As we approach the May Bank Holiday and Smithdown Road Festival, Getintothis’ Mark Rowley picks out ten must-see acts for 2018.
As a grassroots celebration of music and community, Smithdown Road Festival has to be amongst the best DIY free to attend events.
Taking place across 17 stages, over 180 acts are set to perform at the festival during the four day period (from Friday May 4 to Monday May 7).
Apart from the live music, the staple of the festival, there will be DJ sets aplenty from the likes of Edgar Jones, Bernie Connor, Stealing Sheep and the Melodic Distraction team. Hatchet will be putting on a silent disco in the Handyman.
There will also be a photographic exhibition in the Naked Lunch Cafe; a children’s play area in the Wavertree Mystery Park; a swing dance social in the Unitarian Church and an Irish Festival acoustic session in Kelly’s Dispensary.
With so much talent on show over the course of the weekend, here’s our top 10 picks.
Eyesore & The Jinx, Kelly’s – Saturday, May 5
This post-punk garage three piece, fronted by singer-bassist Josh Miller are a forceful triumvirate of guitar, drums and bass. Eyesore & The Jinx are uncompromising and take no prisoners. They are part of a Saturday night lineup in Kelly’s that has no equal anywhere due south of the northern lights.
Gazelle, Secret Place – Saturday, May 5
Young Liverpool-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, Gazelle is the real deal, with an astounding soulful voice and a mid-tempo, crossover R&B sound.
A past graduate of the LIMF Academy, Gazelle’s songs offer glimmers of Beverley Knight and Amy Winehouse and take influence from jazz singers of the past, including the legendary Nina Simone.
Kingfast, Cafe Oro – Saturday, May 5
Crowned Merseyrail Sound Station winner for 2017, Kingfast – born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, hence the name – is a solo singer and guitarist who packs in considerable energy and geniality to his shows.
You’d have to be one very seriously miserable so and so, not to be hooked in by his Stevie Wonder-style vocals, along with that beaming, infectious smile of his.
Katie Mac Band, The Handyman – Saturday, May 5
Huyton singer-songwriter Katie Mac has been making waves for a good while now, despite her tender years. Katie’s influences include Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling and she has been likened to Patti Smith and PJ Harvey also.
With piercing vocals and intelligent songs, you cannot fail to be enthralled by Katie Mac. Playing most of her shows solo, on this occasion we will be treated to Katie’s full band for the festival.
Mamatung, The Handyman – Monday, May 7
If you crave something quite different, then check out Liverpool quartet Mamatung, self-proclaimed merchants of psychedelic, freak-folk.
Their graceful music has a spiritual feel, involving winding harmonies, melodies and chants over hypnotising sounds. Difficult to categorise, Mamatung‘s music could be termed New Age Old Folk.
Memory Girl (ft Natalie McCool), Craft Tap Room – Sunday, May 6
Memory Girl is the solo project of Natalie McCool. A festival regular, Natalie is a fantastic singer songwriter and guitarist and anyone seeing her set in The Handyman bar last year will confirm what a talent she is.
Playing what she describes as gloriously catchy pop, Natalie McCool in such an intimate venue is a real treat.
Samurai Kip, Kelly’s – Saturday, May 5
The hippest, funkiest groove-masters around, Samurai Kip cook up beats and rhythms so infectious, you should expect to be dancing in no time at all.
This young band is one of the hardest working on the Liverpool circuit. They deserve your recognition, and if you are there to see them … they will get it! Samurai Kip are an absolute ‘must-see’ band at this year’s Smithdown Festival.
Siren, Cafe Oro – Sunday May 6
Siren is a Manchester-based alt-rock trio fronted by Kate McKenzie, who originally hails from Huyton, Kate writes, sings, plays guitar and is the major creative force of the band.
Despite only forming last October, Siren, with their classic influences from acts like Joan Jett and The Runaways and more contemporary influences such as Deap Vally are most definitely worthy of your time.
SPILT, Hill 16 – Sunday, May 6
Having made their festival debut last year in the Palm House, the teenage trio from Runcorn are back to take Smithdown Road Festival by storm. SPILT signed to Anvil Records earlier this year and are part way through a schedule of releasing six singles in six months.
Recently securing a prestigious support slot with LA punk wildcats Fidlar, their fiery brand of punk-psych will hit you harder than a runaway train. You’ve been warned!
The Mysterines, The Bar Stage – Saturday, May 5
As daft as it may sound, The Mysterines are perfect for this festival. About to go on tour supporting Miles Kane, they are a gritty young Wirral blues-rock band that people may stumble on and have to pinch themselves to believe the sight and sound they have just witnessed.
A traditional trio of drums and two guitars, The Mysterines are fronted by one of the most formidable young talents on Merseyside . Lia Metcalfe plays raunchy rock n roll guitar and has an extremely powerful pair of lungs. The Mysterines are one of our absolute ‘must-see’ acts at Smithdown Road Festival 2018.