Time to head back to Bramley-Moore Dock for the ninth annual Liverpool Sound City (but only my fourth), and second to take place there. Apologies for the long delay in posting this since the event, for anyone who’s actually been waiting…
I was very kindly dropped off at about 3.30pm by My Beloved Wife and the Boy Wonder, as I had been warned that last entry to the site was apparently 4pm, which seemed rather draconian.
I headed straight to the ‘real ale’ bar to get a pint of Mersey Moonshine, brewed especially for the festival by Caledonian, and a fairly underwhelming mild, as I set off to get my bearings again.
I had a short spell before the first band on my list to see, so stopped for a bit of Brummie reggae band 1EYE, who could be best summarised as a wealthier man’s UB40, as they were far less clichéd than the One In Ten-ers.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 1/10 (If I needed more reggae in my collection I’m pretty sure I’d head to more of the classics)
First on my list (bearing my arrival time) was Shrinking Minds at the Cavern stage, local psych-tinged scuzz rockers who have got a few pop smarts.
Last time I noted that “singer Liam Evans led proceedings with his J. Mascis-influenced guitar work, contrasting nicely with his Pete Doherty-meets-Shirley Temple looks”, though he’s now grown his hair out more into some kind of frizzy but almost square ‘do, coiffeur fans.
As before, they closed with the epic Fun, with Liam’s vocals a bit less effective than on the recording you can listen to below, while I spotted the omnipresent Peter Guy from Getintothis for the first of many times over the weekend down the front.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I’m not totally convinced by them yet, but they have been very entertaining both times I’ve seen them, and I’d be happy to catch them again)
I then walked the short distance to the Tall Ship stage for Gallery Circus, a two-man (two-twin in fact) band from the North East who made a truly bombastic sound despite their thin numbers.
Lead singer/guitarist Dan was backed by Gra on drums, who admirably was stood up and seemed to be absolutely buzzing to be there – infectious enthusiasm. As with most two-man bands, the bedrock of their sound was the blues, and they made for a minor treat in the day.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I enjoyed their set, but I’m not sure I’m ready for an album yet)
I quenched my thirst at this stage with a pint of Pale Ale before heading to the Cargo stage to see Hein Cooper, a singer from Sydney who backed himself on a mix of either electric guitar or electronics.
This was part of the so-called Aussie BBQ happening at this stage today – although notable by its absence was any sign whatsoever of a barbecue. Present, however, was Sumin Jo, lead singer/bassist of the Korean band PATiENTS, who were due on the same stage the following day.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (A bit too MOR for my tastes)
As well as all the music, there were various other things going on around the site, notably a spot where you could draw/paint these two gentlemen. I declined to join in.
I headed back to the Cavern stage for the first major highlight of the day, local band Youth Hostel, an Ormskirk-based four-piece with the loudest of sounds and outfits.
Lead singer Mike Poynton used every Scousism in the book (lids, giving it bifters, ‘la, etc.) between songs, which sometimes benefited from a small brass section in addition to the other three members of the band.
One of the early songs reminded me of a cross between The Mighty Wah! and The Tea Street Band, while they made my day with an ace cover of the wondrous Julian Cope’s utterly glorious World Shut Your Mouth.
Another song called another local band to mind, The Hummingbirds, and they closed with their single Out Of My Mouth, that they somewhat strangely claimed was an Edwin Starr rip-off and was bizarrely the least impressive song in their excellent set.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 8/10 (I shall be keeping my ears peeled for any releases or future gigs as this lot were really excellent – fun with a capital FUN)
I then paid my first band-related visit to the MailChimp Record Store (having briefly popped in earlier to check what was on sale) to catch some of London quartet Sun Arcana.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (Didn’t quite do enough for me. Think they might have quite a bright future though, and I’d go and see them again)
The day was warm, so a pint of Krušovice was in order before I headed back to the Cavern stage where The Clash were playing (not in person…) prior to the arrival of Cavalry, the only band today I saw who I had previously seen – at the previous year’s Sound City, as reviewed here.
Last year, I referenced their “rousing, if a little earnest, indie sounds”. They grabbed me a little more this time around with their classic rock harmonies, though I confess I didn’t stick around for the whole set as I moved on in search of something new.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 3/10 (Still not really convinced, but at least they’ve moved up from a 2 last year!)
It was back to the Cargo stage for some of City Calm Down, whose singer reminded me of a cross between Tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples and Nick Cave with some Jim Kerr moves. Sadly the music was much more ‘meh’ than that.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 1/10 (Sorry, just not for me)
I decided to try something entirely different, with a spot of Floating Points at the Baltic Warehouse. This is the nom de plume of Mancunian neuroscientist Sam Shepherd.
Unfortunately, I’m really not in a position to give any kind of sensible critique as this kind of music is not one I feel able to say much about, but one number certainly got my head moving.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 0/10 (Just not the sort of thing I’d buy)
There was a bit of a lull in bands on the list that I wanted to see, so I might well have headed out of the site and across the road to get a decent pint at The Bramley Moore, but this year Sound City were not only allegedly making everyone turn up by 4pm, but also saying that there was to be no re-entry to the site if you left, and I wasn’t prepared to take the risk.
So I took a little time out with a trip to the loo and something to eat from Tin Van Pizza, taking the weight off my feet for a few minutes near the Cavern stage.
My next band were Fleur De Lys from North Wales, who I realised I had previously seen having their photo taken on the bridge. They were a Welsh-language psych-tinged band, in the way that pretty much every Welsh band seems to be!
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (They might turn out to be very good, but there seem to be a surfeit of this type of thing at the moment so I’m yet to be convinced)
I left them to it to find something completely different in Mez at The North Stage, who was performing to a sadly very thin crowd. He’s a nineteen-year-old MC who apparently won BBC 1Xtra’s #NextIngrime title last year.
He was sporting a Nike trackie and single glove combo. This was the first time I have knowingly heard any grime, and I have to say it was considerably more tuneful and listenable than I was expecting.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 1/10 (As a complete newbie to grime, I think I’d need to do some proper exploration before being ready to dip my toe in those waters)
I headed to the Tim Peaks Diner where there was some Arctic Monkeys playing over the PA, before Jason and (the unadvertised, and less verbose) Andrew from Sleaford Mods who were being interviewed by DJ and author Dave Haslam.
This was the only part of the extension of the conference into the main festival that I managed to catch, and it was entertaining as they are drily funny. I had actually got a ticket to Friday’s Sound City+ conference day, but the line-up was fairly underwhelming, and I felt a third night out in a row was pushing it a little.
I left early enough so that I was in perfect time for CaStLeS back at the Cavern stage (which was ideally located at the junction of the T of the site as today’s main centre-piece for me).
Yes, they have one of those annoying names that seem to be everywhere these days where names are either deliberately misspelled, include characters like $ signs, or mix up lower and upper case letters. Sorry, it’s just not clever, it’s just awkward.
Being another Welsh band, they were of course highly psych-influenced, this time with the strongest hints to me of Gruff Rhys and the wonderful Euros Childs. Another Peter Guy spot at this one, fellow stalkers.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 6/10 (Intriguing and I’d like to hear more)
I then returned once more to the Cargo stage for Cherie And Renno. They are a married Israeli couple who make a truly bonkers noise. This is Sound City at its absolute best. Whoever decided to book them deserves a huge slap on the back as they are just the kind of thing I would never come across otherwise.
Renno was playing a wooden, electronic multi-synth viola, odd enough in itself, but with a mini engine that rotated to pluck the strings! He and wife Cherie were both formerly in Izabo, who competed at Eurovision in 2012, although they didn’t make it to the Final.
The line-up was completed by a rocking drummer. Songs included the madcap Meow, which unsurprisingly seemed to be about a “pussy cat”. As they’re not on Spotify, here’s a live clip of that song to give you a flavour for the band:
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I’d definitely go and see them again. Not sure if I’d play them at home though.)
I ventured to the main Atlantic Stage next to catch some of Band Of Skulls, a band I bought an album (2012’s Sweet Sour) by a few years back on the recommendation of my boss, but I must confess I never got above thinking it to be OK.
I Know What I Am from 2009’s debut album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey sounded a bit hip hop meets rock, but overall they were all a bit too classic rock for me – kind of Creedence Clearwater Revival redux.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I’ve tried one and not really found it was for me, so I doubt I’ll try again)
I picked up another pint of Krušovice and some (probably unnecessary) chips, then went for a sit down in the Tim Peaks Diner, to see a band called Tear, pronounced to rhyme with bear, not beer.
They were a bit goth-tinged, and didn’t really make that much of an impression on me. I tried and failed to charge my phone up as I’d incorrectly charged my portable charger, and paid another trip to the loo.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (They were OK, but my lack of notes hint that I can’t have been overly impressed)
They’re a two-man ‘band’ with Jason on vocals and Andrew literally just pressing a button on his laptop at the start of each number to roll the backing music, and swigging from a bottle of beer. Not much of a show for a main stage act, but they were captivating.
Many of the crowd had probably gathered early for dull headliners Catfish And The Bottlemen and plenty of minds must have been blown.
Early on in proceedings, some random fella started chatting to me about the band. Fortunately, he gave up after about five minutes and went off to bother a series of other people nearby. There was a furiously snogging couple just to my left who were no spring chickens, but were clearly having a good time, and (unsurprisingly) didn’t particularly welcome being disturbed by some lads who then wanted to get a photo with them.
After starting off with a new song, the set-list was dominated by last year’s Key Markets album, as they played ten of its twelve tracks. As it’s an excellent album, that’s no shame. The pinnacle for me, though, was 2013 single Jobseeker that had me furiously dancing (as opposed to just actively dancing to all the others).
They closed with Tweet Tweet Tweet, one of three numbers they performed from the also fantastic 2014 album Divide And Exit.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 9/10 (I have three, and would welcome more from them. Hopefully they emulate Public Enemy and The Fall by retaining their fire without innovating with their sound too much. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)
Next up were Beds In Parks back at Tim Peaks Diner, with a standing drummer, a la Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie from his The Jesus And Mary Chain days, in a Minnie Mouse t-shirt. Male singer (F-Bomb?) had an extreme blonde bowl cut, while the other vocalist (J-Cat?) reminded me a little of Tanya Donelly.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 5/10 (I’ll keep an eye out for them)
I caught the first couple of tracks by dance legends Leftfield, who were greeted like conquering heroes. I bought their classic album Leftism back in the day but as I no longer have it I mustn’t have rated it all that highly. I didn’t recognise any of the songs I heard.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 1/10 (Really not my bag)
I went to The Tall Ship for The Spook School, A Scottish band who describe themselves as “queer indie-pop punx”, but Young Fathers were overrunning at the North stage, so I ended up missing them due to the proximity of the two stages. People I respect rave over Young Fathers, but I’m afraid it just did nothing for me, though I can understand why other people like them.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (As I said, just not for me)
My final band of the night was Mancunians Cabbage back at Tim Peaks Diner, who I managed to hear about a quarter of an hour from before heading off to catch the last train home. Their song titles are great – Dinner Lady, Contactless Payment and Austerity Languish, for example. The latter could be an album title for The Fall.
I clocked the drummer in a Minor Threat t-shirt, who surely broke up long before he was born! My interest in band t-shirts is clearly well known as I was alerted to this one by a fellow Getintothis writer later. Anyway, the band were snotty and punky – kind of a less obnoxious (not hard) Fat White Family.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (I think they have it in them to put something really good down on record)
In honour of Sleaford Mods, I was torn between either a brown Public Enemy or a light blue Fall one, eventually plumping for the former, and wearing the latter during the day’s normal activities.
There were loads of other band tees in evidence, including several Catfish And The Bottlemen and astoundingly two different Jeffrey Lewis ones, as well as Arctic Monkeys, New Order, Pixies, The Smiths, The Libertines, Deftones, Nick Cave, Gorillaz, The Flaming Lips, Ramones, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Super Furry Animals, Kasabian, Trudy And The Romance, The La’s, The Ragamuffins, Cancer Bats, Domino Records, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, N.W.A, Run-D.M.C., Wu-Tang Clan, Muddy Waters, Bunny Wailer, Leftfield, Metallica, and Iron Maiden.
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Here is a very small selection of the music from the day on Spotify: