The Endless Hum, Shipley
Sly & The Family Drone | Algernon Cornelius | Care Home | Yorkshire Modular Society | Stef Kett
Saturday 3rd September 2022
Andy Brown heads to the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley for an eclectic night of noise, hip hop, noise-rock and drone at The Endless Hum. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
Hidden away in the small market town of Shipley in West Yorkshire, The Endless Hum has quietly (well, incredibly loudly, if you consider the actual music) become a thoroughly indispensable portal into all things noisy, interesting and experimental. Each night serves as an eclectic deep dive into the farthest regions of the UK underground. A bi-monthly night of specially curated line-ups that straddle genre labels in a bid to bring you the very finest in post-punk, drone, electronica and anything else they find inspiring. Tonight is the third Endless Hum and the line-up looks as tantalisingly eclectic as I’ve come to expect. With my earplugs at the ready, I step inside the Kirkgate Centre for a much-welcome night of noise.
We’re eased into the night with a dose of drone courtesy of Yorkshire Modular Society. Said society consists of one man and a table brimming with wires, dials and electronic kit. A low, ominous drone fills the room as the light from the ever-circulating disco ball bounces off the unattended drumkit and keyboards in front of the stage. Tonight’s opening act only needs a table and a box of tricks to get things started. After 5 minutes of sci-fi-worthy tones, a beat is introduced and cracks of barely discernible light start to appear in the sinister soundscape. Suddenly, the next beat drops and the floor shakes in appreciation underneath my feet. A thoroughly engrossing trip from deep, brooding drone to head-nodding euphoria. Yorkshire Modular Society has officially kicked the doors open at The Endless Hum.
With the band set up on the floor in front of the stage, the audience gets the up close and personal treatment from Care Home. Featuring members of USA Nails and False Flags, the Leeds-based band specialises in a particularly satisfying hardcore-via-noise-rock racket. The vein-bulging vocals and wild guitar are complimented by dramatic synth tones that push the whole thing to the next level. The singer closes his eyes and clings to the microphone for dear life as the drummer sets the relentlessly explosive pace. Every minute drips with urgency and sweat (lots and lots of sweat). “I’m fucked, I’m so out of practice,” the drummer says to himself before ploughing into the brutal Tooth Taker. The energy levels remain firmly feral throughout. Unbelievably, tonight is the very first Care Home gig. Hopefully, the first of many.
With a solitary mic stand on an otherwise empty stage, a head full of rhymes and some pre-recorded beats, Algernon Cornelius has all he needs. Make no mistake, Marcus Clarke (aka Algernon Cornelius) is a one-man underground hip-hop machine. Anyone worried that the energy levels might drop a little after Care Home is soon reassured. Clarke dives headfirst into an angry, joyous and unreservedly energetic set. The songs are brief and the performance is endlessly animated as he spits verses over a suitably experimental backing. With the mic cable clutched between his teeth Clarke imitates being electrocuted, dropping his head like a robot with a blown fuse. Moments later he’s burst back into life. Algernon Cornelius is a real live wire and a natural born performer.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Saturday night without a little audience participation. Clarke gets everyone to sit on the floor and jump up in time, sharing his boundless energy with the room. He finishes his set by heading out into the crowd with the microphone to deliver a brutally brilliant hit of punk rock called Gentrify Me. Man, it’s been such a great night already and we haven’t even got to Sly & The Family Drone.
“Good people of Shipley, be nice if you got close,” a member of the Sly & The Family Drone posse tells us before joking, “because if you don’t, it’s rubbish, and if it’s rubbish, it’s your fault”. That’s a lot of responsibility. The Endless Hum audience isn’t about to drop the ball though and we gladly get as close as humanly possible. The band create a circle of equipment in the centre of the room with two drum kits, electronic kit, effects pedals, a tenor sax and some massive amplifiers. Oh, and an extra floor tom, cymbals and cowbells for good measure. At the band’s request, the audience has them completely surrounded. With everyone nice and cosy, the ritual can begin.
We’re eased in with some distinctly jazzy sax, lulling us into a false sense of security. Gradually, the piece gains momentum. The twin drummers introduce hypnotic tribal drums and before you can say glorious cacophony of noise, Sly & The Family Drone are in full flight. There are no traditional vocals as such yet two members take turns to scream blue murder into their respective microphones. One has the mic stuffed into his mouth like a kid with one of those impractically sized gobstoppers. With all 5 members of the collective fully invested, The Family Drone are an absolute force of nature. The resulting sound sits somewhere between noise, jazz and the avant-garde. It’s made even more intense by the fact that I’m standing so close I can practically smell them.
After a particularly intense section, an oasis of relative calm appears. The band reins everything in, allowing us to bob along on the back of some superbly spacey sax. Even then, you feel like you’re dangling on the edge of the precipice. Waiting to fall into sonic oblivion at any moment. Their whole set is a continuous and thoroughly elemental Odyssey of noise. A cathartic and thoroughly thrilling performance. We’re in their Real Ale-ity now.
To top off an excellent evening of noise and mayhem we’re treated to a set from London-based guitarist, singer and improviser Steff Kett. Collaborating with a drummer from the Family Drone and their tenor sax player, the trio wrap things up in style. The songs fizz with gloriously wild guitar; a bluesy, unpredictable and wholly thrilling sound. He’s the kind of guitarist whose instrument could almost be some kind of additional limb. The drummer and saxophonist are fully tuned in to Kett’s songs as they add instinctive and free-flowing accompaniment. “What’s this next one?” asks the drummer at one point. “The one in C” laughs Kett. Apparently, that’s all they need as the following song is utter magic. When Kett opens his mouth to sing something truly special happens. It’s a set laced with energy, melancholy and a tonne of soul. You really couldn’t ask for a better way to end the night.
Just how much inspiring new music can you cram into a modest, 100-person capacity venue? Turns out, it’s quite a lot. I leave with my brain humming with the excitement of great live music and the giddy thrill of new discoveries. My only regret is not buying a lovely curry from the pop-up stall outside the entrance, but I’ve only got myself to blame for that. Music, community, a disco ball and some decent food. What more could you possibly want? Long live The Endless Hum!
Find out about the Endless Hum HERE.
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here.