The gigs to see in York right now – February 2016

Barbican-bound… Richard Hawley
1 Feb 2016 @ 9.59 pm
| News

With the websites of two of York’s venues currently experiencing problems it is harder than ever to find out what live music is available in York at the moment.

Hopefully both problems will be sorted out soon – not everybody has a Facebook account (and even if they did, one of these venues doesn’t seem to list gigs as events).

And then there’s the venue who, a couple of months ago, I admitted I didn’t even know had a What’s On listing but now find that it hasn’t been updated for at least a month and, once again, find myself scouring my social media of choice to find out who is playing there.

I don’t mean to sound critical – I know that two of these three problems are outside the control of the venues themselves – but when we are constantly being told that small venues are suffering and need support, and when people I know often bemoan the lack of attendance at gigs in York, a lack of information doesn’t help.

What I have gleaned is that February doesn’t exactly see York awash with gigs and, for the most part, any of them I do end up going to are going to be bands that I haven’t come across before. So, without further ado…

Keeping it local

There are a few local acts to be found playing around the city this month, starting with a full bill of York bands at The Basement on the 13th.

Headlining are Fallen Empires – an indie/synth-pop trio with influences from the likes of The Killers, The 1975 and Bloc Party – who, after forming just over a year ago, have already had BBC airplay and have played live sessions on various radio shows.

They are joined by Broken Skulls, a drum and guitar, “kind of punk rock, kind of not” duo and electro pop collective Maven Fiction.

The same venue plays hosts to Dos Cervezas on the 19th. This young quartet describes their genre as “filth”, which doesn’t immediately come across as appealing to me. Thankfully, though, “tenacious riffs, polluted melodies, threatening basslines and delectable rhythms” sounds more interesting.

There’s an all-day event of punk, ska, hardcore and others at The Fulford Arms on the 20th, when bands such as Magnificent Seven, The Carnival Rejects, Kinky and Sherbert Flies appear on a bill that also includes Liverpool’s Bolshy, Leeds’ Jesus and his Judgemental Father and The Lab Rats from Manchester.

Also at The Fulford Arms on the 25th, indie-pop duo Junk and post-hardcore/surf-rockers Fat Spatula can be found supporting lo-fi punk rockers Mouses, who hail from slightly further North in Billingham.

There’s indie-rock in the form of King No-One at Fibbers on the 26th.

Finally, it’s back to The Basement on the 27th, where The Y Street Band will be coming in from the cold to showcase some new original material, along with fellow York musos The Beggar’s Bunce and Beth McCarthy.

Sheffield and the North East

I’m not sure what it is about February, but a number of acts from the North East and South Yorkshire seem to be descending on York during the month.

First up is Lisbon, an alt-pop band from Whitley Bay, at The Duchess on the 9th. I saw this band in a support slot last year and at the time noted that they seemed more used to headlining. It’s nice to see them back.

Bob Fox cut his teeth playing the folk clubs around the North of England and was resident singer at Washington’s Davylamp Folk Club back in the Seventies, beginning his career as a professional folk singer in 1975 and has since played around the world.

You can see him at The Black Swan on the 11th.

I’ve not come across Sheffield indie-rockers The Crookes before, but they have over twenty-eight thousand likes on Facebook so, obviously, some people have. They can also be seen at The Duchess, on the 12th.

Arguably the biggest name to play York this month is Sheffield singer/songwriter Richard Hawley.

The ex-member of Longpigs and Pulp will be taking to the stage at the Barbican on the 19th, to support the release of his eight studio album Hollow Meadows.

The Duchess plays host to two more indie bands with relatively big Facebook followings on the 21st when Sheffield’s The Sherlocks play there and the 28th, when Field Music make the trip down from Sunderland.

The rest of the UK

Percussive guitarist Will Robert, from Cambridge, is the first headline act in York this month, He plays The Basement on the 1st, sadly a date I can’t make.

Since blues rock guitarist Ben Poole first came to my attention he has played York twice and I wasn’t able to get to either of those gigs (despite having a ticket for one of them…)

He’s back at Fibbers on the 5th and the signs are good that I’ll finally get a chance to see him. An added bonus is the support act – Stevie Nimmo.

Welshman Stephen Black, a.k.a. Sweet Baboo, plays an intriguing sounding mix of country/folk and psychedelia, which you can hear at The Fulford Arms on the 7th.

Also at The Fulford Arms and also with an intriguing description – what’s not to like about “alt-wave rock and eerie macabre pop, fusing sultry female vocals with dark, twisted electronics and a determined attitude”? –  you can see Zeitgeist Zero from Leeds on the 12th.

It’s just a guess, but I don’t think Dead, Zero, Grave, Noire and Macabre are the band member’s real surnames.

London rockers Eliza and The Bear – a five piece whose line-up includes nobody called Eliza and, perhaps less surprisingly, no bears – appear at The Duchess on the 15th.

The Crescent Community Venue (formerly The Crescent Working Men’s Club) is putting on an increasing number of gigs and this month sees Bill Ryder-Jones, founding member of The Coral and now singer-songwriter, appear there on the 17th.

There’s more from London at The Basement on the 18th with Telegram, whose music, as described by their bass-player Oli Paget Moon, isn’t shoegaze because they all wear boots. So, if you have boots, and like gazing at them, you know where you need to be.

If folk is more your thing, you could support two young musicians – Somerset-based fiddle player and singer Hannah Cumming and Hertsfordshire’s Saul Bailey, a melodeon and concertina player – at The Black Swan’s New Roots double bill, also on the 18th.

The Wave Pictures, whose alt-rock label seems to contrast with the Guardian’s description of “Charming, witty pop songs”, will be promoting their new album, A Season In Hull, when they appear at The Crescent on the 19th.

Americana singer-songwriter Guy Jones is also promoting an album – his debut Kicking Stones, released this month – when he and his band play at The Basement on the 20th.

It’s also at The Basement, on the 21st, that you can be whisked away by the dreamy psychedelia of Liverpudlian psych-disco band Gulf.

When I looked, there was only one gig at the NCEM this month. Barluath are a folk band based in Glasgow who embrace the traditional and contemporary music of Scotland, Ireland and America and they play there on the 26th.


There are a handful of international acts playing the city this month, starting with two Canadian acts on the 4th.

If you fancy, but don’t have a ticket for, The East Pointers – brothers Koady and Tim Chaisson and Jake Charron, with a penchant for traditional Celtic music – at The Black Swan, you won’t be seeing them as the gig has already sold out.

You could, however, head over to The Basement to see Cherry Suede as they perform acoustic versions of their two studio albums and give a preview of their next release.

Tyr is a heavy metal band from The Faroe Islands and their subject matter revolves around Viking lore and mythology.

They will be at Fibbers on the 19th, at the annual gig to mark the end of York’s Viking festival. I went to the equivalent gig last year, when Moonsorrow headlined, and was impressed by the theatricality of that gig.

I’m hoping this one can live up to that standard.

Finally, from Norway comes Frøkedal, whose songwriting is described as “poetic, melodic and often dark” and “minimal pop music meets folk in the depths of Oslo”.

Her first solo album, Hold On Dreamer, will be released on the 26th, the same day that she appears at The Basement.

A final word

As usual, I will finish with a mention for the various free gigs and open mic nights at the pubs and bars around the city, and will also mention that there are three tribute acts that you can see this month – all at Fibbers – Limehouse Lizzy (6th), Garth Brooks UK (11th) and The Smyths (27th), if you like that sort of thing.


Below is a chronological list of the main gigs I covered above. All details are correct at time of putting this column together and ticket prices are as advertised. Paying on the door at Fibbers will cost a pound or two more.

Date Act Venue Price           
1st Will Robert The Basement £5
4th Cherry Suede The Basement £13
  The East Pointers The Black Swan Sold Out
5th Ben Poole Fibbers £10
7th Sweet Baboo Fulford Arms £8 / £10
9th Lisbon The Duchess £6
11th Bob Fox The Black Swan £10
12th The Crookes The Duchess £8
  Zeitgeist Zero The Fulford Arms £5
13th Fallen Empires The Basement £4
15th Eliza and The Bear The Duchess £10
17th Bill Ryder-Jones The Crescent £8 / £10
18th Hannah Cumming/Saul Bailey The Black Swan £8
  Telegram The Basement £7
19th The Wave Pictures The Crescent £10 / £12
  Richard Hawley The Barbican £28
  Tyr Fibbers £18
  Dos Cervezas The Basement £4
20th Guy Jones The Basement £5 / £6
  Moosefest all-dayer Fulford Arms £5 (£7 after 7PM)
21st Gulf The Basement £5
  The Sherlocks The Duchess £7
25th Mouses Fulford Arms £3
26th Frøkedal The Basement £5 / £7
  Barluath NCEM £14
  King No-One Fibbers £6
27th The Y Street Band The Basement £4
28th Field Music The Duchess £12