Gett Off

30 September
Hope Works

When stripped back and absent of decoration, Hope Works is a venue that is dark and spacious, so it was up to Gett Off’s line-up to add colour and fill the venue with music.

Frisco is the heart of grime collective Boy Better Know and was the biggest draw at the event. The system killer lit up the entire venue, despite being clad in dark colours, while the background behind him turned into a visual pool of black and white that neatly emphasised his presence. The MC performed ‘Funny’, ‘Walking’ and ‘Them Man There’, but the best part was when he freestyled over classic and fresh instrumentals dropped by DJ Maximum.

Jammer’s set maintained the standard and was an enjoyable addition to the night, as the Murkle Man gave a sharp performance with the help of Blakie, an upcoming and energetic MC who was one of the unexpected highlights.

Instrumental grime was given its deserved attention when DJs Slimzee and Bok Bok went back-to-back on the decks to play some stunning music. Similarly, DSL opened the first two hours of the night with a rhythmic mixture of exclusives, dubs and classics that made the crowd bounce as they trickled in. Logan Sama followed, appearing in all white to play some of grime’s biggest anthems, as well as dubs of grime’s most popular tracks today.

Sheffield MCs were a force throughout the night, with Coco, Smiley and Shinobi present, while MC Forca and Deadbeat somehow managed to bring together the scattered audience to close the final hour of the night with 4x4 and bass. The team behind Gett Off should be pleased to have put on one of their most enjoyable nights yet, bringing some of grime’s most seasoned and respected artists to Hope Works.

Akeem Balogun

Wild Beasts

1 October
Foundry

As a festival, Sensoria's primary area of exploration is the intersection of sound and imagery, with a strong focus on the technological. Wild Beasts didn't have to adapt their current show much to fit that brief, as their latest release, Boy King, is a very visual affair. The futuristic yet seedy neon imagery of the album's artwork is transposed onstage as illuminated red monoliths that form their light show, and everything about the performance is aggressively streamlined and incredibly confident. They open with current single, 'Big Cat', which is lean and physical and saturated with suggestion.

Although they occasionally hark back to the sensitive meanderings of early tracks like 'We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues' and the more restrained 'Bed Of Nails', the set is characterised by the raised eyebrow, cocksure nature of their fifth album. It falls a little flat when these new traits are pushed into the spotlight. 'Tough Guy', a song about male ego, descends into an exercise in distortion with squealing guitar parts that, along with the light show, make it look as if they're grasping for the arena band sound. It's so far away from third album, Smother, you'd struggle to tag them as the same band. During 'Alpha Female', Hayden Thorpe repeatedly sings the problematic lyric, "I will not hold you back", which would make you ask how tongue-in-cheek the whole schtick is.

It seems naive to complain that Wild Beasts' music isn't as delicate and wide-eyed as it once was. The ever-stunning vocal interplay between Tom Fleming and Hayden is an anchor to the familiar, impressive and effortless in every song, but the uncomfortable elements of sexual posturing make you wonder whether their new tough guy sound is here to stay.

Lucy Holt

Akala

11 October
Plug

Famed as much for his lectures, podcasts and appearances on panel shows, where his astounding knowledge of politics and history shines through, it’s easy to forget that Akala is still a monumental force in UK hip hop in his own right. That point is drilled through with aplomb during his blistering set at Plug. Having already carried out a lecture at City Hall, Akala chooses to keep his between song chat to a minimum and instead lets the music do the talking.

His songs tackle a breadth of issues that centre on exploitation, media, martyrs and the institutional manipulation of history and religion. It’s a different Akala to what we’re used to. The live show Akala doesn’t find enough in his lyrics and instead embellishes his rage by adding a couple of outfit changes, empowering visuals to accompany each song and intermittent videos in which he impersonates English dukes. To add entertainment to such potent messages is quite some feat.

He lashes up the audience in his own charismatic way. Demanding us to bounce during the refrain of “If you ain’t found something to die for / You’ll never live”, there’s a wonderful juxtaposition between fun and serious. Having been granted two more songs, we’re treated to a finale of the earth-shaking ‘Find No Enemy’. Backed with the original video of a much younger, guitar-slinging Akala, the song is a smorgasbord of beautifully laden points made about everything from black history to Jimmy Page’s musical influences. The song ties in the line “They can keep the charts / All I want is your hearts,” and as Akala rushes offstage to meet the crowd at the merch stand, it’s evident he’s acquired so much more than that since his early days.

Charles Gray

Anthony Naples

1 October
Harley

The Saturday night Harley crowd had high expectations for their evening of spectatorship and dancing. Anthony Naples’ support for Floating Points last year set the bar high and the fact that he’d flown in from the US to join us once again made his exoticness all the more appealing.

After quitting university to pursue his musical ambitions in New York, Naples has proven himself an adept electronic composer and sampler. He has modestly declared that all the tracks he’s produced were created just using his laptop, but you can't underestimate the flare of producers in using computer technology rather than classical instruments to go beyond the ordinary. Naples is one of many in his field who’ve contributed to a kind of ‘meta music’.

Keen to experience something extraordinary, audiophiles arrived in dribs and drabs to the redbrick building where the windows are always rattling. It’s almost like a drum roll introduction to the venue. A smattering of attendees and some reluctant dancing was therefore not anticipated. Naples’ set was varied, so much so that it became a little confusing. Techy house, a bassiness too pumping for the gap-filled crowd and a dusting of disco didn’t quite gel. The set wasn’t sure where it was or where it was going. The unusual sound combination would perhaps be more appropriate at a lower volume in a daytime Harley setting. I’m sure we’d all enjoy Naples spinning ‘Tour De Force’ by Hunee over a mid-afternoon pint.

Naples has spent the first part of October performing in Ibiza, Berlin and Barcelona, where he’s hopefully attracted larger crowds who were able to appreciate his unusual genre synthesis. It’s a fusion I hope we’ll be ready for next time.

Jennifer Martino

Teleman

21 October
Queen's Social Club

Teleman's approach to live shows is quite a nuanced one. Their sound, which wears its spectrum of sentiment on its sleeve, is brought to the stage with a reserved approach. Minimal chat, a couple of almost apologetic thank yous and a rigorously sharp performance. Queen's Social Club is packed out with a noticeably older audience, which must be symptomatic of the London band's status as 6Music’s unofficial favourite. There's something of a puzzling disconnect between content and context.

This doesn't prove to be a problem as they play songs from their debut album, Breakfast, and recent release from earlier this year, Brilliant Sanity. Frontman Thomas Sanders' vocals are distinctively sharp, but seem to come without effort or contrivance. The band blast through track after track of excellently-crafted, well-paced synthpop songs. Even to the least observant gig goer, their set up is tight as tight. Jonny Sanders on synth, Pete Cattermoul on bass and Hiro Amamiya on drums are all very much bringing their own forms of technical flare to the table. The overall result is swirling, innovative and slightly offbeat, coming together at the right moments to create emotive moments. The much used adjective ‘intelligent’ springs to mind.

That's not to say Teleman's set is calculated or dry. As with popular single and encore track 'Cristina', it's an intelligence that doesn't detract from the convincingly yearning nature of their often sexually themed songs. The crowd, who seem to know and respond to every song as if it were a single, get particularly excited for 'Tangerine'. It's a dissonant, jangly, frustrated song that builds and releases like the most emphatic of pop classics. They close with current single 'Glory Hallelujah', a dynamic track with loads of complex instrumental parts, all held together by its thrusting, love torn sentiment.

Lucy Holt