Liverpool Sound City took over the city again for two days of new music discovery May 4-5. It’s the festival’s second year in the venues and spaces of Liverpool’s fantastic Baltic Triangle – a great place for the festival to call home with over a dozen venues within five minutes of eachother.
Before we get into the music a few notes. It’s a two day festival again this year – as it should be, atleast in its current guise anyway. There’s also a few new venues being used – the key ones being the addition of an outdoor main stage on New Brick Street and the use of Hangar 34 for fantastic DIY and Gigwise hosted lineups.
First port of call was to check out the wonderful Julia Bardo, who played an extremely intimate set in Ditto Coffee – a coffee shop, not a venue. Julia is great and in a conventional venue would’ve certainly pulled a crowd, those that crammed into the coffee shop or like me poked their heads round the door were treated to a lovely set feat. Henry from The Orielles.
Next up to a traditional Liverpool venue – District – for the always brilliant Natalie McCool – playing the Modern Sky UK stage, following her signing to the label for her forthcoming new album, of which made up her set. The new stuff sounds great, full and beaty, wholesome pop that’s still very Natalie McCool. Just glossier and fresh.
Now for the first visit to the new outdoor stage on New Brick Street – a space filled close to capacity for phenomenal Hull quartet – LIFE. A post-punk band that certainly don’t do things by halves. Pure entertainment and a certain contender for performance of the weekend, from a frontman with more charisma in his little finger than the majority these days – great Jarvis Cocker esque dancing – and a band on absolutely top form all energy and hooks galore. If you get a chance, see them.
Up from London were BERRIES, a trio you must see live at any oppurtunity. They’re always full of energy and guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Despite facing and uphill battle with the venues ongoing sound issues, they powered on and delivered a fantastic set. Berry blast!
It’s so easy to love Sophie and the Giants – they’re pretty special. They’ve just flew from the day I first set eyes and ears on them in Manchester two years ago are. Here they played to a near full 700-cap Hangar 34, in full on party mode. Big songs fit for the big stage and that was in full effect here as lead singer Sophie Scott had Liverpool dancing and singing along in seconds. Lovely stuff.
Now to the very well hidden Best Before, for a real gem. All the way from L.A – the wonderful Pearl Charles. Making her UK debut in support of her debut album Sleepless Dreamer. A stunning, intimate set.
A “secret” gig was listed for the same venue afterwards. As it turns out the cat was very much out the bag, word had spread like wildfire and a huge crowd packed in to the intimate space for a set from one of Merseyside’s true breakthrough groups of the last few years – Queen Zee. What followed was chaotic, raucous and absolutely wicked. A band on top form and an adoring crowd loving every second of it – singing, dancing and appreciating one of the sets of the weekend. What it’s all about!
One of the standout stages at this year’s festival was definitely the Unusual Art Sourcing stage and its sister the smallest stage in the world which featured the epic poetic words of Paul Pyke and the amazing vocal power of Liz Owen.
The UAS main tent hosted the weird and wonderful with sets from; Jamie Clague and Faniel Dord who took your ears from Spain to Mexico to Russia and just about everywhere else with their series of beautifully put together instrumentals and Paddy Clarke and the Fancy Rats who are just great fun – shout out to Paddy’s girlfriend for the wonderful head turning rat heads that lit up Sound City across the weekend.
The headliner of UAS at Liverpool Sound City was the wonderful Beija Flo. Who delivered a multi-sensory attack of entrancing art. Throughly enjoyable, extremely powerful and just fucking ace. The true party spirit of Sound City, right there.
Constellations Garden also hosted a brilliant stage across the weekend, which featured a phenomenal set from Average Sex in the rain. They’re great live. One to keep both eyes on this year!
Heavenly Recordings signees Confidence Man put Liverpool’s dancing shoes on in an extremely sweaty and packed to the rafters Hangar 34 to close the festival in style; flips, beats and grooves. A full-on vibe.
Overall it’s another fantastic year in the bag for Liverpool Sound City. The Baltic Triangle is a great new home and the organisers and revellers appetite for supporting new music is clearly as strong as ever. It would be no surprise to see Sound City feature heavily on the UK Festival Awards shortlist again this year, bring on 2020.