Getintothis delivers our ultimate review round up of Liverpool Sound City 2013 – plus our top 10 bands of the festival.
Sound City I love, but you’re bringing me down…
The dust has settled on another musical wrecking ball that is Liverpool Sound City. And the 2013 edition proved the most exhaustive in scale and unequivocally the most demanding on mind and body.
Three weeks later, and coupled with the knock on of this year’s GIT Award happening but a week earlier, and the emotional and physical effort injected into both, is only just beginning to be patched over.
Unlike, that of a traditional UK festival (those set in a muddy field), Sound City’s urban setting encourages the spirit to flit from one venue to the next – a staggering 27 in total – hitting each bar or club harder, as the momentum builds with it around every corner of the city comes discovery and new emotive highs and lows. It’s a chase, a thrill, a game of cat and mouse with the ultimate goal of being in somewhere that matters.
And as this year’s voyage was stretched yet further, those peaks and troughs became inevitably just that bit higher and just that bit lower.
Expectation after 2012 – Liverpool Sound City’s finest festival to date – was raised once again. And while we’re not quite sure the bar was matched, there were unequivocally artistic performances and additional festival features which made Sound City 2013 one to cherish.
Here Getintothis reflects on the festival as whole and the top 10 performances of Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Programming a festival must be like cracking the matrix. A near impossible code containing mind-sapping criteria and innumerable variables which could change on a minute-by-minute basis. And so when the Sound City 2013 line up was revealed it was clear Friday was the killer day with a billing immeasurably stronger than Thursday and Saturday. So it proved.
While the alternate days delivered patchy results, Friday May 3 2013 will go down as the finest day of live music Liverpool’s witnessed in many a year. Perhaps ever. Who knows? All’s Getintothis can report was that we saw two defining modern day bands from either side of the Atlantic deliver superlative displays – and Savages are the band to reignite the UK’s arrested guitar-driven landscape.
Feral raw attitude combined with a liquid-like musicianship marking them out as unique live proposition. They literally tore through the grey-surfaced Liverpool Arts Academy with a primal white-noise ferocity that was as compelling as it was nerve-shredding. Each of the quartet play an equal part in commanding the stage and owning every inch of your attention. In the lineage of great UK bands Savages are next in line; a visceral fist to the senses.
Getintothis‘ Peter Guy reviews Savages at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ Sean Bradbury on Savages at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Picture galleries one and two featuring Savages at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
2. Thee Oh Sees
Around 47% of the pre-Sound City jibber jabber surrounded San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees. And what’s usually a precursor for disappointment, the talk wasn’t simply sufficient but didn’t do them justice.
In terms of atmosphere, Liverpool is a notorious hard sell; venues are hard to pack and crowds refuse to have their interest piqued without justifiable substance. From the get-go the Kazimier was bouncing. And that was just outside – the three-deep queue snaked up past Cream‘s office, down past Nation and up the cobbled streets to Mello Mello. Wolstenholme Square was awash with smiles, and sometime around midnight a sense of disappointment from the droves of fans who quickly realised they had no chance of watching them.
Inside the Kaz was sheer delirium. No soundcheck, no messin’, John Dwyer the conductor of pandemonium steered a tidal wave of bodies surfing along trees of arms raised to the roof as Lars Finberg orchestrated one of the finest displays of percussive work we’ve ever seen. A massive, massive hour of rock and roll fun.
Getintothis on Thee Oh Sees plus pictures from Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Thee Oh Sees pictures from Liverpool Sound City 2013.
3. Loved Ones
Sound City‘s decision to use Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral was a master stroke.
This monolithic structure, the fifth-largest cathedral in the world, provided a stunning out take for music lovers to bask in it’s glory taking a mini pilgrimage up St. James’s Mount while also giving festival tourists an ideal break from the city hullabaloo to take in one Europe’s most imposing structures.
The downside of this slight trek meant you were guaranteed to be out of the Sound City action for sometime – and if you’re like us, this is far from ideal. So while The Walkmen, Toy, By The Sea and Wave Machines proved tempting, it was our first and only trip to the Cathedral which provided one of the festival’s finest displays.
Loved Ones are a quiet bunch. Yet their sound soared in this setting. If only they could play in cathedrals every week; Nik Glover‘s tender lullabies morphed into huge hook-laden structures and married to the watertight backbone of James Freeman‘s rocksteady rhythms and Rich Hurst‘s brushed toms there was something profoundly weighty to their arsenal. Best of all was Glover’s harmonious, almost spiritual connection with keys and vocalist Ben Shooter – their rich musical blend of understated melodies poured forth like rivers – and by the close of the set your body had been sucked into the very colours beaming through the stained glass.
Loved Ones transformation from superlative studio project to vital live proposition has finally come to fruition.
Getintothis‘ Peter Guy on Loved Ones at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ Liam Fay on Loved Ones at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
4. Goonam and the Korea Rocks showcase
The second master stroke of Sound City 2013, was the Korean showcase in the Kazimier Gardens. When body and mind were approaching devastation, Saturday’s food, drink and music fiesta proved a timely revitalisation of the senses.
Good times rolled, the air was filled with buzz and in Galaxy Express, Apollo 18, Gale Flowers and best of all, the musical fandango that was Goonamguayoridingstella – or Goonam to their mates – saw tired limbs loosen up for an afternoon of steady grooving and distilled hedonism.
Add to the equation Korean steaks, chicken and vegetable skewers, oriental vegetables and an assortment of delicious salads, and you had the recipe for a new Sound City annual addition.
Getintothis reviews Korea Rocks featuring Apollo 18, Goonam, Galaxy Express in the Kazimier Gardens at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
5. Wolf People
If there’s one thing Getintothis didn’t do enough this year, it was visit Screenadelica. Very foolish indeed. But then, on balance, there wasn’t enough artists playing this year to which we felt gravity’s pull yank us strong enough. Sure Jazzhands, Black Moth and Bad Guys plugged in gaps, but by the time Bo Ningen came around we were too done in to truly enjoy them and their exotic attire.
So for riffs alone, and filling in a much-needed wig-out section of our Sound City rundown, are Wolf People – imbuing a 70s progressive wizardry with a side order of Canterbury whimsy, their Kazmier set injected a stoned blissfulness and crunching harder edge to our Friday evening.
Getintothis on Wolf People at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
If there was an underlining theme to Sound City 2013, it was the belief in Liverpool’s emerging crop. On the one hand, the festival’s bill may have seemed slighter in terms of the raft of UK or international artists set to break – there was no Florence, no Jake Bugg, no Willis Earl Beal… Yet there was the fastidious conviction that our lot were destined for something bigger.
Aligned to the GIT Award‘s investment and championing Liverpool talent, the likes of Esco Williams, Dan Croll, Bill Ryder-Jones, Outfit, Tea Street Band, By The Sea, Loved Ones and Wave Machines all added a healthy sense of occasion to the multi-faceted Liverpool spine coursing through the festival – not to mention the dozens of others that are championed on a regular basis on these pages.
Yet, there was one artist that seemed to bristle with a sense of ‘something specials happening here’, an artist that while intrinsically home-grown has barely registered within the Scouse bubble but for an alliance to her peers and those in the know. That artist is Jetta.
Playing two sets, one in the tidy confines of the Cavern, and a plum spot in The Garage either side of Bipolar Sunshine and AlunaGeorge, this slight kid with stupendous lungs simultaneously won over hearts while setting off alarm bells marked ‘WATCH THIS ONE’ such was the magnitude of her sound and readymade songs.
It’s still early days for this 2013 GIT Award nominee, but already we’re completely sold on Jetta.
Getintothis‘ Stephanie Heneghan on Jetta at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ Peter Guy on Jetta at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ Saturday’s Sound City was a real life car crash. And the most of the wheels came off in the Kazimier while absorbing Double Denim‘s showcase.
Juxtaposed with glacial, sizzling electronic slow burners, we slowly melted, our insides dissolving while our outside dripped to a heap and the soundtrack of Brolin – a masked warrior ripping our heart in two with his glistening liquid-like ode to New York.
He and Amateur Best teed up a climactic Two Islands from Outfit and what followed felt like falling face first down a cliff, hitting every obstacle in our path.
Getintothis‘ Joseph Viney reviews Brolin at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ Sean Bradbury reviews Brolin at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
8. Concrete Knives
It takes a seriously good band to make an impression in the vast corrugated shells of The Arts Academy and Duke Street’s Garage when playing early doors at Liverpool Sound City.
Crowds are scarce, atmosphere is scant and the imposing setting can reduce a band to tatters. Concrete Knives were an exception to that rule. Twice. Their sprightly supercharged effervescence, combined with a array of voices and clattering instrumentation resulted in a thrilling early Friday evening set in the Arts Academy. Late in the evening, they closed triumphantly in the Kazimier Gardens providing a festival treat with a Gallic cover of Here Comes the Hotstepper. It’s these mini moments which make a festival – and Concrete Knives did their bit.
Getintothis reviews Concrete Knives at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
9. Christine & The Queens
Launched last year, The Kazimier Gardens are a simple but supremely effective addition to the Liverpool arts scene; whether it’s performance art, workshops or night-time shows, there’s a special glow familiar reflected in the moonlight off Duke Street during Liverpool’s summertime.
This year, the Kazimier opened up their Garden doors early, and for Sound City, it was just as well, for many of the acts that played there enriched their displays with an intangible assortment of musical extras.
Cub Scouts, Moongai, Swimming Lessons, Sun Glitters and Laura J Martin all pulled off ace sets but it was the nightfall one-woman explosion of Christine and the Queens that swept us off our feet with two clicks of her glitter-filled fingers.
Pocket James Brown shuffles, tight Gaga jams and peak-era Madge charisma, Christine stole our heart in a whirlwind of virtuosity.
Christine and the Queens picture gallery at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
10. Ady Suleiman
Aptly, we’re closing with another Liverpool-based artist: Ady Suleiman‘s early doors set on Saturday inside the Zanzibar, felt like a completion of the circle. We’d seen the best of those from the last few years of Merseyside music, some of the finest of now, and this Nottingham vocalist represents to Getintothis the sound of tomorrow.
Bringing new verve to the phrase ‘laid back’, Suleiman slouches into second gear, stays there for three quarters of a track before ramping into fifth effortlessly.
Flanked by two musicians on percussion and former Ninetails frontman Ed Black on backing vocals and a finger-picked semi-acoustic, Suleiman scats, rat-ta-tat-tats and ad-libs with barely an ounce of wasted energy before barnstorming his way to a 100m vocal flourish finish.
A small army of Liverpool fans are already converts, by the time his 30 minute set had washed by a hundred others were in the club. Ady represents a city, and a festival in rude musical health.
Getintothis reviews Ady Suleiman at Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis‘ top 10 bands of Liverpool Sound City 2012.
Getintothis‘ top 10 bands of Liverpool Sound City 2011.
Read all of Getintothis‘ extensive reviews and picture galleries from Liverpool Sound City 2013.
Getintothis would like to thank the Liverpool Sound City 2013 dedicated writing and photographic team: Tom Adam, Jamie Bowman, Sean Bradbury, Matthew Crist, Liam Fay, Orla Foster, Marie Hazelwood, Stephanie Heneghan, Alistair Houghton, Rosanna Hynes, Andy Kelly, Alan O’Hare, Conor McDonnell, Matt Owen, Dru Ryder, Matt Thomas, Joseph Viney, Emma Walsh, Sakura Zilla.