Sheffield's own Off Me Nut Records, who played the evening out with a vinyl-only bassline set, proving that the spirit of Niche lives on.

Some of Sheffield's finest, including Squarehead and Jack Opus, kept the dancefloor alive, but local heroes the Forgemasters stood out, guiding the crowd through a history of South Yorkshire bass. Headline act Lil Silva was ferocious on the decks. His set of gritty grime and garage proved that a resurgence of house music doesn't necessarily mean people have forgotten their variation on a 2-step skank.

The sound system was crystal clear and leveled perfectly. This aided the throbbing sub-bass on a range of classics, from Benga and Coki's dubstep beacon 'Night' to Jay Z's 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder', and more recent bangers like Wiley's 'Wearing My Rolex' and TNGHT's 'Higher Ground'. It was DJ Champion who got the crowd going with such New Year's Eve party essentials, a move that made him stand out as one of the evening's highlights.

For the price, convenience and strong, well-constructed sets, Bunga Bunga was the place to be to welcome in the New Year.

Cult of Luna.

20th January.
Corporation.

Reviewer - Paul Raven.

If you popped in to see Cult Of Luna for the sake of getting out of the cold, you're going to be disappointed; there is no warmth in their work, though there is perhaps an odd sense of something like comfort.

Well, there's tonal warmth, sure. Buckets of it, in fact. Three guitarists, bass guitar, keys and two drummers. There's more texture coming off that stage than you'd find in a blind man's wardrobe. That pounding oceanic soundscape might give way to a glacial moment of calm and clarity, or maybe to a riff that sounds like Cthulhu dragging an iron skyscraper across the ocean floor after a busy afternoon laying waste to New York. Burbles and squelches of synth percolate through the gloom, and haunting little circular melodies flash bright and fast through the darkness. At a great distance, some angry nigh-forgotten demigod bellows his fury, and thunder thumps and rumbles underfoot.

In other words, Cult of Luna make a stinking good noise, and they play for close to 90 minutes to an audience that stands largely still for the whole show, watching the stage. While they aren't exactly showmen in the star jumps and banter kind of way, Cult of Luna still make a fine tableau as they stagger around the blue-lit grotto of a stage, their stark shapes cut suddenly from black cardboard by the scattershot blasts of the strobes. I'm accustomed to being one of the rare few folk at a show stood still and paying attention. To find myself one motionless member among many in this calm and reverent communion is a little unsettling.

But it is unsettling music, after all - not creepy-scary, and not all spoiled-child-angry like so much metal seems to be these days, but bleak and somehow Sisyphean, like they're shouldering the weight of the world for a while, just to give the rest of us a break. There's a beauty in their desolation, and something like a comfort in knowing that it's not just me - even if that knowledge, like so much knowledge, turns out to be illusory when the lights come up at the end of the night. But in the moment, I am oceans away. That's what live music is for.

Cult of Luna don't do cheerful, they don't do cute, and they definitely don't do nice. But they do huge, and they do deep. Learning to swim is up to you.

The Tempertons.

11th January.
Greystones.

Reviewer - Pete Martin.

The Greystones is jam-packed as the support band Ish-Brother take the stage. They are a local, (very) young five-piece indie band who play a delightful set of Postcard-influenced pop. The inclusion of a trumpet player really gives the standard bass, drums, guitar line-up a refreshing edge. The vocals are occasionally tentative and are obviously not the finished article, but they possess a nonchalance that is captivating and hopefully the band can retain this as they progress. Something of a revelation.

The Tempertons were formed three years ago by Neil Barratt, named after fellow Lincolnshire-born producer, arranger and songwriter Rod Temperton, who wrote 'Rock With You' and 'Thriller' for Michael Jackson, as well as 'Boogie Nights' and 'Yah Mo B There', among many others.

The seven musicians start with a couple of instrumentals to loosen themselves up, before being joined by the male vocalist for a cover of Steely Dan's 'Peg', where the full range of musicianship is showcased - a watertight rhythm section, glorious horns and a scintillating guitar solo. Their regular female vocalist is absent with laryngitis, so the setlist is tailored to a male vocal. There have been a number of personnel changes in the band over the years, but each new member has brought a love and appreciation of the music that is evident tonight.

The set continues with a mix of tasteful covers and original material and, unless you know the original artists, you'd be hard-pressed to distinguish between them, such is the consummate skill of Barratt's songwriting. Is it Prince or Curtis or Barratt? 'The Other Side Of Town' starts slowly with malleted drums and restrained guitars, but it builds steadily with the three-piece horn section especially excelling. They finish with a rousing rendition of Bowie's 'Let's Dance', which sees much of the audience doing exactly that.

With this band the song is king. Though they are undoubtedly soulful, they don't go in for extended 20-minute funk workouts and the search for a groove is always balanced with the needs of a beautifully crafted and structured song.

Audrey Horne / Nat Johnson.

19th January.
Audacious Art Space.

Reviewer - Rod Aldam.

The DIY community in Sheffield is currently experiencing a rather exciting and fruitful period, and one of the major players is The Audacious Art Experiment. Currently celebrating their tenth birthday, they combine being a record label with putting on a wide mix of live music, usually at their home on Harwood Street. As soon as you arrive at the Audacious Art Space, it's apparent that this is not going to be your average live experience. There's a cosy, communal feel to the venue, with its unusual decorations, resembling part squat, part art space.

Sophia Pettit whets our appetites by playing a few songs to open up proceedings, ending with a delightful cover of Little Joy's 'Unattainable'. The venue is beginning to fill up and the friendliness and laid back ethos of the night comes to the fore. There is a great mix of people here, and everyone is in high spirits despite the inclement weather.

Next up we have two local musicians who are well known around Sheffield, Jim Ghedi and Neal Heppleston. Playing songs from both their EPs, Of Abyssinia and Archipelago, along with some new material, they were joined by a special guest, Devon, who provided backing vocals and recites a beautiful poem in the middle of their set. The duo wield a guitar and a double bass, uncovering a whole plethora of musical styles and influences, including jazz, afrobeat, folk and roots. The highlights of this evening's set are 'Nubian Grove' and 'Harper's Lantern'.

Nat Johnson is well known around Sheffield, be it for her work with Monkey Swallows The Universe or with her band The Figureheads. Tonight she is accompanied on backing vocals and violin by Katherine and Emma from Standard Fare. After her great performance in the Cathedral for Tramlines 2012, it's a complete contrast seeing her in such a small venue, but her set fits perfectly into a more intimate setting. 'Hedgehunter' and a cover of Connie Converse's 'Roving Woman' both go down a treat.

As our headline band take to the stage, the atmosphere becomes a lot livelier. Audrey Horne, apart from presumably being fans of Twin Peaks, are a shoegaze band who appear to be heavily influenced by post punk. It's nice to see how the venue changes its dynamic with a full band on stage, and they play an impressive set, their music sometimes veering off in wonderfully unexpected directions. They bring a thoroughly entertaining night to a close, showing what Sheffield has to offer outside of the main venues.