The recent release of Sheafs’ politically personal debut EP Vox Pop has allowed the band to create a fresh-sounding, engaging and fiercely invigorating live set as they return to Sheffield’s iconic Cafe Totem stage. What’s important to note is that this is a band who has played extensively in Sheffield – from Shakespeare’s to Tramlines, the upper room of The Great Gatsby to The Leadmill. Their fans know what to expect from their live performances, and each time they play here, they still manage to keep up their energy and bring something new. They make the expected, unexpected. 

Having only recently played at The Foundry, the indie punk quintet already predestined the sound of their EP with the politically injected lyrics of their live tracks ‘Care Less’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’. The band’s set was nothing short of seismic, especially for a rather rainy Thursday night. 

The five-piece seem to encapsulate a mood particularly prevalent to our generation today. Much introspection and self-awareness, paired with an extremely catchy punk energy, is the best way to describe the sentiment of the band’s EP and live presence. 

When the word ‘political’ is used to describe a song, people often assume it’s outrightly linked to what we see in the news, namely it’ll have something to do with Brexit. Whilst that may be in their periphery, the ‘political’ aspect of the bands lyrics appear more about the self. Self image. Narcissism. An obsessive, yet common attitude of living life in the mirror seems to be at the forefront of Sheafs’ worries, as frontman Lawrence Feenstra alludes to in ‘Total Vanity’. Seeing this track live was a necessity as it captured its true punk zeal. 

Despite it being a Thursday, the band managed to emanate their ever enthusiastic demeanour to the fans as the crowd matched the quintet’s age-old passion. As tracks such as ‘Popular Music’ were chanted back to the band, the first mosh-pits of the night emerged.

The band showed no sign of burning out as they pondered a thought lingering on everyone’s mind recently: ‘WIFA’ otherwise known as their track, ‘The World Is Falling Apart’. The intelligently crafted glam-rock sentiment of this track may be extremely insightful but also doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

The band debuted a track they had recently written, a caustic, attitude-fuelled ‘Cosmopolitan’. The anthemic song instantly got the crowd lively as a pit began to reemerge. The track’s catchy riffs and upbeat tempo created an entrancing spirit, captivating the crowd with their confident, pithy probes. Feenstra’s humble lyricism never goes amiss as he both directly yet eloquently reiterated his feelings of the world today. 

Whilst it was the first of two sold-out shows at the venue, it acted as a fitting tribute to the closure of Sheffield’s iconic Cafe Totem venue, set to close at the end of March. As Feenstra quite fittingly stated, the site has been the bedrock for so many of Sheffield’s greatest up-and-coming bands; acting as quite the cornerstone for our music scene and music lovers alike. From playing there as an unsigned band back in 2016, when it was still known as The Rockin’ Chair, it truly is a shame to see it go, but the band’s performance was a great way to bid farewell to the dingy downstairs basement of one of the best indie venues Sheffield has had. 

Finally, as the band continues to announce festival dates and further shows, it goes without saying that this is a band you should add to your list of bands to check out. For fans of the Blinders, Fontaine’s DC and Pretty Vicious.

Image: Sonic PR

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