Noisy quartet “The Surrealists” finished off an amazing night of local and national acts that performed. I attended “Upstairs Downstairs” at the Shed on Saturday; it was my first time in the venue, and I was quite impressed at what I saw. Fortunately, all eight acts were conveniently timed, so I could pop between floors and catch a few songs from each act. Oh, trust me, my legs hated me after a while.
Upstairs we had a variety of artists playing different genres – some of them I hadn’t heard before, but I did enjoy. First was Felix, an acoustic singer songwriter with a smooth voice, followed by Homeless Shakespeare – a.k.a Joe Doyle; I was intrigued by his name, which he explained that it defines “any artist playing anywhere”. His dark jokes and promises of “a pun per song” was a fantastic way of involving the audience. He was very down to earth, especially with his experimental, electro-acoustic and quirky songs and covers. I was delighted that he played his own version of Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch”.
Vienno Ditto, a quirky duo who describe their music as ‘rockabilly mixed with atmospheric electronica’. I had never heard such a beautiful voice before; the duo’s use of foot pedals and other technology amazed me – they created all sorts of beats and unusual guitar sounds. It felt like a cross between ‘80’s rock and psychedelic guitar riffs. I hadn’t heard music of this sort ever, but I really did enjoy the different style Vienno Ditto had compared to other acts.
The upstairs section of The Shed finished off with Leicester based band ‘The Surrealists.’ All members of the band are in their third and final year at DMU (De Montfort University). The chemistry between them was fantastic – they were mesh well together, which helps to bring the music together more. I wasn’t too sure why the lead singer spat on the floor, yet I did make a mental note on the location so I avoided stepping in it; though, I was, however, jealous of his beautiful mane of hair. My favourite part of this band’s set was when a four-man slow motion wall of death was assembled – to be frank, it was hilarious. The series of interactions with the audience were fantastic, especially with the weirdest dance move competition, to which my photographer abandoned me and participated in.
Kicking off the events downstairs was singer songwriter Brendon Neal. The lighting downstairs wasn’t that great but I could just about see him. He played a collection of original songs, including one about being replaced at work with machines (true story) and, my favourite song of the night, one about video games and having trophy awards for real life. All his songs were catchy, and you can see the passion he has for his music.
After Brandon’s incredible performance, pop-punk band “Mind Step” from Birmingham graced the stage with their Paramore-like style. It was one of my most anticipated acts of the night; whilst researching the bands, Mind Step was one that I was looking forward to because I love pop-punk. They didn’t disappoint, especially the drummer, she was amazing. I couldn’t hear the lyrics very well, but the singer had a good voice; she reminded me of Hayley Williams from Paramore quite a bit.
The third act to perform downstairs was Günk; they dramatically changed the mood with their grunge/ hard rock sound – in a good way. They had great stage presence and amazing guitar skills. Though, the drummer looked unenthusiastic, the two guys on guitars made up for that with their headbanging and dramatic guitar solos. I really liked their music, and found myself bobbing my head for most of their set, before remembering the next act was about to start upstairs.
I only saw a few songs from the final act, Warldorf, because The Surrealists overlapped with them. Like Günk, they had a grungy rock sound. Their first song, “Smash the glass” was great; you could tell the band rehearse a lot and it was a good performance overall. The bassist played with his coat and hat still on – I don’t blame him; I was cold too and wished I had bought a cardigan with me.
It was a great night overall. It was amazing to see so many artists in just a few hours. I will certainly be listening to some of these artists a lot more.