Musical Musts: Sheffield

(Pictured: Oh Papa)

Sheffield, balancing across seven hills, is as much part of its neighbouring peak district as it is the imposing industrial landscape that lends it the moniker ‘the steel city’. Offering time spent drinking in the dregs of the day with a Bole Hill sunset, drowning Notty House pies with Henderson Relish, wandering down to Rivelin Valley or drifting around the Moor Market, it is a city to quickly fall in love with. Over the years, Sheffield has given rise to plenty of great talent, from the geeky charisma of Pulp to the bad boy bravado of Arctic Monkeys – and they keep on coming. Check out our picks of the best new bands the city has to offer right now, as well as a couple of venues to add to your post lockdown bucket-list.

Venues to Visit:

Café Totem

Slap bang in the city centre, Café Totem plays host to local talent, touring bands, DJs, quiz nights and more. Whether you’re there for a coffee or a red stripe, this is one of the best places in Sheffield to catch all the best new artists on their rise to the top. Great things lie in the dark recesses of their basement.

Picture House Social

Music, pizza and ping pong. Nestled out in the suburbs of Nether Edge, the Picture House Social is as much a necessity for a night out to see a live act, as it is for an evening of impressing your latest Hinge date. Boasting a range of locally brewed lagers and ales, or a selection of cocktails if you’re feeling fancy, their impressive bar complements rather than detracts from the warm, welcoming feel of the venue.

Artists to Watch:

Katie Pham and the Moonbathers

Making music filled with bubbling, iridescent guitar riffs and witty, whimsical lyrics, Katie Pham and the Moonbathers are the musical equivalent of staying late at a house party, sitting round in the early hours of the morning with your friends once everyone else has gone home. Jasmine sweet notes of jazz and soul colour their distinct, lo-fi indie, perfectly accompanied by the noughties pop distortion that flickers through lead singer Katie Pham’s vocals. Their most recent release, ‘Stay Inside’, was written a couple of years ago, but was never more pertinent than when it was released in the first grips of lockdown last year. With it’s quiet, contemplative feel, it provides a soothing alternative to shouts of anxiety and anger that deal with the same topic, typifying the bands restful, alternative lullabies.

Life Aquatic Band

A band with a vividly wicked, marvellously mad world all of their own, Life Aquatic Band are known for their particular brand of charmingly chaotic indie. Releasing a suitably absurd concept album last year, ‘L.A.B.P.D’, the debut follows the Life Aquatic Band Police Department in their efforts to track down a dastardly Paul McCartney, attempting to bring him to justice whilst waving away particulars of his crime. But these madcap adventures are just the beginning of their potential, their talent shining through in the forms of faltering pianos and danceable riffs. Amidst the mayhem, their songs glitter with silver screen moments and saxophone solos, their quietly romantic core burning through to add Hollywood’s shimmering façade to an already convoluted mix. It is a melting pot with disarming and joyful results, proving themselves the ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ of the Sheffield scene.

Oh Papa

Oh Papa’s timeless, understated indie offerings provide the perfect antidote to the chaos and noise of modern life. Redolent of burnt sugar sunsets and deliciously long duvet days, wrap yourself up in their gentle romance and self-effacing guitar hooks. Gilded with a slacker ease, their songs are polished with a kind of careless perfection, as if to say ‘who, me? Oh, yes. This is what we do.’ But their aims reach beyond their nonchalance and gentle, reassuring sound; they are a band who own their mission, to ‘dispel the image of the toxic masculinity still prevalent in indie rock.’ Take that Alex Turner.