Since 2005 the Sheffield live scene has dissolved massively. There was a time when, alongside many a pub gig, the larger venues in the city were hosting gigs several times a week. In 2011 although the pub gig scene is healthy the larger venues (including The Octagon and Students Union) are all but quiet.
Still as much as it bothers me, this doesn’t affect me as much as it used to. There was a time when I’d be seeing several bands a week across the city and in different sized venues. These days the pub gig scene suits me well as the best bands around are selling too few albums and are playing small gigs as such. The fact that I have little chance to buy gig tickets means that it fits nice too – decide on the day, pay on the door and yr well away.
This brings us to last night then with Standard Fare playing in a little pub/venue called The Redhouse. Having heard the wonderful 'Philadelphia' played at Offbeat I took the chance on the gig, slightly baffled by the fact that this local band were playing second fiddle to some Americans called Sourpatch.
Still, after dragging myself to the venue we were all suitably rewarded. Opening band Town Bike performed a short set of snappy pop-punk with good humour and catchy choruses. Liverpool based, they got on well with the crowd, the front of which consisted partially of the headline band with whom Town Bike are touring. The Q&A session let us know which member of the band received the most Valentines cards (the singer) as well as advising on the non-soap nature of the “yellow balls” in the urinals.
Highlight of the evening was of course Standard Fare. Although they seemed shy on stage their set flew by providing the room with a dose of indiepop heaven. Akin to a janglier Sky Larkin all three band members surprised with their instrumental ability whilst singer Emma’s unique voice lifted the songs into near-perfect territory. Whilst 'Philadelphia' unsurprisingly proved to be a set high-point, album opener 'Love Just Doesn’t Stop' and 'Kudzu Girlfriend' from their recent split 7”delighted in pretty much equal measure.
Sourpatch headlined the evening, having come all the way from San Jose, California and gave The Redhouse a strong set of discordant scruffy indie-punk anthems. Charmingly fuzzy the group recalled The Thermals more than anyone else I could bring to mind but were far from bereft of individuality. With instrument and lead vocal switching they kept their sound varied, whilst at multiple points the guitarist managed to rock her glasses off.
Overall a very satisfying evening and a sign that I really need to drag myself off my sofa more in order to catch more of these types of gigs. That I’ve not done of late would probably explain how Standard Fare have managed to slip under my radar (until now) despite being a local outfit, having released an album and being exactly my cup of tea. Catching Sourpatch on their first UK tour meanwhile was a fantastic heads-up on a band that’s likely to cause many a wave across indiepop circles in the coming year.