I got to The Shipping Forecast in time for a speedy pint before heading downstairs into the gig venue itself. I decided to avoid the Liverpool Organic 24 Carat Gold as it was pretty poor when I had a pint of it there less than a week earlier. However, as the Doom Bar was off, I ended up having it in any case – you’ll all be delighted to know that it was much nicer, though the £4+ price was a bit steep.
The three bands who played all shared a similar aesthetic, both in terms of their garage psych influences, but also in their styling. Each was a three piece, with a surfeit of moustaches among their rhythm sections, curly-haired singers and turn-ups galore on their trousers. I had clearly missed the dress code memo!
Bassist Seb Martin furiously plucked his high-slung bass while sporting the first of several crazy shirts on show that evening. Drummer Jay Rohr was the economical but powerful bedrock to the music, although he was able to stretch out and flaunt his skills on their penultimate number.
Fellow Merseysiders The Floormen followed, who showed hints of the Ride/Pale Saints end of shoegaze, with their set growing progressively more psychedelic as it continued, with one number even featuring a pseudo-dub reggae break.
Buddy Keenan’s vocals were captivating but far from overwhelming, with his echoey, inventive guitar sound recalling the likes of Cocteau Twins and The Durutti Column at times. He was ably backed by the melodic bass work of lank-haired Luke Barlow and Jamie Lindberg on drums.
The guitar sounded like an air raid in one song, before the set closed with a slightly less focused epic that ended with Keenan putting down his instrument to just play his pedals.
Finally it was time for headliners The Parrots from Madrid, who brought their lo-fi garage surf punk A-game from Madrid for the second night of their Weed For The Parrots tour across the UK.
Guitarist and singer Diego Garcia had been seen really enjoying The Floormen at the side of the stage, but threw himself into his own performance with even more gusto, as the band whipped the crowd into a bit of a frenzy over the course of the show.
Drummer Larry Balboa celebrated his birthday in fine style, despite having to disappear off stage for some running repairs to a snare drum mid-song, and also fend off the rest of the band clambering over or attacking his kit at various points, with bassist Alex de Lucas throwing himself around as the mood took him.
Many bands pay tribute to the city’s most famous musical sons when they visit Liverpool, with Diego following their lead by expressing his love for Billy Fury, a somewhat distant influence on their sound. He was a very chatty, friendly frontman, despite having to converse in a second language. At one point he asked the crowd “if anyone has any weed, be a good socialist and share it with us”, though no-one appeared to take him up on this.
White Fang from Weed For The Parrots was introduced with the cry “let’s get rowdy”, which band and audience proceeded to do as this writer picked out the influences of older surf and garage bands like The Standells and The Chantays.
Things were taken to the next level, by both band and crowd, on their cover of The Almighty Defenders’ All My Loving, despite Diego’s guitar lead falling out mid-song. A number of new songs were scattered throughout, including the slower No Me Gusta sung in Spanish by Alex, with an album promised for next year.
The evening ended with what seemed to be a thrashy cover of The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird with Diego stepping off the low stage to be engulfed by the crazed kids near the front, before the traditional singalong closer of Somebody To Love.
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Here is some of the night’s music (including some played by the DJ) on Spotify: