It was that time of year again as Liverpool Sound City returned to venues across the city for what was apparently its fourteenth outing. This was only my second time at Sound City, but I certainly gained full value for my £30 that got me into all the gigs I could want across three days. This year there were over 350 acts to choose from in 25 venues – something for everyone I would have thought.
I started off in the Brooklyn Mixer, one of five new venues for me this day alone. What else to start with than an act billed as a Korean punk band – what’s not to like? They were called PATiENTS, another in the modern trend of mixing up upper and lower case letters in band names for what is really no good reason at all. The venue was practically empty when I walked in, with the three band members sitting on a leather chaise longue waiting to be given the nod to take the stage (a spec I hastily occupied for myself – you’ve got to take the opportunity of a sit down when you can on a night like this). They were a little less punk than their write-up, though they had the requisite hair and leather jackets. There was a Ramones influence in there, but their not-that punk line-up of drums, bass and somewhat rinky-dink keyboards put a different spin on it.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (Not sure they’ll ever make one, or if it would be available in the UK or I’d ever hear about it in any case)
The Wild Eyes
A quick trip to the downstairs of The Shipping Forecast – I’d been in the upstairs for a pint or a burger, but never below ground. I’d heard (from the Trust The Wizards boys) of its low ceiling, and they weren’t wrong. One upside of the venue is the ability to take a decent pint from the main bar down into the gig (though I bet you can’t at a normal gig there) – so I had a pint of Liberation ale, very appropriate as I’d had a bottle of Liberty ale in the Brooklyn Mixer!
The band was a Welsh outfit called The Wild Eyes, now based in Liverpool, who had a selection of fairly feeble beards (Mr Pot meet Mr Kettle, I know) and some gothic undertones to their garage/psych sound – the singer reminded me somewhat of Jeffrey Lee Pierce from The Gun Club (though nowhere near being in his class, of course). One song was introduced with the words “in these times of difficulty and greed, music can be freedom”, which sounded fair enough to me.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 6/10 (As it’s apparently being recorded with Liverpool weird psych-ers Clinic then I’m quite hopeful about it)
Now time for some Israeli jazzy hip hop, of course. This gig was in Studio 2 on Parr Street – another new venue for me. Beer selection was as expected for a bar, so just a bottle of Estrella for me. Anyway, back to the music – they were a fun, funky mix of soul, jazz and hip hop with a crazy trumpeter. Sorry, Gibbo, he took the prize for the wildest brass-man of the festival… I left early in order to squeeze in some chips before one of my landmark appointments of the festival.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (Good fun to listen to, but realistically not the type of music I listen to all that much)
Most bands only get a half-hour slot at Sound City, but the Super Furry Animal was allocated ninety minutes at East Village Arts Club in which to showcase his new concept album about John Evans, who mapped the Missouri river in the 1790’s while searching for the mythical lost Welsh tribes of America! He came on stage in a wolf head-dress, with a puppet of John Evans (who you can just see in the terrible picture below) and a charmingly amateurish iPad slide show illustrating the story he was telling. He held the audience in the palm of his hand despite being alone on stage for most of the set, which was mostly new songs. Percussion sometimes came from a miked-up metronome, while his alleged cousin Bob joined him for a few songs, when both of them donned matching wolf head-gear.
I must confess that I had Gruff somewhat confused with Euros Childs (from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) prior to digging out the couple of CDs of his that I have earlier in the week. That can be put down to my “all Welsh people sound the same” prejudice… In amongst the new songs were a smattering I knew, including “Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru” and “The Court Of King Arthur” from “Candylion”, and “Sensations In The Dark” off “Hotel Shampoo”.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 9/10 (It was already on my to-buy list, but seeing him live only confirmed that)
The Fat White Family
I bought their debut album, “Champagne Holocaust” late last year after a series of recommendations. It is a fairly heavy, noisy, off-kilter album that is quite hard to love and largely devoid of memorable tunes. However, they were a fairly compelling, if rather feral live act at The Black-E, despite being a right bunch of poseurs. One of them had a Brian Jones-style guitar, while the singer started off in a ridiculous parka doing his finest Liam Gallagher, but soon ended up topless. They just came across as a bunch of cartoon characters, many with mad hair. Again I left slightly early, partly to catch the next band.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (One is enough, unless they mature considerably)
Off to Sound Food & Drink, the venue I’d first experienced Sound City in last year (Spring King and then Popstrangers). This is quite a good little venue for a noisy band, and this lot fitted the bill. The extra benefit is the possibility of a seat – most welcome by this stage. They were an odd-looking bunch: the guitarist was wearing a cardigan, while the singer sported a striking pair of glasses and shirt while playing a nice-looking Rickenbacker. The bassist was wearing a cap, presumably in a failed attempt to avoid appearing bald. The singer’s scissor jumps out at the edge of the crowd (off the very low stage) were quite energetic in a wannabe Pete Townsend/Paul Weller style. Unfortunately, the band they most reminded me of was Green Day – not a good thing.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 3/10 (I don’t think it’s very likely they have a decent album in them)
I got to the Zanzibar in time for what I was hoping to be the highlight of the day’s gigs, Aussie songstress Courtney Barnett. I was alerted to them by my good mate Kris earlier this year, and her CD (“A Sea Of Split Peas”) compiling two EP’s has been a real favourite of mine of late. The venue was utterly mobbed, meaning I didn’t have a good view at all of the stage (so no dodgy picture of this one, I’m afraid!). I did have a good view of the couple standing next to me, however, who spent a large chunk of the short set furiously snogging. I thoroughly enjoyed this gig, but was left wanting more, and to have seen more.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 8/10
As Courtney Barnett had finished a little early, I scooted round to the Factory to try to catch the end of PINS’ set. However, by the time I found the entrance they were already lined up against the wall outside for a photo shoot! So it was off to Brink to see a little of Bolshy – Bolshy by name, and Bolshy by nature. They were mainly young kids, making a ska/punk racket for a sparse crowd, complete with much brass-work. A bit ho hum, though.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 1/10
Blood Red Shoes
I was now starting to flag a little, but the last band on my list were on at the Duke Street Garage at 1am, so I headed down to see this 2-man band (well, one woman and one man) from Brighton, whose sledgehammer riffs were all a bit neo-goth for me. I actually own two of their albums (one via that arbiter of taste, Kahnee…), so I knew a few of the songs. However, they’re far from my favourite band, and I was by then ready to head home so I left before the end.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10
A solid start to this year’s Sound City – nine bands/singers (all new to me in the flesh), nine venues (five new to me as gig venues as I said, including three I’d never even set foot in). Highlights were as expected – Gruff Rhys and Courtney Barnett, but everything else just rounded out a great evening. Bring on the Friday…
I decided to go green tonight, for no real reason, so I went with a Vertigo Records t-shirt. They were a record label with a much better logo than roster – Black Sabbath being their highlight as far as I’m concerned, although they also released the first (not all that good) Kraftwerk album; and a load of hoary, prog/metal cobblers.