A Fresher’s Guide to the Sheffield Music Scene
It can be daunting diving into a new scene so we at Small Ideas have selected 2 of the best club nights, 2 great venues and 1 amazing record store to start all you Freshers off in your exploration of Sheffield’s wonderful music scene.
Banana Hill – In my humble opinion they’re the best promoters in Sheffield right now, and along with a tremendous wave of contemporary Sheffield bands (Blood Sport, Hot Diamond Aces, Tropic Of Youth, K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade at a glance) have really commandeered a seriously awesome craze in Sheffield for people to delve into African beat music (everything from Ethiopiques to Malian Desert Rock). Seriously, I don’t mean this in a scenester way, it’s like the whole place has suddenly developed an intense love of Afrobeat, Hiplife, Soukous et al, from Indie bands covering Fela Kuti to African music getting its own dedicated stage at Tramlines, Shef seems on it right now.
The recent solidification of this mission came about from their 2013-14 end of term party, tickets were snapped up within the hour as people clambered to catch a glimpse of the likes of Gilles Peterson, Afriquoi and Werkha to name but a few from the carnival sized roster.
Bat Makumba – I mean, any night named after an Os Mutantes song has to be sick right? Normally putting on their parties at Audacious, the duo of Sayid Silkhands & Braxton Hicks’ 11till7 raves encompass the failsafe floor fillers of Techno, Deep House, Nu-Disco etc. etc. But approach the styles in a wholly idiosyncratic way compared to their West Street equivalents, moulding astral traversing sets out of limited press grooves and colloquial dance music from Capetown to Chicago.
This enlivening portrayal of dance music as inextricably tied to a larger social debate is integrated into their bookings too, as last year saw the duo bring to Sheffield everything from DJ Sprinkles’ transphobic confronting hi-tech House beats to Helena Hauff’s gnarled heady Techno, born out of her work with the Anarchist collective Golden Pudel.
From this blurring of the music and its makeup thee best dichotomy arises at their nights, bringing together chilled out like-minded people for conversation and yet still rendering a great atmosphere to get loaded in, in essence, if the current Shef scene has a ‘home’ it’s their nights.
The Audacious Art Experiment – The Audacious Art Experiment, whose converted industrial works setting is hidden deep between London Road’s bangs salons and Bramall Lane’s towers, is quietly becoming what every scene needs and wants.
Sheffield promoters will never tire from using the phrase ‘Steel City’ to promote their totally unrelated club nights, but Audacious have taken full advantage of Sheffield’s old 9-5 in their setting and relationship between community, music and context.
Equal parts record label, forefront music venue for Sheffield’s burgeoning alt-music scene, practice space, recording studio and community workshop, Audacious (or TAAE as it’s often net-known) has done pretty much everything ever. Releasing records for everyone from Bradford Psych super-group NOPE to ‘the best live band in Spain’ Za!, along with regularly providing a home for an eclectic selection of touring bands (Islet, Cowtown, Galaxians to name but a few). The space regularly hosts WIRE-fan-loving electronic workshops (helmed by TAAE’s inhouse avant-noisemakers Spandril and Trans/Human) and can sometimes be found to stretch into literary tributes, this year’s William S. Burroughs night being a particular favourite of mine.
Whatever’s on, the place draws a crowd, and if I’m honest this is my top recommendation for any freshers journeying to Sheffield this September. Just go down as soon as you can, you’ll quickly uncover why TAAE is such a special place.
Tye Die Tapes – It’s very easy as a music fan to feel happy and at home in a city that can sustain 3 separate D.I.Y venues, and Tye Die can always be counted on to hold its own Garage//Punk//Indie niche against the experimental vibes of TAAE and Hardcore helm of The Lughole. With releases coming from everyone from Feature, drone banger experts (as my mate described them, I’m pretty sure that’s an oxymoron) to local Post-Hardcortionist heroes Pjaro, Tye Die Tapes inspires a visceral reaction of crowd surfing, sweat and swell times in its first floor kitchen venue. That is if you can find the place; go behind Decathlon by Hanover Way and follow the crash cymbal.
Record Collector – Spitting distance from the Endcliffe Village, Record Collector is many a Sheffield music fan’s vinyl digging home, but be careful, the place has an addictive aura about it that can empty your overdraft and afternoons in equal measure.
These are Small Ideas’ starter selections for now, but with a city as vibrant as Sheffield I feel bad just pedestalling five. Honourable mentions go to Singing Knives, Niche, The Lughole, Rare & Racy, Showroom, Offbeat, The Night Kitchen and Tramlines, go explore them and of course don’t forget to get involved with the society!
We regularly run socials to all the above (well, bar RC) amongst all our other gig-helming, album-club running, music-doc screening and general ecstatic music enthusiasm spouting tendencies. Its super easy to get involved as we’ll be out and about consistently in Freshers week, flyering on the Sunday at Endcliffe Village, out on the Union concourse on Monday afternoon and at the Activities fair in the Octagon centre later in the week. Come say Hi!
Additional to this news of our Freshers week doc screening and 2nd week clubnight will be released soon.