Liverpool Sound City
Saturday 3rd May 2014
Day three of Liverpool Sound City Keith Goldhanger’s still enjoying the mighty impressive lineup.
The idea of choosing three bands and making the rest up as you go on, trying to not be too precious today, the final day, and just take things easy, went brilliantly wrong before breakfast time.
“Go and see Bird” I kept hearing being said (well twice, that’s all it seems to take) and at the crack of dawn, or rather 2.30PM in the real world, immediately the hunger for more sounds got the better of a few of us and we walked straight into a venue giving free beer away when you least really need it.
BIRD, two males, two females all dressed in black and airing their dark melodies that echo into the air as they build the very short set up into one loud tribal drumming assault certainly cleared the cobwebs alright. They were a perfect start, and if our knees could hold out, then a trip to the Cathedral later to see this again wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Predictably though, forgetting about this five hours later was obviously regretful.
Yes, day three and regrets are piling up. I keep getting annoyed with myself that I missed SIVU (sorry) because I was watching a punk rock band and I keep seeing the same names coming up on twitter of bands that I haven’t seen yet and suspect that I might actually like.
Today started earlier and those of us expecting a light stroll were caught out. An outdoor stage hosting an array of Australian artists interrupted our conversations as we walked past and half a dozen songs by MAMA KIN were an enjoyable distraction from trying to work out where all the other stages and venues are that had yet to be visited. This stage had some great stuff on it during the day and a tiny glimpse of THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS ending their last tune of the afternoon was enough to mention here and to go hunting for more.
There seemed to be loads of uncharted venues being discovered on day three. I guess that’s what happens with little or no set plan for the day and it’s a welcome change from dashing from one end of the street to the next and then back to the same venue again an hour later. These venues, somewhere around twenty in number, are all fairly close together and arriving fifteen minutes before any particular favourite artist sometimes means popping next door, or around the next corner, into something new in the hope of unearthing some hidden gem.
If this sort of shit went on in places like, for example, Texas in the US … oh, I know you know where Texas is … anyway, strapped for cash music industry people who may not have been here this weekend (many were … in fact bloody loads were, not necessary struggling of course. If I’d have gone to some of those conferences that I promised myself I would, but didn’t because I quite liked getting some sleep over the three days …. then I may have found out).
Anyway if this was Texas then they would be raving on and on about it spouting rubbish like it is a sad fact that nothing like this could happen back home … eh?
(Scouse by Scouse West…?)
Anyway, my mind is wandering … where was I? … It’s mid afternoon and over at the Blue Coat Gardens, Danny Danlap from Texan band (now there’s a coincidence) GENTLEMEN ROGUES entertains coffee and beer drinkers with a very agreeable solo set. Apologising more than once about not wanting to go all “Billy Bragg” on us he was entertaining to the end. His Yazoo cover sent us whistling on our way to find some proper breakfast that didn’t actually have alcohol in it. Superb stuff that was.
BERNARD AND EDITH were an interesting one to catch at the Factory (which is basically a big garage) once the day began properly (after a slice of toast). Electronic rhythms set up and controlled by the male part of the duo and complemented by a female voice who’s vocal range appealed to those of us here making us tempted to seek out more at a later date.
A couple of very ordinary bands that had nothing in particular worth mentioning later in a couple of new venues we didn’t even realise had existed before today and it was time for quite possibly the oldest act over the entire weekend to plug their gear in, open the pages of the music they’re reading from and thump away at their very old analogue equipment. The BBC RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP did what I hoped the Residents were going to do the two or three times I’d seen them, but failed to do. Not being much of a TV person meant the significance on the “Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” soundtrack was lost on me a bit, however this was a very enjoyable distraction from some of the bands not worth mentioning who seemed to be blending into one another as the pace quickened and our legs started aching.
EMBERS made a huge racket in the Garage. Embers are great. Some of us have been on about these for ages and they were first on my personal list as soon as this line up was announced. They’re one of those bands we expect to be very soon pulling in the punters and have everyone here tonight wearing that metaphorical badge of attendance in a few years time. The few here will be mentioning this once the day of reckoning arrives and the rest of the world catch up (maybe). No live strings this evening and therefore some of this was triggered by samples. Didn’t make too much of a difference but one of Embers attractions live is the slightly unconventional line up, the violins, the backing female vocals. Just a small point (that I may have just made a bit bigger), however this band throw us some really fantastic bombastic songs that we’ll all get to hear later in the year once they begin releasing their stuff for us all to listen to at home.
From here, the previous couple of days begin to catch up. A ten minute experience watching a band we’re not too impressed with means we’re at the wrong venue and catch the end of LIFE. Four young punks from Hull with tunes waiting to be snapped up and digested as part of the public’s consciousness. They look good as well, imagine a twelve year old Jarvis breaking away from his Britpop days to start behaving like a snotty littler punk rocker. Punk rock like this is great, a bit Lurkers, a bit Buzzcocks, a bit bloody good. They are older than twelve by the way, they’re not that good! Life are a band to recommend for those looking for quick snappy three-minute pop punk distractions from our busy lives.
A quick stroll back to Wolstenholme Square and the crowds are turning up in their droves. This small area in Liverpool boasts four large venues, a busker’s gazebo (tonight it’s full of about twenty samba dancers) a bar and some welcome food stalls. A real festival vibe in what is essentially the central hub of the festival is getting busy and on entering the Garage for what will be for at least one of the punters a final time this weekend we can sense that a few late comers may miss out on a couple of the headline acts on show this evening. Therefore, JAGWAR MA play to a packed room, get the hoards dancing, screaming and singing along. It’s the bands first visit to this city and they are welcomed with open arms by the Saturday night revellers. Deep bass lines, guitars that reverb around the square, big bass drums, casual high hats creeping into each song and it’s back to the days of the baggy trousered marraca dancing ’90s. Don’t stand around waiting for the next Stone Roses album when there’s bands like this around, if the Stone Roses ever do return then this is the benchmark they should be aiming for at the very least.
We leave the square to seek out a few more treats before retiring as broken adults. Queues are forming at every entrance to the square. For the first time in three days it appears that everyone is wanting a piece of the headliners (The Kooks in one corner, Public Service Broadcasting in another) and much much more for much much longer after that.
We catch a quick look at London band LOOM who don’t grab our attention enough to warrant more than ten minutes and when the same is felt popping into a half-dozen other venues with the same feelings it’s time to bow out.
A festival where a short wait means (Saturday night apart) you can pop into a couple of gigs to pass the time means more bands can be seen, heard and in some cases drooled over is what we leave here remembering. Prompt stage times, reliable information and a decent line up too. There were moans and groans from the queuing punters unable to get back into Wolstenholme square around midnight on Saturday, but that’s the risk to be taken when attending these events. This is why some of us entered a venue three hours early to see The Fat White Family on Thursday evening and stayed put after East India Youth not wanting to miss out on Fuck Buttons on Friday night. Neither were necessary on hindsight, but you have to keep an eye on situations if you want to see your favourite bands (and remember which bloody venue is which as I found once to my cost this year to even up the one to my benefit last year). I’m not going to count out in numbers the amount of bands I saw and heard I’m just going to remember this as a weekend where people laughed, danced and made new friends.
I also learnt that in case your wondering about how Royal Blood are so fucking loud even though there’re just a(nother) duo then it’s because the guitarist uses “3 octave pedals, 2 guitar amps and a bass amp, and a switching unit which changes the routing to get several different sounds”.
Don’t say we don’t look into the technical side of these events as well.
It’s hilarious watching the non festival party people walking alongside those that would know that there really is a band called FUCK BUTTONS. Some of the non festival people were dancing madly in their pubs to “Mr Brightside” and we learn that it can take some people a very long time to fall in love with certain songs and other people get hit by new life changing tunes just by popping out down the pub on a Wednesday.
It has been great seeing artists I’ve scribbled about on this site playing in front of hundreds when It seems like yesterday I was in a crowd of about twenty laughing at how preposterously good these bands are and going on to hunt down their tunes, making an introduction and popping up to say hello whenever possible (they know who they are) and telling them when I hear their tunes during “Match of The Day” of which they sometimes add “….and Made in Chelsea !”, which again is where all the revellers on the streets of Liverpool and Sound city participants may have some perverse connection.
I don’t reckon it’s actually very difficult getting a cab in Liverpool if you ever have the need for one either. They seemed to be everywhere you looked, all stopping to offload even more Saturday night punters, a lot of hen parties, into the street as the evening went on.
Sound city did not disappoint, the line up , the venues the staff and the thousands that seemed to be working so hard in order than people like ourselves could just dash around cramming as much in as possible are yet again a credit to the city.
Glastonbury in a field, with long walks in between stages is going to feel really hard after these few days in Liverpool.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here. He’s also on SoundCloud here, Facebook here and tweets as @HideousWheeelInv. Both Embers photos by Melanie Smith whose website is here: mudkissphotography.co.uk.