Live Review: Weirds, Mush and Femur, Sheffield, 17.03.2017

Weirds play a deafening show in Sheffield, with support from Mush and Femur

The Picture House in Sheffield is a slightly unusual venue. It used to be a cinema, and the decent-sized theatre room at the back is now the live room. Half of the room is cordoned off by a metal fence draped in plastic. The low ceiling slopes at an angle. There’s a few holes in the wall behind the sound desk. Amongst all this, the stage is set for a night of Yorkshire grunge.

Femur

Femur on Facebook

Femur live at the Sheffield Picture House

In the true spirit of the genre “grunge”, each band tonight is very different to the next. First up is Femur, a local Sheffield band who label themselves as “grunge fanatics”. I’d have to agree with them there. They put on a show that matches what I’ve always imagined a late ’80s/early ’90s grunge rock show to be, but without too much of the hard rock influence of the time: Femur play more of the psychedelic and indie side of things. The singer looks the spitting image of Kurt Cobain, his face hidden behind a mass of hair, the words “I’m fragile” scrawled onto his guitar. The guitarist’s guitar strap breaks, but he soldiers on regardless.

Femur’s music feels weighty, but the band look to be enjoying themselves and it rubs off onto the audience. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and a band that isn’t afraid to look a little silly is always a good thing. The singer freely flops down onto the floor at the feet of the people up front, a little fetal ball shouting into a microphone – because sometimes just standing onstage isn’t quite enough.

Mush: catchy tunes and noise

Mush on Facebook

Second on the bill is Leeds band, Mush. Mush start with a maybe 10 minute long song about “alternative facts” (here’s hoping I heard that right). The song is like a catchy ear-worm Möbius strip – this simple patter over a Sonic Youth meets Beefheart soundscape is beyond cool and refreshing to hear in Sheffield. A lot of their music seems to be instrumental, which a lot of times can be a “music for musicians” deal, but Mush keep it interesting with a beat you can dance to if you so choose, with some winning whirring guitar here and there to keep your attention.

Weirds

Weirds on Facebook

Weirds live at the Sheffield Picture House

As soon as Weirds start, it’s quite obvious the sound system can’t quite cope. Their music is heavy, but not aggressive macho heavy. It’s like sonic frustration, but mellowed out with catchy choruses and riffs. Listening to Weirds on Spotify (other music streaming services are available) can’t quite prepare you for their live show. They’re full of energy, driving those gathered in this old cinema towards the stage and into the fray.

Their songs have a mix of textures, so you’re not just flooded with riffs, noise and distortion. “Phantom” has quiet verses, giving you time to relax before you’re pulled back into that intense and fuzzy guitar again. Well, I say relax but the onlookers were whipped up into a frenzy during this new single, some members of the audience jumping about right in front of the over-exerted speakers.

If you missed the chance to see Weirds this time, you can see them supporting The Wytches this April:

Dates supporting the Wytches
April 2017
3rd – Boileroom, Guildford
4th – Waterfront, Norwich
5th – The Horn, St Albans
6th – Face Bar, Reading
7th – Sound Control, Manchester
9th – The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
19th – Portland Arms, Cambridge
20th – The Ferret, Preston
21st – Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Tees
23rd – Joiners, Southampton
24th – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff