Liverpool Sound City – Saturday (3 May ’14)

A shorter session tonight, due to exhaustion and family commitments (fortunately I have a very understanding wife! And a son who didn’t miss me as he’s in bed early…). I missed a couple of acts I’d have like to have seen (September Girls, Radiophonic Workshop) although I still managed to fit in seven more bands across six venues – including the only band I saw this weekend that I had ever seen before this year’s Sound City.

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Racing Glaciers

My first, brief stop was the Duke Street Garage to see a little of Macclesfield’s Racing Glaciers. They sounded to me a bit like Snow Patrol with more balls, but they didn’t tempt me to staying longer than the 15-20 minutes I’d decided on, as I wanted to be sure of catching the next one on my list. They started off with brass sounds from the keyboards, but broke out an actual trumpet for their second number. I seem to have seen quite a lot of brass at this year’s Sound City, compared with the average gigs I go to at least.

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Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (Pleasant enough, but I can’t see myself paying for an album)

Jimi Goodwin

Off to East Village Arts Club one last time at this festival to see the lead singer and bassist of Doves doing his solo (with backing band…) thing. I was there early enough to try to get a drink before he came on stage – however, I tried all three of the bars in the venue in order to get a Guinness (as nothing much better is available once you pass the bouncer to go from the bar to the venue itself), but it was off at all three, so I went thirsty.

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Jimi is a charming, slightly shy, front-man, with a hint of a lisp, who reminds me a bit of a cuddly teddy bear (that’s not supposed to be a euphemism for being tubby!). For the song “Oh! Whiskey” he handed a (proper wall) clock to a girl in the audience, though I am now struggling a little to remember exactly why. He coped manfully to entertain a crowd who didn’t really know many of the songs (other than his main band’s Last Broadcast”) despite having a bit of a dicky tummy. He seemed genuinely moved by the crowd chanting “Jimi, Jimi” – he seems like the kind of guy you could happily sup a few pints with and put the world to rights. He also reminded me of a British character actor who I can’t put a name to (perhaps a slimmer Mark Addy?).

Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 8/10 (His solo debut has had its place on my ‘to buy’ list confirmed by seeing him in action)

Sankofa

By now one of my knees was giving me a bit of gyp after three nights of walking round and round, up and down the streets of my town, which meant I felt the impact of the stairs up to Leaf for the first of two visits tonight to the Anfield Wrap-curated night of local bands here. Sankofa sounded like a psych band with a (60’s) blues boom singer, with a definite hint of the mighty Clinic to them. While watching I had a few words with Gibbo, the man in charge of tonight who continues to feature regularly in these blogs, hardly surprising for such a mover and shaker on the local scene!

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Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 6/10 (I didn’t love them, but they were OK and they might well have a decent album in them. I will keep an open mind/ear)

The Hummingbirds

Next I hobbled down to the new Korova (on Wood Street, nothing to do with the original, legendary venue of that name on Fleet Street and Hope Street), where I had to wait for the venue to be emptied out of all the punters who had been to see the previous band (HighFields), before being allowed in. The Hummingbirds were the only band I saw at this year’s Sound City who I’d seen before, supporting Ian Prowse (from Amsterdam) on a Mersey Ferry back in September 2012. I’d really enjoyed their very 60’s influenced sounds then, snapping up a couple of their EP’s online, and was looking forward to seeing them again.

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They didn’t disappoint, despite a somewhat late start, with the band again looking sharp – all suited and booted, with a fine pair of winkle pickers on display, and a great pair of what I have just discovered are known as co-respondent (or spectator) shoes – two-tone 20’s/30’s gangster-style shoes. One of the Trust The Wizards boys will no doubt approve of my footwear appreciation at this gig. Again I forget which wizard is which, sorry… There were loads of friends and/or family in the audience, with a lovely relaxed vibe. I didn’t know quite a few of the songs before they played them, but felt I did at the end of each song.

Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 10/10 (I have pledged to buy the album since seeing them, so I’d class that as a definite! It has now seemingly been recorded, so all systems are go!)

Married To The Sea

Back to Leaf for the quirky indie pop sounds of Married To The Sea. I made a note that they reminded me of Snow Patrol (again!), but I’m not quite sure why now, having listened back to a few of their songs. Checking out some other reviews of their stuff I notice a fair few comparisons with Death Cab For Cutie (great band name, that. Possibly a better band name than band, but that’s another story), which is probably a fair shout, though I’d say MTTS had a bit more oomph to them.

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Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (I have just ordered their latest “Pack Xerxes” ep, which came out back in 2012, so surely we are overdue an album, which I shall certainly look out for)

ETCHES

The festival was now petering out for me, and I was beginning to be seriously knackered. But in for a penny… so I headed up to Brink to catch an interesting locally-based combo who hail from all corners of the country. As this is a dry bar, and I was quite parched after a long night, I went for a traditional lemonade, which I supped while in a front-row seat (largely due to the very sparse crowd in attendance).

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The band reminded me a bit of Field Music, without actually sounding much like them. They played intricate music in the same way the Mackems do, but without quite such glorious tunes as the Brewis brothers. The singer had a very powerful voice, while the band played a selection of guitars, keyboards and other instruments, including one that looked very much like a bag of conkers!

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Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (The tunes just didn’t really connect with me)

Psyence

The final stop of this year’s Sound City for me was Sound Food & Drink, fittingly where I had my first taste of the festival last year. Psyence were a hard psych band from London that I perhaps was just too past the point of no return to enjoy to their fullest. This is a great venue for a band like this, with a packed crowd really enjoying themselves (including at least one of Sankofa), but I’m afraid I didn’t make it to the end of their set, deciding to head for home before they finished up at 2am or so.

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Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (As I’m already a devotee of Wooden Shjips’ records, I’m not sure how much scope there is for the inclusion of another similar modern act in my collection, but I’d be interested in hearing/seeing them again when I’m slightly more up for it)

Overview

So that made a grand total of 25 bands in thirteen different venues across three nights. What a great festival Sound City really is. I’ve never actually been to a proper festival with all the camping and that – somehow it’s just never happened, but then I’ve never really wanted to do one of those. This is perfect for me – close to home, easy to get from one venue to another, easy to plan a schedule with almost military precision (including a fantastic iPhone app!), loads of great bands I know I want to see and loads of other great stuff that I only heard of after checking out the Sound City website in a bid to plug the holes in my line-up, and you get to go home to your own bed at night! Generally speaking I think it’s an extremely well-run event (though I didn’t try to get to see anything in Wolstenholme Square late on Saturday, when the presence of The Kooks at the Garage led to apparent gridlock), and it’s the definite musical highlight of the year for me.

Tonight’s t-shirt

Red again tonight – this time the genius early 70’s power pop sounds of Big Star (a Christmas gift from the wife last year). Anyone who loves a good tune and doesn’t know this band really ought to pick up the CD that combines their first two albums – you can still get it on Amazon quite cheap.

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