When you and your mates at Uni start a band, which genre do you attach yourself to, like a lamprey holding for dear life? In a city renowned for quiffs and indie rockers, the possibility of becoming just another Wilkinson-brand #epicbantzsquad is a looming threat. I’m not quite sure how Blood Sport landed face first into the aggrobeat genre, but the loud thud still resonates. Maybe it was a love of African music. Maybe a well spent semester in Samba class.
First time I got to hear them live was at the Washington. It was a show in May of 2011 with Drenge and Best Friends at The Washington. It was an interesting show, but underattended. So it goes with The Washington, one of my fave haunts in Sheffield. Saw them again at The Washington, a long while after. It was a Halloween night and I was hanging with some Czech friends. And a Slovak – she might kill me if I don’t mention her. The conversation was a little hazy, but I remember two of them remarking that “the music had a sticky beat”. I assumed they meant it was catchy as fuck and when I popped my head around, it was Blood Sport, creating an angular sort of music, playing with no pauses. Like a live DJ mix, the songs increased in tempo, droned, and then switched into another rhythm, without a hitch. When did ‘Palomar’ finish and ‘20202016’ start? I have no idea, I’m always dancing when those two are being played. The combination of a baritone guitar, half-screamed slushy vocals and Samba-style drumming made for an impressive live show.
Pretty sure this well-deserved fame for a fantastic live show won them a place at the Mixed in Sheffield event in June of 2012. Live bands plus DJs, at Yellow Arch Studios. It was a long warm night and both Blood Sport and Madcolours were the rightful emissaries of The Meat Scene, a collective of off-kilter artists that made music to please themselves and their friends, not a scene kept on life-support by glossy rags. See also: Avida Dollars, Seize The Chair, Best Friends.
What I enjoyed best from Blood sport that night was the ever mutating nature of their songs. Sure, ‘Palomar’ is a killer track, but the little pinches and stretches the song gets make it always a special occasion. The last time I would see them live was in 2013’s Detestival, a two-day marathon of bands chosen by Wet Nuns.
As the Spanish adaptation of Dagon was projected in Queens Social Road, Blood Sport played for a good half-hour, perhaps longer, but it felt too quick. Gone too fast, and if I’d known it would’ve been the last time I would see them live, I would’ve bootlegged the fuck out of that show. No stops, no pauses, no cool down moments. It was a raging beast, last seen in the streets of Innsmouth, devouring Shoggoths and humans alike.
Blood Sport are very much alive and active as of today. ‘Reflective Orange’, the latest video for Axe Laid to root (our review), captures some of the intensity of their live show, while paying tribute to the people of Sheffield who always were there for them. They will tour Europe in October, and have a November residency at the Moog Sound Lab in Guildford. Blood Sport loose in a place fool of synths? Count me in! Maybe one day we’ll meet again. Maybe the aggrobeat will continue its angular path into a batucada-heavy future that might be waiting for me. Until that day, gentlemen.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López