Monday, June 05, 2017

Liverpool Sound City :: May 27 - 28 :: Live Review

Liverpool Sound City

Clarence Dock, Liverpool

May 27 - 28 2017

Reporting team: Izzy B, Lewis Ridley

Merseyside festival Liverpool Sound City celebrated its tenth edition with both a move to a new site at Clarence Docks, plus a raft of tantalizing acts. Over five stages, the festival brought some of the biggest names in music, alongside up and coming bands from Liverpool and beyond.

On Saturday, strong winds carried dust over the the festival site leaving early arrivals bearing the mini sandstorms, with the Atlantic Stage particularly suffering. Taking awhile to get going, those who had braved the elements were treated to Canadian songstress Mozart’s Sister - the solo project of Montreal’s Caila Thompson-Hannanton - on the Pirate Stage delivering a captivating set with some 90s dance beat pop; while the Atlantic Stage eventually saw Welsh rockers Estrons and London's VANT both provide lashings of energy to fuel the Sound City party. Bang Bang Romeo, who had impressed crowds down south at The Great Escape just the previous weekend, managed to pull it off again. The vocal range of Anastasia Walker is mesmeric, and while she dominates the focus, there is nothing wanting within the rest of the band.

The Baltic Stage welcomed the quirky sound of alt-indie four-piece Francobollo, who provided one of the most original sets of the day. Though still a name new to many, Liverpool's punk popsters Queen Zee and The Sasstones took to Tim Peaks to give out plenty of energy, unadulterated anger and a fierce set that brought out the vocal accompaniment amongst the watching crowd.


Touts, too, the three lads from Northern Ireland, are also an emerging act, and on the Baltic Stage they set to it with full on guitar gusto with a combination of aggressive punk and burning rock swagger that only the very young (which these are) can pull off with aplomb. Yak playing on The Pirate Stage still proving they are still one of the best live bands out there as they pummeled their way through a fierce, energetic set including staples 'Hungry Heart', 'Victorious' and 'Smile', despite being up against the inevitable time constraints that festival sets are up against, and ended by being joined by members of Sleeptalking.


Over in the blue canopied Baltic tent, Peaches gave a monster of a performance late into the evening that saw a well rammed area to catch this enigmatic artist with her dancing vaginas, and over-the-top exhibitionism.

The Kills

The Kills draw a huge crowd for their Saturday evening set, where Alison Mosshart, who prowls the stage and snarls her vocals in threatening fashion. Night headliners Metronomy suffer from the weather and subsequently their set is witnessed by only a relatively small crowd as they perform songs from their extensive back catalogue.


Sunday opens on a more optimistic note with the more clement weather bringing with it a more vibrant feel and swelling the sparse crowds of the preceding day. Fresh from a support slot at Old Trafford in Manchester on Saturday, Cabbage play on the main Atlantic Stage in the early afternoon - and was probably the only place to find a man with a packet of Space Raiders crisps on his head dancing in front of a bass drum with ‘Vote Labour’ printed on it. That image and songs such as ‘Necroflat In The Palace’ create a rebellious festival atmosphere that drew more people to the stage throughout the set.

Mossley, Manchester new boys Proletariat kick off on the Pirate Stage with a cover of The Stooges’ 'Now I Wanna Be Your Dog', and go from 50-to-100mph through their livewire alt-punk set, alight with fast and furious rock 'n' roll riffs and grungy vocals, including their recent debut release 'Mr. Brown', and new track 'Nervous Energy' (an apt title), that gets a little gaggle of body movers in the crowd, while aforementioned Cabbage frontman Lee Broadbent gives it some welly dancing around out front.


Sheffield's The Sherlocks, whose debut album is set to release on August 18, gather support from equally fresh-faced revellers at the front, they particularly enjoyed the inclusion of ‘Emily’, which featured for the first time in over four years. Moving onto the Baltic Stage, The Shimmer Band showed off their sonic rock and roll sound. New tune ‘What Is Mine’ swirls around the tent from front to back, lead singer Tom Newman has asserted his own style with a pair of alien-like glasses, the band as a whole are asserting their music. It’s not the first time they’ve played to a Liverpool crowd, and there’s a feeling the Bristol band are finding a second home on Merseyside.


Milburn draw the biggest crowd of the day so far on the Atlantic Stage, with their new songs sounding superb, none more so than ‘Take Me Home’ which is melodic and moody in equal measure. Another band that are busy with new material are The Charlatans, who two days before had over part of Manchester’s Northern Quarter as part of the launch for their latest album, ‘Different Days’. Frontman Tim Burgess was in conversation with self-confessed fan-girl Jen Otter-Bickerdike in Tim Peaks Diner. After discussing the inclusion of the likes of Johnny Marr and Stephen Morris on the new EP, and chips peas and curry sauce, he and Mark Collins performed an acoustic set which for an equally ardent fan like myself was at times hypnotic. His blond bob has become part of festival iconography in recent years, and it was no different at Sound City.

Tim Burgess

With a strong fanbase and hazy rhythms, The Vryll Society weaved their spacey melodics and Mike Ellis’ ethereal vocals around their psych-infused set, while Leeds band Fizzy Blood on the Cavern Stage tore through their half an hour set to such an extent you might have been able to hear them from Mathew Street. Their tunes pull out all the stops and they have a future ahead as big as their sound. Away from the music, the poignant highlight was the appearance of Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool respectively.

The Vryll Society

The festival took place less than a week after the tragic events at the Manchester Arena, and Sound City observed a minute's silence before breaking into a rendition of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ at the Baltic Stage.

For those who had tired of guitar bands and wanted to see something a little left of centre, American dance punks !!! (Chk Chk Chk) were the ones to provide it. Their invigorating 70s disco style on 'Shake the Shudder' had everyone dancing their cares away and brought the Baltic Stage to its feet and in full flow.

The Cribs

From nearby Wakefield, The Cribs continued their tour of their hit album ‘Mens Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ on the Baltic Stage. From the first chord of opener ‘Our Bovine Public’ chaos ensured in true Cribs fashion. Following their set, which ended with ‘Come On, Be A No One’ and ‘Pink Snow’, it was only a quick walk back over to the Atlantic Stage to watch The Kooks close the festival. Hits ‘Shine On’ and ‘Naive’ were followed by confetti that covered a bumper crowd, and the 10th birthday celebrations were over.

The festival may have lacked the green fields and sunshine of the midsummer events that will follow, but Liverpool Sound City is in itself unique in the intimacy and dense quality that is found on the city’s waterfront and can be regarded once again as a real success.

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