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.
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.
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 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.