Going to Sticky Mike's, a Brighton staple apparently, for the first time is an interesting experience. Having spent most of my 18th year gallivanting across Shoreditch and Hoxton to see weird little bands in weird little venues, it felt like a piece of home; a small, nicely kept bar that’s trendy but not vainly so.

Heading down the stairs into the deceivingly large basement for the music was great as well – it’s everything XOYO pertains to be; narrow but spacious, fashionable but not elitist, but without the oh so corporate and slightly dampening air of XOYO. In short, the perfect venue, and the perfect venue for tonight’s headliners Forest Fire as well.

Opening act MAC took to the stage with just four people – ourselves included – gathered round. This number soon grew, and their enthusiasm for their sloppy punk orientated math rock grew exponentially. Entirely instrumental, they had the passion for the music and a great stage presence, but lacked tightness and an element to make people want more. They were talented, but the set seemed more like an extended jam session than a gig.

After a swift pint and a chat about the Jeffrey Lewis mural on the bar we caught Ojo De Gringa’s set. Heavy with sax appeal and the unusual idea of fusing mathy noodling with jazz, they were gripping and slightly fascinating. Though they were perhaps more interesting than engaging they still held the growing crowd and raced through a jazz infused high paced set.

Another round bought and further chats and it was time for Forest Fire to make some noise at us. And make some noise they did, beginning with an empty stage and just feedback for a good two minutes before lurching into ‘Slow Motion’, a highlight from Survival before crashing into great versions of ‘Mtns are Mtns’ and ‘The News’ from Staring At The X (including a rather wonderful harmonica solo played into a guitar on the former).

A triptych of songs later, two from the new album and one from the old, and they played a brand new song. It’s hard to judge a song on the basis of the live performance, especially given Forest Fire’s tendency to change the structure and their emphasis on style, but the new track held strong, even if it sounded a bit like a B side. Unmistakeably them, it sounded like it had been cast off from Staring... rather than showing the sonic shift that occurred between old and new before.

The absolute highlight of the set though had to be ‘They Pray Excecution Style’ from Staring... which is one of my favourite tracks of the year. Keeping true to its haunting build before the almost danceable bassline drop it sounded absolutely stunning, and with the added jamming at the end, it was one of the finest 10 minutes of performance that you’re likely to see this year.

After a pretty rendition of ‘Staring At The X’ then bowing out to an extended version of Survival’s ‘Promise’ they wandered nonchalantly off stage. The time was already 11 and it was their time to finish, and it was striking how businesslike they could be. While all these extended versions seem improvised – and in places, are – it’s what they perform every day of their tour and it’s comforting to know that tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after people are going to be getting the same fantastic and somewhat personal gig we got here in Brighton.