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A Magazine for Sheffield

Y Not Festival / Trust Fund / Little Braves

31 July - 2 Aug
Pikehall, Derbyshire

If Snoop Dogg making an appearance near Matlock wasn’t a good enough reason to attend, then there was the rest of an incredible line-up crafted by Sheffield-based events organisers Tribe of Xanadu that brought another surge of growth for this once little-known festival. Five years strong, these guys were once again the real heart of the party, filling the enigmatic Octopus Garden with a host of eclectic delights.

After arriving later than anticipated on the Friday evening, struggling to find a place to pitch up, and then catching Snoop Dogg performing the most bizarre hip hop karaoke set that Derbyshire will ever witness, we arrived at the main Xanadu stage just in time to see Sheffield-based K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade absolutely ripping the place up, once again. All nine musicians on stage were bursting with charisma and a whole lot of rhythm.

After tiring myself out with hula hooping, eating falafel and sampling cask ales to the sound of swing music at The Tippling House on Saturday, I caught an amazing sample of Spit n Strings doing some improv, complete with crowd participation, which really captured the spirit of this easygoing festival. After seeing them make such an impact at Tramlines the weekend before, I had to see Basement Jaxx for a second time, and was once again blown away by a totally entertaining show, this time with fireworks on top. The rest of the night had to be spent with Mr Meerkat at the Bassweight Tent, another of Xanadu’s creations which seemed to be crammed full for the entire weekend.

Hull-based Counting Coins were a favourite on Sunday, psyching everybody up for their final day in the fields. Another band with an eclectic set, their ska/punk vibe filled the tent and even soundtracked a couple of pirates in a dance-off. Not bad for a 3pm slot. Sheffield favourites Bison headed up the Xanadu festivities before a DJ set full of party favourites rivalled the attention of the Bassweight skankers next door. Next year? Y Not?

Tasha Franek


20 August
Bungalows & Bears

Bungalows and Bears keep hosting these amazing free gigs with a diverse range of bands. Tonight's triptych is courtesy of Macho Music is Stupid.

The three members of Nixon have been separately playing and recording with other bands for a decade, but here are playing their first hometown gig together. They kick off with 'Ant On A Chessboard', the first track from their debut album, Linus, and it lasts less than a minute. This is the Nixon M.O. - short, sharp sonic attacks that leave you reeling. The guitar, bass and drums mesh to provide a thrilling and exhilarating aural assault. This is juxtaposed with wry, erudite lyrics that are spat and shouted out with real conviction. Despite this, the songs have an undeniable pop sensibility, and occasionally things slow sufficiently for a melody and some sweet harmonies. To further enhance their dizzying reputation, they play a new 50-second instrumental in something like 7/16 time. Amazing.

Katie Harkin co-founded Sky Larkin in Leeds ten years ago. She later collaborated with Wild Beasts and recently toured as the fourth member of US indie legends Sleater-Kinney. Tonight she plays a seven-song set, mostly comprising new material that is the fruit of her first solo labours at home in the Peak District. Some of these are more fully formed than others, but it's fascinating to imagine them being fleshed out with additional instrumentation. Her electric guitar sound is full and rich and her vocals shimmer and resonate.

Bristol's Ellis Jones sometimes performs solo, but tonight appears with a five-piece line-up of Trust Fund. They play songs from February's debut album, No One's Coming For Us, plus some newer stuff. Jangly guitars and four-part harmonies dominate proceedings and this lo-fi pop confection is lapped up by the mostly adoring audience. They do sometimes stray too far into the fey and twee garden, but when their dreamy, DIY songs are played with more of a rhythmic backbone, they definitely hit the mark.

Pete Martin


21 August

The Leadmill, a venue famed for its rock and roll credentials, hosted a very different kind of operation when Little Braves rolled into town on Friday 21 August. Four indie-folk bands, all with very different credentials, occupied the second room stage.

First up was London-Sheffield four-piece Tales From The Hills. The female lead singer's voice drew a likeness to Alanis Morisette, whilst the folk rock guitar conjured a resemblance to early Ryan Adams albums. Further in, the set took an atmospheric turn, with her beautiful voice opening up and grabbing attention, before ending with the funky breakdowns of closing song, 'Death to My Kind'.

Second band Humbar were younger, but that wasn’t noticeable in their confident singer's voice, drawing immediate similarity to Shingai Shoniwa of the Noisettes. Her voice sat above an upbeat bed of jazzy rhythms and pop-funk guitar parts, whilst the keyboardist delivered high octane crescendos. The highlight of their set was a perfectly executed cover of 'No Diggity'.

Pocket Satellite are a band that have been at the forefront of the Sheffield indie folk scene for a while, evident in their ability to entertain a crowd. Shakers, tambourines, xylophones and helium balloons, alongside songs that could make even the most miserable gig goer turn a smile and tap a toe. Their set was summed up by 'Eskimo', a song about an eskimo going to Hawaii which ended with the band and crowd yelling, “E.S.K.I.M.O”. Brilliant.

Finally, Little Braves took to the stage, an indie-folk five-piece made up of former members of Take To The Seas, Seven Tors and All The Damn Kids. Their set waved from sombre atmospheric numbers to bouncy tracks with intricate guitar parts. Without a doubt they were at their finest when the three vocalists sang together in harmony, a delight so good it even managed to hush the crowd, which was growing more drunk and restless by the minute. A fitting end to a gig that proved The Leadmill doesn’t just do rock and roll.

Will Hitchmough


Next article in issue 90

Lonelady: Charting the Hinterland

With this year’s Sensoria Festival almost in sight, excitement is building around the myriad of acts that will be gracing the streets and…

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