FestEVOL part two concludes as the Kazimier and it’s Garden play host to a banquet of the freshest sounds from around the North West, Getintothis’ Alice Robinson and Peter Guy digest the feast.
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life which are the best. In fact most of the times, it’s the simple things which make most sense.
When the Kazimier collective announced their were blossoming into a fully fledged outside surrounds it felt natural, and an instant winner. The fact was emphasised a mere week earlier when a friend popped up from the Capital and Getintothis spent almost an hour traipsing round in the blazing heat looking for a suitable spot to park our arse and grab a decent pint.
We’d have been better rocking up to the nearest park with a few cans – but that’s not really our thing… We digress…
So when EVOL announced they were to follow the already almighty everisland Stealing Sheep headlined spectacular with their own double-header with a cast of all that was magnificent of North West music – it made simple, perfect sense.
The execution, though, is another matter. Simple things don’t always translate into successful. Especially when you’ve over a hundred musicians in the mixer.
This, though, is Liverpool 2012 – a city on a steady, continual march upwards. A scene which continues to confound the cynics, snarks, back-stabbers and small-minded minority intent on anonymously sniping without doing anything remotely productive to change things for the good.
And when FestEVOL part one transpired, despite what some thought was a pretty mediocre line up given a spruce up by a chosen few artists, there was a unanimous, collective air-punch of job done.
In all honesty, such is the desire, ambition, wanton positivity to raise the bar across the board (musicians, artists, promoters, writers, etc) FestEVOL couldn’t help but be approved across all quarters, for this is another celebration in an important phase in the home of UK music.
Yet, if part one was hailed a success, part two was the one which had lips wagging and licked in equal measure – a delectable main course with the return of two big contrasting GIT Award nominees, Outfit and Tea Street Band, the logical progression of numerous bright Liverpool things and the coming together of a host of DJs and completely fresh talent that offered a coherent balance and ear candy fit to burst. There was much here to savour.
Mashemon live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
All we needed was the weather. And as the sun mercifully shone FestEVOL part two was immediately off to a flyer.
With the rays, came the early-bird revellers and they were treated to a hearty, ragged, forearm sock to the belly from Broken Men, who opened to a healthy crowd considering the youth of the hour. Part of the burgeoning Milk stable, Broken Men have that rough round the edges charm, yet soaked in musicianship that for all their cuts and bruises you know there’s a cerebral element behind the sonic back-street brawlers.
They proved a formidable act to follow, the powerhouse vocals bellowing wonderfully over a water-tight crew of musicians.
With the heat flowing, Getintothis wandered into the garden with a smile on our face, to see the next offering – Pixels.
As the warmth of the sun hit our face and our nose fills with the piquing aroma of meat sizzling over charcoal (courtesy of Mello Mello‘s chefs), the outdoor stage plays host to thirty minutes of smart, sharp electro pop.
The mood is buoyant and so is the music, after which we’re back inside for Statement Haircut – a burly twosome that team pleasing synth and catchy vocals with bass so meaty, the cubicle walls in the bathroom were shaking.
Loud and lovely, our eardrums truly broken in, we returned outdoors (we’re beginning to feel like a very lucky yo-yo) to hear So Sexual.
These songs are lightning flashes of indie pop with a retro feel applying leathery glam to dark pop hooks and lascivious vocal lines, but they still sound fresh as crisp lettuce, like a modern reworking of some old 80s favourite.
Next up was Dass Unser, an electro-pop band from Wirral that draws on melancholic themes to produce spiky love letters laced with synth melodies. They wear they influences heavily; New Order drum pads and pop diamonds are aligned with the krautrock hyper-kinetic rhythms and repeated hooks which are as nagging on the memory as they are as toe-tapping on the feet.
For all their obvious know-how round a good melody, there’s the suggestion that they could push this avant-pop into an even more advanced territory which leaves us wondering ‘what if?‘ as their guitarist scrapes the neck of his guitar down a monitor for a couple of rare moments of deviating devilishness.
Filter Distortion live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
The crowd had grown and after the German-monikered slice of disco we headed back to the Garden’s evening warmth for Mashemon.
They joyfully skipped through the set and tipped their hats to punk and dub, but the overriding tinge was a band exploding with ideas but not quite deciding which one(s) were best – somewhere buried beneath the angular riffs, American-inflected knife-edged vocal, fizzing percussion and deep rumble of bass is a band which could be truly badass.
Inside, the heat of the day had warmed the Kaz to sauna-like conditions, but like faithful cattle we trooped stage-side for The Temps and an infectiously frenetic performance, as vocalist Joey Wainwright contorted to a soundtrack of goth-psychedelia, flinging his drink high into the rising steam. Another triumph from these young dukes who refuse to play ball.
After a half-hour intermission, The Loud recommenced things with a refreshingly hard-edged version of the Liverpool sound.
Their characteristic garage glam saw Lee Pennington‘s guitars hover between jangly and crunchy, and self-deprecating lyrics contrast with the assured quality of the band’s sound.
Kusanagi operate in the phalanx formation; stacked up and ready to unleash warfare – there’s moments of pause but when they strike they do so with precision thunder; repeatedly stabbing your ear sockets with blow after blow.
Most impressive is Dean Caffery who’s flying drumsticks are casualties to the sheer force on offer as cymbals and toms vie for the honour of top GBH victim. When one flying wooden shard misses the eye of guitar-keys dude Ben Davis, he barely commutes the sustained ferocity as if it’s not just an every day occurrence but an every practice occurrence.
Kusanagi’s Dean Caffery live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
Mirror Image opens the set with characteristic instrumental verbosity as warhammer Alan Caulton chops Glasgow kiss Dan Hunt‘s metronomic four-string before a repeated sustained hammerblow of nastiness brings proceedings to a brutal conclusion. Better still is Lisbeth – a delicate raft of chugs and white wall of noise which marries beauty with pure, unreserved carnage.
For a post-rock band they skilfully carve out noise which avoids the obvious pitfalls – let’s hope they continue on this path of dark new dangers.
Next, Filter Distortion proved one of our highlights of the evening as they pumped rhythmic, beat-driven tunes such as One Hand in the Fire.
They’re almost cheerful electro dance in places; then something darker comes along, like the twisted, guitar-heavy treat Strange Love. You’ll be singing it on the way home.
Perhaps the curveball of the day was delivered by six-piece Carousel. New to Getintothis‘ eyes and ears, our first thoughts are there’s a random bassist playing along to the wrong band; all tousled hair, head banging and genuine gym-powered enthusiasm belied his opposite numbers’ restrained arthouse poise. Imagine Justin Hawkins fronting the Chris Martin Band and you’re nearly there. Ridiculous.
First impressions aside, and here was a band who offer a considered, measured and particular approach which is as admirable as it is subtly brilliant. Nuanced rhythms dance beneath restrained guitar and every so often an electronic piano is pushed to the fore like a MASSIVE hook sucking you in and gobbling you whole.
Of all the bands we watch, Carousel were the one we wanted more from – simply because we didn’t quite get it all – and in music, they’re often the ones that stick around longest. An exotic, enigmatic triumph.
Bird’s Adele Emmas live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
The new nest for Bird followed shortly after, with front woman Adéle Emmas taking centre stage after the band’s recent reshuffle – and an overwhelming nod of approval was delivered firmly in her direction.
This is such a young, rare talent – but the decision to ‘go it alone’ (of course, there’s two other bodies on stage) is a brave and well executed one; Emmas‘ captivating vocals soar around the venue, slicing tastefully through tribal drums and atmospheric guitar lines, altogether living up to their ‘otherworldly, siren-esque’ description.
And boy, can this girl sing – they close with an emotive and highly impressive cover of Bauhaus‘ Bela Lugosi’s Dead leaving jaws swinging from their sockets. It’s like prime era 4ad gold with a Warpaint contemporary verve – a stone-cold winning set which the trio can only build on.
It’s been over 18 months since we were first put on to Muto Leo and in that time little has changed – frenetic, intricate guitar signatures, a pathological understanding between drums and bass and an acute way with pop – these are four very, very good players, with half a dozen very good tracks.
But they still sound exactly like Foals did when the Oxford lot brought out Antidotes in 2008. Nothing wrong with that – but it’s time for something new, over to you, Muto Leo.
PINS led us through to midnight with an intriguing set. The look is part-punk part-grunge, and their raw edge only added to the depth that was achieved with the music.
Singer Faith Holgate held the audience captive, yelping into the mic, her voice susurrus and biting in turns. Yet, where at Sound City 2012 they seemed almost hemmed in by their surroundings (and a wall of hungry photographers), here they let their sound breath and consume the Kazimier – swirling, the fuzz takes on an altogether bigger bluster – and it’s all the better for it.
Less VU more MBV. And suddenly, there’s more to this lot than great looks and a few nifty hooks.
Outfit’s Andrew Hunt live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
Sun Drums offered a DJ set that had the packed garden space grooving into Sunday morning.
Liquid beats ebbed pleasingly and a spot of coordinated head-bopping from the boys showed they were enjoying the musical extravaganza, but the pared-down set didn’t quite emulate the power that has been seen in their full live performances – a shame really, and the opportunity to showcase their wonderful new tracks from the Sun Kissed Blisters EP seemed lost.
Back inside for Outfit, and the main room heaved with bodies, arms dangling from balconies as space to move is in short supply.
The band launch into their collection of intelligent artrock over basslines of pure funk, and the room is most definitely dancing. While there’s undeniably the usual craft and guile there is a sense that the restraint isn’t quite translating into full-on mass communion and it isn’t until anthem Two Islands is unleashed that the crowd are sent delirious.
That said, Vehicles is once again a winner crying out for an extended outro while new track This House Is On Fire matches Everything All The Time for ecstatic ebullience.
Thunderbird Gerard at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
Thunderbird Gerard knows how to have fun on stage, and it showed in the next performance as we cooled down in the garden as his blistering vocal dexterity is unleashed like a firecracker, brimming with dynamism.
The mischievous London’s A Bitch was, as Gerard suggested, better received than it would have been in the capital city as the atmosphere turned from simmering to scolding in the evening darkness.
The feel-good mood carried us through to the last indoor performance of the night, from the ever popular Tea Street Band.
With their history of playing raves and warehouse gigs, the boys are unashamedly inspired by late-80s Acid House and they wasted no time in eliciting the wild response they obviously crave.
The Tea Street Band live at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
With an almighty battle-cry (‘come on Liverpool, it’s half one in the fucking morning!‘) the diverse indie house dance pop group erupt, and so did the audience. Fiesta finds arms flailing but it’s new single Disco Lights which really gets the boards quaking as keys man James sheds his t-shirt and more sweat than the whole of London 2012 in a set dripping with wide-grinning superlatives.
It can’t help but feel like the party’s over, yet Baltic Fleet close to the stragglers with Paul Fleming showcasing his fine new record Towers – perfect to keep up the momentum.
Engage has enough rockism and Neu! like flow that we can’t help but feel our feet are being transported by an underground escalator – ever moving forwards, like the city we live in.