Gruff Rhys, VEYU and Deep Shit set the standard at the opening night of Summercamp, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson went along for a history lesson from the Super Furry Animal.
‘Albums are edging closer to extinction.’ That is according to Radio One chief George Ergatoudis, who believes that playlists will become the way that listeners consume their music, rather than sitting down and sticking on an LP. If he’s right, (he probably isn’t) then artists are going to have to release their music in different formats if they want their music to be seen as a body of work rather than just standalone singles in a playlist. If this is the case, Gruff Rhys is one step ahead of the game. American Interior, his fourth solo LP since his days as a Super Furry Animal, was released as a book, film, app and album, all working alongside each other to tell the story of John Evans, a 17th century Welsh farmer who travelled to America in search of a mythical Welsh speaking tribe. A story that Liverpool Sound City goers will remember fondly.
Tonight the Welsh singer/songwriter brought American Interior to Summercamp, intertwining songs from the album with the tale of the Welsh explorer’s travels, complete with a Powerpoint presentation and puppet of John Evans himself. It was a performance like no other.
The story is something Rhys is clearly passionate about, and the heartfelt emotional acoustic sounds of tracks such as title track American Interior and Liberty (Is Where I’ll Be) really capture this. They paint a picture of adventure that no amount of Powerpoint slides could ever show, although the photographs of the puppet John Evans following the footsteps of his ancestor across America certainly add comedic value. Comedy is something prevalent throughout, with Rhys’ deadpan, dry delivery of the story seeming almost ‘half-arsed’ but still drawing you in, leaving you hanging on his every word. With long passages of speech between every track, there was never any chance for the set to gain momentum, which could easily have let the mood fall flat, but the charm and wit of Gruff Rhys carried it throughout, giving it the feel of half gig half stand up show. The story of Evans was brought to an end by album track 100 Unread Messages, a bluegrass inspired, uplifting track which raised the mood after the death of Evans.
The encore moved away from American Interior seeing performances of tracks from earlier in the Super Furry Animals career, ending with 2011’s If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme), bringing the set to a gentle, almost romantic end. In a set which was unconventional to say the least, underneath the humour, romance was somewhat of an underlying tone throughout, and the love that Gruff Rhys had for this story was clear. If all history lessons were like this, we’d all be historians.
Earlier in the evening saw a performance from one of Liverpool’s most exciting new bands VEYU, who have had an exciting week to say the least. On the back of a stand out performance at last weekend’s FestEVOL they have announced the release of their debut EP, having signed to new label Baltic Records. Tonight they were on top form with singles Running and The Everlasting showcasing their atmospheric, cavernous sound laced with intertwining guitar riffs and streams of sharp synth. There is a lot to be excited about this band.
To top the night off was Deep Shit, the new record label and club night by created by Jack Savidge of Friendly Fires and Edwin Congreave of Foals. Hidden away in the concrete box of the Blade Factory, it felt like a disco in an urban squat. It showcased Savidge and Congreave’s passion for the underground dance scene, blending beats of some artists and producers you might not be all that familiar with. The layers of constant, intense, almost punishing beats and deep house synths began as quite chilled out background noise, meaning that the night took a while to get going, but it gradually morphed into something else entirely, and what Deep Shit themselves describe as ‘intense party music’. Deep Shit will certainly be a success, the names behind it and their passion for it will make sure of that, but it feels as if it is aimed at people just as enthusiastic for the genre as they are. It would work brilliantly as a stand alone club night, but as the after party for Gruff Rhys, it didn’t feel quite right.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Michael Sheerin and Marty Saleh
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