As Sound City returns to Liverpool city centre, Getintothis’ writers and photographers reflect on this year’s offering in the Baltic Triangle.
“It’s one small step forward after a couple of steps back,” Nicholas Otaegui told Getintothis in Leaf Tea Shop on Bold Street around four months ago.
More known around these parts for playing bass for The Maybes? and The Tea Street Band, Otaegui has been drafted in as Liverpool Sound City festival manager – and was well aware of the huge task he was undertaking. For not only was this his first time in running a festival for 4,000 punters and almost 400 acts, but it it was also the first time the festival had teamed up with twenty of the Baltic Triangle‘s venues – many of which not accustomed to hosting live music. Furthermore, and central to Sound City‘s future existence – it had to win over many of it’s supporters and new ticket buyers following underwhelming experiences down the city’s north docklands.
Also central to this ‘returning to our roots‘ message that Sound City was pushing, are new booking team I Love Live Events. It was their first time bringing musicians to the festival – with massive bookings like The Flaming Lips a thing of the past, the organisers insisted they were focusing on the festival’s original ethos of new emerging talent and the best under the radar bands from around the UK and Europe while preserving their commitment to brand new Merseyside artists.
Despite this, the pervading sense going into the 2018 Baltic edition was anxious to say the least. The full line up left many questioning how it would all play out. For here was a billing which left even the most ardent of music lovers scratching their head and doing some serious homework listening.
So, did it work? The answer was unequivocally, yes. Sound City 2018 felt like a festival reborn. Back was the buzz. Back was the communal spirit. Back was the musical discovery. Back was the chase between venues while bumping into friends new and old. Back was the feeling that you were at a festival – a festival which didn’t feel like the countless others which saturate the UK’s dreadful booking policy and drab organisation. Back was the essence of what Sound City in 2009-2014 always aspired to be: a music festival for music fans.
Over the course of the three days, Getintothis felt as excited as we did when Sound City started. For here was a festival which took the blueprint of In The City and South By South West and made Liverpool it’s unique selling point. While pinpointing hot new artists, it also showed off the best new bits of our city and the finest new artists from the Merseyside region. For 2018, the Baltic Triangle was the true star. A wildly developing area which for even the most cultured of Liverpool people won’t have experienced what they did at Sound City – who has tripped between Tap and Still, On Air, Craft Minded, Brick Street, Birdies Bar, Camp and Furnace, Constellations garden, The Black Pearl, The Old Gas Station and the ridiculously hideous Peaky Blinders bar all within the space of several hours. No one. At Sound City 2018 you did.
Blessed with three days of blistering sunshine, the Baltic Triangle came into its own – allowing smiling faces to traverse its multitude of outdoor spaces, open bricked warehouses, the Gigs and Graphic poster gallery rekindling Screenadelica, unconventional arthouses and the wondrous Red Brick Vintage – a space so good it offered cosmic pop, violin-assisted post-rock, Eyesore and the Jinx‘s Grade A post-punk, desert blues, spoken word street poetry and outdoor opera to the deckchair assisted public all within the space of a couple of hours. And that’s not even touching upon the vintage stalls within.
Food and drink wise you were spoilt rotten. Whether it was wild boar hotdogs, hoisin duck and fries, Mexican eggs with chorizo and avocado mash – seriously, there was so much on offer you could write your own food blog on the Baltic and still not be done by Christmas.
But it’s the music that we’re all here for. And what Sound City 2018 will ultimately be judged by. Did it match up to the halcyon year of 2013 – no, however, it wasn’t far off. While there were no ‘Thee Oh Sees, Savages‘ moments, there was an abundance of new artists and particularly international artists to reflect upon and wonder.
Croatian speed riff merchants M.O.R.T. typified the overseas talent kicking the festival off in terrifyingly terrific style in On Air‘s Emmerdale Farm meets Victorian England bizarre surrounds, Nigerian born, Peckham raised Aadae offered up beautiful Afrobeat and soul while also throwing in an exquisite cover of Radiohead‘s Lotusflower. Estonian gothic chamber pop vocalist Mart Avi proves a revelation evoking the spirit of Berlin-era Bowie while showering the audience with self-made newspaper and performing underneath an umbrella. Barcelona’s Holy Bouncer perform two mighty electronic sets on Friday and Sunday revolving around high octane Americana, dazzling synths and some beautiful harmonies while stripping it all back with a semi acoustic set in front of craft-ale drinkers in Tap and Still on Saturday.
Montreal trio Dish Pit were one of the weekend’s big buzz bands with more photographers in attendance than general public as they scared the living shit out of the halloumi quaffing hen parties in Baltic Market. Polish boulder-crunching rock simplicity was the order of the day when Trupa Trupa laid waste to Blade Factory with Rotterdam based art experimentalists W.O.R.M. teaming up with Liverpool Arts Lab by taking up residence next door making a jolly racket all weekend which involving breaking an industrial printer, looping tapes and generally bashing all manner of machinery and household objects. ‘We just do daft things and have a lot of fun to annoy boring people,’ their defacto leader Richard Foster tells Getintothis – well they certainly did that.
Returning to Sound City following their superlative 2015 display, Garbanotas Bosistas show they’re even better this time around with a transcendental display in District before repeating the trick in Blade melding rhythmic wizardry, Mac DeMarco slacker melodies and Can-like rock fusion. They are quite simply incredible.
Multi-national Superorganism, meanwhile, close the festival in sheer pop perfection ensuring everyone in Hangar 34 leaves radiating with glee.
But it’s not just the overseas artists that shine. Doncaster’s The Blinders knocked this writer’s head clean off at Festival No. 6 last year and they repeat the trick at a rammed District – which sees crowd surfing and a monster of a mosh pit not experienced anywhere else during the weekend. The one-two punch of Psycho Comedy and Jo Mary is a life-affirming jam in a packed Brick Street with the former sounding better than ever with their blistering New York infused rock and roll while the latter incite a gleeful riot once again proving why their one of Merseyside’s hottest new bands.
Gaffa Tape Sandy sound scatty and fun in Constellations, Eyre Llew pull out the violin bow-evoking Sigur Ros chills, Pale Rider are cataclysmic late on in Hangar 34 melding breezeblock sized riffs and widescreen cinematic spacerock while Runcorn’s SPILT are as wild and frazzled as ever scaring the b’jasus out of onlookers upstairs in Blade.
However, band of the festival without doubt are King Khan and the Shrines. If there’s anyone who came close to matching the hysteria of that legendary Thee Oh Sees night at The Kazimier it’s these guys. The Montreal nine piece are akin to a rock and roll version of James Brown and his band; all brass-laden grooves injected with uproarious riffs and massive hooks – the entire venue is rocking as one as Khan – resplendent in headdress and lycra black leggings oozes charm and charisma; the ultimate frontman commanding both the band and crowd with easy assurance. It’s a genuine ‘I was there’ experience – and Sound City 2018‘s best set by some distance.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There were a few issues. The most obvious, something reiterated by our team and many punters we spoke to: you didn’t need a wristband to experience much of the festival. Several of the venues – most notably Baltic Market – were open to the public and this was coupled with several venues seemingly not checking for people going in and out all of which seemed a swizz if you’d shelled out cash for a ticket. The other disappointment for some artists was stages over-running and seeing their sets cut short. Husky Loops played just three songs while Beija Flo saw her ballet dancer assisted set in Hangar 34 hijacked with the venue turning the houselights on just a couple of tracks in, staff removing fans and her set axed halfway through. Of course, we’re aware festivals are always prone to timing issues but some artists understandable felt short-changed. Parliament Street, meanwhile, was a danger. With punters and artists crossing this hugely busy dual carriageway we saw numerous occasions were punters were at risk. How this could be changed or managed is a difficult thing to ponder.
However, these are the finer details, and it’d be harsh to dwell on them or let them overshadow what was a tremendous weekend. This was a weekend when Sound City decidedly returned to it’s original blueprint – a festival of discovery at the heart of Liverpool’s most colourful and vibrant part of the city. An area brimming with development and creativity. Sure, some of it feels like a ‘new Concert Square’ but for the most part the Baltic features some of the best bits of the city – and the revellers revelled in it. And central to Sound City is new music – and the 2018 edition was overflowing with it.
When Nicholas Otaegui told us it was going to be one small step forward from last year he was wrong. This was one giant leap. Mission accomplished. – Peter Guy
Amy Chidlow – On Air (Friday), Constellations (Saturday)
Day one of Sound City has truly been blessed with glorious sunshine and it’s not long before the beers are flowing.
Despite dragging us in from the sunny outdoors, the Baltic Triangle’s quirky indoor venue On Air opens up with an interesting start from the Croatian group M.O.R.T. With Birdies Bar being directly next door, there’s a constant flow of live music between the two venues.
ZUZU and her happy on-stage presence spreads into the crowd as the room fills only moments into her set. The day ends on an all-round high with closing acts from WYE OAK and the four-piece quartet Flyte whose set projects an easy going and modernist image.
It seems everyone’s still recovering from their hangovers from the Saturday night because Sunday has more of a chilled vibe to it.
The sun is still shining and yes, the beers are still flowing but as you walk about the Baltic there’s a more fluid sense of calm. Constellations outdoor garden is the perfect heaven to chill and discover new bands. The six- piece group ALASKALAKSA tempt you inside with their cool bouncy vibes and a finishing performance from Yellow Days. Their set had a clear and crisp with lead singer George’s open and honest lyrical talent it was a perfect way to close the long weekend of sunshine and sound..
Amaan Khan – 24 Kitchen Street (Saturday), Blade Factory (Sunday)
Being almost singularly far in the corner of the festival site, 24 Kitchen Street had the disadvantage of a sparse wandering crowd but the advantage of having an audience almost only of dedicated fans – which often led to disproportionate attendance to quality.
It’s great to find a shiny stone in dirt, but the same stone is hardly impressive in the average jewllers. The same goes for the first half of acts with the likes of Oranjson and Foxtrap – bands that are usually enjoyable but hardly stood out in a festival saturated with similar music.
Compared to that, 24 Kitchen Street became a point of respite from the usual rock and roll in the later half with the crackling boom bap sounds of Beyond Average and the in your face energetic Shaodow. The prizewinner, however, was Shadez The Misfit with a tight band and a charismatic artist-audience performance regardless of having a thinner crowd.
Blade Factory kicked off with the tighter form of the usual stuff with SPILT and Idle Frets. Things only got really serious with Spanish band Holy Bouncer with their 50s twang, 70s synth, 90s growl and all that modern hipster shit. If there is a revival that they are part of, then they justify it.
Sound tracking the dusky upstairs were the local favourites like JJohns and TV ME along with Katie Mac who was more energetic and growlier than we have ever seen her while at the same time Stealing Sheep were creating Sound City history downstairs.
The last surprise of the venue came from Brazilian hard punk of Far From Alaska – they’d blow your eardrums out and you’d enjoy every moment of watching the band and the most astounding frontwomen duo.
Peter Goodbody– District (Sunday), Birdies (Sunday)
Sunday started off in District with a rather grandly styled Showcase, hosted by SESAC – the American performing rights organisation. Sets from Brooke Bentham, Night Flight, Kawala, Carmody and Geowulf were all well received if sparsely attended.
Pick of the bunch was probably Geowulf with their brand of Aussie pop meets Fleetwood Mac. But it was a slow start if the truth be told and there wasn’t a lot to keep our enthusiasm up.
The biggest draw was always going to be Baxter Dury, which proved to be the case with District full to capacity and a one out one in policy being enforced. However, before Dury, there was the surprise we had hoped for in the form of Glasgow’s Lucia who looked the part with long blonde hair and a pink Stetson. Right from the off she provided a masterclass in how to be a rock band. Loud vocals and searing riffs from her guitar, this was how to do rock – we knew it would be good as soon as we saw the hat. Absolutely superb. A nod also to Ninth Wave who crashed through half an hour of guitary psych with style.
Birdies Bar on the other hand was throwing up some fine moments – a point that was made by the barman as we gulped down yet another Moritz. Sets from SPQR and Wide Eyed Boy were raucous, angry punk and just the thing for a Sunday in the sun.
This bar was throwing some proper curve balls. “Hi. We’re SunStinger. We’re from Scotland.” They could have said they were the Mary Chain. Superb noise , feedback and deadpan vocals. They’re definitely well versed in the work of the brothers Reid. And that’s no bad thing.
This one’s called Dangerous, announced Berries. Half way into an eight- song set they just proved Birdies as being one of the best places to be. We’re not sure we saw a bad band all day. It was a high bar and Berries cleared it easily. Aggressive guitar-based rock. Just hit the spot. And then came The Magnettes “all the way from motherfucking Sweden to hang out with you guys”. Like a sweary Kylie they bounced and gyrated around the bar with their brand of psycho pop. Just incredible. “We’re having such a great time hanging out in Birdies Bar. You’re our kind of people”. A real highlight
Howard Doupe– Baltic Market (Sunday)
Baltic Market was the home of the Pirate Studios who offered up an eclectic choice of acts this year. In the all-facilitating space meant you didn’t have to wander far for the largest selection of food available all weekend along with an abundance of drink choices.
Violet Youth are bright young hopefuls, delivering an injection of energy. Their perfectly matched urgent lyrics and sharp guitars did not disappoint.
Blowing the dust of a hazy Sunday afternoon Dishpit land screaming in a midst of noise “everyone inside, no more cigarette break”…with a gnarly voice like vocal chords after a frantic attempt to clean with wire wool. This Montreal-based three piece are a force. The tunes jack-knife sonically, keeping you glued in a futile attempt to pre-empty the direction.
Eagerly tipped False Heads served up a raw punk-infused early afternoon set- inspired by the rawest end of Arctic Monkeys catalogue. Angst-ridden, lines of 4-chorded buzzed-up, urban grit. With pounding drums with teeth attacking eardrums showing their sheer drive. Not forgetting riffs straight out of Kurt Cobain’s 1989 song writing diary. Their set closer delivered crescendo from on top of speaker stack, amp shoves and takedown of the drummer!
While the sonic onslaught took a short break, Josh Goddard arrived to remind everyone that music can be easy on the ear and that the sun is actually blistering outside. Goddard rode in on a warm summer’s breeze, magically encapsulating the ethos of the Baltic Market. People listen, eat, mingle, enjoy. Cleverly accompanied by lead guitar and subtle Rhodes keys that traded licks and quips backwards and forwards between each other. There’s an appreciative crowd gathered for Goddard whose last track, a stunning version of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me which perfectly stole the set.
Peaness brought a unique funk-edged guitar arsenal as the evening creeps in. Numbers fill up. Shades of Alvvays with lyrics Camera Obscura would surely approve of. Chester’s own answer are ones to watch and in deserved world, billboard-bound too.
With Hey Charlie the visual image is striking- the killer cheerleaders of grunge. Luring you into thinking they might be cute pop-purveyors. The sound couldn’t be further apart. They’re the first band to get dancers on the balcony. Perfect guitar-driven pop. Recent single Love Machine starts the mosh pit. Sugar-coated power pop indeed.
Echoes of The War on Drugs fill the Market when Nathan Ball starts his set. The song writing is strong here. Unassuming and certain un-challenged for the set belonging to the least ego-led act of the day. This is road music- a la the M1 to M62 rather than stateside highways. A musical Pandora’s Box of waves becoming all the more emotive and familiar. It’s a welcomed interlude of calm after such an intense few sets.
Loud, spirited, thrash and direct was their performance as they returned for a second stab at the Sound City cherry Queen Zee showed their love for a Liverpool crowd- by far the largest all day to the Market. In only a matter of tunes Zee is stripped down to ultra-pink hot pants and the energy ramps up another gear. With only 10 minutes left the band air their disappointment at having to shorten their set and their response is to head into a full punk frontal-attack version of Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers.
Lewis Ridley– Hangar 34 (Saturday), Baltic Social (Sunday)
While the outdoor venues of Sound City basked in festival sunshine, it was somewhat a shame to be inside, and the darkness of Hangar 34 didn’t quite fit the mood. RedFaces, the Sheffield band who’ll support Reverend and The Makers later this year, kicked things off.
They were in many ways led by their bassist, but the whole band showed a keenness and an energy that was easy to like. Similarly, Cut Capers were easy to love, they lit up Camp and Furnace with their bouncy jazz hip hop, one could only wonder where they found their energy to go on, and on, and on throughout a brilliant set. Saturday headliners DMA’s packed Camp and Furnace well before they entered the stage, providing a bigger than expected crowd for Black Honey. The Aussies are consistently brilliant, and Sound City loved the swagger and attitude they brought to the festival.
Sunday, and the sun was still shining, the Baltic Social was the venue for Alice’s Night Circus. After a few technical glitches she unleashed an incredible voice, although the Alice In Wonderland vibe wasn’t one that the crowd really dug.
Lennie Dies said they were out of their depth doing only their fifth gig, but the Camp and Furnace crowd made them feel at home and they were one of the highlights of the day. Paris Youth Foundation and The Night Cafe brought similar vibes to the main venue before Peace topped off the festival with a set that featured tracks from their new album, Kindness Is The New Rock and Roll.
Lucy McLachlan – Blade Factory (Saturday), Hangar 34 (Saturday & Sunday)
“What are we doing? Does anyone know us?” Hockey Dad start the day off in Blade Factory with some Australian sunny surf rock vibes.
Chinese prog group Zhaoze stunned the crowd with their electrified Guqin and loud crashing instrumentals which was absolutely spellbinding to watch.
For fans of Deerhunter – and if they came from Lithuania – Garbanistas Bosistas became your new favourite band with their quirky lo fi dream pop indie.
Table Scraps were a highlight to watch with a huge Birmingham rock sound recently picked up by Burger Records which brought me back to teenage years spent in various Midland clubs!
Later on in Hangar 34 LA’s KOLARS brought post punk sounds with 50s moves and a whole lot of silver glitter outfits and instruments. Slow Readers Club played to a full house that even brought a sing along during their soundcheck.
King Hannah started off the late-night party with a huge dreamy sound that captivated the venue as it was starting to fill up.
King Khan raised the roof as our spiritual guru wearing a lycra body suit while band members took keyboards and guitars into the crowd for a psychedelic soul party and Pale Rider picked up where they left off slaying Hangar 34 with their tornado of rock n roll.
Back in Hangar 34 on the Sunday The Kairos drew in a decent crowd to start the day with 90s Britpop guitar sounds while The Howl and the Hun stood out with jangly Modest Mouse guitars and a charismatic frontman attempting and very nearly pulling off the splits.
Cassia packed out Hangar 34 in the busiest we’ve seen all day playing summery indie afrobeat guitar pop to perfectly match the weather.
The Academics proved very popular creating a great festival atmosphere with very catchy pop lyrics and crowd singalongs and in a similar vein surf addicts Sunset Sons had the room up and dancing to infectious indie pop.
Finally, the heavily anticipated mysterious Superorganism emerged in bright colours, ribbons, and glitter with huge screen visuals which saw the whole venue dancing along.
Matthew Eland– District (Saturday), On Air and Brick Street (Sunday)
District is like a greenhouse, and with the room at capacity for the majority of the Modern Sky UK showcase, what weird plants will flower?
Catholic Action kick off with some jangly The View-style shenanigans, and they’re followed by the fuzzy pop punk of Calva Louise. Approachable Scouse lads SPINN charm the room with their Napoleon Dynamite dancing, while No Hot Ashes keep things going with their Hard-Fi-esque disco funk. All this is just setting the scene for The Blinders, whose singer ends the set held aloft by the crowd, after having indeed played a blinder.
Following a mass exodus it’s time for the Heavenly Records showcase and Dan Stock; shame there aren’t more there for his soulful Semisonic rock and roll. From then on it’s all a bit underwhelming. Hatchie‘s dreamy pop doesn’t quite achieve full germination, ex-Bees lads 77:78 fail to pollinate, while The Orielles wilt in the heat.
First-time visitors to On Air usually need a moment to take in their surroundings – the city within a city, the facades that stretch up over several floors – but this time there’s extra weirdness to process in the form of Zulu Zulu. The kabuki-masked afro-beat jazz-flute nutters are in fine fettle, and they’ve even brought their mate in a chicken-head mask and your nan’s curtains to provide vocals.
Unfortunately the sound is a bit muddy at floor level, a problem that also threatens to afflict Love Ssega‘s otherwise vibrant and groovy soul-pop later in the afternoon. Things are a bit simpler for lone ranger Nick Ellis, who entertains with a selection of tracks from latest album Adult Fiction.
Meanwhile, over in Brick Street, The Isrights are also keeping it scouse with their time-bending ska funk. That sets up fellow Liverpudlians FUSS, whose cosmic Verve-style wall of volume flakes the paint off the walls.
Jane Triin – Baltic Market (Saturday), Craft Minded and Kitchen Street (Sunday)
The Baltic was continuously busy throughout the day, with some of the venues so full at different points that there were 20 minute long queues outside- a sign of a good thing surely. The Baltic Market was definitely the place to be on such a day, with local bands playing continuously from 12:45 am to 11 pm. For this writer, the most notable musician at the venue was definitely Rosborough, an Irish band, which had the most astonishing set.
Kitchen Street and Craft Minded were really small, but cool venues on Sunday- not just in terms of how attractive the venues were, but they were both blessed with air con.
Craft Minded was one to go to if you were just looking to sit with friends and have a drink or two, with musicians like New JNR, Mel Bowen and Nature Airliner playing melodic acoustic sets.
Kitchen Street captured the funky and mostly local bands and musicians, the venue was empty for the most part, yet that didn’t stop people from dancing or getting on each other’s shoulders during the sets.
Capturing this writer’s attention the most was Vain Male – they made the crowd laugh as they ended their set a little early to reset the slightly late running schedule, claiming that ‘no one likes a band that stays on for too long’. They did, however, later make a reappearance, but as a different band- the lead singer then being Bill Nickson.
Cath Bore– Blade (Saturday), Hangar 34 (Saturday)
At the festival last year, the Manchester Arena bombing saw armed police prowling the site, and lots of “Ooh Jeremy Corbyn” chanting with t-shirts to match. If a week’s a long time in politics, a year sure as hell is. The 2018 audience is older and noticeably tepid, downstairs at Blade for much of the day on Saturday anyway.
It’s the jubilant Lebanese electronic duo Wake Island are the first to rescue proceedings, at tea time. Now based in Montreal, the pair delivered minimal techno beats with showy percussion, and 90s guitar work. Top marks go to Merseyside duo St Jude The Obscure for leading the audience dancing on this one. Smart work, guys.
Over at Hanger 34 there’s zero loo roll in the ladies’ but an attendant flogs comedy sunglasses and other wacky treats. Such conditions confirm you’re truly at a festival proper.
On stage, Matt Maltese heads up a 3-piece band, but by keeping it simple the pleasing ballads are kept on the down low; I’m gagging for some brass or subtle strings. He’s hidden behind a keyboard, but it’s when he stands up, shakes his tushie and camps it up with electronic disco keys, does he pull at the ear and eye. More of that, Matt; cute and witty and fun is exactly what was needed. Release the dandy within.
Stealing Sheep’s Suffragette tribute back at Blade, a roll call of silent shifting dancers, and percussionists with cowbells and hoods are the saviours of the day. This is the second segment of the tribute, the first longer portion at the Camp and Furnace minutes earlier. Quite frankly, the weirdness is an absolute blessing. Summed up by an audience member thus, ‘What the fuck was that? That was SICK’, describes proceedings far more succinctly and efficiently than I ever could.
Kieran Donnachie – Constellations Garden & Red Brick Vintage (Saturday), Red Brick Vintage (Sunday)
Constellations Garden’s first day highlights the burgeoning relationship between the Liverpool and South Korean music scenes, thanks in part to this weekend’s organisers.
The leftfield curveballs are provided by The Fernweh and Billy Carter. The American influence, Southern specifically, comes through strong in the blues riffs and country-lilted vocals.
Musty antiques surround band and audience alike at Red Brick Vintage, and its great juxtaposition for a student lineup showcased by Leeds College of Music and BIMM University.
It’s post- riot grrl Venus and Nala’s ethereal techno that bubbles up from among the indie and blues rock padding out Saturday, though Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten’s Mark E Smith impression is striking and fills out the otherwise quiet spot.
Suzie Stapleton closes out the stage, her slow building gothic rock deserving a larger crowd than the few festival goers taking advantage of the bar’s lack of queue.
The Courtyard just outside holds a few gems courtesy of the Unusual Art Sourcing Company; VIDEO, Granfaloon and Flat Pack Music to name a few.
Come Sunday, Red Brick Vintage spun out into a more diverse bill with the usual unifying theme of fellas with guitars being broken up by soulful pop from Cronicle and Grace Carter.
Standing out amid said fellas however is Eyesore and the Jinx and their trashy rock and roll. and wrestling them for Sunday’s best at the antique roadshow is Eyre Llew, an atmospheric rock three piece from Nottingham.
Ultimately Speaker First cap off the selection in this clay corner of Sound City with heavy blues and rockabilly all the way from Indonesia.
Warren Millar- Constellations & Blade Factory (Saturday), Constellations Garden (Sunday)
The sun was out and so were the music fans at Sound City 2018. Here’s how it panned out for this writer on the Saturday at Constellations and downstairs at The Blade Factory – with a little taste of District and Brick Street thrown in for good measure.
We kicked the day off after a beer with the team at Blade Factory with techno music and graphics combined in one performance from Antropoloops followed by Spanish musician Le Parody.
After a quick visit to Brick Street to see Scarlet play, it was a dash over to Constellations for a rather wonderful dance performance from Radical Daughters before local band Gereration came on with their own brand of proto-punk livening up the place.
Other bands worth mentioning from the day would be Asylums, The Modern Strangers, Wake Island and the amazingly wonderful Stealing Sheep.
We finished the night off by catching The Orielles headliners at District and for such young artist they never disappoint their ever-growing legion of fans.
And it was back for more fun in the sun on the Sunday and we were really was in the sun because we were at Constellations Garden all day.
The garden was already quite well attended when Brighton based band White Room opened up the day with their catchy psych rock tunes. The next band on were Dirty Laces taking us back in time Madchester days with their Oasis and Stone Roses influences being worn large on their sleeves. It was good stuff though.
Alex Lipinsky was next up with a rocky country type acoustic set and some rather cool looking Ray Bans. Other bands well worth a mention would be Fuzzy Sun, from Stockport and headliners Riding the Low headed up by actor, director and musician Paddy Considine.
All in all a great two days around the Baltic Triangle and we’re already looking forward to Sound City 2019!
Class of 2018- the 20 best bands and artists at Liverpool Sound City 2018
- Mart Avi – Blade, Downstairs, Sunday
Avi was never going to disappoint, the Estonian pop oddball’s Blind Wall boasts that Billy Mackenzie/Scott Walker vocal range but with an added metallic chill and, as a true artist should, works the space turning it into his complete and utter bitch. Stealing Sheep’s clouds – hanging from the ceiling ready for their Suffragette tribute later – are utilised like he’s brought them along himself. When he whips out a brolly and parades around under it, in such a way that’d make Fred Astaire envious, well, I think everyone in the room is a little bit in love. Cath Bore
- Long Legged Creatures- Red Brick Vintage, Saturday
It feels like cheating to be picking from the Top 10 UK artists we told you to catch, but that list was good ok? Long Legged Creatures, on Red Brick Vintage, stood out with a maddeningly danceable blend of jazz, nu-disco and math rock. As a relatively new band put on by the Leeds College of Music, you’ve got to wonder what will happen when those legs get longer. Kieran Donnachie
- Jordan Allen- Constellations, Saturday
When he first came on stage and addressed the punters with ‘Come on Liverpool it’s fucking Saturday Night!’ -well, Jordan won the day for me! Warren Millar
- M.O.R.T.- On Air, Saturday
No-one’s there but they don’t care; M.O.R.T. come onstage to find On Air deserted, but it matters not a jot. They proceed to channel their inner Black Flag and lay siege to the room. They’ve played 200 gigs in 4 years and it shows; these scuzzy, tinnitus-inducing punks are drum-tight. Matthew Eland
- Flatpack Music – Red Brick Vintage courtyard, Sunday.
A selection of excerpts from operatic works, mid-afternoon outside on such a warm summer’s day, takes us on a brief but beautiful trip across the romantic lands of Europe; France, Austria and –of course – Italy.
Comedy, sex, tragedy, loneliness, grief, all aspects of the human condition are explored for us, in intimate detail, and beautifully. My Dear Marquis from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus is a servant girl trying convince a titled man she’s posh; Habanera from Carmen provocative no matter how many times one hears it; and Puccini’s Nessun Dorma…oh dear, there seems to be something in my eye.
Performed by Flatpack in gorgeous gowns, cummerbunds and glorious smiles, the intended full performance of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte was missed, but these tasty music vignettes more than pleased; they were a delight. Cath Bore
- God On My Right- Blade Factory (Downstairs), Sunday
God On My Right gradually pulled in a curious audience to Blade Factory early on creating a huge sound with just a guitar and synths filling the entire room and a venue which seemed to be the perfect setting for their scuzzy post punk industrial noise. Lucy McLachlan
- Average Sex- Constellations Gardens, Sunday
A really great set full of top tunes and loads of onstage energy and its patently clear to see why Tim Burgess had them on tour with The Charlatans. Look out for these guys! Warren Millar
- Airways- Camp and Furnace, Saturday
Despite the venue being only about a quarter full this lot managed to get everyone up and dancing to Reckless Tongue. Simply excellent. Jane Trin
- Violet Youth- Baltic Market, Saturday
Violet Youth were the surprise band over in the Baltic Market. These young, unassuming lads took a familiar indie-guitar sound and injected far more hooks and inspiring melodies than thought capable. Sharp and observational their set only got better and better. Still very much ones to keep watching. Howard Doupe
10.The Fernweh-Constellation Garden, Saturday
Elsewhere there were gems in every corner of the Baltic, but special mention must go to The Fernweh who, in front of a packed Constellations Garden on Saturday, made the most of their slot. and new single Is This Man Bothering You is a future classic psych folk vibe. Lewis Ridley
- Husky Loops- Blade Factory (Upstairs), Saturday
Husky Loops worked the crowd up with their infectious hard to pin down sound blending fuzzed out guitar and bass with samples and driving drum beats. Sadly their set got pulled after just a couple of songs due to late running that had the audience begging for more. Lucy McLachlan
- Lucia- District, Sunday
District was proving a tough nut to crack at this Sound City. But when Lucia hit the stage she tore it apart. This is what we’d been waiting for and we were seriously wondering whether it would happen. All long blonde hair and pink Stetson – she wasn’t taking any prisoners. This was a perfect tutorial in how to be a rock band. Attitude. Guitar. Bass. Drums. All checked out. Exciting. Catchy. Loud. Riffs. Yup, they checked out as well. It was pretty much perfect. Definitely our band of the festival. It was the only one for which we saw the full set. Peter Goodbody
- Shadez the Misfit- 24 Kitchen Street, Saturday
A festival like Sound City might not have been the best place for this hip-hop artist and his phenomenally tight band. With a larger crowd, his introspective and political verses could have blown off the roof. Just like a milkshake between beer binging, Shadez felt like the right respite. Amaan Khan
- 77:78 – District, Saturday
77:78 brought the perfect juxtaposition for the heaving Saturday night District. Unleashing their brand-new vehicle for one-time The Bees, it was a pleasure to get a sneak preview to forthcoming debut. As the groove got heavier and the brass listed the spacious basslines, they were met to rapturous applause. Howard Doupe
- Benny Mails- Constellations. Sunday
Sound City had a decent selection of hip hop and grime, and for us one came out on top.
It’s normally a problem when someone forgets lyrics, but Benny Mails freestyled his way through so well no one noticed and fessing up was the humblest of brags. You can’t not walk away impressed when you pair the rapid-fire flow of a grime MC and jazzy hip hop beats. Kieran Donnachie
- Nick Ellis- On Air, Sunday
Despite his set being cut short, Nick Ellis brought a lucid ambience to Sound City at the On Air venue Sunday evening and made playing guitar seem easy with a fluid, and effortless performance. Amy Chidlow
- Mad Alice- Brick Street, Sunday
Mad Alice – the heaviest of sounds combined with the dreamiest of vocals by lead singer Caitlin Hare, and with their killer fashion sense- without doubt, they were the most stylish band playing. Jane Trin
- Scott Lavene –Brick Street, Sunday
We are a bit nervous that you won’t take us seriously for seriousness has no place next to Lavene and his novelty-ish songs and stories about shitting in a kitchen drawer.
But he was the only act that truly stopped us on our tracks and held us through. Heck, we bet Tom Waits appeared just as ridiculous before becoming a legend. Sod it! We are getting behind this one. Amaan Khan
- Superorganism- Hangar 34, Sunday
The enigmatic sixteen-legged hit machine are on the up. Comprising space-whale visuals and synchronised dance moves, Superorganism deal in technicolour tunes without ever feeling contrived. Their not-so-secret weapon is super-cool singer Orono, whose laid-back vocal style contrasts well with the superconnected HTML pop. Matthew Eland
- Hands Off Gretel- Baltic Social, Sunday
An unenviable late slot in Baltic Social didn’t diminish their enthusiasm as they raced through a belter of a set of shouty punk. The last time we saw this band was in front of a few hundred people at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool at Rebellion. That this gig was seen by maybe 50 people didn’t seem to matter though and Gretel’s enthusiasm wasn’t diminished one bit. A cracking end to Sound City that left us wanting more, which is how it should be. Peter Goodbody
Images by Getintothis‘ Peter Goodbody, Kevin Barrett, Jane Triin,Tom Adam, Warren Millar and Lucy McLachlan