Liverpool Sound City 2013 provided a melting pot of incredible highs, underwhelming lows and organisational frustration, Getintothis reflects on an opening day of wildly conflicting emotions.
Put it down to expectation. Put it down to the heat. Or perhaps simply put it down to Willis Earl Beal.
There was no denying the opening day of Liverpool Sound City 2013 was a rollercoaster of disparate emotions which ultimately fell short of our dizzying expectations – and 2012’s otherworldly magnificence.
We’re spoilt in Merseyside with having such a radical, game-changing music event on our doorstep, and sometimes it’s far too easy to take for granted the magnitude an event like Sound City represents.
But after the phenomenon that was 2012, our experience on Day One of 2013 veered from the sublime to the sedate to the soul-sucking in the blink of an eye.
The day began in bristling heat and a city which exuded warmth, sunny optimism and a bristling anticipation.
The calendar’s Liverpool music jewel was reflected in the array of musicians festooned in coffee shops, bistros and hang outs as the city centre truly came alive to furtive festivities; Bastille strolled round Wolstenholme Square, conference speaker Tracy Thorn milled around the Hilton, Stealing Sheep took in the sun on Duke Street, Jon McClure bevvied in the Grapes, Bird swanned about in the Kazimier Gardens and Drenge knocked back the organic ale in Mello Mello.
Each and everywhere you roamed was a musician waiting for their time to come. With the fans pouring through the streets at every turn.
Yet, when the ball eventually started rolling, it back-fired with technical hiccups in the Black-E before the Wild Eyes pulling out of their scheduled performance at the Shipping Forecast – a move which would lead to chaos throughout the evening.
Sankofa whipped up an early sandstorm of vintage riffs in the Garage
When proceedings got moving, it was indicative of the day, that a home grown band should dictate the pace and performance: Sankofa arrived in billowing guitar bombast evocative of early 70s grooves and dust-bowl dynamics; a propulsive machine with potential and power. The Arts Academy was buzzing with early fever.
The Liverpool charge was maintained by Lunar Modular‘s delectable gloaming glitch inside the Kazimier, Esco Williams who choreographed a display of BIG charisma matched by a BIG band and equally as BIG vocal display; here was a unit rippling with military tight precision. So too, homecoming GIT Award nominee, Jetta, who provided a similarly impressive performance, marrying deft instrumentation with powerhouse primal roars, humility and an infectious personality.
But then came the frustrations: a Taylor Fowlis set pushed forward 30 minutes meant missing a must-see, we re-routed to the Shipping Forecast only to find Loom had finished, an hour before their scheduled slot, Bold Street Coffee revealed an entire line up had been switched, while a detour to the Zanzibar found doormen refusing press or photographers entry. All night. Tying Tiffany simply didn’t turn up with the Brooklyn Mixer’s twitter feed expressing the frustration of many punters that waited around.
New York’s Skaters load the van as the buskers play on into the night
Inadvertently the early doors momentum ground to shuddering halt. Few bright spots – Skaters (a post-Strokes/watered-down Black Lips), Findlay (a ballsy soulful vocal warrior) and Christine and the Queens (a Parisian robo-popper with the moves of James Brown and a penchant for showering herself with glitter) perked up proceedings.
That was until our great white hope of Day One, Oneohtrix Point Never, put in a set more suited to Chris Morris‘ Jam set in the Guggenheim than that fitting of a live spectacle. Put simply here was a production pioneer failing to replicate his recorded output into something touching, moving or fun. It was quite simply a disappointment.
Loved Ones in spiritual form on day one at Liverpool Sound City 2013
Rising above all this, and before any of the night’s frustrations kicked in, were Loved Ones.
An early slot at the Anglican Cathedral provided an early contender for performance of the festival. Contrasting the grandiose surrounds were four men wrapped up in their miniature timeless odes which, with the impressive swelling pull of the monolithic setting, translated into rhythmic, harmonic spellbinding raptures. Hypnotic, compulsive and completely immersive.
From elation to despair, unbridled joy to indifference, satisfaction to indifference, Liverpool Sound City’s opening day took us on a whirlwind; unfortunately, and ultimately there were few music moments to live long enough in the memory. Tomorrow will change all that.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Conor McDonnell, Matt Owen, Matt Thomas and Tom Adam