REVIEW: Femur, Drastic//Automatic and Any Old Iron @ Yellow Arch
A Halloween double header of Jarred Up shows began with Karma Sheen at The Washington on 26th October, followed close behind by a stacked Sheffield line-up at Yellow Arch on 28th October.
Increasingly, the best shows in the city are being organised by Jarred Up founder James Watkins, and a free gig (in itself, a novelty) at The Washington, followed up by a blistering Halloween doo at Yellow Arch, further emphasised his credentials – he’s bloody good at this promoting lark.
But what of the nights and bands themselves?
Well, Thursday at The Washy was a trip; psychedelic, raag and rollsters Karma Sheen deluged the intimate venue with droning, sitar-inspired fuzz.
The five-piece band, whose frontman and leader, Sameer Khan, originally hails from Pakistan, pull Classic Hindustani music into the present day with a mixture of East London experimentation and songs about stuff they heard in the garden! Think King Gizz inflected psyche, if they found a sitar, or if Kula Shaker were any good! It’s lovely, hypnotic stuff.
Psychedelia served as the entrée then, for a mouth-watering feast of Sheffield at Yellow Arch.
As is befitting an All Hallows Eve event, all the bands, along with a handful of the crowd, have come in fancy dress (although, sometimes it’s difficult to tell if someone has come as Nick Cave, or if that’s just how they dress!).
On the costume front, a special shoutout goes to Ahmed and the Romans’ frontman (Ahmed?) and his banana outfit that comes complete with a banana pouch. Throughout their set, he births bananas and lobs them into the crowd. Cartoon hilarity from discarded skins was surely to follow.
Slippages aside, onto the music. Sheffield post-punk outfit, Any Old Iron have been around a while now, but it’s the first time I’ve managed to catch them live. I happened to stand next to the mum of their guitarist, who tonight, I think, is dressed as some sort of Wizard Elton John(?). Anyway, she was having a lovely time. I was having a lovely time. Good times!
Pre-gig, I tell Femur frontman, Felix Renshaw, that I’m looking forward to finally catching Any Old Iron and they tell me the band are actually doing predominantly new stuff, and it’s got a bit of a different direction.
As far as I can tell, at least from Spotify, that direction mainly consists of the addition of keys so I’m not sure how this evening compares to previous gigs, but what I saw I liked, and I wanna give it another go.
On to the main support, Drastic//Automatic: We’ve reviewed the breathless three-piece a coupla times recently, and along with tonight’s headliners, Femur, they’re my favourite guitar band currently active in the city. We expect big things from Sean and the gang (or Ed, Edd, and Eddy this evening) if they can just harness the chaos.
Tonight is easily the best I’ve seen them perform. They are on it. No equipment meltdowns. No gaps in the set. Just blistering dystopic walls of noise and a pogoing, moshing audience as reward. They even manage to squeeze in a cover of Where’s Your Head At, which I haven’t seen them bring out since Get Together festival. More lovely stuff!
The perfect warm up for Femur then.
After Drastic, they’d be forgiven for feeling a bit of pressure to deliver. If they did, it wasn’t in any way evident.
Just a coupla songs in and we’ve got a groovetastic, snarling rendition of I Don’t Like on the go. Felix begins to make their way up onto the speakers. Once atop the boxes, Felix delivers the ironic, ‘I don’t like groovy music’ line, and as the instrumental drops, they kick out a leg from their dress and become a blur of gangly arms and legs.
They are hypnotic to watch on (and off) stage and, it has to be said, there are undeniably certain genetic gestures and mannerism reminiscent of a certain Sheffield uncle.
Back on the stage for a minute, the band deliver a special Halloween rendition of Ghostbusters, before Felix heads off again, this time crowd surfing. In what feels like the blink of a made-up eye, it’s all over.
We really did have a lovely time!