Digital Mystikz, Compa & Benton
The Night Kitchen
If anyone was going to The Night Kitchen for the first time and struggling to find the venue, they could have followed the echo of the almost boundless sub-bass that is prominent in the type of dubstep that first made a name for itself in the south London borough of Croydon. Digital Mystikz, Compa and Benton at The Night Kitchen was a celebration of that era.
Nowadays it’s a surreal experience to hear a consistent set featuring tracks from the likes of Kahn & Neek, Loefah, Benga, J Kenzo, Coki, Skream and other dubstep heavyweights all under one roof in Sheffield. The reverberant, melodic drum patterns many dubstep tracks bear can’t be ignored. The tracks leave spaces in between them that are up to the audience to fill, usually through uncontrollable head-bobbing and near mosh pit-level reactions. The Night Kitchen was all of this and more tonight, and it was transfixing to see Mala, Coki, Compa and Benton, as well as Mud and FZKS Audio.
If you missed out then you undoubtedly missed one of the best nights to occur in Sheffield this year. Not only did it showcase some of the best music from a genre that has continued to grow following its transition back to the underground, but it was also a potent reminder that a venue that’s hosted so many great events is due for closure this summer. As well as making people eager for another dubstep line up, Bluewave’s event acted as a firm indicator of the many good nights left to come at the cutlery factory turned nightclub.
“You alreyt?” Rebecca Taylor, one half of Slow Club, shyly greets the crowd. She and Charles Watson are as Sheffield as they come. At another Leadmill gig a few years back, she took to the stage in a dress made from Sheffield Wednesday shirts, and here the duo reminisce about sneaking into the iconic venue as underage teens.
Slow Club kick things off in style with the excellent ‘Ancient Rolling Sea’ and ‘Tears Of Joy’. Their biggest hits quickly dispensed with, the pair settle into an intimate set, the mood undulating between upbeat crowd-pleasers and slower, thoughtful songs more befitting of their name.
The pair’s reputation as a class act is well founded and it’s easy to see why their retro-infused, Sunday morning, Fleetwood Mac-inspired music has won rave reviews. They’re brilliant musicians, both contributing vocals and guitar, with Rebecca also putting a shift in on drums.
Both take turns to have the stage to themselves, playing solos with the other musicians waiting in the wings. Their talent is obvious, but closing the first night of Outlines Festival in front of an excitable Friday night crowd, the setlist is slightly mistargeted at times, the mood slightly mis-pitched. As Charles confesses after his solo, “I feel like the guy in the guitar shop playing solos while his girlfriend’s waiting.” Unsurprisingly though, Slow Club’s smooth, gorgeous melodies leave the crowd wanting more and they oblige with a superb encore. “I hear that guitar music is coming back here any day,” sings Watson on ‘Tattoo Of The King’. If there’s a guitar revolution coming, there’d be no better leaders.
Approaching their tenth birthday, The Crookes’ meteoric rise seems set to continue, at least judging by their popularity at The Leadmill as they cap a fine opening evening for Outlines Festival with an energetic performance. Purveyors of some of the finest indie pop around, perhaps the four-piece’s most impressive attribute is their ability to cram highbrow references into three-minute pop songs, as on ‘Sal Paradise’, named for the narrator of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.
They’ve even managed to popularise local history through their music. Tracks like ‘The I Love You Bridge’, referencing Park Hill’s famous graffiti, and ‘The Crookes Laundry Murder, 1922’ show a deep cultural awareness and further embed The Crookes’ roots. Comparisons to Morrissey and The Smiths, both in terms of guitarist Daniel Hopewell’s lyrics and singer George Waite’s delivery style, are obvious but unavoidable. As Noel Gallagher said of them, “They’ve got good lyrics. All Sheffield bands have good lyrics.” Hopewell has said his stream of consciousness songwriting stems from his belief that poetry and music are “inextricably bound”.
Here the band intersperses favourites from their back catalogue, with songs from their latest album, Lucky Ones, released last year. “I never thought I’d see a mosh pit to that song,” admits Waite after one of them, the slower ‘Roman Candle’, provokes an unexpectedly enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. The Crookes end their set strongly with a powerful one-two-three of their biggest hits: ‘Backstreet Lovers’, ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’ and ‘Afterglow’. Having professed their love for playing Tramlines, fans will be quietly hopeful of a return to the city where it all began for them in the summer.