Hope Works is a reasonably recent addition to Sheffield’s night life having opened its doors around two years ago. In that brief period of time it has played host to Theo Parrish, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Carl Craig and Ben UFO to name just a few. Run by Liam O’Shea, better known by his alias Lo Shea, Hope Works serves not just a venue but also as a promotions company. Soon the Hope Works brand will also expand into releasing music; with an EP of three Lo Shea tunes forthcoming.
The venue itself isn’t necessarily kept in good shape but that doesn’t detract from it being a great place to go out and dance. Room one will be vaguely familiar to anyone who’s been to a warehouse style venue in a once industrial area of a once industrial city, made to look a bit prettier with pseudo-spiritual and graffiti style artwork. A sizeable ring of couches and chairs occupies the back half of room one. Room two on the other hand is comparatively intimate but still kitted out with an impressive sound system.
The night started with big room techno reverberating awkwardly across room one, so I migrated to room two which was brought to capacity early by local Sheffield DJ Lodger who was playing a mix of deep house and disco. He was replaced by Smorsli, another Sheffield based DJ who runs a night called Thrillhouse. Smorsli played dark but energetic techno, the highlight of his set being when he finished with the Kowton mix of “Roll With The Punches”.
By this point room one had started to fill up a bit more andthe big kick drums were making a bit more sense. Bradley Zero was the first DJ to really get room one moving. He showed off an eclectic music collection ranging from electro to upbeat house to darker techno. His set was a crucial bridge between people arriving, bopping their heads and milling about sipping on drinks to getting off their arses and having a dance.
Next up was Lo Shea. Usually the Hope Works head honcho takes the closing slot but on this occasion he played his live set just before the headliner. This is a guy who clearly knows how to play to his own venue. His brand of dark, bass heavy techno was not only perfect for the setting but also took full advantage of the now warmed up crowd. Lo Shea’s live show was really enhanced by him showing off his guitar playing chops. Rather than adding any kind of obnoxious rock noodling however, he sensibly opted for a more atmospheric approach that created a pretty unique feel to his set.
Following on from Lo Shea was Funkineven, who really justified his slot as headliner. Sticking almost entirely to hard hitting analogue house, Funkineven really demonstrated the diversity of mood, texture and pace within his style. He showed off a real confidence and ability to take the audience in any direction that took his fancy. A lot of people who might have been starting to feel the effects of the hours spent dancing before the start of his set will have been energized by the headliner’s fantastic selections, ranging from Moodymann to his productions with Kyle Hall under the Funkinevil alias. For anyone who wasn’t in a state to handle his mostly hard hitting selections, Bradley Zero was playing his second slot of the night in room two. Here he played a collection of deep soulful numbers to a packed out and sweaty room, giving Hope Works’ attendees a great alternative to what Funkineven had to offer in the main room.
Written by Sam Jacobs
Images from Liam Taylor Photography