The Crookes

30 September
Leadmill

As I arrived at The Leadmill shortly after doors to find every bar fifteen deep, it really hit me how big a deal tonight was to so many stalwart fans of this band, now at the end of their near decade-long musical odyssey.

Having packed out venues in Berlin and Amsterdam as warm-ups to their sold-out, homecoming swansong, The Crookes’ farewell show was always going to be an emotionally charged, climactic affair.

The hype hung heavy in the air. Until, that is, the irrepressible Hot Soles bowled onstage to a raucous reception, and the Sheffield two-cum-four piece immediately set about interspersing white-hot blues rock with singer and guitarist Kieran Wardle’s trademark acerbic levity. By the time they bowed out to make way for the main event, the atmosphere was one of unmistakable joy and revelry.

Straight out of the blocks with fan favourite ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’, there was not a glimmer of pathos from the lads. Their assured swagger and wry-smiling glances to one another let everyone know that this was to be a party, not a wake. Storming through a catalogue of their now cult hits, it was when they lit up ‘Roman Candle’ that I noticed the first bodies bobbing over the sea of flailing limbs. This continued to the crackling crescendo of ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’, before a brief, pre-encore interlude which had the now-frenzied crowd demanding more of the same.

Following the final bars of their sign-off song, the aptly titled ‘Afterglow’, the band said their goodbyes with staunch humility, before coming down to mingle with (and get mobbed by) those who have loved them best. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from each of these musicians before long, but for now, let's raise a final glass to The Crookes.

Ben Jackson

In:flux 4th Birthday

14 October
Yellow Arch

In:flux’s fourth birthday was jam-packed with bass music of all kinds. The label brought a host of names to celebrate their anniversary and wasted no time setting the tone.

Opening acts Tyler C and Raffi, along with Sekt-87 and Smuggla, filled Yellow Arch with thick, dark bass lines, before Wölfe’s solid and impressive set, made up of well-refined garage that morphed into funky before becoming blends and refixes of all kinds of grime. Tino followed with a set that pushed the soundsystem to the limit, then Tik & Borrow played a set at 140bpm that Forca provided the lyrical icing to. Closing sets by TC4 and Thorpey back-to-back with Pelikann provided more fast UK underground, until Scoped from Forged Records ended the night with unfiltered drum & bass.

In between the above Plastician appeared. Even if you’d never seen him before you knew he was someone of significance once he began playing. The Croydon legend opened strongly with a selection that re-ignited the night. He played exclusives, well-known songs and remixes of classic tracks, including Danny Weed’s ‘Creeper’, Wiley’s ‘Morgue’, Kano’s ‘Three Wheel Ups’, D Double E’s ‘Shenanigans’ and tracks that only his inner circle would have access to, including a dub of Coco’s ‘My G’. As to be expected from the Rinse FM staple, he played a plethora of dubstep, all seamlessly intertwined in a set that was undoubtedly the best of the night. He went over the hour he was scheduled for and if he had stayed even longer there would have been no complaints from the audience.

With a massive line-up and one of the best headlining acts for anyone who’s enjoyed the past decade of the UK underground, In:flux celebrated their fourth year in appropriately spectacular fashion.

Akeem Balogun

Factory Floor

Magna

Metropolis has seen many rescores since its 1927 release, some more successful than others. Giorgio Moroder’s 1984 effort featuring contributors like Bonni Tyler, Adam Ant and Freddie Mercury is as bizarre as it sounds. Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills’ 2000 score is a better reference point for Factory Floor’s effort, but proved so disagreeable to the Lang estate that they forbade any commercial performances or home video releases.

Factory Floor’s live rescore for Sensoria Festival took place in Magna’s gargantuan former steel mill. The setting successfully evoked the industrial dystopia of the film and the dramatic lighting nicely mirrored Lang's famous use of chiaroscuro. One unexpected treat was an actual robot on stage, who talked us through the film’s place in the cultural history of robotics before the performance began.

Factory Floor’s set-up consisted of Nik Colk Void on modular synthesis and Gabriel Gurnsey on laptop and drums. Gabriel mostly remained on laptop as the duo created rhythmic industrial soundscapes for the Machine Room scenes and psychedelic synthesiser jams for the more pastoral moments. The drum kit was reserved for providing a barrelling motorik urgency during action sequences, while Nik switched to Factory Floor’s well-known palette of ice-cold acidic synth patterns.

These were the most successful sections, but the performance fell at many of the same hurdles as most live rescores. The rhythmic Machine Room accompaniments rarely matched the actual rhythms of the onscreen action. Likewise, tonal changes in the soundtrack tended to take place somewhat after the corresponding plot points. These discrepancies were particularly disappointing given how much care the original score took in this respect, down to the composer playing piano on set to ensure cohesion.

This nit-picking aside, Factory Floor successfully captured the film’s aesthetic and it was great to see another new interpretation after 90 years – but it would be even better as a more precise studio effort.

Michael Hobson

Dave Hause and the Mermaid

Plug
15 October

Last month, the Philadelphia punk rock troubadour took his merry band of musicians to Plug and brought the Hause down (shameless pun). Two tracks deep, Hause has the crowd unglued through a classic recipe of good showmanship, high-tempo punk rock jams and crowd interaction throughout. He delivers a rowdy set which complements the rest of the lineup opening up for Frank Iero and the Patience nicely. While Paceshifters gave us frantic energy, The Homeless Gospel Choir gave us heartfelt acoustic anthems and Hause throws out hot slabs of Americana reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem and Chuck Ragan.

A vocoder intro and a Cyndi Lauper cover are nice touches to the set, but it’s the high-energy singalong of ‘Dirty Fucker’ that really grips the audience tonight. It’s fair to say this is where the energy peaks, before a slight dip near the end of the set. Dave Hause and the Mermaid know their craft and do their job of prepping this crowd nicely. It’s clear to see that, twenty-plus years into his career, Hause isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

Lewis Budden

Frank Iero and The Patience

Plug
15 October

Exactly one year ago, the former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero and his crew were in a direct collision with a bus in Australia. Since then, a sophomore album, world tour and many painful hours in physiotherapy have brought the New Jersey native back to Sheffield to provide us with a defiant display of the punk rock spirit.

Iero wasted no time with the sold-out Plug. Opening with the hefty grunge rock blast of ‘World Destroyer’, any notion that tonight might be tame evaporated instantly. However, it’s the album track ‘Neverenders’ that set the place ablaze.

Mosh pits spewing into a sea of crowdsurfers and lyrics hysterically bellowed back at the band – Frank keeps the place moving. It’s a spontaneous and relentless set, featuring both debut album tracks, new material and even a few cheeky covers, including a brave but loyal Beatles cover of ‘Helter Skelter’.

Frank and The Patience closed the show with fan favourite ‘Joyriding’ and the newer ‘Oceans’. The strength and contrast of both songs highlighted how Frank and his band have grown over the past few years, from songwriting, stage presence and even the band name. Every aspect of Frank Ieros’ outfit keeps developing and it’s amazing to watch.

With a break coming after this album cycle, it will be interesting to see how Iero reinvents his solo project from here. One year on, it’s clear that he puts every ounce of himself into his music. He lived, almost died and recovered by doing this. One thing is for sure, if a bus can’t stop this guy, then nothing can.

Lewis Budden

Pretty Pretty Good

7 October
Hope Works

As it was Joe’s first appearance after three years away, it was a nostalgic occasion for Hessle Audio fans and the producer himself. His set was conceptually varied, consisting of gems such as Mosca’s ‘White Mice’ and GB’s ‘The Gospel’, as well as ‘Blue Pedro’ by Bullion. There aren’t many DJs who can make a track with an Irish jig melody work while submerged in a dark cave up north.
Meanwhile in the monumental warehouse space, DJ Sprinkles provided a politically provocative deep house set displaying her expansive knowledge as a musician. Playing the first set of the night, the crowd listened carefully to her cohesively assembled sounds.

Back in the Mesters space, Objekt made a memorable entrance sampling a staple of the noughties, Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’. As expected the Berlin producer provided a stylistic assortment of tunes, including an abstract piece named ‘JR’ from Mudwise’s album Tokyo Summer, as well as a minimal Mike Parker track, ‘Drain Hum (Percussion Mix)’, which unfolded unconventionally into an arrangement of drum kicks elegantly planted with broken-up acid groans.

rRoxymore gave the most intellectual set of the night. ‘Warehousing’ by Syncom Data flushed away any gaps on the dancefloor, despite the majority of the hoard lost in translation with Objekt. The two soon however went back-to-back in Mesters, a special collaboration with the pair creating complementary storms with their different stylistic intricacies. They each brought a contrasting musical selection, which saw a playing of Dolo Percussion’s ‘Dolo 8’.

Overall, it was a multifarious evening filled with the finest range of tunes. Hats off, not only to Pretty Pretty Good, but also to the revellers who make Sheffield’s rave culture one of a kind.

Georgia Smith