Saturday 24: Pata de Perro (Sheffield Alabama Death March).
Day started out nicely with the Bromheads‘ flashmob in front of the Student Union of the University of Sheffield. A sparse but eager crowd was there, told by organisers that as soon as the band started playing, they had to freeze in position, with poses as silly as they could muster to keep for 2 minutes.
The song played was ‘Friends’ (the very one they played when they got chased out of the City Library twice in April). Afterwards it was time to take the Busker Bus, which arrived not late not early, but exactly when it was expected to arrive. After cramming everyone inside, the band haphazardly started to play ‘Friends’ again.
“We’ve got to play this song again, sorry, people from the flashmob, it’s for the cameras. You’ll like it once you hear it 20 times!” joked Bromheads singer Tim while drummer Dan waited eagerly to do some noise on the drums. As only there was room for the snare (held in place by foot-pressure), extra percussion was achieved with the holding bars. Worked pretty well.
The sight reminded me of being back in Mexico: cramped conditions, people trying to keep balance, some fun with lyrics (‘Poppy Bird’ got changed accordingly). Heck, I was half waiting someone to pass a hat ’round asking for “whatever you can spare”. The band played ‘Edey’, ‘Poppy bird’ (with changed lyrics for comedic effort) and ‘Boots’ until the bus arrived to The Devonshire Cat.
A quick visit to the World Stage then The New Music Stage was in order, just to check out how the atmosphere was on the other venues. I ran into all members of (name drop removed by editors) while waiting for a call from (second cheap name drop removed).
After doing some pints and a Campari mojito, I went to The Grapes, meeting with people from The Hope Explosion who were waiting to see The Monicans. Again, The Grapes was full and the band left. I ran into the Palmer brothers from The Unfortunate Incident , noticing that one of them supported the wrong baseball team. After lamenting that there weren’t that many Sheffield-based bands on the main stage (maybe next year it could be used on Friday too?), they joked about the queues everywhere. Both Palmer brothers were drinking a horrible diet fizzy drink and I extolled to them the healthy, calorie free benefits of drinking Campari. (this paragraph is brought to you by Campari Inc.)
Tend to offend was the next place to visit, holding an exhibition of graffiti and street art. Getting there was a bit hard (not much signs to get there) but the loud DJ music was a helpful beacon. It was a shame the place was pretty much dead empty, but with a bit of paint it could work as a great venue for next year. The pieces at the exhibition were mostly riffs on popular culture, skewing iconic images from ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Stripes’.
Just an unladen swallow’s flight away and was back at the The New Music Stage, where the schedule was shifted and it was time for Dinosaur Pile-Up to do their brand of grunge. It was strange that were other venues were late, this was going earlier, but still, the less wait, the better.
The fast and furious show from Leeds’ Dinosaur Pile-Up was a throwback to old school grunge, whilst keeping an energetic punk pace. A particular highlight of their set was ‘Mona Lisa’ and even if the sound was varied in quality, the lads enjoyed it and the punters too.
Then came The Twilight Sad, with enough fog enveloping the stage to set up the mood perfectly for their downbeat, gloomy brand of sheogaze (arguably) and wordy lyrics.
Couldn’t imagine a band capturing their sound so well live: Andy (guitars) played mostly with his hand firmly clutching the whammy bar, giving it a good working whenever he felt like it, Mark (drums) kept the beat, torturing the skins and probably inhaling too much fog, Johnny (bass) adding the little undertow of dread, Martin (keyboards) rounding up and enveloping it all was James’ (voice) style of singing, moving from a whisper to a scream without warning and his jaw ready to achieve escape velocity. Sadly, his voice got lost quite a few times, but, wow, what a show. Unhinged energy, “you’re tearing me apart, The Twilight Sad!”.
Next on schedule, The Leadmill, sadly arriving when Nat Johnson & The Figureheads‘ set was finishing but still enjoying the little I could listen to. From ‘wow, I made it’ to ‘fiddlesticks! It’s finishing!”, quick-snap. The crowd was pretty responsive and the room was, well, packed like most venues I’ve been lucky to sneak to. The band was nice enough to chat a bit while recovering their breath and were nice enough to record a bumper for our youtube channel.
I stuck around for I am Arrows, who might probably get some stick from people whose livelihood is making fun of Razorlight. By Andy Garcia’s finger, that was some sunny, enjoyable 70’s style pop. It was soothing, a little MORish (nowt wrong with that) and there was this song, ‘Hurricane’, that really hit the spot.
Penelope’s was the next stop on the schedule, arriving just when Little Glitches was finishing (although they scored an encore). It was the turn for Plushandplastix, who after lugging Belize’s gross national product equivalent in synthethiser’s (!), struggled to get them working. Their set, well, hope it was good, but due to the heavy delay I had to leave before they even started, so that fizzled out for me.
In retrospective, a bad call, as when arriving to The West End, found out that the previous band was still playing, so again, a problem with schedules moving around. I was informed by a fella that Electric Tape Recorder weren’t going to be allowed to play, so, shit, two strikes for me.
Day seemed to be headed to end up on a sour note. Still managed to sneak into S1 Artspace for an afterparty where Love at death beach, La Folie, Wet Nuns and Death Rays. The Satan-curated afterparty was teeming with people and Hell’s official beer, Stella Artois (mildly warm). Arrived just when Wet Nuns started rocking out in the dark room. People moshed and headbanged, whilst singer Terence Trent B’arndance staggered and soldiered on and drummer Wired Earp made the room rumble. Usual Wet Nuns shenanigans go like this: Sheriff and the Doc on stage, you listen and you listen good.
I chatted with a parademon rocking an Isaac Brock beard while waiting for Death Rays to do their thing. Also ran into a couple of cool dudes, like Golf from Smokers Die Younger (namedrops galore!). Death Rays took the stage and did their grungy, psychodelic stuff. The darkness of the room just added to the mood and really wished I’d arrived earlier to the place to catch the other bands in this moody lightning. Truly enjoyed Death Rays‘ set and afterwards there were some dancing tunes by DJ Ralp Razor Chief, Tony & The Grapevine Crew.
Couldn’t stay longer but paid my respects to Sheriff and The Doc (who were doing shots of South Yorkshire Moonshine) and left, feeling knackered but mostly happy about the day.
So, rounding up day 2:
The good: Musicians all around were great. Busker bus reminded me of Mexico. Campari mojito = give it a try. Guy in kebab joint thought I was from Turkey, said about 3 sentences in Turkish ’til he figured I was from another rock mass. Gave me a free can. Nat Johnson & The Figureheads were truly funny. Tonic wine is good for you. The Twilight Sad soldiers on. The “Palmer Bros” could be an excellent name for a side project. Getting a picture taken from a random girl with great specs.
The bad: The queues were insane again (Devonshire green, whoa!), schedules were shuffled at venues, forgot to read the instructions for the omnipresence machine at Sloucher Towers and couldn’t be at DQ nor at The Grapes.
The ugly: Missing The Unfortunate Incident and The Monicans due to blown tyres and Grapes overpopulation. Blisters, man, blisters. Electric Tape Recorder got royally screwed at The West End.
Gallery (now with more blisters)
The Twilight Sad
Nat Johnson & The Figureheads
I am Arrows
Electric Tape Recorder
The Unfortunate Incident
Pics: Sam + Orestes Xistos