Moloch

21 August
Delicious Clam

Rammed full of sweaty bodies and big riffs, small DIY venue Delicious Clam is verging on unmanageably uncomfortable tonight. Thankfully, aided by the brutal yet clear sound given to every band, this mixed-genre bill of nastiness is enthralling enough to keep the mass of Holy Spider devotees transfixed.

First up, Luna’s Call invoke the spirits of the much-missed mid-career Opeth sound, their technically advanced take on death metal updated with a very modern crunch and sheen. Dramatic, symphonic backing textures make an appearance in their final track, with low growls adding some real menace to the impressive dynamics on display.

Marrying the blistering tremolo of second-wave black metal to the evil mid-pace progressions common to the Church of Ra collective, Crimson Throne offer a punishing but imaginative assault, getting heads nodding and mouths curling firmly and grimly downwards.

Standing out visually with their bizarre uniform of white shirts, black ties and balaclavas, From the Bogs of Aughiska deliver lo-fi smears of atmospheric black metal, with deep ambience emanating between and during the bouts of blasting. Shaky footage of the countryside, Blair Witch-style, is projected over the four-piece as they stare out blank-faced. The whole thing comes across as the UK’s answer to Swiss voyagers Darkspace, with emotive post-black metal harmonies occasionally cutting over the grimness to incredible effect. Despite a few near-miss riffs and barely discernible vocals, this is an otherworldly performance.

Owing largely to the creativity and variety in everything that’s come before, Nottingham’s Moloch are something of an anticlimax. There’s a deeply satisfying crunch in the tone of their incredibly heavy sludge-doom riffs, but ultimately big riff follows big riff and it wears a little thin. They do exactly what they set out to do with great grit, volume and gusto, but after such a brilliant bill, it feels a bit one-dimensional.

Richard Spencer

OMNI

21 August
Picture House Social

During Cowtown’s brilliant support slot, the Leeds band made reference to OMNI’s “never-ending tour”. They aren’t wrong. Ever since the Atlanta band appeared on the scene a couple of years ago with their intriguing ex-Deerhunter credentials and debut album Deluxe, they just haven’t stopped gigging. It’s no surprise then that as a live outfit they absolutely know what they're doing.

In the Picture House Social ballroom they launched effortlessly into lean, energised versions of their well-rounded back catalogue, taking a roughly chronological approach. Even for the casual fan, it’s easy to get swept up in their engaging, Devo-inspired wonky garage rock. Almost childishly melodious riffs combine with an abrasiveness and an ear for precision that makes their live show very, very good.

Their set is concise, all the fat cut away, and in a live setting bassist Philip Frobos’ vocals are more defined than on record. His lyricism shines through - offbeat and surreal, but grounded in the prosaic. There’s the endearingly affectionate line, “Let’s share champagne in the sand” on razor-sharp single ‘Wire’, then there’s ‘Earrings’ in which he declares, “You have such nice glassware […] I would like to swing from.” He’s a master of the unusual compliment.

With a rough interlude facilitated by a ZZ Top cover, they then tackled material from recent album Multi-task, which feels a little more full-bodied and less frantic than their debut, though that's just splitting hairs, as OMNI have landed on a distinctive sound and they’re sticking with it.

Live, OMNI are as sharp and fresh as they sound on record, with absolutely nothing out of place. Oh, and props to Ganglions, who opened the show with an instantly engaging set of fizzy, darkly funny pop-punk. Good stuff from good people, executed well across the board. Nice.

Lucy Holt

Metamorphic

8 August
Lescar

Jazz’s greatest strength as an art form is found in its malleability, the ever-present tension between structure and free expression. Metamorphic, an eight-piece band led by pianist and composer Laura Cole, embody this dichotomy, switching effortlessly from spoken word and song to the semi-improvised skronk of the European avant-garde.

The first piece tonight, ‘Cellular’, opens with a rising swell of notes like an orchestra tuning up, bringing to mind the communal ecstasy of the Pharaoh Sanders album Karma. Although much of the set features textural, impressionistic jazz, this is a band that can catch a groove when they want to, as shown by ‘Centre’, a veritable headbanger which eventually gives way to a delicate piece for solo piano.

“I am the person I know best,” says vocalist Kari Nergaard-Bleivik, as the squawking saxophones give way to a storytelling soundtrack in the second set, “a twinning, spinning duality.” The words are from new album The Two Fridas, inspired by a postcard of encouragement Cole was sent by Robert Wyatt featuring a painting of the same name by Frida Kahlo. These words, possibly sung from the perspective of Kahlo, are an evocative exercise in poetic introspection, and the rest of the group wisely opt for restraint.

At other points, with the group in blow-out mode, Nergaard-Bleivik uses her voice as one component in a crescendo of sound, hovering on the threshold of audibility. It’s a powerful effect, particularly when combined with the wild interjections of John Martin on tenor sax, and Cole is happy to drop expressive piano notes over the top of it like Jackson Pollock flicking paint across the canvas. The last track tonight, ‘Truth’, is warm and open, the band creating rhythmic ripples of colour like waves lapping on a beach.

Sam Gregory

Photo by Ray Kane

Y Not Festival 2018

26-29 July
Aston Hill Farm, Derbyshire

Following the wash out of last year’s festival and watching weather warnings for a week, it was a lovely surprise to set up my tent for Y Not 2018 in gleaming sunshine.

After a few laps of the newly laid-out Main Arena and several pit stops at the Cider Garden, there was just enough time to catch the Friday headliners, Manic Street Preachers and The Libertines. While Doherty and Barratt still have a special place in my heart, MSP stole the show in my eyes, blasting out hits from across the decades and even throwing in a cover of The Cure's 'In Between Days', as if they didn’t have a big enough repertoire.

Saturday morning unfortunately brought the anticipated rain, but luckily we had Mr Motivator to raise soggy spirits. A venue change meant less space, but also less rain, so any complaints were quickly transformed into affirmations. Other highlights of the day included Yassassin, a pop-rock all-female band with a great sound and a punky attitude, as well as Buzzcocks – no explanation needed.

I spent Sunday dipping in and out of tents, cramming in as much music as I could before everything wrapped up. Daisy Godfrey and Bedroom High Club were both perfect examples of young artists on the rise – my favourite kind of act to catch at festivals. Closing the weekend were Jamiroquai, who battled the elements to put on a fantastic show for 30 minutes before sensibly deciding to save their equipment and bow out. No grumbles from me, as I got to hear a handful of classics before hitting Club Malibu for one last dance, hosted by some of Sheffield’s most entertaining DJs under the guise of the Club Malibu Crew. An excellent end to a wet and wonderful weekend.

Tasha Franek

Photo by Georgia Taylor