Liverpool Sound City 2012: Day 1 Gig Roundup

By on Friday, 8th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Of the nights TGTF was not hosting a stage, Thursday night at Sound City was the most stellar. After the Taiwan reception at the Hilton, I consumed a high calorie pub dinner full of fried food (yes, I was hungry) and getting chatted up by an LFC supporter drinking wine at the bar. (Search me. What is it with Northerners, why am I always chatted up in the North?). A PR friend and I went searching for the Academy of Arts; my goal was to get to the Mystery Jets set on time. Liverpool is not a big city. Not really sure how we got lost; I’m going with “everything looks different at night” as my story.

We honestly were directed to the wrong entrance to the venue; during the early evening hours, the Screenadelica film showcase area was also playing host to bands, so we entered the building on the Screenadelica side. Suddenly my friend jerks my shoulder – while I was trying to put on my earplugs, so god only knows where the case went – and I can hear ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth’ from behind a really heavy and really dark curtain. In all my time of blogging, I’ve never gone to a gig through the backstage, either on purpose or by accident. Check that off my list, because now I can say I’ve arrived to a gig in that exact way.

To my knowledge, Mystery Jets have never played a headlining gig in Washington. So after getting shut out of Brighton Corn Exchange the previous week at the Great Escape in Brighton, no way was I missing this. I got my camera out just in time for the beginning of ‘Greatest Hits’, which in my opinion should be the next single off ‘Radlands’ (album review here) because it sounds like classic Mystery Jets. (We’ll see about that…) After I fired off quite a few shots, I decided to hang back and just absorb. Part of me couldn’t believe I was within an arm’s length of both Blaine Harrison and William Rees (drummer Kapil Trivedi was in the stage right back corner, which made photographing him difficult). And there they were.

I think I finally realised the gravity of the situation when they played ‘Serotonin’: despite my insistence to my mother, there is nothing like the feeling of being in the middle of a gig, the instrumentation vibrating across your ribs, the words coming out of the speakers and laying right in your ears. Sorry to anyone who was annoyed but ‘Serotonin’ will probably stand as one of the pivotal albums of my career and life in music, so naturally in terms of singing along, I went for it. A little disappointingly, the band didn’t seem as animated as I had expected, though musicianship-wise, they were peerless.

Surprisingly, I was never called back (or barked at, as is the case at SXSW) by security to leave, so I just stayed in the photo pit, enjoying my first-ever Mystery Jets spectacle. I know I’ll never get a completely brilliant experience like that ever again. Other new songs like title track ‘Radlands’, ‘Sister Everett’ and ‘Lost in Austin’, while they didn’t fall flat, just couldn’t stand up to the great Mystery Jets legacy that has built up over the years. I completely appreciate and respect their desire to break out of their mold and do something different, but I think ‘Radlands’ is just too left field for most long-time fans. ‘Two Doors Down’ (video below) had a huge fan response, as did ‘Serotonin’ showstopper ‘Show Me the Light’ and set closer ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ (videos to come on TGTF soon).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnu5hvSVelQ[/youtube]

A handy thing about most venues for Sound City generally: the venues are pretty close together. I literally walked across a small square to get to the Red Bull Studios at the Garage, which looked like an actual garage. I caught the last third of Stealing Sheep’s set; Martin had covered them in Newcastle opening for Field Music back in February. Maybe it was the sound levels but I had come expecting a ‘folky’ sound but instead got loud and brash rock, with the brashness best physically exemplified by the drummer’s very bright and heavily sequined shirt. The harmonies were a bit lost in the mix in the songs I heard, and maybe this was the place was so big, each member was so far away from the next on the massive stage. But there’s nothing like watching a band having the time of their lives. Below is some video from the Von Pip Musical Express from their performance.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz0-0snEoLo[/youtube]

Truth be told, on this stage I was most excited to was to be up next. When I first joined up as USA Editor of TGTF, we were right in the middle of a campaign with the now defunct Radar Maker for a French label I’d never heard of. In the ensuing weeks and months, I became very familiar with the then little-known bands they were hawking around the UK circuit, bands who would soon figure significantly in my blogging career: La Roux, Two Door Cinema Club, Delphic and some touring mates of Delphic’s, electronic duo Chew Lips.

It seems almost like ‘going home’ to be talking about Kitsune because out of all the labels and people we’ve had the pleasure to work with on TGTF over the years, I am proudest of our early promotion of their bands not just because I cut my blogging teeth on Kitsune, I’m sure at the beginning, it was tough going for Gildas Loaec and his crew to break out of the Parisian scene and get his bands played elsewhere. That man has quite the ear for talent and thanks to him we’ve got many acts that I imagine will continue to thrive in the years to come.

Chew Lips’ ‘Unicorn’ in 2010 was an acclaimed album, so now we’re looking to single ‘Do You Chew?’ (video below) to be a harbinger of things to come with their next album due out later this year. I’m so used to seeing press photos of lead singer Tigs with blonde hair, I was in for a bit of a shock when she arrived onstage…brunette. She commands the stage with ease, using her deep voice; what started as a paltry and rather embarrassing showing of punters quickly grew as their set wore on, no doubt mesmerised by what was going onstage. As some friends had suggested to me previously, yes, there is something very sexual about her performance.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0da7oqQcvc[/youtube]

But hey, I’m there for the music – or maybe the riffs of James Watkins instead! – but I now understand what people have said. ‘Salt Air’, a song I immediately latched on to when we were given the green light to give the Plastician remix of it, sounded amazing, as did songs like ‘Slick’ and ‘Gold Key’. Several new songs like ‘Hurricane’, ‘Rain’, and ‘Speed’, as part of the Tigs-described “99 percent a love album”, sound brilliant live. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing when it’s finally released. Maybe this time I’ll get a chance to see Chew Lips on my side of the pond instead of waiting another 3 years for another chance!

It should come as no surprise that I would hang around for Django Django. After the Blind Tiger human oven incident at the Great Escape, I welcomed being able to see the band and being able to breathe at the same time. (Thanks Liverpool.) I was so disappointed they weren’t wearing the Planet Cheeto outfits! But unlike the unfortunate placement at the tiny Blind Tiger club in Brighton, the Garage was a huge place for them to play to, and punters eagerly filled in to hear what I predict will be the most talked about band come the end of this year’s festival season.

While the massive stage proved to be a problem for Stealing Sheep, the four chaps of Django Django bridged this distance with no problem, with singer Vincent Neff assuming a position at the back at one point to play an enormous tambourine. This is a band that doesn’t do anything on a small scale, so if you’ve had the chance to see them in a small club, (I’m not including Blind Tiger!), consider yourself lucky.

And thus concludes the Thursday night of Sound City. If you’re wondering why I ended so early (around 1 in the morning), it’s because John and I had a big day ahead of us on Friday, when we played host to a Sound City stage of our own. Stay tuned…

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2 Responses

[…] and Dear Prudence grace our stage at the Academy of Arts with some wonderful performances… Night 1 of Sound City: Mystery Jets et al. Mary finally sees the 'Two Doors Down' chaps live, as w… Muse tease with 'The 2nd Law' trailer John talks up the new 'video' from Muse that's supposed to […]

[…] and Dear Prudence grace our stage at the Academy of Arts with some wonderful performances… Night 1 of Sound City: Mystery Jets et al. Mary finally sees the 'Two Doors Down' chaps live, as w… Muse tease with 'The 2nd Law' trailer John talks up the new 'video' from Muse that's supposed to […]

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