The SSS have got good reason to feel proud tonight. Having last seen them play a double bill alongside fellow Sheffield upstarts the Wired at the iconic Leadmill, tonight I am witness to them sell out Sheffield City Hall’s cavernous ballroom in their own right. Ahead of them we get two slightly-further-down-the-queue-to-fame support acts in the shape of the Vellas and Barnsley’s own Sundance and it’s lovely to see the SSS pop out to watch and indeed support their support acts.
Sundance take to the stage first, packed with exuberance and seem genuinely chuffed to be performing tonight to such a large crowd of potential new fans. They list their influences as being the likes of the Stone Roses, the Coral and Oasis and they mix their own material with a few well-chosen covers (including the Beatles’ “Come Together”) the highlight of which is a storming rendition of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which features some flawless guitar work and to say by their own admission, they only really got the track sorted very recently, it is excellent.
Their sound is bluesy, moody and cool, with basslines you can’t help but sway along to, bouncy beats and great indie vocals. They manage to evoke the dark folky vibe of the aforementioned Coral as well as the Bluetones, in the way they effortlessly shift from the minor key to the major for a poppy chorus. I feel simultaneously transported back to the glory indie days of the mid 1990s but also like I’m hearing someone new and exciting and I can’t wait to hear more.
Next up are the Vellas, who cut a suave figure of sophistication tonight donned in state of formal dress such as suits and velvet dinner jackets. Daniel, Ethan, Alex and Jack hail equally from Sheffield and Derby. They list their inspirations as acts like Echo and the Bunnymen, the Strokes and Joy Division and channel the less predictable nature of those acts with tracks which take you on a journey through different moods, layers of percussion and tempos.
Tracks like latest single “Lost and Found (Too Much Blood)” and “Why Do We Act the Same” channel the fuzzy euphoric guitars of acts like New Order and Joy Division, whilst Daniel’s vocals are suitably cold and robotic before breaking into the more plaintive refrains. Energetic drums underpin the howl of it all. Other tracks like “You Know Me” are more jangly low-fi pieces worthy of their heroes, the Strokes or the Cribs.
On stage, there’s an infectious nervous energy to the band and in writing this review, listening to some of their studio recordings, I realise just how good their songwriting is. Check out their Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud and grab their latest track from iTunes.
Finally, the SSS take to the stage for a tight set of a half a dozen indie gems which also includes some tracks from “way back” as lead singer Josh puts it. Songs like “Snake in the Grass” and “Who Dares Wins” see Josh reminiscing about their first gig at the Shakespeare and the loyal crowd’s cheers show that they’ve been with them for the whole journey. Whilst it’s slightly funny for such a young and relatively new band to be feeling nostalgic, it’s a testament to how far they’ve come in such a short few years, taking in acclaim such as being voted “Best Unsigned Band 2015” and selling out big, impressive local venues.
The band’s look is worth noting too, with an unofficial monochrome uniform of black jackets, white t-shirts and grey trousers providing a memorable image, as is that of the four guitarists of the band all lined up, giving it their all. Josh in his deadpan drawl (somewhere east of Gary Barlow) makes fun of his own new velvet jacket and also points out the inherent silliness of an encore, but still gives us one anyway. The rather photogenic young band (including guitarists Tom and Morgan, bassist Cal and drummer Max) are accompanied by some blinding light displays which add an extra dimension to the music, as do the presence of a keyboard player and two backing vocalists.
Tracks from their recent EP “Love, Lust, Loss” form a backbone to the night including the soaring “Calm Before the Storm” (which segues into the Human League) and the blue eyed soul pairing of “Pirati” and “Into the Sun”. A particular highlight is the band’s brand new single “The One You Need” which is an instantly memorable slice of haunting indie pop, being both ballad and floorfiller.
Their encore includes the second Bowie cover of the evening, a solid rendition of “Heroes” given an SSS twist, followed by favourite show-closer “Morning Light” which feels like the Arctic Monkeys/Black Kids collaboration that never happened and is a rousing finale. Poised on the threshold to the big time, the SSS prove they can play in the same venues as the big boys and deliver a thoroughly entertaining evening.
• Calling Your Name
• Alone With You
• Snake in the Grass
• Who Dares Wins
• The One You Need
• Calm Before the Storm / Don’t You Want Me (cover)
• I Now Pronounce You
• Into the Sun
• Morning Light