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Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 1 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By 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.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Monday, 12th May 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

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

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.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014 Interview: Tommy Wright of Young Kato

 
By 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.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014 Interview: Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward of Glass Animals

 
By on Friday, 9th May 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Oxford’s Glass Animals are riding high these days. In late April, the band appeared on Steve Lamacq’s 6music drive time programme as one of Lammo’s New Favourite Bands, and their first-ever headline show in New York City in mid-May was already completely sold out by the time I’d gotten a chance to sit down with longtime friends and band members Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward on the Saturday afternoon of Liverpool Sound City 2014.

The band had just soundchecked at the Kazimier ahead of what would be a rammed venue for their appearance. Naturally, a question about “those peanut butter vibes” came up, as did Carrie’s superlative about the band’s music having a delightfully amorous effect, whether real, imagined and/or intentional; their experience at this year’s SXSW; and their amazing cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ that was recorded while the band was in Australia.

Listen to the interview below. Under the interview, you can also stream ‘Pools’, Glass Animals’ next single. Their album ‘Zaba’ drops on 9th of June on Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label.

Many thanks to Dave and Joe for being so lovely and Becky and Matt for helping sort this chat out for me.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014 Interview: Boy Jumps Ship

 
By on Thursday, 8th May 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Sometimes I just get a really good gut feeling about a band. Our friends at Generator put on a showcase at this year’s Liverpool Sound City and one of the bands that captured my attention when I was going through all the Soundcloud and video links on the festival Web site were a band called Boy Jumps Ship from Newcastle.

Having already toured with the likes of some of John’s favourite relatively recent discoveries Arcane Roots and Marmozets, it’s only a matter of time before this Geordie band makes a big splash on the hard rock circuit. In the backstage dungeon below Mello Mello, I chatted with the boys about being working class, how Boy Jumps Ship formed from the smouldering remains of other now defunct bands, their new exciting development in Europe and more.

Thanks so much to the band for sitting down for a nearly 20-minute interview; it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever done, for sure. We got on so well, I went to cheer them on the next day at the John Peel World Cup at Chavasse Park, where they played five-a-side footy. Below the interview, I’ve embedded the video for ‘Better Days’, one of their more recent promo videos, in which the foursome get down and dirty, literally and sonically.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0kmAhpy9q8[/youtube]

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014 Interview: The Inkhearts

 
By on Wednesday, 7th May 2014 at 11:00 am
 

The Inkhearts are a band of students from Skelmersdale, which was previously only known to me as the town where Stuart Maconie was a English lit college lecturer before he started working full time for the NME. According to the quartet, the town also has the largest number of roundabouts in the whole country. Who da thunk?

Anyway, I’m sure you’re not wondering about their town’s traffic woes. The youngsters performed as the Label Recordings’ showcase at this year’s Liverpool Sound City, after which I nabbed them for this interview about their relationship with the people who put on the showcase, where they got their band name and what it’s like to get airplay across the whole country. There were so many people watching them, I had to pull the press card (literally) in order to be let into the outdoor Kazimier Gardens venue.

Many thanks for the band to chatting with me after. Below the interview, you can watch the promo video for their current single ‘Keeping Up’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxztJgbe-A[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours 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 no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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