Wooden Shjips, Strange and Partners and Two Skies: The Plug, Sheffield

On this day of supposed bad luck, we were served a helping of the opposite. Tonight’s gig was one to stick in the memory; each band performing impressively. At first there was an absence of people in The Plug (you could almost see the tumbleweed), but eventually, the crowd began to surf in and Two Skies could kick off proceedings.

These fellows have a big sound, maybe too big for The Plug. Not only did they fill the room with their brand of psychedelic rock, but probably the surrounding Sheffield streets also. You could really imagine them playing in an arena. I think that is the main attribute of Two Skies. Not only was it big though, but it had a moody undertone that slowed down the pace until the songs explode into life. It’s almost as if they simmer gently for a while, then rise up in flames making you feel a little hot under the collar. All in all, I enjoyed Two Skies.

The next band on stage was Strange and Partners. I have only ever heard good things about this band, and they lived up to the expectation I had created. They seem to have gone way back to the 60’s, sporting a hard-rock style reminiscent of The Kinks. Combine this with a few elements of jazz and you get a concoction that you would happily sit and drink. It was much more fast-paced than Two Skies and provided a fitting contrast. One thing I can distinctly remember is that they are loud and their songs can be aggressive; relentlessly attacking your ears (especially those of us near the wall of bass bins). They were a treat to listen to and I will definitely see them again when possible.

Finally, Wooden Shjips graced the stage. You could tell these chaps have a large following, as merely revealing themselves was met with a wall of applause and cheers. One of my peers told me that listening to them was like “swallowing a bottle of absinthe”, and I could see his point. Their music is psychedelic taken to an extreme. Steady driving rhythms are accompanied by heavily reverberated vocals and synthesised backings. They are a strange band to pin down. They include long, repetitive instrumentals in pretty much every song, repeating the same bar over and over and over again. In any other case I would hate it, but there was something delightfully intoxicating about it. The music is that good and, quite frankly, the character of each man on stage was entertaining enough to keep me hooked. They are band for those with an open mind and a preference for exploration in music rather than sticking to set principals. For example, they went against the principles I like in music, but still they were enjoyable and certainly memorable. I can understand why those who like their music would go again and again for a weird, yet profound experience.

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