Esper Scout photographed by Dave at Northern Face Photo

Esper Scout by Dave at Northern Face Photo


August in Fallowfield is the depths of tumbleweed season, with students having committed their post-graduation mass exodus a month previous and a new influx of freshers still several weeks away.

Even Saturday night is quiet, with the closure of the once-prominent Baa Bar adding to the eeriness. However, one local venue that is accelerating its efforts to stage more events and live music is the cozy Fallow Café, under the seasoned guidance of Ruby Lounge and Classic Slum promoter Jay Taylor.

Formerly part of the Trof chain, the terraced hideout has stood its ground in recent years as new waves of students and businesses come and go. Fallow has not only remained a reliable slot for a quality beer and humble surroundings, but has also re-vamped its first floor as a live music venue with an outdoor space.

Fallow has hosted a diverse mix of bands in the last year such as Electric Eel Shock, Ghouls and Secateurs and the venue is the kind of intimate and underrated space ripe for yielding a hidden gem or two.

In a modest-sized room, the first thing that stands out about tonight’s Manchester-born Leeds four-piece Esper Scout is simple but important – how well they handle their instruments and know their material. Their long-standing relationship as both friends and band mates has cemented their self-confidence and identity and captivates the crowd.

It would be lazy to see four grungily dressed women on bass-lead-rhythm-drums and make comparisons with Bikini Kill and all things Riot Grrl, but Esper Scout’s sound is peppered with rock, perhaps a faint element of punk and also nods to metal with its meaty riffs.

Standout tracks include ‘Gaps in the Border Fence’, closing song ‘Fires’ and ‘Belay’, an ambitious track that seems to have a slowly built negative-chord narrative to get lost in, which was unsurprisingly released as a single last year. Although their set is quite rightly focused on original material, a little digging about the band suggests that they pull off a mean cover version, Elliott Smith’s ‘Twilight’ being one of the best available online for a listen.

On the mid-song banter front, vocalist Sarah Statham comfortably chats away about hair, the Berlin Wall and their songs’ context, always a good move to connect with the crowd.

With years of performing together, mutual travel and friendship under their belts, Esper Scout are a particularly accomplished outfit for one still so low-key and a band you should catch now before they graduate to bigger and busier venues.

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