Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 2 Roundup

By on Thursday, 15th May 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

For all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way; for all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link.

While it was my intention to see as many bands as I wanted to off my Thursday Liverpool Sound City 2014 schedule, by the time I woke up Friday morning, I was feeling it. Oh no, oh no, oh no! The worst thing as a music writer to wake up to: a painful sore throat. After two scalding hot milky teas did not seem to do the trick, a quick stop into Tesco’s on Bold Street to grab some honey lemon Strepsils (as Radcliffe and Maconie and Marc Riley say on their radio programmes, other shops and lozenges are available) was required. And then I was off again, though not with the same get up and go as the previous day.

Thanks to a tip from Chris Donnelly of Sounds of Now Music, I had initially pencilled in the mysterious Moats as a possible early band to catch. However, as it so happens to all of us, hunger set in and I ended up meeting with an industry friend at the amazing Leaf Cafe where I’d seen Sivu close out the night before in fine fashion. They do amazing food and, of course for a place with the word ‘leaf’ in their name, a fine cuppa for a bad throat (thanks all).

The Orielles @ Shipping Forecast

After I’d gotten sufficient food in the tummy, it was time to head back out for our friends The Orielles, who were playing the cramped Shipping Forecast where Traams had got tail feathers shaking late Thursday evening. They were slotted in at the unenviable time of 7, just like Prides the night before, except the downstairs room of the Shipping Forecast was actually packed. Good for them! Funnily enough, the two girls at the delegate greeting table at the Hilton were stood right next to me, I think a little startled that I was there, snapping photos.

You can read more about the Orielles’ live performance in my review of their ‘Entity’ single launch party at Manchester Deaf Institute on the 26th of April through this link and you can also listen to them live in conversation here, but I think the more important take home message from their Sound City appearance is their confidence. It’s a good word to describe the trio, as I’ve seen lesser – and dare I say it, older – bands quake under the pressure of a industry-related festival such as Sound City, but the Orielles are professionals. In a confined space like this, they had nowhere to run – literally – and all eyes were on them. Yet they were calm, cool and collected, which is exactly what their style of surf pop demands. I’m really looking forward to seeing where their music takes them.

Strangers @ Brooklyn Mixer

Then I was off to see someone (or three someones, as I expected) back at the Brooklyn Mixer. Maybe it is just my personality to want to help as many deserving people as possible, but I’ve found it inevitable – in an entirely good way, I might add – that bands we’ve discovered and fallen in love with (and often times, those that you readers have fallen in love with too) become friends. Electro dance act Strangers appeared at #2 on the TGTF 10 for 2012 way back at the end of 2011 and even though I’d corresponded with frontman David Maddox-Jones for years it seems, for one reason or another I always missed seeing them gig in London. When I was scanning the schedule between panel sessions on Thursday, I noticed their name on the Friday. David explained to me that they were asked to fill in last minute. Naturally, I seized the chance to finally see them live.

With his awesome wingtips, Maddox-Jones was the height of fashion. Unfortunately, it was to Strangers’ detriment that the punters present for their set seemed more keen on their pints and less on the electronic music on offer right in front of them. However, as I stood watching Maddox-Jones give it his all – he’s got a fine set of pipes full of soul and emotion there, for sure, and he gets entirely caught up in the music, his body never stopping for a moment – I couldn’t help wonder how the performance would have been helped with an entirely different environment. I remember Delphic saying in an interview once that they’d requested a German festival put them in a greenhouse-like tent for their performance at an event so that the mood was as dark and clubby as possible, and I think that’s exactly the kind of venue I’d want to see Strangers at. As for the three someones I previous mentioned? Piers Sherwood-Roberts has left the band so Strangers is now a duo, though I suppose you could argue with two guys on synthesisers, do you really need a third, if between two people you’ve got one manning the synths ably and the other with a voice perfectly suited to the music?

The Inkhearts @ Kazimier Gardens

There was no time to stay and exchange pleasantries after, sadly. I was off like a rocket to catch The Inkhearts, who oddly popped up in conversations all over my 2-week holiday across England. They’re a young student band from Skelmersdale who appeared at the Label Recordings showcase at the atmospheric Kazimier Gardens. ‘Keeping Up’ is the Inkhearts’ current single, and it’s getting airplay all over the country already (apparently it’s a hit particularly with a radio presenter in Cornwall), which is a good sign as any that these kids are on to something good. And as we know, ‘Something Good Can Work’… I don’t like waving my press badge around at any festival if I can help it (it’s pretentious), but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, and the bouncers were not letting me in, so waving and yelling saved the day and got me into the place finally.

I think it’s a testament to the good people of the North West that such a showcase was put together to promote young talent and give them a proper way to show off their hard work and what they’re all about. (Read more about the label based at Edge Hill University here.) Yes, they’re young, but you can tell there is a definite desire of wanting to make it, and looking on at these youngsters, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride and that the future of the music business will keep going on the talent and energy of kids like them. I could barely keep up with my own studies when I was in school, so I know that these four who are doing the music on the side while also trying to further their education must have their hearts in the right place. After I interviewed the Inkhearts in the upstairs atrium (and apparently gave them a Stuart Maconie factoid to take back with them to school the next week), Heebie Jeebies beckoned.

Model Aeroplanes @ Heebie Jeebies

With the sheer number of and different kinds of venues at Liverpool Sound City, there’s no use guessing which bands will draw packed houses. Model Aeroplanes from Dundee, who I’d also had the pleasure of chatting with but earlier in the day at the Hilton, deserved a larger crowd but given the low archways I described from Thursday, I’m almost glad it wasn’t packed, because had the place been rammed, it might have been a serious fire code violation.

As it was, the vitality of the Scottish band’s live performance was impressive. Model Aeroplanes’ set, which included new single ‘Electricity’ and closed out with the sweeter ‘Innocent Love’, was energetic like the Inkhearts earlier but in a different way: they’re older, so I think the hunger for fame seems more real to them, especially since they’ve got the support of BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway and success is seemingly within reach. We had agreed about how Two Door Cinema Club‘s first album was better than their second, and I hear whispers of Two Door in their music: a compliment that they’ve got a very poppy, fun sound and happy guitars that I could see taking Britain and the world by storm very soon.

Boy Jumps Ship @ Mello Mello

I had a little bit of time before I said goodbye to the Model Aeroplanes lads and make my way to Mello Mello, where the Generator proper of the North East was hosting their night at Sound City. I’ve made it a point each year I’ve covered the festival to listen to and watch all the videos of every band scheduled to showcase in Liverpool, especially the ones I’d never heard of, to get a nice smattering of bands on my spreadsheet that I’d otherwise not have known about. Boy Jumps Ship from Newcastle was on the top of that new discovery list and I realised within seconds of seeing them live that I’d definitely made the right decision seeing them.

When I first started music writing, I seemed to spend a lot of my time trying to convince people either by word of mouth or through my writing that it was possible for a dance band to write something emotional, because those kinds of bands are hopelessly misunderstood. In a way, hard rock bands suffer from the same misunderstanding, depending on the company you’re with. I could see in the case of Boy Jumps Ship, fans of theirs probably generally are already fans of that genre of aggressive, devil may care kind of rock. But how does a band like theirs relate to someone like me?

I went into Sound City somewhat of a broken, exhausted woman from personal stuff and somehow, the honesty and just pedal to the metal-type delivery of this hard-rocking Geordie band ticked off all the right boxes for me. In my head, their music sounded of letting go, about laying it out on the line, of giving it all you’ve got. Live, they’re just so incredibly fun to watch: frontman Si Todd growls into his microphone and bangs his guitar ferociously as his bandmates play their instruments frenetically to keep up the pace.

There is a reason why Arcane Roots and Marmozets chose them as their support: both bands knew they could bring it. While the band say in my interview with them that they would love to tour with Biffy Clyro, I wonder if one day soon they will surpass the Biff entirely. While I also heard snatches of current radio darlings Royal Blood emanating from the Duke Street Garage around the corner later that night, I couldn’t help but think that all those people crammed inside there were watching the wrong band and should have caught Boy Jumps Ship instead. Those Geordies sure have heart.

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