The Banshee (or La Llorona, if you will) screamed for the soul of the Monday Night Ritual that was Soyo Live. It was a surprise, hard hitting piece of news as it had been four years of free shows offering a veritable cornucopia of styles, catering to both the slack jawed who just wanted “rawk” and the stuffy discerning snob who used too many adjectives. Not a month would pass without having at least one band that would fit perfectly on anyone’s “most played” list on Last.fm.
So, even if the atmosphere was peppy, rarefied by the scent of cheap drinks (via loyalty card) and perfumes that smelled like olibanum incense, you could cut the sadness with a knife. New faces were mixed with the veterans of the place. The junkies for the cheap booze mingled with the hobnobbers, the pros, the startups, the musicians and the occasional writers. An ensemble of the local press was present too. You could see Counterfeit Magazine, Forge Press, Sheffield Scenester and many more there, taking photos, scribbling notes or typing on their phones, thinking already of quotable platitudes and pithy observations that would form their eulogy for the place.
Journalism, pro and amateur, they all boil down to the same primordial beast when blood runs fresh. Así es.
Me? I was regretting not coming down to more gigs, but it’s hard balancing a PhD and this reviewing/editing/running site gig. More so when it’s a one man army thing. But enough about my shit administration of time and let’s talk about that night, when Soyo Live embarked to the Outer Planes.
The Natterjacks play a jaunty style of folk, wasting not a single moment during their set to keep the early birds entertained. The vivacious notes created are never morose; the rhythm was more a gallop than a full sprint. Sometimes a bass drum was used sparingly to shake the foundations a bit, but other than that, it’s a plucked and strummed strings and vocals affair.
I sure enjoy when a Soyo night starts with an acoustic act. I remember one time when Dan Williamson opened back in July 2011 and his quiet but fierce songs were a great juxtaposition to the experimental pop hymns that Cats:For:Peru would weave live. It then culminated with Steve Papa Edwards funktastic ditties. Like I said, there was always room for genre hopping at Soyo Live.
Sorry, nostalgic rant over. It must be those sweet tunes that Dead Dolls are playing on their perfectly curated playlist. Proper DJs.
Brave New Storm continued the folk & country mix, with the Bohemian attire being mandatory for a couple of their members. I swear the cello player stormed Tom Baker‘s wardrobe (Series 14, aka the best one). Their music sounds like something you could extrapolate from the Firefly soundtrack, with a mix between the sweet and the sour. An instrumental song about dolphins and magic was a keeper.
The place was now getting full, between “shaker and makers”, whippersnappers and a couple of lost souls. The lure of music was working, even if we all knew the end was nigh. Coasts shaked the whole place, between a heavy use of the smoke machine, a rock mood and a potted plant that performed as well as Bez. ‘Stone’ and ‘Oceans’ seem to be the songs they want to push the most and you can feel how they depart from the Port of Indie to the Isle of Dream Pop for a spot of ransacking. An indie rock love letter for the place who was now ready to depart to parts unknown.
Between the haze of the fog machine and the slightly blinding lights, Blessa were moving like shadows, placing their equipment with utmost haste. A quick nod to Dead Dolls and on marched Blessa with flag unfurled. This band that marries Dream Pop and Shoegaze, mesmerising an audience that bathed on the splashes of psychedelic music emanating from the stage. ‘Unfurl’ and ‘Pale’ are slowly growing into keepsakes, but not their calling cards. They will find one soon, of that I’m sure. They’ve more than got the chops for it.
The last notes were played. The echo pedal seemed to play a drowning dirge and the people started to dissipate, getting a booth or trying to keep balance while nursing a few drinks. Familiar faces were around. They had a lot of love for the place. How many FUSBs* have played here? How many upstarts got their first gig organised at this place? There had to be a few around.
I saw Jennifer Jordan, who was part of the team that organised the charity event back in February to raise money for Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind, a gig that went quite well and managed to defeat a treacherous spell of snow. I spied with my little eye Soul Brother A from The Hot Soles, one of the best showmen in town. A few of the Hey Sholay squad were around, chatting away both with friend and fan. I saw a promoter who had two gigs in this place and managed to do ok on his own, despite himself, on both. Ah, it’s a mirror. Así es.
Soyo Live was over. I will miss the music. I will miss the live art. 4 years is a good run for any creative venture and I sincerely wish the best to the creative team. Onwards and upwards.
Words & Photos: Sam J. Valdés López
*Fucking Underrated Sheffield Band.