Getintothis’ Peter Guy delivers the final word on 2013 with his annual round up of Liverpool’s best music bits and the year’s cultural highs and lows. Part one features the finest gigs, top event plus a reflection on The GIT Award.
Good evening brethren, you join me from Getintothis‘ bunker on a particularly ferocious Christmas Eve attempting to make head and possibly tail of a quite relentless 12 months of music on Merseyside.
This is the seventh annual round up of our adventures in sound, and, as has been reiterated on these pages before, it’s becoming somewhat of a battle to keep up with the momentous music times we live in. As alluded to in our round up in 2012, stepping in and out of the bubble for serious reflection on the state of play seemed to matter little, for whether you were a serious music lover, casual fan or mere passer-by there’s little doubting how much first-rate music is being produced within the region alongside a fervent energy for staging gigs and happenings; while the already-solid infrastructure appears to be expanding, providing a richer platform for the future.
The last twelve months didn’t so much continue 2012’s sonic bluster but bludgeon it with steamroller effect, there was a sense that musicians fed off the confidence and zeal coursing through Merseyside, raising ambition and productivity while acquiring a self-assured stealth to actively push for raised profiles – they wanted it even more. Similarly, promoters, producers, PRs, studios, technicians and writers asserted themselves deeper into the mechanics of our city – as a daily barrage of news, new music and ideas sprouted through the cracks of Liverpool’s musical landscape.
Our stats back it up; in 2012, easily Getintothis‘ most productive year to date we clocked around 580 posts – up from 275 the previous year – yet in 2013 we’ve accrued 756 and rising. While there’s no doubt a rise in contributors and the addition to our team of deputy editor, Joseph Viney, has added to the flow of content, we attribute the volume of content more down to the significant profile Merseyside music is attaining – and the regeneration of our artistic backbone. And while ‘more’ by no means equates to ‘better’ there is no doubting there’s substantial substance at work.
There is a clear trend of those that in days gone by that may have remained rooted in the shadows now asserting themselves to the fore; a steely determination to succeed in the arts and music field is unfolding in our city.
2013 was a landmark year for the new breed of Merseyside artists making serious inroads into the consciousness of UK music. Forest Swords, Conan, Ex-Easter Island Head, Baltic Fleet, Outfit, Loved Ones, Natalie McCool, Wave Machines, Clang Boom Steam and Bill Ryder-Jones all released superlative albums championed in varying degrees of positivity on a national scale. Meanwhile, a clutch of singles from the likes of Dan Croll, Evian Christ, Jetta, Tea Street Band, Taylor Fowlis, Bird and Circa Waves marked out a new season of artists all within a similar tier of emerging Merseyside musicians. With the exception of Wave Machines and Ryder-Jones (who, is still very much establishing as a solo writer/producer, despite his heritage), all those mentioned are very much in their infancy, and it all makes for intriguing times ahead.
But it wasn’t just the artists making an impression; it was the city, the culture, the events and it’s constant wheel of forward motion and those on the outside wanted a piece of it. We’ll elaborate on this further in our extensive review. But we’ll close with something to ponder: does Merseyside music need an artistic commercial breakthrough figurehead? With so much first-rate independent music, do you think it’s necessary to have someone grab the spotlight and put the focus truly on the city? What’s needed for Merseyside to sustain its creative impetus? And crucially, as alluded to earlier in 2013, does Merseyside need a regular culture forum to help sustain this artistic renaissance?
With so much to reflect upon in 2013, next year has much to live up to.
Lee Scratch Perry live at Eric’s, Liverpool
Best Gigs of 2013
2013’s breathless ebullience made it easy to forget some of the stand out displays in the early part of the year, with the likes of Patrick Wolf at the Epstein, Local Natives, Lee Scratch Perry and the long-awaited return of Wave Machines ensuring the usually quiet first quarter was anything but.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s dance music rebirth continued unabated with a string of independent promoters hosting the likes of Dusty, Tom Demac, Four Tet, Duff Disco, Orfan and more – a trend which continued throughout the year, marking Merseyside out as a genuine force. Similarly, events featuring Joy Orbison, Pearson Sound, Dixon, Âme and Guy Gerber aligned to specially curated Deep Hedonia, WAXXX and Upitup Records’ 10th Birthday weekender displayed the depth and variety for the discerning dance music enthusiast.
On the blockbuster commercial front, the Echo Arena celebrated five years of staging whopping shows with a Lou Reed-hailing Arctic Monkeys rifferama and Primal Scream taking top honours for *big* gig of the year injecting a sense of anarchy into BBC 5 Live’s Big Day Out.
In April, the Masque Theatre returned as the rebranded East Village Arts Club with owners proclaiming to Getintothis that they were keen to be a part of Liverpool’s new emerging scene, and while some have pointed the finger over varying levels of sound or bar prices, you’ll find this writer firmly in the ‘glad to see it back’ camp with a raft of iconic alt-rock legends (Dinosaur Jr, Yo La Tengo, The Fall) mixing with cult performers (John Cooper Clarke) and hip hop legends (Dilated Peoples, The Pharcyde, Big Daddy Kane). Not to mention providing a platform for Merseyside acts breaking through to bigger audiences (Tea Street Band, Outfit). It’s a credit to those involved that this calibre of artists are back in the city – and they’re following up with some belters in 2014.
Two of Getintothis‘ choice live music spaces in 2013 couldn’t have been more contrasting; the white-washed grit shithole that was Blade Factory provided the perfect backdrop for psych-noise-beasts like Mainliner, White Hills, K-X-P, Hookworms, Almunia, Ray Mang, Dean Blunt, NAAM, and Anthroprophh, while the celestial magnificence of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral leant something extra special to the likes of Sub Pop veterans Low and 4AD newcomers Daughter.
But it was the break from the norm that provided the extra sparkle in 2013, with Shangaan Electro featuring Auntie Flo at The Kazimier Garden, Ryan Jordan and Bronnt Industries Kapital‘s bedazzling (Oc)cult experience at FACT, Joy Division Reworked by Heritage Orchestra & Scanner and Bright Phoebus Revisitied both at Philharmonic Hall, the Electronic Voice Phenomena at St George’s Hall and Wolf Alice playing the first ever show in Liverpool’s Central Library; a mere tip of the iceberg in mini spectacles in 2013.
Next year, we could even top that, literally, fancy Kanye West in a pizza joint?
Finally, one special nod must go to the collective behind what’s fast becoming a Merseyside music institution: the 10 Bands 10 Minutes idea has been kicking about the circuit for sometime, but in 2013 it developed something of a cult fascination; expanding its artist base and coupled with Andrew Ellis‘ ‘so bad it’s good’ Gold Soundz disco it became Liverpool’s answer to the much-missed indie discos of old. Next up, Michael Jackson. Get practising them moves.
For a rake through our live music archives and the raft of other stuff we’ve missed out, have a gander here, in the meantime, below are our top 15 gigs of 2013.
Suuns at the Kazimier by Gaz Jones
1. Suuns at The Kazimier
On record, Suuns burrow profound depths twisting your mind with their viscous, leathery grooves beckoning you deeper into their salubrious underworld. Live, they hit you so much harder; like electric whips, cannoning limbs and puncturing eyeballs, their stage show turned the Kazimier into a neon red vice chamber with a packed club hip-thrusting along to their every undulation. One of 2013s most unique sounds translated into something of an hedonistic event in Liverpool and one which will live long in the memory.
2. Hookworms at Blade Factory (Getintothis review and picture gallery)
One of 2013s best records brought to life in stunning fuzz-packed style.
3. K-X-P at Blade Factory (Getintothis review)
Scando madheads blend Lord of the Rings with prog-funk and S&M get-ups whipping Blade Factory into a mini frenzy. At the time, Harvest Sun‘s Tom Lynch said this was his favourite gig ever gig. Mind-blowing.
4. Money at Leaf Tea Shop (Getintothis review)
The dawn of possibly the UK’s finest frontman and most interesting guitar band in years.
5. Savages at The Arts Academy (Getintothis review)
Part one of a quite astounding second day at Liverpool Sound City, Savages were primal perfection…
6. Thee Oh Sees at the Kazimier (Getintothis review)
…while, Thee Oh Sees were unabashed alt-rock abandon bringing the Kazimier to its knees during an hour of crowd-surfing mania.
7. Teeth of the Sea at the Kazimier (Getintothis review)
Ridiculous musicianship, death disco grooves and ferocious ambition – pity there were about 14 people to see it.
8. 10 Bands 10 Minutes Blondie at the Kazimier (Getintothis review and picture gallery)
The popular Liverpool band format proved an extra special evening.
9. Phosphorescent at the Kazimier (Getintothis review)
Big tunes, big charisma and a crowd which lapped up this neo-Americana like the second coming of Springsteen.
10. Richard Hawley at the Philharmonic Hall (Getintothis review)
A class act with genuine humility and warmth – his songs are so personal and delivered with such conviction you can’t help but be bowled over. We had also never appreciated just how good Hawley was as a guitarist.
11. The Pharcyde at East Village Arts Club (Getintothis review)
12. Foals, The Invisible: O2 Academy, Liverpool (Getintothis review)
13. Lambchop at The Kazimier (Getintothis review)
14. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Manchester Apollo (Getintothis review)
15. Factory Floor, East India Youth at the Kazimier (Getintothis review)
Outfit’s Andrew Hunt guides the crowd to a climax at FestEVOL in the Kazimier
Best Event of 2013
Last year we wussed out – and called it a tie. This year, we’re in no doubt which was our event of 2013. Sure, there was competition, but as JRR Tolkien supposedly wrote, there can be only one.
The contenders were many; Liverpool Sound City‘s Korea Rocks blended outrageous, diverse sounds with a cosmopolitan carefree vibe in the beautific surrounds of the Kazimier Garden, the cosmic tribute night to Sun Ra dabbled in sounds from the intergalactic ether while the Kazimier‘s screening of their very first feature film, The Kronos Begins, was a mini technicolour marvel. Running close to our event of the year was the collaborative Halloween spectacle, the Voodoo Ball at the Kazimier which began by taking over the streets of Liverpool before unfolding in three hours of zombie-imbued African rituals complete with jazz, carnivals, festivity and Batala drumming mayhem.
The many colourful characters during the Voodoo Ball at The Kazimier
However, hands down our event of 2013 was the double-header FestEVOL weekender. Revo‘s second Grand Slam Who’s Who of Merseyside music managed to pull off the fine coup of netting almost every regional artist that mattered. The mouth-watering 38-act, multi-stage festivities took place over the course of Saturday August 3 and 10, utilising the Kazimier‘s indoor club, outside garden stage, rat alley smoking den and various DJ platforms.
Building upon 2012’s idea (which was great, if slightly imbalanced both stylistically and in quality), the weekender captured the city’s glorious array of talent including hip hop, soul, rock and roll, electro and pop while introducing awesome new acts from further afield (Young Fathers proving a stellar ear-catcher for many). The quality was consistently high; Natalie McCool found her voice, All We Are showed just why Domino pledged their allegiance, Clang Boom Steam asserted themselves as genuine rock heavyweights, The Sugarmen, VEYU and Southern oozed new blood while Outfit and The Tea Street Band ensured both weekends closed in style. Better still, in a small city which has in the past ate itself with political wankery, FestEVOL negated such cynicism with super-fun vibes which felt inclusive and communal – some feat, that.
Funnily enough, Revo told Getintothis he nearly didn’t bother. We’re glad he did.
Getintothis reviews FestEVOL part one feat Tea Street Band, Loved Ones, All We Are and more.
FestEVOL Part One: Tea Street Band, Loved Ones, Dogshow and more: Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
FestEVOL Part One: All We Are, Bird, Dark Horses, Broken Men and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
Getintothis reviews FestEVOL Part Two feat Outfit, Baltic Fleet, By The Sea, Young Fathers, Wet Nuns, Ady Suleiman & more: The Kazimier, Liverpool.
FestEVOL Part Two: Outfit, By The Sea, Baltic Fleet and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
FestEVOL Part Two: Outfit, Baltic Fleet, Wet Nuns, Young Fathers By The Sea and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
FestEVOL Part Two: Bird, Ady Suleiman, Wet Nuns, Jamie Broad and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
The GIT Award 2013-14
We won’t harp on about the second annual GIT Award too much (mainly because we’re exhausted even reflecting on it all) however, we were genuinely chuffed with the way in which the prize has organically grown, resulting in a stronger collection of shortlisted artists, who in turn garnered more national press for Merseyside music while culminating in the likes of Yoko Ono, the Quietus, BBC 6 Music, Q Magazine and NME lending their considerable weight to the Award.
May’s showcase at Leaf on Bold Street once again provided a spectacular, yet intimate, gathering as shortlisted artists played alongside specially commissioned performances while the Inspiration Award for the Hillsborough Justice Collective proved a profoundly poignant moment as Liverpool Football Club delivered a specially prepared video featuring LFC legend Kenny Dalglish plus Reds great Jamie Carragher and Everton FC‘s Leighton Baines.
November’s awesome launch of the GIT Award 2014 ended our two-year chapter at Leaf, celebrating a clutch of new artists we cherish, while embracing a new future at the Kazimier.
You can relive that heady evening in November here, however, there’s still plenty of time to apply for the 2014 Award – for details click here.
The GIT Award 2014 launch at Leaf
GIT Award 2013: Baltic Fleet: To be involved and win will always stay with me
The GIT Award 2013 report, reaction and review from Leaf Tea Shop, Liverpool.
GIT Award 2013 winner announced as Justice Collective win Inspiration Award
GIT Award 2013: picture gallery featuring Baltic Fleet, Nadine Carina, Conan, John Heckle, Tyler Mensah and more.
Yoko Ono invites GIT Award 2013 winner to play Meltdown Festival 2013.
GIT Award 2013 at Leaf on Bold Street Friday April 19 with £1000 to winners.
Parts Two & Three of Getintothis’ 2013 Review to follow…
Further reading on Getintothis
Getintothis‘ best of the rest 2012 part one: Top gigs, best event, Hillsborough Justice Collective, The GIT Award.
Getintothis‘ best of the rest 2012 part two: Hero, label, festivals, posts.
Getintothis‘ best of the rest 2012 part three: best and worst albums, top tracks, venue, films, ups and downs.
Getintothis Best of the Rest 2011
Getintothis Best of the Rest 2010.
Getintothis Best of the Rest 2009.
Getintothis Best of the Rest 2008.
Getintothis Best of the Rest 2007.