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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 27th May 2014 at 4:00 pm
One of my biggest hopes for the next big pop band is Dundee’s Model Aeroplanes, who had the unenviable task of playing the BBC Introducing Stage against One Direction on the Main Stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Glasgow on Saturday. There’s no contest in my mind, but in case you need some convincing, watch the Scottish lads performing the energetic ‘Whatever Dress Suits You Better’ below. Do they remind you of early Two Door Cinema Club? Hmm?
For all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way; for all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link.
Saturday at Liverpool Sound City 2014: on the homestretch now, but it’s also sad to know that something you’ve waited for all year is about to end. But I had something unusual to start my last day in Liverpool with: if it’s not music in Liverpool, it’s got to be football, innit?
The legendary John Peel was famously known as a Reds fan (good man) so it makes sense that the football tournament taking place during Sound City, a major music event for the town, is named after him. As much as I am a footy fan, I’d still not managed to make it to Chavasse Park, the nice stretch of green hovering above the hulking Liverpool One shopping district, over the last 2 years for the John Peel World Cup. That all changed this year when Geordies Boy Jumps Ship, the nice boys I’d met the previous night after I’d rocked out to their music, invited me to come watch them play five-a-side as Boy Jumps Ship F.C. Or as they had said, eke through a couple rounds of five-a-side and wonder why they’d agreed to play in the first place, the morning after they’d gigged at the festival.
I am sure John and Martin will get a kick out of this, but as can probably imagine if you’ve met me before, I’m not an athletic person (I prefer to be a sports bystander) so arriving at Chavasse Park, surrounded by loads of cute boys (albeit exhibiting varying shades of intimidation and being generally loud to match the intimidation) was akin to me being a duck out of water. I was, however, dressed to the nines for this, as I was sporting my new, perfect red Steven Gerrard jersey obtained from Anfield on Wednesday. So nyah!
Soon enough, I found the Boy Jumps Ship fellas in their white kit and even though the matches were only 10 minutes long, everything I watched at the park that afternoon was tense and fast-paced. I have to say, if you’re going as a spectator to this event, it’s sure a lot more fun cheering on your mates. Football expert John has said (threatened?) that he needs to participate in the tournament next year, so keep that in mind as a definite reason why you should attend Sound City 2015.
I didn’t hang around for the finals but from all accounts, Boy Jumps Ship was doing pretty good when I’d left to meet up with my next interviewees, Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward, who were sound checking with their band Glass Animals at the Kazimier. The Kazimier, along with the Zanzibar, would prove to be the most important venues of the night to me, which judging from this post-event report from famed Liverpudlian music man on the street Peter Guy, turned out to be a smart move.
Red Found Glory @ Zanzibar
While I waiting for my next interview subject Tommy Wright, the well-coiffed frontman for Young Kato, who was delayed, I had time to kill. Going off our Irish friends Kodaline‘s earlier Tweets, I skulked around the inside of the Zanzibar to look for them, as they’d said first band up Red Found Glory were a good shout and they were hoping to make it in to see them before they were due on to headline at the Cathedral that night. (I guess they are friends?) I don’t know if it was anxiety waiting for Tommy or if these guys from London were just not very unique, they were a good enough rock band I suppose but nothing special jumped out at me.
Glass Animals @ Kazimier
I thought I’d mosey back to the Kazimier for Glass Animals‘ set. It’s quite ironic that Carrie fell in love with their music (at the Harvest Records showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2014) before I did, because the dance / urban sound is much more my thing than hers, but I really wasn’t having any of “those peanut butter vibes” initially. Saturday at SXSW during ‘Black Mambo’, Carrie was going mental (then again, it was everyone’s last day in Austin, so everyone present was already sauced by noon) and maybe I was off that afternoon, but I wasn’t completely sold. Until I saw them in Liverpool, that is. Playing to a daytime crowd in Austin at Latitude 30 is entirely different than playing a rammed Kazimier, filled down the front with women with drink in hand, grooving to the music in their summer dresses. Maybe it was the magic of Liverpool that made me finally see what I had been missing for months?
While Martin waxed philosophical about them in October of last year and described their song ‘Exxus’ as having “mellifluous mellotron mixes with otherworldly, disembodied voices, as if Gyorgy Ligeti and Edgar Froese were having a bromance right there in one’s Eustachian tube”, I found something more tangible and oddly down to earth about the band’s sound. Songs like ‘Hazey’ from their forthcoming album ‘Zaba’ and yes, that ‘Black Mambo’ tune show a collected coolness from Bayley and crew that seems to be at odds with most of the music I saw at Sound City. The music slides and glides seemingly effortlessly and judging from the fact at their first American headline show in New York Wednesday night sold out well in advance, America is ready for Britain’s latest hip dance export. It was inevitable that they would end their set with ‘Gooey’, but why not when it’s the most recognisable of their songs to date and the one that brings the house down every time?
I rushed away after them to the Brooklyn Mixer with every intention of catching Pennsylvania’s The Districts. You’re probably wondering why I was bothering to catch a band from the state directly due north of mine, but I had a good reason: I missed them at this year’s SXSW. Just like Thursday night, I knew something was amiss when I arrived. For one, there were all these non-Anglicised shouts of approval and I had to ask someone at the door who was playing, because they didn’t look American. I guess the Districts cancelled, as a Brazilian band the Parrots had stepped in for them. I stayed for a short while since I didn’t like what I heard, I went back to the Kazimier to ready myself to see We Have Band, who I’d been waiting to see for years. Who should I run into on my way back but Glass Animals loading out? A discussion between Dave Bayley and me of various places in America ensued. Oh, English music festivals. You never cease to amaze and amuse me!
We Have Band @ Kazimier
We Have Band‘s ‘Divisive’ from their debut album ‘WHB’, one of my favourite dance anthems of 2010, was the sole song I had on my mind initially. I figured they had to play it and if they didn’t, I’d be quite cross, ha! And it didn’t disappoint at all live. But the band had a more important mission that night with their set: to get out the new songs from their brand new album ‘Movements’. Measured in its chaos yet also glittery synth-wise single ‘Modulate’ saw sole female band member Dede Wegg-Prosser take centre stage, and she commanded attention from the word go, whether it was when she was singing or she was gyrating on stage in minimalist black clothing, which no doubt wasn’t lost on her male admirers. Another album cut, ‘Heart Jump’, was a dance revelation on steroids, with its relentless beats, and even after such a short festival set, the crowd was sweaty but yelling for more. With their flurry of synths, bass grooves and drum pad beats, they were definitely worth the wait!
After the excitement of We Have Band, I wanted somewhere to chill and it occurred to me that maybe the best plan of attack would be to stop in at the Zanzibar, where I had planned to see Young Kato later. It was with major disappointment that I learned of Dublin’s the Minutes cancelling their Sound City appearance in favour of performing in their hometown that day instead, but considering they haven’t gotten a record deal for ‘Live Well, Change Often’ in the UK, I guess it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t bother with trying to promote an album in a country where people can’t actually buy it.
Serotonin @ Zanzibar
I’m not sure where the band Serotonin is from (there are several on the interwebs), but they haplessly filled in for the absent Irish band. Who wears black turtlenecks in Liverpool, unless you’re a beatnik from the Sixties? Also, me and another female journalist were laughing at what the frontman was ‘packing’ in his trousers… You just couldn’t take them seriously.
Young Kato @ Zanzibar
After a changeover, Young Kato were next, and I was happy to explain to punters not familiar with them about their history. Well, at least the fact that they were on Made in Chelsea, but perhaps in hindsight, that’s not a good factoid to offer up to the more discerning music fan? Either way, it didn’t matter.
Although I was situated on a sofa overlooking the stage for most of their set (hey, it was Saturday, I was tired, don’t judge), I was standing up and cheering like the rest of the audience for them. Tommy Wright did his job in ‘selling’ the free mp3 ‘Ignite’, which we gave away in this previous MP3 of the Day post; as usual, the sparkly ‘Lights’ went down a treat, as did ‘Revolution’, which seems like an unlikely competitor in a town with a band with an untouchable history with a song of the same name. Naturally, the song that concluded the proceedings was ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which has become the band’s rallying cry: is this the sound of young Britain? I certainly hope so, I’d rather it be Young Kato than Bastille.
Public Access TV @ Zanzibar
I would have been happy with them ending my Sound City experience this year, but I was convinced by some newly made friends that I should wait for the next band, Public Access TV (not to be confused with London historical PSA-repurposers Public Service Broadcasting, who were without a doubt making a big noise on the next street over at Nation at the same exact time). After I left Liverpool, I did some research on Public Access TV to find that NME had tipped the New York band for big things at the start of the year and that Lindsay Lohan was in attendance during one of the group’s earliest performance. (Er, so what?) I’m truly confused. As I watched them, I saw nothing special: guys with guitars…playing pop with a tinge of guitar. Hello, the Strokes? Michael Hann of the Guardian has since jumped onboard this bandwagon, presuming off the back of their appearance at the Great Escape the following weekend and I’ve figured out why everyone’s putting their money on the band (finish Hann’s article and you will see what I mean).
But just because a band has talked to the right people doesn’t mean they’re good. See them live and decide for yourself. That’s the greatest thing about a festival like Sound City: it just goes to show when a great place like Liverpool can put on hundreds of bands over a weekend, you’re bound to find music that will astound, make you think, is just plain fun, or all of the above. Make the most of such an opportunity.
By Mary Chang
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.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 13th May 2014 at 2:00 pm
The first half / part 1 of my Thursday Sound City roundup is here. For all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link; for all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way.
More Than Conquerors @ Kazimier Gardens
After having more than my fill of Hot Soles in Liverpool, for the second half of my Thursday at Liverpool Sound City 2014, I was back out to Kazimier Gardens for More Than Conquerers, which reminded me that John really needs to come out with me next year for Sound City. After a while, harder rock starts to bleed together in my mind and while this band from Belfast were certainly fun to watch, I couldn’t distinguish them from the many others of their sound level and calibre I’d seen at SXSW. They’ve got long hair and beards, which is to their favour to collect hipster fans, so I’ve been told by music fans from Liverpool to London. The word on the street is that this band is destined for big things – and soon – so my advice is to listen to them yourself and draw your own conclusions.
The Amazing Snakeheads @ Screendelica at the Black-E
A huge programming mistake for Sound City this year was not putting the Screendelica stage not at the thick of things on Seel Street like last year. In 2013, the TGTF team enjoyed Arcane Roots and Future of the Left both tear it up in the wee hours of the morning at the venue behind the Arts Academy. (One of the musicians was seen hanging precariously from a light fixture. You had to have been there.) Instead, this year Screendelica was inexplicably moved to practically the arse end of nowhere, all the way out in Chinatown at the Black-E. The venue itself isn’t bad – I enjoyed the Hummingbirds and the Thespians there last year – but the distance no doubt led to less people venturing out to see the bands playing there. The Anglican Cathedral, which is even more east of the city centre than the Black-E, doesn’t suffer similar problems, as it is host to the headline shows of the festival, which this year starred Clean Bandit, Strokes alum Albert Hammond, Jr. and our Irish friends Kodaline, and therefore are enough of a draw to encourage punters to walk that distance.
Glaswegians The Amazing Snakeheads, whose debut album ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ released in mid-April is already causing a huge stir at the moment, should have been able to command their audience and incite a riot. Singer Dale Barclay, dressed in a decidedly not rock ‘n’ roll crushed velvet shirt, growled and gutturally screamed into his mike between banging chords on his guitar, admirably got a small but good group of moshers going. But the too large space that felt like an empty school gymnasium for a school dance and just wasn’t the right kind of venue for them. I feel like if they’d played somewhere smaller and darker like the Zanzibar, the vibes and energy level would have worked in their favour.
Travis is a Tourist @ Korova
I am a woman who keeps the promises she makes to friends, and earlier the eponymous Travis of Travis is a Tourist had asked me if I would come to see him and his band play at Korova. I told him if I could make it back early enough from the Black-E, I would have a look in. Boy, am I glad I did. Carrie and I had seen them play at Latitude 30 at the British Music Embassy on the Tuesday afternoon of SXSW, when the Austin sunshine still shone outside, after which time Carrie nabbed Travis for this interview. Completely different vibe seeing them in the very intimate Korova, where it felt the small stage could barely contain the liveliness of Travis is a Tourist’s live performance. I now wonder if unconsciously or not are more nervous playing at SXSW than at other festivals, because while their Austin gig seemed a wee bit tentative, there was no such anxiety on display in Liverpool. It probably also helped that their best buds More Than Conquerors were there to cheer them on too as they had done earlier at Kazimier Gardens. Yay for best friends! If you can’t count on friends for support, who can you count on?
Traams @ Shipping Forecast
The one good thing about me coming out to blighty for music festivals in England is I can catch up on any bands I might have missed at SXSW. I’d still not seen Chichester’s Traams, have already proved their mettle to regional festival crowds for years, and due to schedule conflicts, I had to give them a pass in Austin. The downstairs stage at the Shipping Forecast on Slater Street, another claustrophobic venue, seemed tailor made for the South East group to feed off of their fans’ excitement. Their bassist, who had been throwing shapes all night even while he was playing his guitar, was so caught up in the moment, he and his bass made their way off the stage to the delight of the punters. I imagine Traams are a better live prospect than on record, as the singer/guitarist’ s gravelly voice is less exciting than the get up and dance atmosphere they create live in concert.
Sivu @ Leaf Café
While I was in Austin this year, I had serious reservations on whether I would make the trip across the pond for any festivals at all. My heart was not in the right place, I’d had numerous problems securing accommodation that wouldn’t bankrupt me and it looked unlikely that I’d have John and Martin with me in Liverpool and festivals are always more fun to work at when you’ve got mates with you. The odds seemed stacked against me.
The clincher ended up being Sivu convincing me on the Friday of SXSW after I’d chatted with him in the atrium of the Omni and seeing him at the Mohawk that I needed to come see him with his full live band in England, as he had only been able to bring out one of his merry touring band, guitarist Lucy Parnell, with him to Texas. I am sure it sounds strange reading that I was going to a tea shop to see a band play. However, remember that I was going to see an English band there and really, I cannot think of a more civilised way to prepare for going to see your friends gig than having a pot of tea. It sure feels better waking up without a hangover the next day. Gigs in tea shops never happen in America, but I can certainly dream.
Last year, I’d gone to Leaf to see the Chapman Family play at what would be one of their last festival appearances before they broke up in June 2013. That time, all the café tables were still in position, which made for a very strange setup I’m sure for Kingsley Chapman to have only mildly interested café customers staring back at him. The earlier Amazing Snakeheads performance at the Black-E proved to be a stark contrast to Sivu’s set time of midnight. On Bold Street and far away from the larger Duke Street Garage and Nation made for a smaller group of punters assembled, but who were there were a captive audience, and as he’d promised, the immense sound of the Sivu full band setup filled the space beautifully.
I struggle to describe the Sivu sound, as James Page’s voice can run into the falsetto range, so I can see sigur ros / Jonsi fans taking to him, but personally, it’s the surprise in the richness of the sum of the parts, some played, some synthesised, that is Sivu’s greatest triumph. The sweetly delivered lines of ‘Can’t Stop Now’ seem in direct odds with the almost dance rhythms of the songs, whereas in earlier Sivu composition ‘Better Man Than He’ is much darker. How to describe ‘Bodies’? “Each song has its place.” And ‘Bodies’, like all of Sivu’s songs, has a wonderful place in this life. The Sivu full band experience capped off a first night of amazing music.
Stay tuned for more Liverpool Sound City 2014 coverage coming soon on TGTF.
For all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way; for all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link.
This year, I covered Liverpool Sound City alone without John or Martin, so I felt the full pressure of reviewing pop, dance, rock and everything in between all by my lonesome. I think as a music writer, you always go into a music festival having these delusions of grandeur that you’re going to be Superman and will actually see every single band, every single act you’ve got on your colour-coded schedule. When it comes to multi-day festivals, I think the stress is compounded because you’ve got to be ‘on’ for more than 1 day and inevitably, your relative freshness (and I’m not just referring to the state of your clothes, but of your mental state as well) starts to go progressively downhill as the event wears on.
Thursday night was my most productive night, and I’m guessing this was the case because the day before, hopes were high for a far too long awaited Premier League cup win as I’d visited Anfield on a sunny day, and it just doesn’t get much better than that for a Liverpool fan. After a couple of conference sessions, including a truly informative q&a with Michael Kiwanuka and his manager Rob Swerdlow and a less interesting one with interviewer John Robb trying to engage Gruff Rhys and his John Evans character puppet of now ‘American Interior’ fame, I was raring to go see all the bands on my list.
Prides @ Nation
I’m not sure which Sound City bod’s bright idea it was to put a rave-inducing band like Prides on at 7 PM at the cavernous Nation, but whoever it was, I don’t think they understand how dance music works. Prides, whose fun, New Wave-y dance pop, would have worked much better in front of more people and much later in the night. It seemed so strange to see their three band members on a massive stage, but if my feelers are correct, they’ll play festivals like this and pack them in soon enough. Still, they broke out an impressive set in this brand new for Sound City venue that included upcoming single ‘Messiah’ check to see if current or future and irrepressible past single ‘The Seeds You Sow’. Funny how hearing ‘Let It Go’ in this setting reminded me of Savoir Adore’s ‘Sea of Gold’, as I’d not previously associated the two bands’ sounds like that before.
The Kill Van Kulls @ Heebie Jeebies (did not appear) / Kaves @ Heebie Jeebies
The Kill van Kulls must have pulled out of Sound City last minute, as when I arrived at the subterranean Heebie Jeebies with its low archways (so low that even I, an already short woman, had to duck to not hit my head on the ceiling bricks), I counted the number of band members (too many), noticed the complete lack of synthesiser and guessed Gareth Bartlett of the Manchester band would not be wearing a t-shirt and sunglasses, looking like he’d stepped off the set of Miami Vice. The sunnies should have been a dead giveaway – they were more Ric Ocasek and Cars with the good time rock sound of Springsteen, but nothing terribly original. Disappointed, I cut my losses and walked next door to find something else to listen to.
Patients @ Brooklyn Mixer
Americans: if you really want something to do your head in while you’re in Liverpool, visit the Brooklyn Mixer, a bar that I guess has modeled itself off great watering holes of that NYC neighbourhood and has New York subway-styled signs telling you where to go. It’s the last thing I want to see in Liverpool when I’m visiting. Nevertheless, the parqueted wood flooring on the second level where they hosted bands all weekend was a nice space. Patients were exactly how you’d imagine a Korean Ramones tribute band to sound. However, since when did a rock band have a keyboardist, yet no guitarist? Rather disappointingly, they weren’t dressed as colourfully as their press photos on their Facebook, which would have added another unique layer to their presence.
Youth Man @ Factory
Earlier in the day, I’d been advised incorrectly to pick up my press pass at the Hilton delegates hotel and to traipse back up to Seel Street to retrieve my accreditation. At least I then knew where the Factory venue was. Oddly set up with a beer garden that wasn’t at all conducive to watching the band performing on its indoor stage, I could see it working for a band like Brummie trio Youth Man, with elements of punk and thrash, as if thrown into a blender with Bloc Party, as singer and guitarist Kaila Whyte brought along the riot grrrl vibes. Grab your free copy of their EP ‘Bad Weather’ from their Bandcamp.
PØRTS @ Kazimier Gardens
The outdoor venue John likened to stepping inside any scene in the Shire of The Lord of the Rings, Kazimier Gardens played host to several great showcases during Sound City, including Generator NI’s on Thursday night. After saying my hellos to our mates from the original mother ship Generator based in Newcastle, I blew Carrie’s mind when I messaged her I was stood down the front for Derry’s PØRTS when I told her I was stood next to Travis is a Tourist, who we’d met and she had interviewed in Austin during SXSW 2014. Even more mind-blowing I think was Travis’ own reaction to see me stood there, unable to believe I’d come all the way over from America for Sound City. But back to PØRTS, who were formerly known as Little Bear. I am not sure what their singer/bassist was doing with two iPhones, but it appeared that he was playing virtual harmonica with them? Not sure what was going on there. Think folk-y, gorgeous Fleet Foxes-ey type good stuff that has already caught the attention of the likes of 6music’s Cerys Matthews and the bods at Radio Ulster.
Marika Hackman @ East Village Arts Club Loft (did not appear) / Hot Soles @ Mello Mello
I left Kazimier Gardens early to have another crack at the top floor room of the East Village Arts Club, which by the way has one of my favourite restaurants and lounge areas in the city. Last year, I let Martin do the honours of covering Willy Moon on the loft stage when my claustrophobia, combined by the extreme heat of just too many bodies, were crammed in on the floor and I sat in the lounge with a cider. However, I was thwarted, which was quickly apparent as I walked upstairs and heard insipid elevator music playing and clearly not the gloom of Marika Hackman’s goth-folk. Many punters, made into involuntary, awkward wallflowers with drink in hand in search of someone else to see, were truly gutted about her non-appearance in Liverpool. (I would also like to note that while I was on the tour of Anfield the day before, I’d explained to a no nonsense type bald security guard at the ground I was in town for the festival. At first I was intimidated by him, until the surface cracked and it was clear he was just like us. A music fan! He said unequivocally she was the number one artist to see at Sound City. So…Marika, I think you have some serious ground to make up for with your fans in Liverpool. I hate the idea of this kindly man who works hard at Anfield every day crying into his pint because you didn’t show up.)
I had plenty of time to chill back down in the downstairs lounge with my new favourite flavour of cider – passion fruit! (yes, Rekordelig, I’d be happy to take a sponsorship from you) – before making my way to corner bar Mello Mello, whose sound was peerless all weekend and intimate nature of the rectangular box shape of the place made for what would become my favourite venue of this year’s festival. Thursday night, the venue played host to the Sheffield’s Darnell Music Factory (DMF) record label‘s Digital showcase straight from the heart of Yorkshire. My ears sensed this immediately as I entered the place: the raucous, up for it deep male voices that sound like the ringing of bells to me, were no doubt lubricated with countless pints, cheering on the band onstage.
Sheffield’s Hot Soles had been recommended to me by a friend from the Steel City. While they’re not my thing, I can see why they are a popular draw at Tramlines: the likes of Drenge and Royal Blood prove that hard rock duos can be successful, and in the case of Hot Soles, it’s not necessarily blow out your ears kind of hard rock they do but a boisterous garage sound that is probably somewhere between Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard and the Jim Jones Revue. Their singer (whose name I am not sure of, nor do I know if he’s Sole Brother A or Sole Brother B – see their Facebook, I’m not kidding) is most definitely the showman: with his wireless guitar, in Chuck Berry style he crashed his way around the whole of the Mello Mello venue, including the café portion of the place, which I’m sure either terrified or bemused the customers!
Stay tuned for part 2 of my Thursday coverage of Sound City, which will post tomorrow.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th May 2014 at 11:00 am
Unless you’ve been living under a rock and even if you want to pretend you don’t watch Made in Chelsea, you already know that Cheltenham six-piece Young Kato appeared on the tv programme and their fame has grown by leaps and bounds. Having written about them nearly 2 years ago in this Bands to Watch feature in the summer of 2012, I couldn’t be more chuffed for their success.
They’ve been so busy being on the road with You Me at Six and doing their own gigs and making festival appearances, singer Tommy Wright had to rush to meet me after the band just had headed west after making an afternoon appearance at Live at Leeds and had just arrived in Liverpool. Listen below as I speak with the singer of one of the hottest up and coming bands around.
Many thanks to Tommy for his time: I know time was tight in Liverpool, Tommy, and I appreciate you chatting with me. Big thanks also to Paul for sorting this interview out for me.