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65DAYSOFSTATIC / FLIGHT BRIGADE / MERCHANDISE / STAY POSITIVE.

by Now Then Sheffield

23rd September.
Sound Control, Manchester.

Reviewer – Alex Adams.

It’s a chilly night in Manchester and the streets are quiet, but inside Sound Control under the aging metalwork there’s a joyful noise happening.

First up, The Physics House Band smash out frantic and jerky riffs as the crowd cheer on their antics. Following them all the way from Sydney comes Sleepmakeswaves, a bombastic four-piece who revel in making loud chaos at an accelerated pace.

65daysofstatic climb the stage to a riotous welcome and begin with new album opener ‘Heat Death Infinity Splinter’, and yes, it is just as magnificent as it sounds – a slowly growing mass of synth bleeps, crashing drums and howling guitars that serves better than any sound check to test the vast array of effects pedals, pianos, drum pads, laptops and guitars that are spread in front of us.

Fuelled by wild cheering, 65days charge on with ‘Prisms’, a joyful mash of blasting techno and the subtler driving force of post-rock riffs. Guitarist Joe Shrewsbury creates squeals from a range of pedals set up to look like a nightmarish Simon Says game as he bashes them with frantic energy. At one point the stage becomes some sort of industrial drum circle, with everyone hammering something to add even more depth to the vast soundscapes they are so adept at creating. The movement is effortless, the music is beautiful and immense, the sweat pours.

Mixing mostly newer songs from the latest album Wild Light with some fan favourites gives the set list a good balance of unbridled noise war punctuated by gentler moments of post-rock beauty.

Even with some sound level issues the sheer force of noise that 65days can create is staggering and everyone is swept up in the energy they create. Finishing with Wild Light’s finale ‘Safe Passage’, a gentle eulogy to technology that ends with an explosion of all the distortion ever created, 65daysofstatic prove that when it comes to live music, there is no-one like them. Equal part chaos and beauty, fury and joy, this band is unstoppable.

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24TH SEPTEMBER.
RED HOUSE.

REVIEWER – BEN ECKERSLEY.

I find myself hearing all too often that Sheffield doesn’t have enough gigs, enough venues, enough of a scene. It’s gigs like this at the Red House that make me beg to differ. Heard by only a few people, these three bands still offered vibrant, diverse and exuberant performances. If a quiet midweek gig in a pub can be as high quality as this, we’ve got nothing to worry about.

Seven Tors are a new Sheffield band making lovely, lively folk-pop music. There’s a strong hint of Americana, beautiful melodic lines, some great sunshine pop vocal harmonies and catchy, upbeat songwriting. I missed the bulk of their set, but even a couple of songs were enough to make a good impression. You can see them at the Red Deer on October 5th.

Flight Brigade were an unknown element, visiting Sheffield for the first time. It’s been months since a new band has excited me this much. To start off with, they’ve got a great story: two members of the band are sisters who grew up on the same road as the lead singer, and the band began after he married one of them. They play with incredible passion and sincerity, sweeping up a maelstrom of infectious energy around them. Their music is complex and assertive enough to utilise their very high level of musicianship. Their arrangements owe a lot to a wide selection of shoegaze, emo and post-rock bands, notably Arcade Fire and early Jimmy Eat World with an obligatory nod to Silver Mt Zion, though the presence in the line up of a violin and accordion helps at times to bring a gentler, folkier sound akin to Spokes and Broken Records. The songwriting is mature, considered and memorable. The overall effect is captivating – the highlight of the night. Their new EP is out now.

My First Tooth have had to follow this every night on their current tour, but they managed with apparent ease. I enjoy them more with every performance, always welcoming the sheer joy they convey every time they play. They’re a slightly punkier Beirut, or if you prefer, Weezer with a bit more folk-rock, uncomplicated and merry. Along with some other fantastic artists, they’ll be playing at the highly recommended A Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester on October 19th.

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4th September.
Harley.

Reviewer – Rob Aldam.

I was fortunate enough to catch Merchandise earlier this year at Primavera and ever since this gig was announced I’ve been looking forward to seeing them again, especially after it was moved to the intimate confines of the Harley.

Unfortunately, I arrived too late to catch Kult Country, but according to the interminable drunk who accosted me as I arrived, “They were so good I bought the record.” More on him later.

Kagoule are a fresh-faced band from Nottingham who first came to prominence at the back end of last year when the demo of ‘Made of Concrete’ appeared on the internet, picking up airplay and admiring glances on blogs and websites. They followed this up with the release of ‘Mudhole’/‘Monarchy’ earlier this year. Whether by accident or design, Lucy seems to be taking a larger proportion of the singing duties tonight and where their music really clicks is when boy-girl vocals combine. Whilst Cai’s vocals bear the faint audible twinges of Placebo, Kagoule’s main influences come via bands like Nirvana and Sonic Youth. New song ‘Gush’ stands out in a set littered with a mix of grunge and lo-fi slacker rock.

“That was our soundcheck,” drawls Carson Cox, the enigmatic frontman of Tampa mope-rockers Merchandise, at the end of their first song. The quartet look like nothing could faze them, emitting a kind of laidback laconic energy. The first few chords of ‘Anxiety’s Door’, the lead from their last album Total Night, get the crowd buzzing. It’s safe to say tonight isn’t their best performance, but they play with an intensity and ease that is compelling.

Despite the aforementioned drunk’s best attempts to annoy them, and everyone else in the Harley, they play through their set with consummate assurance. ‘Time’ has the feel of early 80s Cure, while they end with the epic ‘Become What You Are’. Merchandise are a band who can make a song last three or 12 minutes without it feel stretched or unnecessary. On the back of Pitchfork adulation and sudden exposure they seem to be eschewing their early hardcore punk ethos in favour of a more mainstream approach. Only time will tell if this will be successful.

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26th September.
Bungalows & Bears.

Reviewer – Tasha Franek.

The end of September marked this year’s freshers’ week, with another legion of new students taking their first steps through the streets of Sheffield. As always, those who favour checking out the local live music scene, rather than drinking until they vomit, were spoilt with live acts across Division Street and beyond. Tucked up mid-week at everybody’s favourite former fire station Bungalows and Bears, promoters One Cloud of the Roofs hosted a night of electronic music with Stay Positive, Sophie and Reiner Veil.

Kicking things off with the bang of a drum machine, Reiner Veil were the first to take to the stage. The two-piece crafted ambient soundscapes to create a dreamy, orchestral set, lucid but alive with energy. The crowd was a bit thin but the duo managed to create an buzz across the bar regardless, totally absorbed in each track.

A short break later and the music continued. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from an act called Sophie, but I was pleasantly surprised when a very sharp looking gentleman dressed in black stepped up to the stage. A whole world away from the ambience of Reiner Veil, Sophie’s music was fast-paced and would not have seemed out of place in the 90s house scene. With an excellent display of sampling and a fun, repetitive vibe, I could see this producer going down a storm with a denser crowd. If only a few more excitable freshers had found themselves in Bungalows – the place could have been wild.

The headliner of the evening, Stay Positive somehow managed to step the energy up to another level – a real mixture of electro sounds, with all of the enthusiasm that one man can physically muster. A couple of tracks from the new EP Blood Brother, including the title track, seem destined for success in clubs, and I have no doubt that there will be lots of exciting things to come from this guy.

The music all the way through the evening, DJ set from Secret Diaries included, was electric and it’s a real shame that there was so much competition for the evening plans of Sheffield’s newbie residents.

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by Now Then Sheffield

Next article in issue 67

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