Wednesday, 28 April 2010

South by South Yorkshire @ O2 Academy, 28/04/10

A showcase of the county’s hotly tipped young talent, South by South Yorkshire promised to be an evening of great value, at only £2 for 5 bands as part of the Sensoria Festival. However, evidently the publicity for the event was a little lacklustre, judging by the small attendance on the night.

Nevertheless, opener Serious Sam Barratt puts in a performance worthy of a much bigger audience. Adorned in a T-shirt emblazoned with the legend ‘Texas’, a trucker cap and playing his intricately fingerpicked rootsy folk with his eyes glued shut throughout, you’d be forgiven for thinking the young man has travelled across the pond to join us. However, tracks such as ‘White Rose’ reveal that while his aesthetic owes much to our cousins across the pond, his song writing impetus is authentically rooted in the experience of the Yorkshire everyman. He threatens to steal the show early on, but while intriguing and impressive at first, his act becomes rather familiar by the end of his set.

That said, familiarity between one’s own songs is perhaps better than familiarity between a band’s work and that of countless others. It is a shame that more have arrived in time to see Oblong, the second band of the evening, at whom this criticism may be levelled. Their grunge influenced rock is played out with a great deal of enthusiasm, but makes little impression. They do improve as the set goes on however, particularly by closer ‘Disappointment’.

The Crookes are a perfect antidote however, with their sprightly, nostalgic pop sensibilities crafted to a point where one might question if one has gone back in time to somewhere much, much happier. The lads clearly enjoy themselves on stage, particularly exuberant this evening. In keeping with their twee image, front man George Waite tells us they are going a ‘bit doolally’ in their apparently tired state. Rather.

It’s quite the mystery as to how they are placed lower on the bill than Standard Fare, whose breezy indie pop shows potential with some catchy riffs and solid drum beats but rarely quite provides us with the killer chorus they deserve.

Unfortunately, more people bear witness to them than headliners Grammatics, which is perhaps inevitable when they aren’t to take to the stage until past midnight on a weekday. When waif front man Owen Brinley looks out over the few still assembled before him, the disappointment is all too visible in his demeanour. Shame on those that left early; they treat those remaining with a set ranging from out and out bombast to slow burning, hypnotic brood and manages to be catchy at both ends of the spectrum. Yes, this is pop Jim, but not as we know it: underpinned by the unconventional use of cello, distorted guitars and synths, they manage to create a mix of sounds that is utterly compelling in a live setting.

Yorkshire certainly has talent, so it seems, its just a shame a few more of its residents didn’t come to be aware of it this evening.