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Liverpool Sound City 2015: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 3:00 pm
 

Ten years ago, staring at MTV Rocks on the television with my Dad, the lyrics “she don’t use butter, she don’t use cheese, she don’t use jelly or any of these” set me on a path. A path which started with me purchasing the rest of The Flaming Lips‘ back catalogue in one bulk purchase, and ended at Liverpool Sound City on The Atlantic Stage, with a sensory overload courtesy of Wayne Coyne and co. A fantastic booking for the festival.

But before then, I of course had to get to the festival, which as I learnt on the Thursday, is no mean feat – seeing as it is a good 30 minute walk from the main Liverpool city centre. My solution? A rented bike, a tactic that when I whizzed past the thousands of revellers waiting for taxis (for an hour and a half in some cases) and stumbling drunkenly back to the City Centre made me incredibly smug, and the revellers entirely mugged off.

Once I’d locked up outside of the new festival site, which looks certain to be the festival’s home for the foreseeable future, I ventured to The Atlantic Stage for a set that would begin a week of social media awkwardness. Almost supergroup The Serpent Power were gracing the stage, made up of Ian Skelly (The Coral) and Paul Molloy (The Zutons) and a few other less well-knowns…

The result, an utterly forgettable set full of wallpaper music:- the kind of self-indulgent psychedelia with noodling solos galore that you’d expect from a super group, but perhaps not one with the song-writing credentials The Serpent Power brought with them. With droves of punters at The Atlantic Stage deciding to make haste somewhere else, it was obvious their brand of new indie was really striking accord with the flower crown in their hair bunch and not much else.

So when I tweeted the following:



I didn’t really expect to wake up the next day with The Serpent Power feeling I had struck a nerve:

Now while they may have got it spot on about my run-of-the-mill willy, the set was still sub-par. The ‘banter’ was probably the highlight, so maybe social-media comedy is the way to go? But as the cliché goes, don’t give up your day jobs. (5/10)

From the largest stage, to the smallest: Service Bells were next up on The Record Store stage, which effectively was just a small tent with speakers and the ability to sell records. The intimate surroundings lent to Service Bells’ set superbly, as their Queens of the Stone Age-influenced rock bounced and reverberated within the tight confines. Over waves of feedback, Fraser Harvey’s cutting vocals hit the back of the tent, their visceral drum and guitar assault working to draw a packed out crowd into the tight confines. Although their set was brief, they teased perfectly to their later performance on The Kraken Stage, by giving just a taste of the aggression of their music. (7/10)

From blood and guts rock ‘n’ roll, it was on to alternative new wave electronica with Dutch Uncles on The Atlantic Stage. It’s a bit of a departure but a welcome one, as the four-piece pull out all the stops to make it a feast for the senses. Despite the rather overcast and glum setting in Liverpool, Dutch Uncles serve up an almost samba beat, with hips shaking and a calypso rhythm uniting the audience in their booty shaking. Duncan Wallis juts and throws his way around the stage as Andy Proudfoot, Robin Richards and Peter Broadhead provide a glittering calypso boogie. Their colourful backdrop and the verve and enthusiasm imbued in their performance meant gave a summery outlook for what was a rather gloomy setting, as they transported us to a beach, ‘Club Tropicana’ style.

Striking an uncanny resemblance to Game Of Thrones character plump, yet loveable buffoon Samwell Tarly, lead singer of the next band Leon Stanford captured the entire crowd with his wit and lack of comprehension for how close all the stages were. In honesty, the Tarly lookalike had a point seeing as what could be made of his beautiful Gaslight Anthem-esque vocals was mostly drowned out by the thumping bass emerging from The Cargo Stage behind him.

Despite these facts, The People and the Poet cut through the walls of sonic obscurity as well as they could and played a brilliant set. The storytelling was encapsulating and Stanford’s cutting wit meant your attention was affixed to the Welsh four-piece. My only confusion was how Welsh they sounded speaking, and how un-Welsh they sounded making music. In fact, it felt more like a band from the Midwest of America, which did have me scratching my head. Despite the tonal confusions, The People and the Poet stood out on the Saturday as arguably the stand out band with their brilliant turns of phrase and superb delivery, even in the face of adversity… (8/10)

The joyful summer party atmosphere of Dutch Uncles was supplanted at The Baltic Stage, giant empty warehouse, by the feeling of a proper old-school punk show, courtesy of aged-retainers The Membranes. Old-school punk has a certain, er, look. The Membranes, quite simply ARE that look: shirts off, muscles rippling, dodgy haircuts that they probably couldn’t pull off 30 years ago and are no closer to doing so now and a menacing look upon the frontman’s face. They were every bit the grizzled bunch of punkers that the tagline ‘still inspired by punk rock but believe music has no boundaries’ conjures up.

It’s not exactly note perfect, and ‘gritty’ is probably the best word to describe it as, with most of the audience affixed to the wrinkled prune John Robb marauding menacingly around the front echelons of the stage. For most of the set, regrettably for the aged-retainers, their post-punk growls and riffs just didn’t strike an accord, until their final hurrah when the band rallied for a rousing call and return effort. Stellar work for guys who look like they may need a defibrillator post-set. (7/10)

After a brief top-up at one of the beer tents, which looked drastically overstaffed and dramatically overegged for the actual level of trade they would be receiving throughout the weekend, I made my way to the end of the pier at The Atlantic Stage for a moment I’d waited more than a decade for. As the light of the sun disappeared and the artificial light began to illuminate the small strip of tarmac the crowd were kettled into, the stage was draped with various plastic tubes for the light-fantastic The Flaming Lips were about to set up. In true Wayne Coyne style, he helped with the soundcheck resplendent in his green latex froggy suit, with the rest of the band dressed equally as colourfully and dotted around the stage, intertwined in the maze of dangling tubes.

Coyne and co. began with a ballad in the form of ‘The Abandoned Hospital Ship’, a jangling soaring journey through the psyche of this era-defining trio. That’s all before The Flaming Lips really begin their orgy for the senses, with cannons full of ticker tape and a ‘Fight Test’ singalong, as giant blow up aliens join Coyne on stage. As Coyne takes us through a quick tour of the bands most successful singles, he stops the audience midway through a slowed down singalong of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1’. “I don’t know whether you KNOW how important the HYAH HYAH bit of Yoshimi is, but Coyne bellows, “it’s a marker as to the level of crazy the audience is”. Most of the crowd loomed around baffled, but as it came to the HYAH HYAH portion of the song, we got a proper shout from the audience.

The set never really peaked to a mass singalong, simply for the fact that most of the audience didn’t know a lot of the songs. But the encore of ‘Do You Realize?’ was a soaring chorus across Liverpool Sound City with everyone getting caught up in the lights and excitement of The Flaming Lips.

Despite this, disappointingly due to the niche market The Flaming Lips occupy the crowd never really fully got on board with the set on a musical level. As far as a feast for the eyes, they delivered a 10/10 performance, but musically there was a lack of connection as a band who have disappointed with its last three records struggled to hold the interest of the crowd. (7/10)

 

Update: Liverpool Sound City 2015

 
By on Friday, 30th January 2015 at 9:00 am
 

They’ve been asking if they want to come back all these years, and this week it was confirmed that The Vaccines would indeed be coming back to Liverpool Sound City after a 2-year absence. They’ll be joining Belle and Sebastian and The Flaming Lips at the top of an already incredibly tantalising bill of talent.

The four-piece who shot to prominence of the back of their first album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ have barged their way back onto the scene in proper Vaccines fashion. That is, in the form of another 2-and-a-half minute banger, with guitars so fast you’ll miss them if you blink and a chorus as catchy as a cold at this time of year. The guitars are frantic, as they were on all of The Vaccines’ releases we’ve heard up to now, and the four-piece have undeniably stuck to the same formula that has worked so well for them over the last four years.

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‘Handsome’ may not have as killer a chorus as ‘Do You Wanna’, but it’s a fantastic pop song with wide appeal, there is no doubt. The new single is released on the 8th of March officially, but is already doing the rounds on social media and the radio, and all around it looks like everybody is pretty happy with what The Vaccines have produced. Will the album be on the same form? Well, from this evidence what can we expect from The Vaccines, more of the same…

As for who’s joining them on the bill at the rejuvenated Liverpool Sound City, which has been moved to pastures anew at the docks, there are some fantastic up and coming talents ready to catch the eye on Merseyside. Female four-piece Dum Dum Girls will bring a bit of shoegaze to the Sound City festival. Math rockers Dutch Uncles have also joined the bill and will be looking to move away from being a festival buzz band and to a group which can really excite people on a festival bill – is this festival the right platform? We shall see.

If overblown hipster chic is what you enjoy, eccentric duo The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger are certainly a feast for the eyes. Whether their off-colour take on psychedelic rock will captivate or confuse, they’re likely to be an interesting draw alongside Roni Size /Reprazent, The Thurston Moore Band, Gaz Coombes, F*cked Up, Evian Christ and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

But with a BBC Sound of 2015 nomination and countless plays of their new single on Radio 1, the act I’m undeniably the most excited about catching a glimpse of at Liverpool Sound City (barring the headliners anyway) are Slaves. Their no nonsense approach on indie rock and incredible tunes like ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ are certain to draw a capacity crowd to their slot at the festival, and as it did with me at 2000 Trees 2014, they’re almost certain to leave you asking, “Debbie… Where is your car?”

 

Preview: Liverpool Sound City 2015

 
By on Monday, 15th December 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Uproar. There’d be upper-middle class uproar in the streets of Soho if Worthy Farm were to be ditched in favour of a new location for the yearly Glasto bash. People would be throwing down their bowls in cereal bars and tossing their £4.50 mini-paninis in the air in Starbucks. Imagine Reading shifting itself from Richfield Avenue, or Download departing from Donington: it just wouldn’t be on.

These are just a few examples of why Liverpool Sound City 2015 will undeniably the most important year in the festival’s history. The festival is moving from the established inner city in and around Wolstenholme Square, where it has grown and evolved, to the Bramley Moore Dock. It’s a move that Sound City CEO Dave Pichilingi says aids in “our goal year on year being to evolve, grow, challenge, inspire, surprise and delight.”

It did surprise me, there’s no doubting that. As in its 2014 guise, the festival seemed to work a charm, with the tightly knotted interlocking streets of Liverpool city centre providing a maze for punters to stumble through on the way to the next new band they wanted to watch. The decision to ditch the old locations may have been assisted by the old area to soon lose one of its most charming venues, The Kazimier, and alongside this, TGTF favourite The Kazimier Gardens, two of the most atmospheric and chilled venues that the festival had to offer in its old guise.

So barring a location change, what else are the Sound City crew throwing our way to entice us to Liverpool? Well, the most recent headliner announced is bound to draw fans of all demographics to Liverpool. Even if they haven’t released a solid record since ‘At War with the Mystics’, The Flaming Lips (pictured at top) will arrive in Liverpool with one of the most notoriously fun live shows in tow for Saturday night. Frontman Wayne Coyne, who’s known to ride the crowd at the start of gigs in a zorb, is the kind of focal point who will sell tickets on the site of their name on the bill.

The festivals Web site also says, “the site change also opens Sound City up to bigger artists, the first being the legendary Belle and Sebastian, who will play on the historic Liverpool waterfront backed by a full orchestra.” Now after bearing witness to the power of some of Liverpool Sound City’s special sets – including a rousing performance by Noah and the Whale playing inside the Anglican cathedral with the rest of the TGTF crew in 2013, the prospect of the legendary group backed by an entire symphonic orchestra, to close out the event even, is enough to have me chomping at the bit.

So with only two announcements so far to sink ones teeth into, even in its new location the festival looks almost certain to be another success. The only question is, with two bonafide indie legends topping the bill, who have they got up their sleeves for the opening Friday? Most of the announcements have been a huge, welcome surprise. Who Friday’s headliner are is anyone’s guess, but I for one can’t wait to find out.

 

MP3 of the Day #790: Fossil Collective

 
By on Friday, 8th November 2013 at 10:00 am
 

Leeds duo Fossil Collective have covered the Flaming Lips‘ hit ‘Do You Realize?’. And now they want to offer it up to you for absolutely nothing. Have a listen below and if you like its dreaminess compared to the original, you can download it for free. Happy Friday!

 

Live Gig Video: The Flaming Lips cover Tame Impala’s ‘Elephant’

 
By on Friday, 1st November 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

The Flaming Lips recently released their cover version of Tame Impala‘s ‘Elephant’. It wouldn’t be the Flaming Lips without something a little off-kilter about the performance, and Wayne Coyne delivers in that respect by flapping the edges of a giant silver disc around his ears like a fly’s wings. It has to be seen to be believed. Watch it below.

If you’d like to compare this version with the original, head this way to watch Tame Impala’s promo as this previous Video of the Moment.

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Video of the Moment #1259: The Flaming Lips

 
By on Tuesday, 16th July 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Here is The Flaming Lips‘ new video for ‘Turning Violent’, filled with blurry close-ups and other things to make you uncomfortable. But hey, at least things aren’t coming out of unmentionable body locations.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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