Blade Factory at Camp and Furnace is carving a niche for hosting top music nights for the discerning music fan.
What makes a good music venue?
Well, innumerable criteria. But right at the very top is people. And more specifically, people who know a lot about music.
Anyone with dollars can buy a couple of Funktion One speakers slam them in some dungeon and call it a music venue – but that’s not really going to hold water when the space is a joke and the artists and punters feel there’s little credibility behind your snazzy set up and Dalston-style branding.
Aside from the usual suspects, Getintothis has bemoaned Liverpool’s dearth of truly top drawer live music venues for sometime; yet the pendulum is positively swinging.
Last week we celebrated the rebirth of Seel Street’s East Village Arts Club while our Palmistry review touched upon Brooklyn Mixer‘s chance to spot opportune leftfield live music nights – should they take a calculated gamble.
There’s also nifty pop up venues such as Bold Street Coffee and Drop The Dumbbells which allow specialist, DIY promoters (with near zero budgets) to bring artists to Liverpool who’d otherwise probably swerve the city.
But the venue which Getintothis is most excited by is a pocket of the Baltic Triangle‘s cavernous Camp & Furnace space, known as Blade Factory.
Stepping into the considerable breach vacated by the sad demise of Wolstenholme Creative Space and Static Gallery, Blade Factory has been on Liverpool’s live map for around 18 months – yet it’s only in 2013 that it’s been worthy of note – and that’s down to the people at the heart of it’s redevelopment.
Alien Ballroom live at Blade Factory
Early arts exhibitions, mini happenings and a select number of gigs brought it to the attention of the organisers of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia; Harvest Sun.
Amid the wurlitzing fug of this 16-hour music marathon Blade Factory came into it’s own; a den of deep debauchery and dark drones where Mersey cult icon Edgar Summertyme traded musical blows with buzz band Drenge and The Cult Of Dom Keller splayed extra-curricular mind beams into Black Market Karma‘s dark spells of doom.
Sure there were problems: the sound was somewhat wayward, the bar was crap and the toilets made Renton‘s experience down the faeces-ridden porcelain of Trainspotting seem heavenly by comparison; here was a set of conveniences carved from the Devils Anus itself.
Yet Liverpool Psych Fest tapped into something worth further investment.
More shows soon followed, electronica zeitgeist-bending from Holy Other, diverse house parties from the house of Waxxx and Threshold Festival 2013‘s assortment of art, music and everything in between.
Mazes live at Blade Factory
Yet, it’s the people that count; and it’s the new programmers, promoters and artists-in-residence that have made Blade Factory truly work in 2013.
Redesigning the shape of the space has been key; a long multi-purpose stage faces a crows-nest DJ booth at the back of the main hall allowing an expansive sound to knock you for six wherever you are in the room. Meanwhile, a work-in-progress bar in the adjacent room and neat wooden steps allow people to sit off between – or during – sets, minimising mid-performance chat – always an annoyance for artists and punters alike.
The redesign of the space, coupled with the simple white wash walls, has allowed artist and Behind The Wall Of Sleep promoter, Sam Wiehl, the ideal canvas to exploit his quite remarkable array of projected imagery.
Whether it’s distorted pixels, radiating contour lines, primary coloured ray beams or unholy symbols fizzing across artist’s faces, Wiehl’s designs are almost as key to the place working as the noises emitting from the stage. He’s no stranger to this of course, having been spacerockers’ Mugstar‘s unofficial fifth member for years.
But sound must go with vision. And Blade are cutting the mustard spectacularly. And so they should being part of Camp and Furnace‘s vast sonic empire.
Mind Mountain live at Blade Factory
The two shows Getintothis has witnessed in 2013 have been two of the best; Mazes‘ spidery Sonic Youth tapestry was transformed into bleak walls of guitar-led blizzards, Baltic Fleet, meanwhile transformed the white walls into asphalt-grey industrial sheet metal with their clanging keys and propulsive rhythmic grinding.
Better yet were Mind Mountain, who from solid sludge-rock beginnings have become a serious live outfit, stealing the show while supporting the aforementioned Mazes with a barn-door-battering display of blood and thunder. Then there was Hookworms – an otherworldly experience.
This is early days for Blade Factory, but it’s a beginning which justifies it’s ample trek from town into the fringes of Liverpool – one musician we spoke to prior to the Hookworms show said ‘I’m not going there for a gig ’til they’re on a bus route,’ – their loss.
With the foundations in place, a raft of live feasts lined up (White Hills, NAAM, Rolo Tomassi, K-X-P and NHK’Koyxen), now all’s they need to sort out are those toilets.
Blade Factory’s delectable toilets. Smell just out of shot
Further reading on Getintothis
Getintothis reviews Hookworms, Baltic Fleet: Blade Factory, Liverpool.
Behind The Wall Of Sleep: The faceless spaceheads of Liverpool
Harvest Sun: Getintothis interviews the man behind the Liverpool promoting team.
Getintothis reviews the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia at Camp and Furnace.
Getintothis‘ Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia – picture gallery.