Liverpool Sound City 2016 – headliners, line up tips and the future for our biggest festival

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Sound City 2015

Sound City 2015

Liverpool Sound City returns in 2016 with a new two-day programme as organisers promise fresh ideas and ironing out teething problems at the Bramley-Moore Docks, here Getintothis contributors lend their suggestions as to who should play and headline, as well as their hopes for a more rounded experience.

The festival experience. It’s a phrase thrown around so often over the summer months, but one that means so many different things to so many people. There is such a diversity in the UK festival scene now that there is an event to cater for absolutely anyone, and whatever niche thing they might be looking for in a festival. Whether you’re into sleeping among thousands of tents in muddy fields and tanking cans of Skol, or you fancy a bit of mid-morning yoga before eating some sort of halloumi and kale flatbread, you’ll probably be able to find a festival to suit your needs. If you fancy none of that, you can fuck off to Iceland, camp on an army base and allow ATP to melt you into submission with some drone-metal.

The Sound City experience in 2015 was very different to previous editions having made the brave move out of the city centre and onto the Bramley Moore docklands. For one, it was a hell of a lot windier than previous festivals. But gone were the treks between The Kazimier and the Anglican Cathedral and the pints served in real glasses in real bars, and in its place was a big slab of concrete in the middle of the Mersey, with outdoor stages and a massive warehouse, a funfair (not a very popular one) and lots of plastic cups. Some loved it. For starters, the bands were bigger. Some weren’t so keen though, and missed the city centre buzz it used to provide.

Apply to play at Liverpool Sound City 2016

Change is in the air yet again for Sound City, having recently been announced that the 2016 festival will now only be a two day event. They’ve promised a bigger and better line up, with a larger budget for booking acts now at their disposal, but until the line up is released, nobody knows how different it will be. Some things will still be the same. The festival will of course still be at the forefront of showcasing new music from across the world, the fantastic conference will still be running alongside the music, and Tea Street Band will probably still be on the line up somewhere too.

For now though we can only speculate as to which bands will be topping the bill in 2016. It’s of course sad that there’ll be one less day of fun (our livers will probably be made up, though), but the promise of a bigger line up is no doubt exciting. So to kick start the rumour mill, we’ve asked a few of our Sound City veterans to speculate on who could make the line up, as well as suggesting a few things they’d like to see brought in to make the festival better. Think of it as the musical equivalent of football transfer window. Whatever happens, it’s all change, and we’re like Jim White, we’re pretty enthused.

Single Mothers

Single Mothers

Adam Lowerson, Getintothis deputy editor

Who should headline in 2016?

With the festival becoming a two day event and the organisers promising an even bigger line up, it’ll be interesting to see just how big a headliner they can pull off. For this year’s Belle and Sebastian ‘older act’ slot, I think Super Furry Animals would be perfect. They’ve sounded brilliant on their summer dates since reuniting earlier this year, and although we’ll get a taster of them in Liverpool when they support Noel Gallagher at the Echo Arena in April, a full headline set would be one to remember. For the other headline slot, they should go for something that would really go off. A big party. Maybe someone like Hot Chip.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

The best bit about Sound City is discovering new acts from all over the world, and hopefully next year will be more of the same. One act I’d like to see play is Swedish psych pop starlets Josefin Öhrn and the Liberation whose handful of singles on Rocket Recordings have been really impressive. Other than that, Sound City can just surprise us.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Get rid of the funfair. It was in the way, it was loud and I don’t think anybody even went on it. It took up a lot of space which could have been used to spread the stages out to help ease the overcrowding and sound spillage, and maybe even leave enough room for another stage.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

Getting home after could have been easier. It’s not really in the festival’s control how busy the taxi companies are, but it took nearly four hours to track one down one night last year and was a nightmare. Something less boring which could be added is more variation in drinks and bars, and cool seating/meeting areas.

Any other thoughts?

One of my favourite parts of the festival last year was the Tim Peaks Diner stuff that went on after the bands had finished. The Northern Soul party on the Saturday night in the Baltic Warehouse was brilliant. Do more of this, and make it go on later.

HollySiz

HollySiz

Shaun Ponsonby, Getintothis Cosmic Slop columnist

Who should headline in 2016? 

I’d quite like to see it diversify a little. Bands like The Flaming Lips and Belle and Sebastian all have quite similar fanbases, and it’s something I personally easily bore of. Would be nice to see something a little different. I dunno, Kylie Minogue? Maybe not.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill? 

I’d quite like my own act to play. We do Chaka Khan covers using nothing but a squirrel and a pair of slippers. It’s quite avant-garde.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Where the tents were placed this year was silly. Could barely hear a thing for some of the quieter acts in one tent because of the noise coming out of the others. Getting shut of the Ferris Wheel would have gone a long way to mapping out the stages better. You know what’s better than Ferris Wheels? Ferris Bueller. A large shrine to Ferris Bueller would be preferable to a Ferris Wheel.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

 I said “large shrine to Ferris Bueller” as a joke, but the more I think about it, the more I like it, nay, demand it.

Any other thoughts? Rarely.

You know nothing Jon Snow

The Ravens aboard the Sound City boat

Paul Higham, Getintothis features writer

Who should headline in 2016?

This year was great in its headliners and I appreciate the need to pull in the big names to boost early ticket sales but I personally would prefer something with a bit more of an avant-garde edge; we really don’t need anyone like The Vaccines this time around. How about Death Grips, Kendrick Lamar, or the recently reformed Drive Like Jehu. Shellac in Liverpool would be mighty fine too, but who would believe it? Dan Deacon would go down a storm too. 

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

The one thing Sound City has always excelled at is introducing new bands and artists to a wider audience so chances are that any I might name have already played before. I’d love to see Nova Scotia’s Nap Eyes play the festival – their Whine of the Mystics LP has been a permanent fixture on my turntable over the last few months. 

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

I’m sure everyone will mention the proximity of the stages, the outside stage blocking the main thoroughfare and the sound leakages but don’t get me started on the fun-fair…

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

Everyone says more toilets, don’t they? That aside, I’d like to see the festival support some of the region’s smaller beer producers and broaden the variety of drink available. The other main gripe was the transport difficulties at the end of the night, some additional city centre shuttle buses wouldn’t go amiss.

Any other thoughts?

We’re not getting any younger, so a few more seats would be a bonus.

Everything Everything at Sound City 2015

Everything Everything at Sound City 2015

Emma Walsh, Getintothis senior writer

Who should headline in 2016?

Fleetwood Mac. Go big or go back to The Zanzibar.

More realistic? If anyone can bring Benjamin Booker back into my life that would be swell. Also I missed out on Foals so I’d appreciate another chance to probably miss them live. Also Chvrches and Daughter and Gorillaz are a thing again – that would be nice.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

If there’s one thing I trust the Sound City team with entirely it’s the exceptional stock of bright new things who prop up the festival year after year. Big headliners are fine and dandy but Sound City’s foundations are built on the new artists they shove under the spotlight, every year the line up brings a whole host of new favourite bands.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Firstly, what the feck was that funfair all about? Less Bumper Cars, more bogs please. Secondly, if we can’t bring the festival back into the heart of the city (or can we? maybe? please? no?) then bring the city to the heart of the festival and reduce the economic loss for Liverpool venues. A popup Kazimier Garden where we can have a nice sit down and recharge. A little Leaf Tea Shop so that every now and then we can drink something other than £20 pints or the “one” free can of Desperados. And lastly, the noise. Good grief, the noise. Love, the lazy and prematurely middle aged.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

The last thing this country needs is another soulless, characterless weekender festival. The ‘post-apocalyptic’ theme last year, although fitting, was a bit of a cop out, especially with such an amazing blank canvas to dress up. Popup spaces such as Moon Museum charmed in past years, let’s see more of that, more from Lantern Festival, more from Morning Gloryville. The most wonderful thing about Sound City in pre-Clarence Dock years was the sense of community and atmosphere, the knowing nod of heavy-headed strangers at the Korean BBQ on Saturday morning as you were handed a free beer on entry and a breakfast of all you could eat Asian cuisine.

Also, the organisers are missing a trick not making more of the shuttle bus service, I used it a couple of times last year and made friends with the one other person who seemed to be using it. Make it free with a wristband, make it more accessible with regular stops between the city and the site and make it a party bus – anyone who remembers the last 699 trip to town from Greenbank will swear by the party bus atmosphere to get you in the spirit.

Any other thoughts?

I fell hugely out of love with the Sound City experience in 2015, and I wasn’t the only one. It was like coming home the first summer after starting university to discover your oldest and dearest pal has lost all their substance in favour of style and trying to impress their new friends. But I trust that Sound City, like those socially needy schoolmates, will come back to their wonderful selves so we can go for a pint and see some cool bands together again. It’s just a weird phase they’re going through.

Sound City revellers

Sound City revellers

Patrick Clarke, Getintothis‘ new music editor

Who should headline in 2016?

Would a reformed Coral be too much to ask? Probably, but just imagine the homecoming scenes. They’d be the perfect match for the festival’s size and would be 100% certain to smash it. Failing that, get Patti Smith in, her Glastonbury set was the best thing I’ve ever seen at a festival.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

I’ve always loved discovering the weird little bands at Sound City and I was heartened to find I could still do that in the more traditional layout of the docks move – Japanese thrashers Moja were a force of nature so feel free to invite them back. As many bands I’ve never heard of as possible please.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Move the second outdoor stage from that weird corner in the middle of the main thoroughfare. It was an absolute nightmare moving around and the sound overspill to the tents next door was infuriating during quieter gigs.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

Later nights. The after-dark mashup is where I come into my festival element, and a 2am close just doesn’t cut it. All-night hedonistic raves please. That and bumper cars.

Any other thoughts

Having moved to London since the last festival I’d love everyone here to already know what a great weekend Sound City is without me having to explain it. Now they’ve settled in at the docks I’d love their glowing local reputation to spread far and wide.

The Lantern Parade

Sound City Lantern Parade

 

Matthew Wood, Getintothis‘ Singles Club columnist

Who should headline in 2016?

I personally think Foals would send the most memorable waves across the Mersey. Let’s face it, the Oxford five-piece are no longer merely foals, but powerful stallions boasting one of the best live shows in the world. Having already teased us with secret sets at Reading and Leeds Festival earlier this year, it’s safe to say it’d be a wine-fuelled explosion of menacing brutality alongside infectious melodies that’ll leave you torn between flailing an elbow or bopping along with your arm round your mate.

Apart from that I’d say Beach House or Kurt Vile, both amazing acts.  

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

A bit of a long shot but Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg performing her new solo album Right On! would no doubt be an incredible show. Hinds are also set for their biggest year yet in 2016 with the release of their debut album Leave Me Alone in January and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard would no doubt boggle some minds.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Sound overspill and accessibility were two major weaknesses (unless you were fortunate enough to have a room at the swanky Titanic Hotel). It’d also be interesting to see how many people actually spent time, money and effort bothering with the funfair and with 2016 being just a two day event, there would be no time for faffing about on the dodgems. Beer selection was limited and overpriced and the VIP section, although convenient, was pretty disappointing.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

I think in place of the fun fair maybe some similar exhibits to the Lantern Parade, something memorable and iconic to Sound City rather than what looked like the abandoned funfair scene from Tom HanksBig. Perhaps a heated bar, like the ones you see at Christmas markets, just anywhere to warm your toes and tank up before the next band.

Any other thoughts?

I may have been a bit harsh with the criticisms, after all it was the first Sound City down at the docks and I have full faith in it improving no end for 2016 and the following years. Long live Sound City.

Tei Shi

Tei Shi

Vicky Pearson, Getintothis‘ social media editor and photographer

Who should headline in 2016?

I’d really like to see someone similar in stature to the Flaming Lips, that was a genius move. The Pixies would be my best case scenario. More importantly I’d just want to see them get the balance between the two days right.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

Twin Peaks would go down a treat I reckon, especially in the Baltic Stage. I’d jump at any chance to see Hey Colossus again as well as few acts along the lines of Flesh and Pale Waves who deserve a slot.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Ditch the funfair and use that space to create more room between the North Stage and the tents. Easy peasy.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

I’m running the risk of sounding like an old bore here but more seating/meeting/chilling areas. A big part of festivals is hanging with your mates and catching up with friends so I’d like to see the Tim Peaks Diner extended and a few more areas to rest our aching feet and have a pint.

Any other thoughts?

On a personal note I’m quite happy with the new two day set up too as it’s one less day to contribute to a full mental and physical breakdown.

Sound City amid the glorious warehouses

Sound City amid the rum warehouse

Tom Konstantynowicz, Getintothis‘ writer and sub-editor

Who should headline in 2016?

Although acts like The Vaccines certainly contributed to ticket sales due to their wide appeal, they were something of a contrast to the excitement around more niche, cult acts elsewhere on the bill. Something leaning more towards the cutting edge of modern music would compliment the line-up far better. Father John Misty, for example, would come with widespread critical acclaim and a renown stage presence to really get juices flowing.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

Sound City has always broken new bands a year before they gain countrywide exposure. Take Jack Garratt in 2014, his early slot at Leaf was joyous for all in attendance and only in recent months has he risen to the top of every influential music correspondent’s ‘One to Watch’ list. More foresight like this would go down a treat, casting the net wider than just the finest North West talent. Take a punt on Californian newbies PARTYBABY and give Blaenavon another go, the recent Transgressive signings have just released one of the most exciting EPs of the year and their set at The Shipping Forecast in 2014 was dogged by sound issues and maybe came a little too early for them. They’d blow minds at SC 2016.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

It’s been mentioned before, but the sound bleed between the North Stage and the tents around it meant some acts couldn’t even perform in their scheduled slot. Scale down or completely scrap the funfair to open up space.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

Nothing too drastic, but an improvement on the aesthetic wouldn’t go amiss. The festival has a unique location within the abandoned docklands and more views would be nice. Obviously care needs to be taken in regard to drunk people and water but surely there must be a way to open up bits of scenery instead of obstruct it with ugly fencing and portable toilets.

Any other thoughts?

Cutting down to two days is a good idea. Everyone was exhausted by day three and some of the less impressive acts can be filtered from the bill.

Sound City flower girls

Sound City flower girls

Ste Knight, Getintothis clubs and dance music writer

Who should headline in 2016?

There’s so many awesome bands out there that it’s hard to say who should be headlining. Lets think outside the box a bit though and go for some big leftfield artists. Failing that John Grant would go down very nicely at the festival. Fuck it, lets just go mad and have Roger Waters.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

Paddy Clegg and the Bad Habits are causing a furore at the moment – cracking young indie band and they really deserve to have exposure at what is probably our biggest scouse fezzie. Another top tip would be Nick EllisThe Blue Soul project – they’re boss live and would go down a storm at Sound City 2016.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

Well, the funfair seemed to be completely empty so push that in the Mersey with a bulldozer and stick some more tents in there instead.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

Well, more dance music would be nice. We’ve got a huge pool of talent here so it’d be great seeing some locals play Sound City 2016.

Any other thoughts?

Not of any substance!

The Cribs fans at Sound City

The Cribs fans at Sound City

Phil Morris, Getintothis writer and jukebox columnist

Who should headline in 2016?

I don’t claim to have any expertise in festival curation but I imagine Sound City‘s options are largely dependant on who is releasing music at the time. A cursory glance at the album schedule for 2016 indicates there are a few suitable behemoths to draw the crowds from the apex of the pyramid. David Bowie has cross-generational appeal. Gorillaz have a star-studded composition. Personally, I would go for Deftones.

Which new artists would you like to see on the bill?

I would like to extend the compliments of the previous contributors and congratulate Sound City on their form in breaking new artists. I particularly enjoyed the international showcases this year. In 2016 I would be coaxed in to an early-bird ticket if Sound City embraced those transcending the world music genre; Congolese 7-piece Mbongwana Star and Limpopo legend Nozinja are names I would like to see alongside the usual intake of Mersey-based brilliance.

What should be ditched/what was the weakest element of Sound City 2015?

The reputation of the new site was severely damaged by the organisers’ decision to squeeze too many ideas into the inaugural Bramley Moore Dock festival. The site was simply too small to accommodate a superfluous theme-park and a redundant fleet of bicycle taxis. Everyone’s experience suffered as a result of this overcrowding.

What should be added in 2016 to improve the festival?

If you’re going to have a festival on-and-around the Mersey, you might as well fully submerse yourself in the nautical theme. A stage on a ship (that everyone had access to) would consolidate the occasion’s unique selling point. While there was a VIP galleon on site this year it was conspicuously unapproachable. Docking something akin to Newcastle’s Tuxedo Princess or Bristol’s Thekla would provide more space and site variety while simultaneously shoring up the maritime subtext.

Any other thoughts?

There was a lot of sound spillage from adjacent stages this year. A little bit of common sense with regards to scheduling would have minimised this. For instance, angelic cellist Ayanna was unable to perform her dynamic, unplugged rendition against a throbbing wall of electronic 4/4 percussion. Why not have all acoustic performers playing before 2pm? Just saying.

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