Show No. 28: Sheffield, England
Sheffield, a friendly university town nestled in South Yorkshire, is home to a well-informed student community and other assorted wildlife. For example, cuddly monsters (see above) provide hours of entertainment and can be adopted for Â£4. Those not wishing to splurge on a full-size monster can take home a small monster for Â£1.50. The small monster—a monster more than half as large as a full-size monster for less than half the price—is quite a bargain!
Other Sheffield wildlife, though not necessarily for sale, are noteworthy:
1. The Sheffield Promoter
The Sheffield Promoter, though bespectacled, is friendly, courteous, and, if pressed, most cuddly. This species can often be seen lurking about the Red House a venue that, though it resembles the pub where Frodo (Elijah Wood) first meets Strider/Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in the Peter Jackson film The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), somehow puts on sweaty, well-attended punk shows. Bucking storied English musician-starvation policies, the Sheffield Promoter will feed you pasta. The pasta may be cold, and the Red House will not supply any plates to eat the pasta off. However, you will cold pasta off of a pile of paper napkins because, really, what else were you going to eat in Sheffield, anyway? The Sheffield Promoter is also happy to let you spend the night in surprisingly clean, comfortable, heated student housing. If you stay with a Sheffield promoter, remember that Sheffield Promoters love the films of Alfred Hitchcock. You may admire a few Hitchcock films—Lifeboat (1944), Psycho (1960), or the overlooked Frenzy (1972). However, if you stay with a Sheffield Promoter, be prepared to explain why you find North by Northwest(1959) incredibly boring.
2. The Sheffield Soundman
The Sheffield Soundman, while enthusiastic and attentive, behaves like an acid casualty. Though you are playing a venue you no larger than a bourgeois' dining room, the Sheffield Soundman will try to mic all of your instruments. Do not fret—the Sheffield Soundman will soon realize this is unnecessary. Then, the Sheffield Soundman will attempt to provide vocal mics—a monitor-free, "vocals-only," minimalist P.A. set-up. However, after agreeing that a "vocals-only" set up is workable, the Sheffield Soundman will ask you what microphones you need (the proper response is "Well, uh, just vocals"), record how many vocals you need in a notebook (yes, he will, quite literally, write "2 vocal mics" in this notebook), then disappear for 30 minutes while you stand around looking at your bandmates wondering what to do next before calling off soundcheck entirely. A pleasant surprise awaits you—by the time your show rolls around five hours later, the Sheffield Soundman will, inexplicably, prove 100% competent at the arts of sound mixing and sound design.
3. The Sheffield Chippy-Owner
Hungry musicians need greasy food and, in pursuit of greasy snacks, often visit a fish-and-chips shop (in British parlance, a "chippy") at late hours. Though the Sheffield Chippy-Owner often refuses to acknowledge passerby after 1 a.m., he may agree to extend his hours when he sees you, the opening band, and 5-10 assorted hangers-on waltz into his shop at 12:57 a.m., ready to spend. Sheffield Chippy-Owners offer many food items for sale, as long as they are burgers, kebabs, chips (a.k.a. "fries"), and soda, but, for unknown reasons, frown on the gustatory revolution known around the world as "mustard." The Sheffield Chippy-Owner is an MTV Europe apologist, and, while serving you, will broadcast MTV Europe on a flat-screen television, playing recent hits at high volumes. If you visit a Sheffield Chippy-Owner, do not watch too much of this programming. It is poisonous.