Blood Sport - Wharf Chambers, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Blood Sport - Wharf Chambers, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

Tonight’s entertainment at Wharf Chambers comes courtesy of a brand new DIY night called Free Forms. The primary objective is to create immersive experiences; a night of music that you can fully lose yourself in. It’s a simple and worthy objective and one that they’ve certainly achieved this evening with the help of Azores, Joanne and Blood Sport.

There aren’t too many people about when Azores first take to the stage yet the bands heady, afro-beat inflected rhythms soon manage to draw a crowd. Imagine taking the slightly funkier elements of post-punk and aligning them with the joyous, life-affirming rhythms Fela Kuti and you’ll start to understand where this Leeds trio fit in.

Matthew Dixon’s distinctive guitar sound and the bands hypnotic grooves suggest an appreciation and love for desert blues and African funk alongside the likes of Talking Heads. This is music for sweaty summer nights that dares you to put your best foot forward and have a little dance. It serves as a fine introduction to the band and it’s an ideal way to get things started.

There’s a significant change in tone and pace with the arrival of tonight’s second act, Joanne. Joanne Armitage is an electronic artist whose music incorporates elements of drone, found-sounds and dancefloor baiting beats. Stood behind a laptop and furiously typing, Joanne expertly crafts her set as endless lines of code are projected onto the screen behind her.

Not being particularly tech-savvy I can’t say that the code in and of itself means much to me but the resulting music is undeniably hypnotic. Experimental and adventurous, I get the feeling that no two Joanne sets would ever be exactly the same. Tonight is in fact the second time I’ve seen her live, the first being a set at Shipley’s Golden Cabinet last year. I will genuinely look forward to the next time.

A couple of YouTube videos aside tonight will serve as my introduction to Sheffield’s Blood Sport. I’ll get the gushing praise out of the way first; their set is fierce, frantic and somewhat phenomenal. My socks, ladies and gentleman, have been knocked clean off.

The trio’s sound centres on a pulverising groove; it’s a harsh, metallic throb that runs throughout the set from beginning-to-end. There’s an appreciation for the dancefloor under the layers of noise, a relentless and repetitive rhythm that mercilessly pulls everything along. The backbone of this beat comes from Sam Parkin, the bands juggernaut of a drummer. Once Parkin gets going he simply doesn’t stop.

The guitars are abrasive, tense and discordant; coming across like Steve Albini’s Big Black attempting to play This Heat songs in a particularly bad mood. Nick Potter’s vocals are often buried in the thick waves of sound yet still manage to sound pissed-off enough to add to the general sense menace. Alex Keegan’s guitar sounds like someone rhythmically beating sheet metal. In fact, the whole things quite nightmarish really. And I mean that as a compliment.

The band plays one long, unrelenting piece before leaving the audience and the stage drenched in sweat. This is a band willing to give themselves entirely to the music, offering up an intense and satisfyingly immersive experience in the process.  

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