Starlings and Polarsets: Forum, Sheffield

With their dapper white shirts and slightly silly but presumably fashionable tapered trousers, Starlings cut an impressive figure once they take to the stage at The Forum. Frontman Justin Robson looks a little nervous as they start their set, possibly because there’s a ten foot gulf between the front of the stage and the audience. However, as a four-piece the band is a tight unit, dancing together and generally looking like they’re having fun.

Despite the crowd hanging back, it seems that people are equally enjoying watching Starlings perform.  They’re receptive to all songs played, particularly debut single ‘Weight in Gold’ which comes early on in the set. The more it seems the local lads are enjoying themselves, dancing to their own music, the more the audience are also into their cosmic synth-infused indie pop, even if they’re still hanging back by time Starlings depart.

Newest single ‘Dark Arts’ has clearly been getting around; Starlings are one of Sheffield’s hottests acts right now after their recent wizardry has reached all corners of the internet and radio as well. It gets the crowd dancing, but not as much as closer ‘Sirens’, which concludes their entirely too short performance.

In comparison, Polarsets are a little more disorganised on stage than their supports. Their opener brings the crowd forwards, but it seems they’re not well known enough to bring them too close to the stage; the audience is excited but almost wary of the band’s colourful  energy. Even the instruments are bright and garish, with drums painted in primary yellow and red.

Lead vocalist Rob Howe sounds a little like Ben Gibbard on helium, which is slightly at odds with their tropical pop. It’s nice to see during the set that the powder-blue guitar which Howe carries on his back as they come onstage is actually more than a pretty prop. Once he stops looking bored with what he’s doing, he begins playing his instrument as he sings in his unique voice.

Songs like ‘Leave Argentina’, with their Vampire Weekend-like rhythms, certainly get the crowd dancing, and even Starlings hiding in the audience are enjoying themselves. But something’s a bit off; it’s like we’ve already had the highlight of our evening.

All three members of Polarsets attack the various drums on stage, and the energy is overwhelming during single ‘Sunshine Eyes’. Clearly the band saved their best until last; why couldn’t The Forum do the same?

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