A much delayed report on the second and final day of this year’s Sound City festival. It was another sunny day, and another 3.30pm start, as I was again dropped off by My Beloved Wife and The Boy Wonder.
They’re led by two brothers, singer and guitarist André and keyboardist Murilo Faria, putting on a highly entertaining show in the short time that I was exposed to them.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I’d need to hear a bit more of them before I was able to commit to an album)
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I think I’d like to hear some more of them)
En route to my next band I passed lead singer Mike from Youth Hostel, to whom I passed on my appreciation of the previous day’s gig, while I got a “boss t-shirt” comment on my Shack tee from someone, the first of many such remarks.
I really enjoyed The Lottery Winners at the Tall Ship, a Lancastrian band who described themselves as “mediocre indie pop”, which was certainly underselling themselves, as they were in fact top notch indie pop.
I Know featured a singalong that was encouraged by singer Thom Rylance in order to stop him having to get a job, as apparently his mum is unconvinced that he can make a living from the band. This featured some seriously excellent, Paul McCartney-esque bass playing by Katie Lloyd.
A tune I think was called Blue was saddo heaven, and was followed by what Thom described as their “biggest hit… all our mums bought it”, Elizabeth, with a Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime coda.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 8/10 (I’d love to hear more of their stuff, and see them again as they were charming, fun and tuneful)
Next up for me was Pink Kink at the Cavern stage, their self-proclaimed “last gig of the fruit season”, whatever that means . I might very lazily compare them to a riot grrrl band, but with better tunes. They define themselves as “psycho tropical bubble rock”, which is perhaps a better attempt.
One song was enlivened by a dual kazoo chorus, while another called to mind both Pixies and PJ Harvey. Other touchstones that I picked up on were LiLiPUT, X-Ray Spex, 2 Tone, post-punk more generally and Shonen Knife.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (I’d definitely like to catch them again live, and would be keen to hear some of their recordings as well, when they get round to them)
I headed up to the Cargo stage to see Victoria, who had some great harmonies but were a little bit MOR for my tastes. However, I think they may well go on to pretty big things.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 3/10 (Not really for me)
Neon Waltz come from John O’Groats, are signed to Atlantic Records and have been described by the NME as “Scotland’s coolest new gang”. They’re young, with the look of a second division Creation Records band from the 80’s, but have a sound with a wider palette.
The first song carried a Shack influence, while another number seemed to feature the keyboard line from Dire Straits’ Walk Of Life.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I remain unconvinced, but there’s plenty of time for them to develop)
After a trip to the loo I headed for the old-fashioned rock sound of Hampshire four-piece Echotape at the Mailchimp Record Store, with some classic call-and-response vocals, and another set of spray-on black jeans.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (An album is due next month, but I’m afraid they’re just a bit too trad rock for my tastes)
Next up I tried a bit of Anglo-French electro pop duo Postaal, whose dance pop had a bit too much pop in it to really move me, reminding me of 90’s dance music.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (Just not my thing)
I returned to the Tall Ship to catch some of Horsebeach, who have been compared to the Captured Tracks catalogue and the seemingly-incredibly-influential-these-days-despite-limited-sales-back-in-the-day Felt, one of my all time favourites.
Oddly enough, the first song I caught had a guitar intro that recalled The Fall’s Like To Blow, but much mellower, with other guitar sounds bringing to mind both Felt and The Durutti Column, as well as Real Estate.
Ryan Kennedy is the Mancunian lead of the band, who apparently also works in the city’s Piccadilly Records shop, while the second guitarist did most of the talking.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (I like the cut of their jib, and all their influences hit my sweet spot, so I shall keep an eye out for an album)
While trying a pint of Caledonian’s Three Hop Lager I headed to the Cavern stage for the umpteenth time already this weekend for what became one of the real highlights of the festival for me – a posse of five Canadian rappers called Queen City Stoop Kids.
They were great fun hip hop who quickly drew a large crowd that only became apparent to me at the end of their set as I was too busy dancing and smiling down the front.
There doesn’t seem to be any of their music online anywhere that I can find, so here’s a video of an interview with three of them instead (where I discovered they love Dungeons & Dragons, but don’t hold that against them):
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (Hopefully they make one of their classic hip hop!)
Another Welsh band next, Yucatan at Tim Peaks Diner. I’d describe them as slow shoegaze-y Cambrian psych, with hints of the likes of Sigur Rós and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, although the first song really recalled Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 6/10 (They’re already two albums in, so I need to do a bit of research to decide which one to start with)
Kagoule are three eighteen year olds from Nottingham, who I went to see largely on the basis of a comparison I’d seen to US post-hardcore legends Fugazi. However, to me they were much more post-punk, mixed in with forgotten 80’s noiseniks Band Of Susans.
Singer/Guitarist Cai Burns was sporting an Iceage t-shirt, the Danish punksters who Kagoule have previously supported.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I remain to be convinced, but there’s enough influences in their music that I like for me to remain curious)
I then headed over to the main stage to catch a little of The Dandy Warhols, a band who I quite liked in the late 1990’s – enough to pick up two of their albums back in the day.
They in fact kicked off with Be-In from 1997’s second album …The Dandy Warhols Come Down, one of the ones in my collection. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around long enough for the big hitters (Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth and Bohemian Like You), but quite enjoyed the little I heard.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (I’ve long lost track of them, with a ninth album having come out earlier this year)
As I headed back to the Tall Ship, I received two separate compliments on my Shack t-shirt – this was certainly the most let-ons I have ever had for a tee.
I was able to see a fair bit of She Drew The Gun’s set before having to move on. They’re a band I’d heard a lot about, but not really heard much of their stuff before.
They describe themselves as “dreamy lyrical psych-pop from the banks of the Mersey”, which isn’t a bad attempt – better than I shall do at least.
Sadly the sound was a bit thin and muddy, which was less of an issue on the solo protest song Poem. It’s worth noting that frontwoman and songwriter Louisa Roach had a cool dinosaur design on her guitar.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 7/10 (Debut Memories Of The Future came out earlier this year, and is now on my Amazon wish list)
I made sure that I wouldn’t miss any of Korean punky three-piece PATiENTS – the third consecutive Sound City I had seen the band at.
Sadly, none of their music seems to be on Spotify, so here’s the only video I could find online:
I recognised much of the set, and they ended with Idiot Vs. Psycho off the 18 album that I’d been wanting to buy for a couple of years now. Fortunately, lead singer/bassist Sumin Jo announced that they’d be selling them after the show, saying “if you don’t buy our CD, we can’t go home”, so I did my bit in helping them with their airfare.
Something may have been lost in translation, but he seemed to be unsurprised when I shook his hand and told him that I’d seen them on all three of their visits. Or maybe he was just being polite!
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 8/10 (Well, I have the one now, which is rather good. Fingers crossed they’ll be back next year!)
After another trip to the loo, I bumped into The Anfield Wrap’s Andy, and then got a slice of pizza, before heading back to the main stage for Circa Waves, a local band who apparently first met at Sound City back in 2013.
I only stayed for three songs, all of which were from last year’s first album Young Chasers, kicking off with the opening track Get Away, also their debut single.
The highlight for me was Stuck In My Teeth, with its “I’m a little too young with not enough time” refrain. I moved on to catch my next band, so missing both a power cut that interrupted their set and then a cover of The Beatles’ Revolution, which I’d have liked to have heard.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 5/10 (The first album’s OK, but it remains to be seen if another will be as good or better)
They reminded me of a cross between Babes In Toyland and Hole. Singer and guitarist Katie Monks declared that she was delighted to be in Liverpool as her (Canadian) dad was a red – which led to some pantomime boos from the blues in the audience. She’s from quite a musical family, as older brother David is in Tokyo Police Club.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 4/10 (They didn’t do enough for me to explore them much further, but never say never…)
French duo Ropoporose were just guitar and drums, made up of brother Romain and sister Pauline.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 5/10 (I’m not too sure about them, but will certainly look out for them again in the future)
It was getting cold, so I picked up a latte from a Bold Street Coffee stall before returning to the main stage for headliners The Coral. During the short wait, I got yet another t-shirt comment, while a big catfight broke out just in front of me.
I bought my first of the seven (of their eight) albums of theirs that I have back in 2002, but had never managed to see the Wirralites before, so I was made up with this opportunity.
The set kicked off with four tracks from this year’s fine new album Distance Inbetween, before the main stage suffered another power cut. A great shame as the psych element of their sound was coming through loud and clear.
As the break extended, I decided to head across the site to the North stage for some of Peter Doherty’s set. The only number I recognised was debut single Last Of The English Roses, but even that was rather underwhelming.
Overall, I was pleased to move back to The Coral, leaving Doherty even before the sound had come back on for the headliners. I like his former band The Libertines, but I certainly don’t consider them to be anything like as special as they were lauded to be in the music press at the time.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 2/10 (Don’t believe the hype)
I fitted in another tactical trip to the loo before The Coral returned to the stage, as they reached all the way back to 2002’s eponymous debut album for the lovely Simon Diamond before raiding 2007’s fourth LP Roots & Echoes for a couple of songs.
A real highlight was Don’t Think You’re The First from 2003’s Magic And Medicine, with the big screen behind the band showing footage from the song’s video, so giving some visual credit for past members such as Lee Southall (who I recently interviewed for Getintothis, as you can read here) and Bill Ryder-Jones, who had performed a solo set on the same stage earlier that day which I had sadly had to miss.
1000 Years from 2010’s Butterfly House brought to mind classic British space psych, crossed with the Laurel Canyon/CSN sound, before the set continued to jump around their surprisingly long career, with pretty much every song a real pleasure.
Another song off Roots & Echoes, She’s Got A Reason, ended with a great guitar freak out, but the set was going through a bit of a lull at this point for me.
Pass It On from Magic And Medicine also had the song’s video played behind the band, while the main set ended with Calendars And Clocks from their debut album.
Some idiots in the crowd loudly sang a song about disgraced footballer Adam Johnson while waiting for the band to return for some reason. People can be rather baffling at times.
The encore began with an extended version of the harmony-laden Goodbye, with the crowd going wild for another cut off their debut, the poptastic Dreaming Of You. They finally went off (much later than advertised due to the unscheduled break) after one final track from the latest album, Fear Machine. A truly great show from a much underrated band.
Likelihood of buying their next/latest album: 9/10 (This year’s album is one of their very finest, so hopefully they can repeat the trick next time)
The late finish meant having to hike towards home before managing to flag down a taxi, whose driver cursed when told I wanted to go to Waterloo as he had apparently been trying to get into town for an hour or so.
So the second version of the Bramley-Moore Dock incarnation of Sound City was the usual mixed bag. Real highlights for me were Sleaford Mods, The Coral, PATiENTS, Queen City Stoop Kids and Youth Hostel, with many other really enjoyable bands.
Some of the previous year’s issues with sound leakage and the overall design of the site had been improved, so kudos to the organisers for that. It will never again be the same as the original city centre version of the festival, sadly, but it remains a crucial part of the city’s annual calendar.
However, whether I return next year is in the balance – after all there are so many other local music festivals that I may decide to forego this one next year instead of a day at another festival or two. I am currently keeping my options open!
This blog is very behind the times, as you can tell by the late posting of this review. Hopefully, the three missing reviews will follow in much shorter order, although if I don’t move quickly, that will soon become four or even five!
As mentioned already several times, I was in my red Shack t-shirt with a liver bird on it. There were again a whole host of other music tees in the crowd this day, including two different Black Flag ones, quite surprisingly, and a Michael Head one. Others I spotted were The Beatles, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Joy Division, Sex Pistols, Dr Feelgood, Radiohead, The Smiths, The Libertines, Muse, The Stone Roses, The Cure, Foals, Kasabian, Belle And Sebastian, She Drew The Gun, Courtney Barnett, The War On Drugs, At The Drive-In, The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones, Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Linkin Park, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Eric’s, Glastonbury, Trojan Records, and Island Records.
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Here is a very small selection of the music from the day on Spotify: