Whilst Manchester and Liverpool have always been rivals the cliche “there has always been more that unites us than divides” has never rang truer. Indeed Liverpool Sound City was actually started by accident after founder and CEO Dave Pichilingi had worked for many years in Manchester with Tony Wilson on ‘In The City’ (see interview here ). The tragic events this week have left us all shocked, bemused, repulsed, angry and incredibly sad. And yet like so many people, we are determined to carry on, to stand in solidarity with our Manchester friends and to not be cowed by violence and a warped ideology that seeks to destroy, divide, dehumanise and sees fit to attack kids at pop concert – to what end? What could possibly justify such actions EVER ? To not carry on, to live life in fear would be to allow these warped cowardly individuals to win. We’ll be spending the weekend at Liverpool Sound City for its 10th anniversary, an event that is the absolute antithesis of terrorism, to join in a unifying celebration of art, culture, music and diversity. Such attacks won’t divide us and they won’t win. Because hate will never win. This superbly written article (here) by our chum Dave at Even The Stars who is an avid gig goer gives a Mancunian perspective and comes from the heart. It’s well worth a read.
We’d intended to post these previews on Tuesday morning, but given the events in Manchester, we’ve postponed it until now. Even at this time, we are all finding it hard to post about gigs, music and sunshine when we feel silence and darkness inside. Most of these words were written before Monday’s events. We post now, with few edits, in the spirit of defiance and togetherness that we are seeing across our wonderful cities.
We at VPME wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Sound City, music is part of the ‘everything’ that defines Liverpool and Manchester. Let our voices be heard and our spirits lifted.
Please give generously to the JustGiving page to help support families of those killed and injured in the Manchester Arena attack. Click here to donate – http://bit.ly/2rLmRmc
Sound City 2017
Aside from the headliners and a couple of our own obvious must-sees such as The Kills who we’ve been waiting to see again for years and Peaches (below) who had the Invisible Wind Factory in raptures when she played Liverpool in 2016, Andy Von Pip, Phil Greenhalgh and Susie Bennett feature a baker’s dozen of up and coming acts who we suggest would be well worth your time catching
Tim Peaks Diner – 20.15 -201.45
London four piece DIY punk’s Tear recently released their superb debut mini album ‘VINYL01′ via Tim Burgess’ label O Genesis Recordings. They are a band who have built their reputation on their fearsome live performances. The debut album certainly demonstrates huge promise with their frenetic, melodic take on driving sneering cool as fuck grungey punk.
Stand out tracks ‘Careless Again’ – ‘Begging’
Saturday – Baltic Stage – 20:00 – 20:45
And Sunday – Tim Peaks Diner 17.00 – 17.45
The best band you haven’t heard. Last year Pink Kink played Liverpool Sound City they drew a huge crowd and provided one of the festival highlights. I’ve written about them now on numerous occasions for example after their Liverpool Music Week performance I basked in post gig euphoria and waffled “This Liverpool-based collective who hail from Germany, America, Spain, Norway and Sunderland, have been a breath of fresh air on the local scene. Their performance is so uplifting, so euphoric that they would blow lesser bands away. You could throw any number of genres at Pink Kink and yet any attempt to pigeonhole them would ultimately fail. They certainly aren’t a band who would allow their creativity to be restrained by something as daft as glib journalistic genre-tagging .” Catch em and you won’t be disappointed…. because? Simple – they are fucking brilliant and like nothing you’ll see all festival. Stand out tracks – erm how about “the entire set”
Saturday – Baltic Stage – 13.30 – 14.00
It’s not really Sound City without discovering at least a few great new Aussie artists, last year Julia Jacklin stole the show, and this year Tired Lion look like they may well do the same with a rather louder guitar driven sound! They are from Perth, Australia, and they have won Triple J’s ‘Unearthed.’ Last year their first UK show was opening on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury, the are a band who forge their own take on 90’s style grunge melding power and melody. Stand Out tracks ‘Cinderella Dracula’, ‘I Don’t Think You Like Me’
Saturday – Pirate Stage – 12.15 – 12.45
Another wonderfully creative artist from Oz who performs under the moniker Olympia, which is the creative vehicle for singer-songwriter-guitarist Olivia Bartley. Her critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Self-Talk’ garnered an ARIA nomination, was a Triple J Feature Album, and was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize. The album is a beautiful introduction to Olympia’s oeuvre, slinky, sophisticated left field pop that is both reflective and uplifting and one I’ve had on repeat all week.
Stand out Track ‘Smoke Signals’ – ‘ Somewhere To Disappear’ – ‘Honey’
Sunday – The Cavern Stage – 20:30 – 21:00
Rather than read what I think of these guys why not listen to me introducing them on Amazing Radio last year (Here http://m.amazingtunes.com/shellzenner/tunes/424689 ) I caught them recently supporting When She Sleeps at Liverpool Arts Club and they were on fire.
Stand out tracks ‘Animals’ – ‘Come Play With Me’ ‘Black Sheep’
She Drew The Gun
Sunday – Baltic Stage – 18.00 18.45
Following the sublime intimate gig at the Liverpool Central library in March, I’m intrigued (and excited) to see how this translates to the bigger stage. Maybe hoping for wistful refrains floating back to the Wirral, and perhaps seeing how some of their up-tempo rockier delivery fares. Frontwoman Louisa Roach promised us something special as a homecoming gig when we interviewed her last month. It was difficult to get anywhere near their performance at Sound City last year, so a bigger stage could well make this a milestone performance, I expect for this to be intense, poignant and beautiful.
Saturday North Shore Troubadour – 23-00
Sunday Atlantic Stage – 13.30
Sound City has a rich pedigree of showcasing overseas talent, and in recent years the Far Eastern showcases have proved notable highlights of the festival. I recall being blown away in Kazimier gardens by the Korea Rocks showcase, to catching some beguiling Taiwanese electronica. This year is no exception, driven by new Sound City partners ‘Modern Sky’ there is an array of horizon-expanding talent on show. Including a 4 band takeover of the Cavern stage on Sunday Afternoon (featuring Swiimers, Diealright, Wasted Johnnys and Ssing SSing) and from past conquests, should be worth seeking out.
Spearheading the showcases are Beijing’s Re-TROS (Rebuilding The Rights of Statues). Whilst ‘Post Punk’ is one of those vague over-applied genre tags , applying to a band like ‘Re-TROS’ serves to reinstates the real meaning. At times blindingly simple synth rock and others layering naive chanted lyrics over thunderous sonic landscapes. A back catalogue of over decade calls on influences from Bauhaus to Krautrock, with the most recent offering 8+2+8 II a 10+ minute maelstrom of beats and samples that would be as at home alongside Underworld as it will Sound City. The after dark After Party at North Shore Troubador on Saturday the ideal place to reawaken the senses, expect a room full of delicious dark noise.
A second appearance early in the day on the main stage on Sunday should provide an interesting contrast of light and shade between both stage placements. I suspect intensifying the energy into the late night session at the Troubadour may be the one to blow some minds.
Sunday – The Cavern Stage – 14:30 – 15:00
‘Winsford psych’ doesn’t seem the most obvious of musical hotbeds/genre pairings, but with their debut album on the horizon, this unfeasibly powerful three piece from across the Cheshire plains promise to cut a trippy drone rock swathe through Clarence Docks. Expect lead guitarist and vocalist Jack Fearon on his knees thumping pedals to conjure intensely reverbed pulsing wails to layer over thunderous bass and precision drumming.
Show stealers every time they play, their music rich, dark tunes achieve the rare feat of being at once stripped bare yet intensely relayered. Déjà Vega are psych alchemy at its most raw and powerful. Not one to be catching half the set, more one to immerse yourself in completely.
Saturday 28.05.17 – The Cavern Stage – 20:30 – 21:00
The weather forecast for Sound City is (apparently) for it to be some kind of early summer heatwave. If the great God of the orange skyball smiles upon us, then slap on some factor 50* and celebrate with Ali Horns sunbleached feel-good psych rock. Announced for Sound City before he’d played a gig, the Strange Collective guitarist has been playing hard since debut single ‘Days like today’ gaining airplay and earning hard earned interest from the industry great and the good. The wise stage hopper will not be passing by as this will be his biggest platform to date and the launchpad for something wonderful.
Sunday 29.05.17 Invisible Wind Factory 1.00am
Colloquial lyricism and the spirit of teenage angst, Zuzu’s single ‘What You Want’ will Scouse its way into your consciousness and leave an earworm of pop rock origins ‘swear to God’ it’ll eat you alive. She has previously supported Courtney Barnett and delivers a similar sense of intelligent, melodic distraction. With a music video inspired by the cult film I Heart Huckabees, Zuzu’s existential dilemma is pretty infectious – delineated by all night TV and careless love. ‘Like it or not, you’re going to see me a lot’ she sings. See her on the small stage at Invisible Wind Factory 1.00am at Sunday while you still can.
Saturday North Shore Troubadour on Saturday at 12.30 am
Pixey is another digital era musician that’s being catapulted from the bedroom into BBC Introducing National playlist. As much as her song insists on the refrain ‘you make me wanna be young’ her melodies exude the term halcyon days of youth. She delivers effervescent, catchy electronic pop with guitar riffs that will drub you into a total submission of summer. Pixey is waiting for you at North Shore Troubadour on Saturday at half past midnight.
Saturday – 22.15 – North Shore Troubadour
Label mates at Modern Sky to Pixey, Fuss provide your dreamy ride into psychedelia with kaleidoscopic soundscapes that will lull you into total contentment. The trip is original to Fuss and their droney etheric ‘space folk’ is sure to render you happily hypnogogic. Not to be missed, and very much on the rise with a forthcoming EP and China gig dates on the horizon set your shoes to gaze and prepare to be stunned at North Shore Troubadour on Saturday at 22.15.
L U M E N
Sunday – Sound Station Marquee – 16.00
If there’s one artist you must see on the smaller stage this year its LUMEN. Inspired by 80s electro pop this bedroom boy is special. At 18 he has already been played on BBC Radio 1 and named ‘Most Ready Artist’ by the LIMF Academy. Not short of early accolades his creative approach to all aspects of production has had him classed as a ‘musical auteur’. His beautiful debut of adolescent longing and unrequited love, ‘What Will Life Make of You?’ is certainly a standout track. It feels cruel to pick out just one, however as ‘Dreams’ and ‘Seabirds’ could also easily be the film soundtrack to some enigmatic protagonist – and they will give that same sense to your weekend. Join him at the Sound Station yellow marquee on Sunday at 16.00.