Live Review: BAD//DREEMS and Francisco the Man with Beat the Bandit at Sheffield Frog and Parrot – 7th May 2015

By on Tuesday, 12th May 2015 at 2:00 pm

Years ago, for boring reasons I won’t go into here, I decided music wasn’t a sensible career. As the years go on as I’m a music editor, I continue to see more and more instances where the unexpected nature of this job would have driven me absolutely bonkers. But like most things in life, you have to learn to roll with the punches, pick yourself back up and push yourself out there again.

As you may have read in part 2 of my Live at Leeds adventure 2 Saturdays ago, my intention had been to see Adelaide, Australia band BAD//DREEMS performing at A Nation of Shopkeepers. To my shock, really – compared to American crowds, I usually witness extreme politeness when I’m around Northerners, who usually see me trying to make my way to the front of a gig and part the seas so I can do so – everyone who had shown up to see BAD//DREEMS refused to move, staking their spots so they could enjoy the Aussies’ entire gig unbothered. This is a good thing, mind: I’m glad they were so well-received in Leeds, their first time in that city. And luckily, I had a plan B available: they were supposed to play a gig the following Thursday at the Rocking Chair in Sheffield, alongside their current UK tourmate coheadliners Francisco the Man from America.

The original show in Sheffield was to be headlined by local garage rock duo Hot Soles, who wowed me at Liverpool Sound City 2014 with their spunk at a Yorkshire showcase last year at one of my favourite Liverpool clubs, the entirely unpretentious Mello Mello (RIP, sob). After receiving a frantic slew of emails while I was still in Dublin, it became apparent that the Thursday night gig was now up in the air, as someone in Hot Soles’ camp had taken ill, so the Rocking Chair event was now cancelled. A few more emails later, and the decision had been made to move the show to the Frog and Parrot on Division Street and turn it into a free gig.

Obviously, a free gig is not the best for bands, since that means there’s no cut from the ticket sales from them. However, seeing that both BAD//DREEMS and Francisco the Man had travelled thousands upon thousands of miles to come out to blighty and had already brought all their gear out to Sheffield, it’s important to point out that showing up and playing for the locals, even as part of a free gig, is an important step. These days, even with the internet, music Web sites and services like Spotify and Hype Machine, I still find word of mouth an extremely important tool in separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to bands. Even if the two bands had one new fan from the show in Sheffield, that fan can turn around and tell 10 of his friends about the bands and turn them on to them. And so on. I want to stress this, as even though major label signings are forced down our throats (especially and sadly true in America), us down at the grass roots levels can and will still make a difference to indie music.

Right, so off my soapbox and on to the gig review. From what I gather, BAD//DREEMS and Francisco the Man have already become good friends during their time together over here, which is always great to hear. BAD//DREEMS explained to me before they played that they’d been taking turns with would headline, and this night, it was BAD//DREEMS who went first. With nearly 12K likes on Facebook, the Aussies are already beloved back home, and this trip out would be their first chance to make an impression on the Brits.

BAD DREEMS at Sheffield Parrot

Their 2013 debut EP ‘Badlands’ features some truly rip-roaring tracks, including the heart-pound-inducing ‘Hoping For’ and the psychedelic leaning ‘Caroline’. The more recent single ‘Dumb Ideas’ plays right into the lo-fi, garage-y sound that the UK and America love at the moment. What I found most interesting, especially given I’d explained to them earlier in the evening how the Temper Trap were the first Aussie band I had really backed as a blogger, that they are heads and shoulders more fun, loud and aggressive than I had guessed from watching their videos on YouTube, making them just like the Temper Trap an even better proposition live than what is presented on their records. I am admittedly a sucker for a great melodic guitar line, and set standout ‘Too Old’, hit the spot.

Filling out the bill for the evening were locals Beat the Bandit. From the first few bars they played, I had to laugh to myself. If I’d never been given any background on them, I would have known just based on sound they were a Sheffield band. Trading on the expert guitar playing and at times, the melodic, heart-twangy sound of bands such as Britpop’s Longpigs and more recent acts like High Hazels, this isn’t a criticism, just an observation. The band’s most recent release, an EP called ‘Winter’, is available from their Facebook. When you’re there, you see they have roots in Preston, which may explain why a song like ‘Let Me Teach You How to Dance’ sounds just like the most famous musical export of the Sixties from the Northwest, the Beatles.

After an intermission of local indie rock, it was up to Californian rockers Francisco the Man to pull it back and end the evening on a raucous note. An East Coaster such as myself generally does not take bands from California too seriously; as the adverts say, it is true we think they’re all surfers and have ADD, while we chug down our umpteenth coffee, complacent in our neuroticism. While it is true that Francisco the Man’s songs do give off that sun-dappled vibe that usually only comes from a coastal band, the washy, shoegazey guitars on songs like ‘Progress’ alongside hard driving drum beats make for an engaging watch.

Francisco the Man at Sheffield Parrot

Frontman Scotty Cantino (yes, that is really his name) has a hipster beard but thankfully lacks any sort of pretentiousness. They released their debut album ‘Loose Ends’ last year on Fat Possum, and they share their label mates The Districts’ love for huge sounding guitars and emotional lyrics, and you can’t help but be drawn in by a track like ‘You & I’, which filled a place like the Frog and Parrot with so much luscious sound, you’re reminded how great indie rock can be. For more of a live taste of Francisco the Man, check out their live session at Seattle’s KEXP from last year.

Both BAD//DREEMS and Francisco the Man are at the Great Escape this week, so check them out!

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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