FestEVOL promised the sights and sounds of Liverpool’s class of 2013, Getintothis’ Peter Guy, Joseph Viney and Orla Foster took on 14 hours of revelling at the Kazimier to find out the results.
For proof that Liverpool’s music scene is in rude health (indeed, if proof were needed), then look no further than an event like FestEVOL. A rich line-up, a jam packed Kazimier and accompanying garden, beer and BBQ. What could go wrong? Not a great deal as it happens.
The one thing that strikes you about music and its subsequent fandom is the variety it induces in its audiences. A roasting Kazimier Garden was very much the Mecca-of-the-moment for glamour girls, married couples, waifs and strays of all shapes and sizes.
Fitting then that the day’s first act were The Sundowners, who reel around the stage like late risers from a nearby rock n’ roll hippy commune. Laying down the law early with a scuzzy, energetic and rocking set, the mixed-gender five-piece were relentless and the best possible opener you could hope for. Alfie Skelly‘s trashing of his seafoam green Fender characteristic of what lay ahead of a right royal trashing of the senses.
The Shadow Theatre suffer from the glorious summer haze glistening outside in the Garden, with their angular post-punk industry at odds with just about everything early on; they blitz on manfully to – ooh, around seven people – braving the late afternoon heat inside the club; all leathery sheen riffs and rubbery basslines before we retreat for some much-needed refreshment. And sunlight.
The Sundowners at the Kazimier, Liverpool
The Loud have been carving out a name for themselves for a fair few years now; a trio from the Wirral whose sound straddles stormy garage-rock and, uh, stompy pub-rock. Regardless of singer Lee Pennington‘s delightful tropical shirt, his tormented vocal howl give the band’s glittery T-Rex veneer a more foreboding edge. Did ever a band belt out the phrase “La la la la la” as sardonically as these guys?
The Sugarmen had the potential to be, dare we say it, as sweet as their name implies. They achieved some sense of that, but only after a stuttering start. A couple of routine numbers marred by a bass glitch, rendering the tone to “fart”, were soon rescued by a fine finish. The excellent Fast Food Law (written about no-good-punk critics like us) gave way to a race to the line reminiscent of that finest of fictional groups, Sex Bob-Omb. There’s oodles of glorious potential here, and the beat-harmony combo firmly planted that ones to watch signpost in the sand.
Then there’s Southern, a gentler proposition. Siblings Lucy and Thom Southern recently moved over from Belfast, following a prolonged stint at the school of busking and crowdfunding, chasing every opportunity to get their songs heard. Appropriately, their music carries that wistful air of a street corner at dusk; it’s very folk-orientated and at times fairly earnest. Thom notes that this is Southern’s first gig as a full band, but despite this they all appear poised and unruffled as a four-piece. It’s a wise choice to flesh out this kind of song-writing with a full band, the songs are given more weight, and the lone troubadour trope is converted into something more layered.
It was matters of a more serious nature that seemed to bother Sankofa. There’s no faulting that proggy, bluesy maelstrom they create is rather intoxicating. Theirs is a noise worth hanging on to, presenting one of the more considered and ambitious sounds in Liverpool.
Broken Men thankfully denied their chosen nomenclature with a set marrying passion, aggression and real energy. With a singer who looked like he’d been jettisoned in from an Amish compound, they finally got a packed, hot and tipsy crowd dancing. Mixing the heart-on-sleeve earnestness of Pearl Jam with some real crunching sounds, Broken Men might be on a fast-track to prominence. Watching their vocalist, crimson-faced and veins bulging post-show, gives you some measure of how far they’re willing to go.
The Wild Eyes‘ set marks the point of the evening when girls – decked out in denim cut-offs and fairly majestic hair styles – finally take to the dancefloor. There’s evidently a tube of electric blue lipstick doing the rounds of the Kazimier, and spirits are high. All this energy is somewhat at odds with The Wild Eyes’ totally nonchalant, understated stage presence, but at the same time it’s interesting to witness their rainswept melodies and hangdog vocals translated into something you can go wild to. I Look Good On You is probably their most immediately catchy song and, based on the reaction, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a long-lost dancefloor classic from Eric’s, via Mark E. Smith or Wire.
The festivities unfold in the Kazimier Garden at FestEvol
Salem Rages were another crew who ensured their name was a prescient choice. Marrying the brash punk ferocity of the Misfits with maverick pirate barbarism, the foursome finally took the fight to a stunned crowd; singer Roman Remains planting his mic off-stage and going full throttle. Their bassist much in the Kim Deal-style (compact, shouty, brazen), Salem Rages are gonna give you some real nightmares very soon.
Taking the evening away from dusty homeward trails and post-punk snarls are White Blacula, who unload such a spectrum of different sights and sensations that at first it’s difficult to digest. Who is this army of harlequins and what do they want from us, chanelling Screaming Jay Hawkins one minute, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners the next?
Well, to explain, they’re a fairly new collective made up from a flock of much-loved Liverpool bands such as a.P.A.t.T., El Toro and Zombina and the Skeletones. And, just as the Skeletones never disappointed on the facepaint front, we’re pleased to report a great hulking monobrow smeared across the forehead of the lead singer, which leaped out from his snow-white complexion like a slug on a cabbage.
In fact, the general demeanour of the whole band felt like it had been plucked straight out of an Oingo Boingo video. There’s smatterings of ska, and a slightly berserk keyboard melody running through the songs, but even if someone got up on stage and started playing a watermelon with a stick of rock it would seem quite in line with proceedings. Easily one of the most entertaining performances of the day.
A stellar set ensues from Cold Shoulder, another band stitched together from former Merseyside favourites. With a combined CV encompassing Echo & The Bunnymen, Black Velvets and the Aeroplanes, the band charge through a doughty set which keeps the crowd buoyed up. Songs such as Tears For Me perfectly showcases the band’s bittersweet melodies and haunted, psychedelic stylings. At times they’re a tad meat n’ potatoes, but with a banquet this size on offer in the Kaz, sometime you need something hearty to see you through.
Clang Boom Steam, riding high after releasing a devilishly excellent debut LP, are essentially the bastard offspring of some biologically-impossible orgy between Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Neil Young. That says all you need to know.
The eerie call-and-answer dynamics of tracks like Fort St. Gabriel boomed out into the night as outside, Liverpool’s club revellers looked in via a small window on the garden’s exit door. All sold out we’re afraid, ladies and gents. Better luck next time.
Eventually, the chaos gives way to something a little more conventional in the shape of The Dirty Rivers, who seem keen to reinstate some traditional rock and roll values into the evening. Which is, of course, perfectly appropriate festival fare, but we’re running out of steam and, dazed as fruit flies, need to keep nipping out to the gardens for air. Being a Deltasonic signing, there’s a firm dollop of 60s mod leanings and 90s bluster in equal measure.
Dark Horses were indeed anything but. With a vocalist created in a test-tube marked ‘Miniature S&M Nico‘, this pack of gothic hellhounds took a bite and refused to let go. A set that shimmered with sexuality was accompanied by squalls of guitar, thumping Klaus Dinger drums and leather. Lots of leather. What’s good for Robert Smith is good for the gander, right?
Bird take to the Garden stage at FestEvol at the Kazimier, Liverpool
We’re swept out of Scouse shores for Loom, Leamington’s visceral take on scuzzed-up garage rock. Frontman Tarik Badwan is an implacable, chaotic force, delivering every note with a raw, combative energy, as if challenging the audience to take him on. He’s the brother of Horrors‘ frontman Faris Badwan, but is clearly dead set on etching out his name independently. He’s hard to forget, that’s for sure. At times it’s a little too head-down scuzz-by-numbers but they rescue it late in the day with a devilishly ferocious finish.
Even in the late summer phase (can we still say ‘summer’ with a straight face anymore?) the days still draw to a close slowly… but light had well and truly given way to night by time Bird hit the stage. Bird are tipped for something special and it’s not difficult to see why; mystery, fine craft and mesmeric routines are very much the feathers in their cap.
Maybe it was fitting given the time of day and the potential state of an audience long in their cups, but when compared to what had come before the energy appeared to drop.
As we’ve already discussed, variety is the spice of life and the cheers that followed each song were enough to suggest they had the majority vote. But the high-octane threat of the day’s earlier performers still loomed large and rang heavy; an amplified bell pealing in the garden’s thin, angular watchtower.
Inaugural GIT Award winners Loved Ones provide a well-timed antidote to the rock parade, with their delicately-nuanced dreamscapes spliced with electronic leanings. With album The Merry Monarch freshly pressed, they have spent the last few months proving themselves to be one of Liverpool’s more exportable sounds and gaining widespread plaudits, and tonight’s performance more than lives up to expectations. The stand out arriving in the shape of Wild Palms – a looping cyclical affair which captures all that’s special about the band; driving yet understated rhythms, beautiful interplay of vocals and a melody which slowly unravels into your being. A genuine delight.
All We Are finally got the majority of the crowd moving and applauding. Powerful, thumping rhythms were woven around jaunty, Marc Ribot-flaunting guitar work which was both tight and hugely heart-pounding. They simultaneously straddle the vice-like funk of Dirty Mind-era Prince with a glistening rockism reminiscent of Waterfall-era Roses; enabling the audience to punch the air with delight while shimmying your hips off. Theirs is a city for the taking right now.
GIT Award winners Loved Ones at FestEvol at the Kazimier
Yet tonight, there’s one band who’s owning the entire caboodle – a set of lads who seemingly can do little wrong when plonked on a stage in their home city, their message is a simple one: turn up, tune in and dance like you’ve never danced before. And boy, did the Kazimier dance.
The Tea Street Band have barely had time to kick off their Sambas in the last six weeks; tours of Australia followed numerous UK gigs plus a handful of festival dates including a main stage slot at Kendal Calling just hours after returning from Down Under. In between they’ve been putting the final touches to their debut album. They should be knackered – they probably were – but they don’t give an inch, instead wellying home a set rife with feeling – the Kazimier laps it up like never before.
Down the front it’s sheer carnage, bodies everywhere. In the middle there’s crowd-surfing and girls on shoulders lifted aloft as Timo Tierney jogs side to side like he’s doing a Anfield training exercise all the while Nico Otaegui slams his bass, body and shoulders into effortless funk rhythms. Tight as you like Lee Smith and Dom Allen provide a bedrock for a steady stream of coastal escapist grooves while James Albertina applies further squelchy, almost brass-like synths sending the back of the club into pandemonium. Where they go from here is in their hands; they’ve clearly mastered their home town, what it needs now is a canny album campaign and that self-belief to be captured within the grooves because when the magic unfolds on the stage few can touch them.
Dogshow at FestEvol at the Kazimier, Liverpool
With the clock approaching 2am, it’s little surprise to see a wreckage of limbs heading for the door, yet those that stayed for the closing act: the Kazimier house band, Dogshow, were rewarded with an early morning treat. More suitable than the Tea Street’s cranium-destroying directness, the Crombie brothers of Sam and Laurie apply mechanical kraut with techno and infuse an added twist of Eastern European oompah.
Sinister undercurrents work beautifully with Venya Krutikov‘s handmade eight-pronged light-propulsive mechanoid affixed to the back wall and as the blue mist descends we’re sent on a dizzy trip into an almost David Lynch-like world; both heady and explosive, dark and compulsive.
It was a fitting early-morning end to a long day’s worth of boozing and watching bands in the sun (it’s a tough job after all); flashing lights and hypnotic beats. Why go home to a dreamland when you are already there?
The second part of FestEVOL featuring Outfit, Baltic Fleet, By The Sea, Wet Nuns and a whole lot more is this Saturday, check out Getintothis‘ guide here.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam, Michelle Roberts and Gaz Jones.
Further reading on Getintothis
Things Getintothis learnt from FestEVOL 2012.
FestEVOL Part One feat Wicked Whispers, Edgar Summertyme, Folks, Silent Sleep, Lovecraft, The Sundowners, Dirty Rivers and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool.
FestEVOL Part One feat Clinic, Death At Sea, Oxygen Thieves and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool.
FestEVOL Part Two feat Baltic Fleet, Tea Street Band, Thunderbird Gerard, Outfit, Sun Drums, PINS and more: Kazimier, Liverpool.
Getintothis FestEVOL picture gallery part one.
Getintothis FestEVOL picture gallery part two.
Getintothis talks to Steve ‘Revo’ Miller.