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Liverpool Sound City 2016 Roundup

By on Monday, 13th June 2016 at 2:00 pm

Liverpool is a city drenched in musical history and culture. If you weren’t aware of this by now, maybe check out The Beatles. They’re pretty good. So obviously it makes perfect sense to host a music festival here. Rather than find a large park or field to hold said festival, the creators of Sound City have decided to utilise the plethora of empty and abandoned dock yards, which by all accounts is a stroke of genius. It gives it a unique environment that other festivals just can’t. By having the festival on such an exposed setting you are potentially setting yourself up for failure with the weather, especially in the North West of England. However, this year at Sound City, the sun was in full attendance for the weekend.

The first day was a veritable festival of the unknown and known. As much of an oxymoron as that sounds, Sound City 2016’s lineup was clearly meant to bring fans of the larger bands – who made up only a small percentage of the total bill – and expose them to local acts and those from further afield. Walking around the docklands, you were invited into a number of tents and stages. Considering the size of the land which this event takes place on, it isn’t hard to imagine that such a situation could be mildly overwhelming. Sound bleed was also an issue, particularly amongst the smaller stages. Of course, when you have such a small amount of real estate to play with this is also expected. But it is rather awkward in the grand scheme of things.

Whilst perusing the grounds, it was the acts that actually didn’t have a stage per se who were more eye-catching. A group of musicians in the midst of a somewhat spontaneous jam session near a tent reminded you of the true meaning behind festivals such as Sound City. It’s to enjoy the moment and capture whatever arises, be it a sea of fans ready for a band (Saturday night’s headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen) or those just interested in fuelling each other’s minds.

The evening boasted a strong lineup: as mentioned previously, each band would draw roughly the same crowd, giving the main stage an extra thick layer of hangers-on and day-waiters. When Band of Skulls took to the stage, the sun was blindingly beautiful, and the heat had done its job of giving a party-filled and relaxed atmosphere. Well that, coupled with the abundance of alcohol. Cracking through a selection of hits, both old and new, they created a wall of movement that really kicked the evening off. Personally, I think Band of Skulls have the potential of being headliners, though with Catfish’s current trajectory, putting the Southampton rockers on well before them was hardly surprising.

Brum’s Sleaford Mods took to the stage next with as much anger and angst as you can imagine, further feeding the frenzy. Finally, it was time for the much-anticipated set from Llandudno-born Catfish and The Bottlemen. The instantaneous reaction that happened with the first notes was one of severe chaos and revelry. Bottles of questionable liquid flew through the air and refused to hit the ground until the last notes rang out. The set itself was a roaring success, but the abundance of their fans at the festival – this, once again, isn’t a negative toward the band – within its small boundaries, didn’t leave much room for the usual conglomeration of music fans and artists alike. A strange feeling for what is meant to be a music industry showcase at the end of the day.

The second day of the festival had more promise, though it had its own trials to face of a different matter. Another blistering day meant that the atmosphere was once again joyous, but the diversity in the headliners brought a more eclectic mixture of personalities to the crowd, giving Sound City on Sunday a much more traditional festival appearance in terms of punters. With pretty much more of the same during the day – a stream of throbbing crowds, a collection of sounds melding in the air and unknown music fun – it was proof that the foundations of Sound City were set in this formulaic way.

Security throughout the event were definitely earning their paycheck, though in some aspects they were overly prominent in the wrong areas, which had a mildly negative effect on the more inebriated revellers, shall we say. This is always a touchy subject: generally, if a drunk person is annoyed or angered, the situation worsens in a lot of aspects. There was nothing too untoward at the festival, but security’s handling of situations could’ve been a bit less rash. Anyway, back to the music.

The Dandy Warhols brought their late ‘90s sound to the joyous crowd, with the biggest reaction, predictably, for their smash hit ‘Bohemian Like You’. Their sound was perfect for the afternoon, being one that is drenched in memories of past years, while also being able to appeal to a fresh audience. Local lads Circa Waves brought this to the next level by giving a performance that fully engaged the audience, while ensuring that the level they’ve reached as a band is maintained through a consistent and heavy barrage of tracks that just garner in strength. Circa Waves are a force that just won’t let up, and this force just fed the crowd into a frenzy. Bear in mind this is a crowd mostly consisting of Liverpudlians, awaiting their hometown heroes’ comeback show.

And this is where The Coral (pictured at top) come in to play. With a set that was interrupted by a power cut across the entire festival, the Coral’s time onstage never really managed to take off as it had for the bands before them. There was still a certain magic to the set, but with an interruption that was out of the hands of the band onstage, it’s a hard thing to come back from. Obvious hit ‘Dreaming Of You’ punched the set back into life, but by this point it was too late and the end was nigh. Considering this was a hometown show, the set felt flat. The result? It felt like there was no recognition of the moment’s massive occasion that was clearly a draw for so many within the crowd.

Sound City is a complex little beast. Its purpose is to draw in professionals and punters alike, almost in a The Great Escape manner. But somehow this year’s atmosphere felt confused. It wasn’t sure where it sat, which ultimately left a peculiar feeling in the air. Hopefully next year’s festival builds upon this year positively and comes back stronger than ever. The foundations are certainly there, and since the waters of Liverpool don’t see the sights they once used to, the reuse of the abandoned docks is certainly a fantastic idea.


Live Review: The Dandy Warhols with Hopewell at Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD – 9th November 2010

By on Monday, 15th November 2010 at 12:00 pm

Words and photos by Shari Fedak

Fresh on the heels of the release of their live album, ‘Hopewell Live: Vol 1’, Hopewell is currently on tour with the (pretty legendary) Dandy Warhols. Hopewell is most commonly described as psychedelic rock; although, for those of you inwardly groaning at the idea and the mental image of completely endless jams, let me assure you: Hopewell is instantly accessible. I’ve never added the genre to my list of things I enjoy (as my personal bias tends to veer to the less artful and more straightforward), but they’ve most assuredly converted me. I had the pleasure of seeing both bands at Baltimore’s Rams Head Live last Tuesday. Far and above my favorite performance of the night was their song ‘Over the Mountain’ – tons of near-tribal sounding drums and is, days later as I write this, still stuck in my head. Always a good sign in my book. Wish I had taken video – at the climax of the song, the floor of the stage was quite literally wobbling.

The set overall had a really excellent, rousing energy. I ended up a bit to the side, which was a fantastic vantage point for photography, but possibly not the best to fully appreciate the mix, which is a shame because Jason Russo’s vocals are excellent – shades of David Byrne, Richard Hell and Jonathan Richman (coincidently my personal favorites, as far as male vocalists go). If you aren’t able to make it to one of their shows on tour, I highly recommend you get the live album – it very much captures all the good moments of their live set.

Next up were the Dandy Warhols, who played an amazing set. There’s a reason why they have a cult-like following: despite the fact that it was a Tuesday, at possibly one of the least hip venues in Baltimore, they still rocked it. While at some point the set seemed a bit long for me (possibly due to the fact that it was an aforementioned Tuesday), it was still really well done – to the creepiness of ‘I Love You’ to the sing-a-long to ‘Holiday’.

It was after the actual concert, however, that was the highlight of my night – as Rams Head Live closes at about 11 and generally does not stay open for after-concert drinking, everyone who wasn’t quite ready to go home headed over to Mex, next door, which was hosting their weekly open mic night. While I’m not quite sure how this happened, eventually nearly every person who performed that night was up, at some point, on the open mic stage, with the addition of Dick Valentine from Electric Six, who, for absolutely no reason I can fathom as to why he would possibly be in Baltimore of all places, and especially at a concert on a Tuesday night.

While it was not actually confirmed it was actually Dick Valentine (perhaps there are Dick Valentine impersonators? He is pretty much the new Elvis), he was introduced as such, and at first played drums, then launched into a cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ (which I totally didn’t own on cassette as a small child (yes I did.)). I’m very certain it was actually him. I’m not even sure how anyone can just give a concert then go next door and continue to rock. It was pretty much amazing. Zia McCabe is also my new hero. That is all.

Continue reading Live Review: The Dandy Warhols with Hopewell at Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD – 9th November 2010


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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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