Liverpool Sound City 2013 Review: Day Two round up

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Liverpool Sound City 2013 bares its teeth, in one of the finest days of music for some time.


The look on people’s faces is astonishment. Pale, sweaty and giddy with a kind of fear-drenched ecstasy-soaked bafflement.
Savages have just ripped Liverpool apart. In a set lasting little short of an hour, Liverpool music witnesses a defining set from a generation defining band. That this Godzilla egg hatched open in front of their eyes on a Friday night with hundreds of others in a disused Garage in their home town makes the experience all the more special.
From the get go, they go off. A straight-jacketed feral lunacy with lightning bolt riffs, sledgehammer percussion and in Jehnny Beth a frontwoman who dictates the crowds limbs with her thrashing hip movements and swinging left arm; blow after blow, thwack after thwack every head in the steamy room smacks in unison.
Guitarist Gemma Thompson, like a Will Sergeant for the modern age, doesn’t ‘play’ guitar but uses it as an extension for subtle fills, devastating serrated edges or white-noise blade stabs as her partners in force Ayse Hassan (bass) and Fay Milton (drums) exact an executioner’s cutting-block of rhythmic damage.
The ferocity is exact, intentional, brutal and time after time takes the back of your head off. From the glass-cutting punk of No Face, the Velvets improvisational factory snarl of Waiting For A Sign, the rock and roll thrash of Husbands and the end-of-the-world disco of She Will, Savages are the band this world has been waiting for – not since the Arctic Monkeys readied an album of instant winners has a band sounded this vital, this alive, this necessary.
Truly a once in a lifetime moment, in Liverpool’s back yard, Savages toar through rib cages and lifted hearts clean right out.
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Thee Oh Sees lifting hearts and minds
Senses shattered, you’d think the only way is down. You’d be wrong. San Fran’s The Oh Sees take minds to a transcendental level – a raw, exotic fist-punching cloud of exuberance as the Kazimier is transformed into a duvet of bouncing bodies, wide-mouthed yelps and unadulterated joy.
Often when a band comes with a reputation for their live outings the anticipation overtakes the reality; not with The Oh Sees, as the band clatter, smash and roll their way through 60 minutes of unbridled glove-tight mania. There’s no warning, no ease in, from the off, it’s going off as the sardine-packed audience build wave after wave of momentum until like salmon their over each others heads limbs trickling near the Kazimier‘s rafters.
Lars Finberg a metronome of drumming might conducts the movement while John Dwyer stirs the pot with his grinning guitar-toting enthusiasm – two world-beating sets in the space of two hours. Yep. Sound City just did that. It doesn’t any better.
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Lulu James – body movin
Elsewhere, highlights abound. Witch Hunt are a duo specialising in horror one-twos; bass drum kicks, feminine howls and He-Man six-string chops. It’s the sound of the undead unravelling in Leaf and we’re alive with shudders.
Dan Croll injects Liverpool now-pop beautifully in the Garage while Lulu James applies a Grace Jones on acid aztec charm complete with headdress, figure-hugging bodice and vocal gymnastics.
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Concrete Knives – polyrhythmic perfection
Concrete Knives pull in a sizeable crowd early doors and there’s good reason, their polyrhythmic percussion, multi-harmonies and infectious charisma is heart-warming and blood-pumping. Imagine Arcade Fire without the Springsteen overdose – it’s that good.
Equally good are Wolf People. Reimagining Caravan‘s Canterbury prog but applying a Black Sabbath chiselled grind, they blend wistful autumnal folk with fiery time-signature carnage.
The Tea Street Band close day two in the only way they know how; an in-your-face concrete-glossed audio glo-stick to the cerebral vortex. The Epstein Theatre bar transformed to a wash of colour, daft tumbling anoraks drunk with whatever just went down: magic, mania and a city revelling in musical magnificence.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Conor McDonnell, Marie Hazelwood and Sakura.

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