Keith Goldhanger travelled a couple of hundred miles up the road to visit Liverpool Sound City 2018 and cram as many bands into the weekend as possible. This is part one of a two part review. We’ll call this bit ‘Saturday’. We haven’t got a title for part two yet.
Liverpool Sound City 2018
Saturday May 5 2018
One of the worrying things in the week leading up to Sound City 2018 was wondering how to react if it turned out to be rubbish this year. That surely wouldn’t happen would it ?
Did anyone visit Liverpool and trek around Sound City 2018 without finding anything that wasn’t of their taste?
We very much doubt it.
We’re here on past glories in all honesty. Liverpool Sound City has been unbelievable in the past. Looking at past reviews that remind us of what we once saw is still enough to get us back to this fine place. Two years of the event not being in the city centre kept some of us away however this year it’s ‘back to it’s roots’.
It’s not exactly where we expected it to be, they’ve built flats where some of those venues used to be around Wolstenholme Square. Memories of the converted and still in use car park where we once saw Bastille, Hold Steady, Embers, Jagwar Ma, Blood Red Shoes and countless others are revived as we stroll though. The warehouse opposite where we first saw Savages, The Kazimier (oh Sees), Cream, that place on the other corner where we once saw East India Youth, Fuck Buttons and about 15 others back in 2014…..Gone the London Astoria way I’m afraid.
The Baltic Area is a lovely location for this event though and apart from four lanes of traffic (Parliament Street) that splits the site in two it’s relatively car free (but they do need a proper crossing there one feels).
There are soooooooo……. many bands here again.
We cant be bothered to count them.
More than a dozen but probably less than twenty venues that we need to spend an afternoon the day before trying to locate so we can get our bearings (We got to a bar stayed there actually) and so many acts that to begin with don’t exactly give us the knee trembling thrill we often get before claiming our front facing window seat and venturing as North as some of us will go this year.
By the time kick off arrives on Saturday lunch time however, those of us smart enough have done some (a lot) of digging around. We know these bands aren’t simply chosen out of a hat. Someone, somewhere could sit across a table and argue until the sun comes up the merits of the bands we’re about to watch or avoid. On more than one occasion we find ourselves sitting with some of these people and on more than one occasion these people can provide us with music that really is of our liking.
Unlike the festivals in fields where we just pack our bags, curse the trek from the car park, put on our walking boots/dancing shoes have a beer and start to party, Liverpool Sound City 2018 needs some care and attention before we leave the house.
The effort put in is well rewarded however the task is made more difficult when the few bands you really fancy seeing (even if it’s just a reminder of their existence) are all performing at the same time. One day we’ll go to a festival when this doesn’t happen and when it does we’ll probably realise the reason for this.
So yes, we’ve had to put a heavy shift in on preparing for this one.
By the time we wake up on Saturday morning a plan has been hatched and a week that began full of doubt has turned into one of an eagerness to get out early and catch as much as we can. By the time Sunday night arrives we’ve got enough new music to start investigating that will last us until Christmas. By the time Christmas arrives we may be still trying to convince you these need to be heard and seen before the venues these bands appear in get bigger and more expensive to enter.
The sun is out the sky is blue and there are a few bands we’ve marked on scraps of paper that we want to watch.
New bands that may eventually be great one day.
New bands that are already great and may get greater and one or two that may be as great as they’ll ever be.
Let’s go. . . .
VITO from Gateshead get the ball rolling with guitar heavy indie rock.
HOCKEY DAD, an Australian duo are seen, enjoyed but forgotten about until we get home and start crawling through all this again.
JEKYLL have a tune called Mania and it sounds like Muse. It’s played out in daylight inside a small converted mechanics workshop and an early highlight of the day.
Our first journey into the unconventional and curious has us standing in front of a band from China called ZHAOZE who provide some of us with an introduction to the seven stringed Chinese instrument called a Guqin (pronounced as “goo-chin”). It’s played with a bow, or plucked, it sounds like a cello and complements the post rock sound of this instrumental four piece. Incredible stuff that we’d compare with Texan band Explosions in the Sky or God Speed You! Black Emperor if pushed and we get a short polite speech from the man with the instrument telling us how grateful he is to be playing the bands first UK show in Liverpool and thanking us for taking an interest. It should be us thanking them we feel, not the other way around.
PINING FOR SUNSHINE is the name of our second act of the day we had written down on our scrap of paper however the Baltic Social is still hosting four hen parties, two stag parties and a birthday shin dig as we enter. The stress amongst those involved in trying to work out how to turn this from a restaurant into a venue in ten minutes is excruciating to witness but they get there, albeit a little later than anticipated, with the patience of saints and by doing some commendable work under such stress. Pining for Sunshine is Jacob, a lovable chap from Brighton who guides us gently through half a dozen tunes including his debut ‘So little time’. This is already on a list of tunes of the year for some people. It could be the nicest song the Beatles never wrote. He could be the most tattooed person performing as well as the only artist this weekend who brought his grandmother along to the show. Wonderful.
A raucous energetic performance by AVALANCHE PARTY follows and the room is now more akin to a music venue than it appeared an hour previously.
Once we get our heads around the glorious racket we’re hearing we’ll be back for sure and on first impressions one feels this is another band capable of being more than a bunch of blokes forever filling in the corners of tiny pubs. Shirts off, a bit of chaos, a display of nonchalance as mikes stop working and a semi naked man writhing around on the floor before getting up and standing close to us and concentrating so hard he won’t be aware of anything further than two inches away . . . That kind of band.
Over at Furnace MARSICANS have just arrived, jumped out the van and ploughed through a brisk twenty minutes of heartwarming pop in front of a couple of hundred people. In two days time these boys will arrive in Canada and in two weeks they’ll be in Brighton for The Great Escape. This band are getting everywhere at the moment and are an example of what you can find by going to similar festivals as we did in Manchester in 2015 when they were first bumped into inside the tiny Soup Kitchen.
BLINDERS around the corner have packed out District to the point that we get a foot in the door before being pushed out again by the venue security who seem to have decided the room is about four people over capacity. No one called this bloke a knob to his face (we’re not like that) but nothing beats a simple smile, a shrug of the shoulder and an apology or explanation as to what the issue is along with a little professionalism when it comes to doing a job like this. This was the only disappointing incident of the weekend in regards to missing a band. We can already see the amount of people who already love this band to bits from the wrong end of a corridor.
Some are more patient to gain entry than others.
Some people may have actually called the bloke on the door a knob.
Blinders might even be rubbish.
Reports come back to us that they’re not.
One or two of us are still yet to find out.
THE LONGCUT play rhythmic drum machine powered tunes that get taken over by a more organic sound as the main vocalist leaves the spotlight to play the kit behind him and get the feet tapping at the modest pace. It’s taken some of us a bit too long to capture this trio live but it’s been worth the wait. LCD Soundsystem and our Brighton friends AK/DK come to mind. Marvellous uplifting repetitive electronic rhythms are played in front of us and we’re now feeling the day is slowly getting to where we hoped it might get to. This is another forthcoming favourite band in the world.
We’re passing venues and sticking our heads through the door for a couple of tunes as we go out looking for a Saturday night knees up. GINGER SNAPS get a tick, whoever the duo were making a racket in Constellation Gardens get a tick but the timings seem to all be a bit out and tapping people on the shoulder doesn’t work now that everyone appears to be a few pints closer to oblivion and recognising the names of odd named bands we may not have researched becomes difficult.
TEAM PICTURE are playing over at the tiny Birdie Bar.
Now that their debut album is nearly upon us and the tunes are getting familiar it’s felt we may be onto something with this six piece who dress in white dungarees and matching blue uniform tops. Each tune this Leeds band provide us with seem different without it sounding like a different band altogether. This makes the band very unique and will certainly work in their favour as time goes on. Beginning with the superb ‘Birthday Blues’ and proceeding to go through a set of already familiar songs one or two of us now know, swapping vocal duties and sometimes guitar duties it’s a little odd but a bit brilliant.
Most of Liverpool wouldn’t have seen them.
That made it all a bit special too.
Something to remember when they play in front of us another time on a bigger stage.
Not too big but bigger than this to complement the big tunes they have next time for sure.
A weekend highlight.
We’re on a roll now as we tackle the obstacle of the dual carriageway, laugh at the band inside the vehicle with the foreign number plate almost driving the wrong way along it and miss Asylums and Black Honey in order to have a look at SLOW READERS CLUB who have started the evening by giving those not at Team Picture a public sound check and providing an acapella version of I Saw a Ghost. It’s a fabulous performance and a big crowd obviously in love with this bands music. If Future Islands didn’t have that weird bloke as a front man who grunts during inappropriate parts of the song then this is what they could be like. Some of us have found another favourite band (the list is getting longer by the hour) and one that we imagine may be viewed sometime in the future on an even bigger festival stage.
Peel stage next Glastonbury just after breakfast please Mr Eavis.
HUSKY LOOPS last two songs sound like an old and exciting Gang of Four tune and something that’s nicked that fabulous Nick Cave bass line (Fighting Today). It may even have been their first two songs as well considering the time and the need to stick another band on before curfew. One day we’ll see Husky Loops perform their catchy bass lines and shrieking guitar again and then start convincing everyone else that they should check this band out (or allow others to tell us we’re three years too late).
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE JANE FONDA AEROBIC VHS? are tagged onto the end of the Blade Factory schedule. They arrived in town a few hours after they were meant to appear and were well worth being patient for before a stroll down the road, seeing no queue at Constellations and realising IDLES will be on in five minutes.
Wasn’t going to.
Couldn’t miss this again.
We know they’ll end up standing on peoples shoulders, crowd surfing with their guitars, spreading love and peace and asking everyone to respect each other and then later on hug each other.
The spectacle of an Idles show is something fabulous to be fortunate to be witness to at the moment. We’re watching one of the greats. Comparable nights out akin to those New Model Army gigs in the 80’s, the Nirvana shows in the 90’s, Libertines shows or Fat White Family gigs in recent years. We may not get the chance to see this band in a small venue for much longer where they can actually reach out to us without having a security guard propping up the band and helping them back on stage again. It’s a brutal hour again, full of rage, fury and lighthearted moments either provided by the band themselves crossing the line (or the crash barrier at the front that tonight seems more of a hindrance than doing any job it’s positioned in front of the stage for) between performers and audience or the crowd surfing individuals suddenly finding themselves standing beside their heroes. It’s a proper old school mosh pit where everyone looks after each other, more females this week than last week and one more bloody good knees up again on a Saturday night. We’re witnessing debut album Brutalism being performed along with a few new tunes. That’s what you get with Idles at the moment and at the moment that’s all you need and all you need to know.
People with Idles related tattoos have already been spotted, the band are getting popular and no one’s getting bored yet.
A few dozen people inside the Baltic Social are having their own very decent Saturday shin dig (their own Team Picture moment) in front of a very impressive local band called THE CHEAP THRILLS. Everyone seem to know the words, they appear to come from the musical land where The Enemy may have once lived (Not Coventry but musically).
It’s a joy to witness.
Codependance is an anthem that you can imagine a big Reading Festival crowd singing along to late at night from the main stage. They may even sound like The Teardrop Explodes or Manchesters’ Courteeners. None of this matters during the short time we’re witnessing this and squeezing in a final lager be fore the day ends. Imagine walking into a room where people all stand with glasses raised, all singing along and waving their arms in the air to this tune when you hear it.
Tune of the weekend.
A superb way to end day one.
All that’s left before day two is a trip across Liverpool city centre at chucking out time and a decent nights sleep.
Another story in itself that can be discussed over a pint sometime.
Part two to follow.
All words and photos by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV). You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page or browse some of his other photos too if you so wish.