The first day gets off to a gentle start with Mike Hughes soft acoustic musings. They come complete with a celebrity endorsement from Alex Turner of the Artic Monkeys, with TV presenter Alexa Chung in tow. Once the frantic texting and tweeting about the celebrity audience dies down the real business can begin, kicked off by the frantic, shambling beats of The Heebie Jeebies.Dealt out in short stuttering punk shots, songs like Panda Pop are rarely over two minutes long. ‘Maybe I’s doleful Northern vocals add some depth to the toe-tapping hooks that justifies their rowdy cult following.
Local legends and Lamacq favourites The Crookes are on rousing form, with the warble of ‘Chorus of Fools’ setting feet shuffling. Their whimsical jangling guitars and Franki Valley 60s harmonies perfectly sets things up for a laidback weekend.
With decidedly more DJs than bands Saturday caters more for those out on the razzle. Still the storming electro beats of No Drinks on the Dancefloor and the Friendly Fires pretensions of Decay Ends a Decade definitely puts Counterfeit in the mood for dancing. Sheffield’s jarring electro synth duo Pygmy Globetrotters make a welcome entrance at The Wick. Firing out pulsating beats that mix Battles with the catchy hooks of Simian Mobile Disco, the only criticism being that they are one too early to make a real impact. The colourful stylings and back-street club grooves of Black Widow are a welcome surprise, their powerful singer belting out tunes balanced on the spindliest of stilettos. Rounding things off are an array of DJs sets from all ends of the dance-floor spectrum, including the hip hop stylings of Paul White and a classic jungle set from local remix master Ultramegasupadeadly.
By contrast Sunday is all about the bands, with acoustic rockers Zeds Dead setting up a laidback vibe. Local act Urgent Talk play their last Sheffield show for a while to a small, but loyal crowd. Violins searing through distorted thudding beats as they compete with a volley of screaming keyboards. As ‘Untitled’ screeches to a chaotic close, surely a breakthrough is imminent. Eccentric indie duo Party Horse are annoyingly catchy. With Manics style lyrics and songs about Steve Irwin that hook onto your eardrums and refuse to let go. Reassuringly uncomplicated and just a bit laddish Playground Mafia provides a refreshing antidote to the previous bands pretensions.
Songs like ‘Stop Talking Start Dancing’ swaggering Kasabian beats do exactly what they say on the tin and they gather an appreciative rabble of early evening revellers. Just Handshakes We’re British are another band on the verge of a breakthrough, after a slew of festival dates. Their shuffling Jack Penate beats and The Concretes style breathy vocals stay just the right side of twee. Songs like ‘Paper Cranes’ win the crowd over and despite their obvious shyness, they are definitely stars in the making. Sadly Dark Sparks fail to make the same impact, their classic indie tunes lacking some essential fire. 80s style electro outfit Findo Gask are another surprise hit. The Scots powering synths and Hot Chip inspired beats go down a storm.
Diminutive über geek Ben Jacobs AKA Max Tundra is left to close proceedings. Complete with an array of homemade instruments he fires out flurries of squelching beats with relentless energy. Like Prince on helium with some wild and wonderful dance moves, songs like ‘Subsi Kuku’ are twisted into a macabre mess. Sometimes searingly offkey, he is still endearingly eccentric, a fun off-beat way to end the weekend.