War Room Records Christmas Special: By The Sea, RongoRongo, AGP, MiNNETONKA, D R O H N E: Constellations, Liverpool

War Room Records Party

War Room Records Christmas Party

Getintothis’ Lauren Jones tucks into an early Christmas cracker from War Room Records and promoter EVOL.

With the impending demise of the Kazimier casting a huge shadow over Liverpool’s music scene, War Room Records’ Christmas shindig at Constellations was just what Santa ordered and, if it didn’t quite get us out of the “what’s your best Kaz memory, gig, drunken antic?” funk, it certainly helped.

The evening kicked off with the live debut of Emma Leatherbarrow, more commonly known as, MiNNETONKA. She took to the stage with confidence, ably supported but not overshadowed, by Bill Ryder-Jones who had produced and co-written latest track, Birds of Prey.

We loved the Twin Peaks inspired track on its release and it quickly found favour with those in attendance, the haunting, sometimes whispered vocals, perfectly capturing the feeling of torment and regret associated with break-ups.  

Adding to the growing list of talent blossoming on ‘the other side of the water’, the Wirral-based musician held the audience captive with each track rolling effortlessly from her angelic vocals, complimented by the sweet sound of her backing instrumental. Despite the growing trend towards ethereal instrumentals, MiNNETONKA has managed to create something so different and exciting that she is well-positioned to place herself at the forefront of female psych artists.

War Room rightly expect great things from MiNNETONKA and if this performance was anything to go by, it won’t be long before we are seeing a lot more of her.

Read about our exclusive on MiNNETONKA release Birds of Prey

Switching the night up slightly there was a brief set from producer AGP, losing himself so deeply within his music. Track How Could She Love You was a true beauty live; dampening a raw and solidified emotion is ridiculously hard when performing electro-fusion tracks however here is someone capable of pulling it off. AGP may have been his own worst critic in the past, but tonight he pulled out all the stops for the sweet foreboding sound that slithered through the speakers.

Hotly-tipped RongoRongo were up next and they ripped and roared through their set showcasing recent release Automatic Hypnotist. Staying true to its name, the songs from the EP left much of the audience in a hypnotic trance as each note brought something different to the mix. RongoRongo look set to finally deliver on their promise; another band perched tantalisingly on the edge of greater recognition.

With the venue filling up nicely for By The Sea, we clearly weren’t alone in eagerly awaiting the return of the Wirral escape-pop outfit. Joined on stage by MiNNETONKA and Ryder-Jones, their set took on a magical mystery tour and its exploration of psych-sludge had us on another level. Wide-eyed, pint in hand, ready for waves of discombobulated shoe-gaze, front-man Liam Power takes on a whole new persona, immersing himself so deeply within the sound, losing his mind within the grooves.

Merseyside favourites, D R O H N E added a more sombre note to proceedings, perhaps signifying the end of the live aspect of the show before handing over to the DJs. There is always an element of wanting to see more from the lads, perhaps the edgy notoriety at times can overcomplicate the legacy of their darkened synth sound. However, the addition of Faded Gold on vocals (like recent collaborations with Natalie McCool) provided some celestial warmth to proceedings and left us wanting more.

War Room are playing a crucial role in bringing grass-roots music to wider attention and, with so much already leaking from the label, something extremely exciting is happening in the War Room camp.

If you didn’t attend this year’s festivities, you’ll be dying to get to the next one.

Pictures by Getintothis‘ Simon Lewis