Playground Mafia’s Farewell Performance with Searching 4 Evidence, The Gazelles, Hazes, Rip-off Britain, Zaffirelli: The Plug, Sheffield

Tonight was both filled with excitement and sadness. This would be the final gig of Playground Mafia, a band popular amongst the Sheffield music scene. As per usual, they had many supports, five in total, to make sure that there was little time to be idle between songs. My opinion on this night kept weaving up and down, in the end though, my feelings were all positive. Playground Mafia set a show that bid a fond farewell to its fans.

Firstly, I would like to mention the DJ who played songs between the bands. He was amazing, the best filler you could ask for. He did not just provide background music to listen to whilst you talked, but he made you dance with a heavy baseline and pounding beat. It felt like a club night between each band and for that I salute him.

Zafirelli are local four-piece steadily humming along in progress. I just can’t put my finger on this band. At times their music was good and I found myself smiling to their music, but at times it sounded mediocre too. For example, their first song, ‘Expectations’ had moments of quality but for me had its climax in the wrong area. There is certainly potential here, moments of their songs are genius and I hope to see what the future brings.

Next to carry the torch was Rip-off Britain and no words can describe these other than brilliant. Lively and passionate with a blues-influenced hard rock taste, they lit up the stage with an incendiary performance. Frontman Moz was excellent in interacting with the crowd; it’s just a shame that the crowd was an unresponsive, lifeless bunch. Moz has a powerful voice, bordering on the point of shouting but keeping control so it doesn’t sound sloppy, it is exceptional and the main trait I think this band has to offer. His guitar skills are also impressive, working through many blazing solos that would put a lot of good guitarists to shame. Overall this is a band with a lot of talent, and I look forward to seeing them again, I certainly will.

Hazes are a new triple threat born from the ashes of Stripey Jack, originally a five-piece. Their new image seems more mature, their sound more crisp and overly more controlled. There are new influences of funk that work very well, adding a smooth groove in the middle of a harsh rock sound. This is definitely a new sound from a new band that put on a very good performance; I wonder just how far this rebirth will take them.

The Gazelles are a very atmospheric band, they provide music that doesn’t give much in the movement department but makes you step back and appreciate the sound. Frontman Josh isn’t the most passionate of singers, but it fits the style well. However, I would have liked to have seen a bit of passion at some point, it became a bit repetitive having the same sound and pace all the set, but nevertheless they gave a solid performance.

Searching 4 Evidence are a band on the rise. With each performance they seem to get better and better. Lead singer Lewis has matured his voice and really adds to the powerful sound they create. They brought a big following with them who made the Plug explode into action, it was like a bomb had hit as mosh pits erupted left, right and centre. These lads are only young, and I can imagine them finding a lot of success in the future. I sincerely hope this happens as their performances deserve it.

The final performance of Playground Mafia awaited. They certainly went out with a bang.  This four-piece take dance music and make it not just fun and enjoyable, something to strut your stuff to, but something you can appreciate. Main man Matt Bruce was excellent in crowd interaction, letting a lot go tonight, including his swearing-on-stage virginity. He adds a superb vocal to the heavy beats and melodic rhythms that dominate their music. Female vocalist Elisha jay has a voice as smooth as a fine wine; her beautiful voice greatly varies largely in range and alone, stood as a powerful tool in this band’s sound. The urban twist came from Blakstar, who delivered his lyrics like a machine gun, rapid but steady. His contributions made this bands performance brilliant. Matt Bruce’s last words were spent thanking his manager and dad, Sean Bruce, soundman Simon who they credit for refining their sound, family and fans. But I think it is Playground Mafia who needs thanking, as well as bringing excellent music to the stage, they have given other bands the opportunities to make it big on their local scenes. They can be credited for aiding Searching 4 Evidence’s quick burst into the spotlight and I think this is what made them really special. They were not just a good group, but a benevolent one, and this is why I am sad to see them go.

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