I arrive at the venue not quite sure what to expect. I’ve never heard of Self Esteem, nor the support act. I’d heard of Picture House Social, but never been – it seemed like one of those venues that you’re never quite cool enough to fit in at. Set in the former Abbeydale Picture House, I step through the door to be greeted by a cosy-looking bar, and after a little confusion as to where I’m heading, I find the former ballroom where tonight’s gig is.
The music goes quiet. I’m stood pint in hand as Nimmo, the London synthpop duo supporting Self Esteem tonight, step on stage. Their show starts with spoken word over swilling synths. Energetic, pounding beats mix with synthpop as the two dive between instruments and beautiful vocal harmonies. I’m reminded of Years and Years and can’t help but move my feet – it’s clear Nimmo are criminally underrated.
A brief interlude follows. Lights bathe the stage in pink. Heavy synths drone as Self Esteem step onstage and begin to perform. Hypnotic, lithe, artsy pop beats kick in and Sheffield native Rebecca Taylor dances flanked by her band and balloons. I’m entranced and can’t help but grin as Rebecca jokes with the crowd between songs- it’s as though everyone present is smiling, and despite how indie the act and venue are, there’s absolutely no air of pretension. Song after song after song you can sense the raw power and emotion behind the lyrics.
Suddenly, the music stops, and I’m a little taken aback at just how talented Rebecca and her backup singers are as the stage bursts into an acapella for ‘She Reigns’, my favourite song of the evening. A few songs later, we’re treated to perhaps the most successful of Rebecca’s singles yet, the defiant and down-to-earth ‘In Time’. The atmosphere is beatific as the crowd belt out lyrics that anyone who’s had a rough break up can relate to. I finally understand just how apt the project’s name is, as every song has imparted self-esteem in droves.
A few more songs pass, including what is ostensibly the last one. The balloons are finally explained when a cake appears. It’s Rebecca’s 28th birthday tonight, and the entire room cheerily sings Happy Birthday to her before we’re treated a jubilant encore. I entered the room not knowing who Self Esteem are, and I’ve not stopped listening since.