Well that was one wet and rainy night in Sheffield. A very very wet and rainy night. In fact, it was a night so wet and rainy that flood warnings and security messages were telling us all not to go out unless we had to. But who follows the rules when you have such a cracking set of bands to see.
Café Totem is really quite diddy, and its compact space really worked for Vstrs-3’s huge sound and driving riffs. Playing the kind of songs George Harrison might have written during a particularly wet weekend in Liverpool, before he cheered up a bit and wrote ‘Something’, Vstrs-3 created music that was bigger on the inside than one should reasonably expect from a three-piece band. I kept wondering where the rest of the music was coming from. Probably some sort of magical techno-jiggery-pokery algo-rave thing which I won’t even attempt to write about. I’m guessing it has something to do with pedals.
Trying to describe the Hurtling’s music is like trying to grab a cloud. Their sound is beautifully nebulous, languid and luscious one moment, grinding and gritty the next. Like camping in torrential rain, snug in your sleeping bag while the elements rage outside, Hurtling were strangely comforting. I could see why they’ve been described as a dream-gaze band. I was most definitely getting notes of Breeders, Lush and maybe a hint of Cocteau Twins, but even though their sound is familiar, it’s also wildly original. Hurtling may be a “new” band, but their skills have been honed in many previous musical outings, and their musicianship is astonishing. And it was a busy night for singer/guitarist Jen Macro. No sooner was she off the stage after leading the way with Hurtling, she was back on it with the fabulously quirky Stephen EvEns.
Resplendent in a tweed 3-piece suit, Stephen EvEns exploded onto the stage. Like a troubadour Tom Baker, the man has enormous presence, performing some pretty impressive posturing, perfectly matched to his idiosyncratic lyrics.
This ridiculously talented band clearly love what they’ve created with this eccentric singer/song writer. Evens and Jen Macro make a particularly pleasing vocal combo. And there’s Bob Leith on drums – in my considered opinion quite possibly the best drummer on the planet.
At times stark and simple, at others complex and quirky, we were treated to irregular tunes with random themes and lyrics that stick resolutely inside your mind. I’m still singing “it’s shorts wearing weather in my heart” a week later. Playing mildly anarchic, post-punk, indie-pop with a touch of insanity and a mountain of character, Stephen EvEns were wonky, weird and wonderful.
And that was it. A brilliant gig on a revolting night. And another perfectly curated collection of bands for the second coming of Buds and Spawn. It started pretty soggy but we made it through the rain (sorry if I just gave you a Barry Manilow earworm). Roll on the next Buds & Spawn extravaganza on the 14th December.
Review and Photography by Helen Nicol