Here it is. The big one. Every single band and artist I have ever wrote a live review about, all compiled in to one far too large post.
Of course, it is not expected for anybody – myself included – to read this whole thing. The use of CTRL – F is highly recommended to search for a certain artist.
It is well worth noting that every review in this post was at one point in time wrote specially for the music website Getintothis. Enjoy.
DJing to only around 100 people was almost that of a tragedy. Painfully few people for such an icon. The whole festival had somewhat of a lesser feel to it at this point, crowd wise – with only a brave few choosing to throw some shapes. Most still clearly at home nursing a hangover. But, come on, it’s Don fucking Letts.
Perhaps the most surprising thing was the diversity of age. True old schoolers bopping alongside fresh faced teens, kids and all in between. Many simply following the sound of the ear-worms oozing from the tent, which is always a completely valid way of getting around, by the way.
Remixes of Gorillaz, Jackson 5, even Nirvana classics were implemented gracefully into the likes of Blue Boy, Steve Wonder and Bob Marley, creating a perfect blend of old school cool. A bona fide embodiment of the True School Club House stage.
Long live The Don.
One of the few sets at the main stage where you could have a seat on the grass and still have a great view at the same time.
That’s no jab at the crowd size – which was actually worlds apart from the previous day – Ray BLK had amassed a sizable, yet spacious crowd.
The chilled, laid back R&B vibe traveled quickly throughout the area, with most opting for a gentle sway as they were thrown back to sounds somewhat reminiscent of the early days of Lauryn Hill.
BLK has the ability to go rapper-turned-singer and vice versa in the space of one swift mic movement. A skill that seemingly is gaining her a lot of popularity with those in attendance. Expect Ray to be coming at you through the airwaves soon.
Tea Street Band
Liverpool’s music scene is a hard one to conquer, but our very own Tea Street Band have done just that. A band that have probably paid a visit to near every venue in Liverpool, and even outlasted a few themselves.
Whether you’re a music-head or not, no doubt you’ve heard the name crop up on occasion – or perhaps, unknowingly walked by some not-so-artsy graffiti scrawled across the streets of Anfield and Kenny, all the way from the early ’00s. The words simply reading ‘The Maybes?‘, the bands former project, then with the addition of now solo singer Nick Ellis.
It speaks for itself, really. These lads are by no means strangers to the scene, and tonight we once again pay witness to the greatness that is Tea Street Band.
With their wonderfully Liverpudlian vibe woven into every ounce of their sound, Timo and friends powered through tune after tune, filling the room with such an infectious euphoria that even this timid writer managed to mingle to the beat.
Now at max capacity, the NST venue really got into the swing of things. What started off as a bitterly brisk, half empty garage space had now bloomed into a fully fledged, singing compulsory, social fest, complete with mezzanine escape to which you could settle on an overly worn couch.
As for new music, it was in abundance. With Tea Street demonstrating many of their latest guitar driven, psychedelic-esque ventures. Which, unsurprisingly, were warmly welcomed by crowd of 200 or so.
All in all, Tea Street Band have done what is expected of any live performer, control, keep, and relish the audience. All completed and excelled with ease.
Support for the night came in the form of The Shipbuilders, Liverpool’s finest gypsy-surf-rock band since, well… nobody, we guess? They are solely unique in every pleasant aspect. From the on-stage theatrics to sheer song writing skill. Although, influences from the likes of Tom Waits and Love are exceptionally clear – but only in the way you seem to catch every so often. An influence that doesn’t dictate sound.
Keeping the trend of Liverpool bred bands were new project from The Zutons’ Dave McCabe, Silent K, perhaps a bit more energetic than their previous backing, with tambourine headbanging and front man Chris Taylor donning a sea captains hat. Why? Who knows. It just worked. In fact, the five piece just about squeezed themselves on stage, with the keyboardist drawing the short straw and being placed sideways, slightly out of view.
It was a fully scouse line-up to complement what could have been a night of celebration for Mersey sound and its bands. Liverpool’s own slice of new music in this grand monopoly.
Offering a short but sweet set, XamVolo‘s laid back vocals presented a temporary escape from the seemingly everlasting torrent of rainfall. Well, not literally but you get the idea.
Forever dressed in black with a right hand that never leaves his pocket, Volo himself was assisted by five other members, a mix of bass, drums and a dash of electronics added into the mix, creating a sound that would make for some smooth Sunday morning listening.
Like many other artists, XamVolo was extremely thankful to those who stuck round in the wetness to witness his criminally calm and collected delivery, which trumped the weather with ease.
The Vryll Society
Generating the largest audience so far, The Vryll Society took little time in diving into their set as dozens swept forward towards the stage, attracting listeners with their distinctive brand of hybrid psychedelic oomph.
Created by blurring the lines between psychedelia and a modest dose of funk, the two time GIT Award nominees have sat on the radar for little over a while now.
Introduced as ‘the perfect festival band‘ the five members, including a pair of brothers, are set to continue their rise as one of the most compelling live acts around.
Second review of The Vryll Society:
Although still not at full capacity, it was now time for the final act, the main attraction, The Vryll Society. Having sat on the radar for a little over a while now, the five members, including a pair of brothers, attracted listeners with their distinctive brand of psychedelic oomph.
With little effort, the band efficiently and greatly transitioned their studio hits to suit the stage, and with enchanting chemistry too. The worry being that perhaps the sounds produced wouldn’t fully adapt to a live scene. Songs such as Deep Blue Skies were obvious crowd pleasers, creating more than a few swaying bodies.
The near hour long set from The Vryll Society blurred the lines between psychedelia and a modest dose of funk. Ample work from the five-piece, who will surely continue to rise upwards. Bring on the August return.
First on the bill for the evening were upcoming psychedelic four piece, The Holograms, who opened up to a rather spacious Magnet venue.
Having the honour of setting the night in motion, a familiar sight took to the stage: four skinny jeaned lads with three guitars in hand. Admittedly, this writer assumed generically the gist of what this band had to offer – but said writer will also hold his hands up and admit his wrong preconceptions. The Holograms offered something more than just your bog standard guitar band.
Becoming more engaging with each passing tune, the quartet ventured into a rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelic, indie hurricane, fused with the borderline acute vocals from frontman Joe Sloan for added texture. Plainly put, The Holograms had created a sound that, dare I say, was reminiscent of a similar feel to the likes of The Doors.
An extremely brief interval offered little time for drink refills as next in line Samurai Kip quickly kicked up a fuss with their semi-laid-back, folk pop.
Opting for a slightly more hushed start than the previous ensemble, Samurai Kip knew just when to suitably tone it down, and alternatively, ramp it back up – all within the blink of an eye. At times, the hyperspeed guitar play from the band looked as if it could transcend them into the fourth dimension.
Wild Fruit Art Collective
The penultimate place was given to the supersonic, mind bending, psych-rock band known as Wild Fruit Art Collective. Continuing tonight’s theme of guitar heavy tunes, the boys thrashed through their set.
Frontman Jamie Roberts proved not just to be stage bound, leaping off stage and playing directly to those in the front, and, at one point even asking crowd members if he could borrow some of their lipstick. Once received, Roberts then applied it generously to himself. Yeah, it was that kind of gig.
Playing their last song, with the invitation to come up on stage accepted by only two of the audience, the bands time to close was drawing near.
When the turn of the trio, Touts, had come, the Derry boys knew exactly what to do.
Straight from the off, hyperspeed guitar play furiously fused with some passionate, and rather boisterous, vocals. The result was a genius array of punk that caught the ear of many as the sound rocketed from front to back.
The feeling of unhinged, teenage rebellion was high, yet worked wonderfully into their character. A true punk persona. Harnessing the power of all that inner angst, drummer Luke McLaughlin would often beat his drums so hard you’d think they had insulted him. The band as a whole moved at a near erratic rate, as if placed on permanent fast-forward.
The entire experience was quite immense. Wild, young and pissed off – that’s how you play a set.
Once the dust had settled (quite literally), Leeds quintet, Fizzy Blood, now had their chance to showcase the thing they know how to do best – play their own brand of retro-inspired, guitar heavy rock.
Playing to a crowd of some 50 people, the band acknowledged that numbers are understandably on the low side due to White Lies doing their thing over at the Atlantic Main Stage, and The Cribs taking over just around the corner at the Baltic Stage.
However, all that is irrelevant and had zero effect on Fizzy Blood’s high energy, high tempo set, which was simply fuelled by a love for live music. Having been compared to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age – which is a compliment in of itself – Fizzy Blood displayed a whole batch of monstrous riffs and roaring vocals, all while utterly dominating the space.
For working the stage in its entirety, credit goes go guitarist Tim Malkin, who never managed to stay in the same spot for longer than 10 seconds. Some major effort was placed into carrying that guitar around constantly.
Strange band names side, are Fizzy Blood so called ‘one’s for the future‘? Not by any means. Fizzy Blood are one’s for now.
The Night Café
From humble beginnings to a now packed out Academy.
The Night Café have made the leap towards bigger ventures and landed in spectacular fashion, assisted by the help of some heavy hitting, self-proclaimed, ‘bangers’.
Already greatly supported here at Getintothis, the Liverpool lads have exploded on to the scene with mainstream-sized proportions, their themes of youth, love and friendship evoke a yearning for the past, winning the hearts of many along the way.
As good of a job as the supporting acts did, it was evident all were here to singalong to The Night Café. Lights dimmed and bodies tightly packed, the summer soundtrack specialists had now arrived.
No time was wasted as the boys dived headfirst into their set, overpriced drinks immediately flung skywards.
The band were clearly soaking up the atmosphere of a bigger venue than usual, that’s not to say the four piece lack experience playing to a larger audience, having previously supported for the likes of Sundara Karma and The Wombats and this is surely just the tip of the iceberg in terms for The Night Café.
Previous Deep Cuts Live favourites, The Bohos, now stepped up to the stage and promptly announced themselves, investing deeply in conversing with those in the front rows. Oozing swagger, frontman Fin Power displayed a personality that filled the room as much as their music – even kissing and licking the faces of other members. A form of gratitude, I guess?
Full of energy, beer and rock ‘n’ roll, The Bohos are made to perform live. Entertainers as much as they are musicians.
It’s a wondrous thing. Witnessing the skyward rise of an artist.
Observing a band who don’t know any other direction than upwards. Knowing one day their greatness will become greater. And that, in a single word, would be Palace.
After a successful debut EP, Palace had launched themselves into the public eye (well, by public eye I mean the eye of music lovers). Songs such as Bitter now finding their way into the mainstream, attracting admirers with ease.
Two years on from their Liverpool debut, Palace were now back with more. Filled to maximum capacity, the Buyers Club swiftly became overcome by semi intimidating guitar crescendos. The brooding voice of Leo Wyndham coming out to play alongside the carefully plucked stings.
Resemblance to the sound of The Maccabees and Jeff Buckley are strong – with a huge emphasis on the music legend that is Jeff Buckley. The influence is exceptionally clear.
Palace are already the masters of live performance. Giving it their all into each breath, they’re made to be on stage with their arena-sized tunes. Personalities not only perking up to be a persona, but to define their whole being.
Your new favourite bluesy, folk, Jeff Buckley-like, guitar band? You bet.
Now, here at the Buyers Club, first to open up the night were Merseyside’s own Echo Beach. With their own brand of ‘surfgaze’ – a concoction of surf-rock and shoegaze – Echo Beach were immediately on form.
Songs such as Strung Out gainedmore than a few swaying bodies due to its infectious feel-good summer vibes that were given off by the rather heavily defined guitar pop. Even including an instrumental cover of The Cure‘s Lullaby for good measure.
Proving not just to be stage-bound, members stepped down to eye level to play directly to those perched at the front.
As notable as these boys are, entering their name into any search engine presents pages upon pages of the Martha and the Muffins classic song Echo Beach.
The centre slot belonged to West London five piece, Babeheaven. Often described as the Durutti Column of the 21st century due to their project-like dream pop sound and similar formation.
Beginning with the song Heaven, the quintet took little time to show what they’re about with instant spine-tinglers.
Worthy of its own piece entirely, lead singer Nancy Anderson‘s vocals were simply powerful. Assisted by hazy guitars, gentle riffs and chilled synths all united into one ultimate dreamy escape. Throughout the entire set, this feeling was ever present. Lingering as you constantly reminded yourself that you are, in fact, still in reality.
You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t approve of the Buyers Club and their take on an intimate music venue.
So surprise, surprise when news broke that The Amazons would be paying a visit to the now year-old space as part of their rather extensive UK tour.
The band have earned themselves a fair amount of radio play, with support from BBC Radio 1 presenter, Huw Stevens, and tonight they were playing their first very own Liverpool gig.
With so much hype already surrounding the boys from Reading, it was hard not to give in to the excitement. Bodies budged closer to the stage and the Formula 1 speed guitar play was now upon us. Ear-busting songs such as Black Magic and Little Something created the most chaos, with many from the crowd throwing their hands to the sky and heads to the floor.
Guitars and vocals played well with one another, like two halves of a brain working in unison. This, of course, is what’s launching The Amazons into stardom. Gaining traction like few others, the band have exploded onto the scene.
With their debut album hinted to realise in June, as well as being set to play at a yet unannounced festival – which frontman Matt Thompson told those in attendance tonight to keep a secret (oops) – The Amazons are set to continue rising, for which they are more than worthy of.
First to fill the room with the sweet sound of guitar rock were four piece, DANYE. Jumping instantly into their set with a lengthy instrumental that immediately sparked similarity of an early Tame Impala (think Jeremy’s Storm from the album Innerspeaker).
Building on their good start, frontman Dan West added to the mix with semi-hushed vocals. Perfectly suited for the sound behind the voice. Credit due for powering through a few (a lot) mic mishaps. All in all, the band did what was asked of them – successfully immerse the already mass amount of people with some good tunes.
The night of noise continued when Mancunian quartet, Cupids, found themselves on stage. Already oozing that rock ‘n’ roll look, Cupids had all the tools of a well composed, self-assured band. Their latest single, Good Things Come to Those Who Wait, only sealed the deal. Full of chorus-drenched guitars and clearly defined vocals. If I had a large fortune I’d happily bet it on Cupids becoming something more in the future.
It was a night of new here on Tithebarn Street, new venue, new Bido Lito! Social and of course, new music.
At the site, the voguish vibes given off by the contemporary gig space HUS were saved only for the main room. Deep downstairs housed a basement that can be summed up in two words – acid house.
Appearing like the kind of place that would host illegal raves in the early 90s, playing deep in to the night and having people wear glow sticks. But that was not the case for tonight as instead it was The Mysterines who were to kick off the evening with their prog rock influences.
Already playing to a full room, the trio instantly announced themselves through some big and heavy riffs. Powering through song after song and carrying the audience with them throughout. Shouts of ‘that was boss!‘ only verified the gratification experienced from those listening.
Second review of The Mysterines:
First to make an appearance in tonight’s all Wirral line-up are The Mysterines, who were called into action only the day before because By The Sea, who are the usual suspects joining the The Coral for this tour, couldn’t make it happen tonight.
The trio did their job as a support act and not much more. That is no criticism, however. The guitar heavy – blues inspired – sound and looping riffs created a hint of what was in store for the rest of the night and made for a successful opener.
Cover stars, The Orielles, were now up on stage. Invited by the band to move closer, the crowd obliged as each person took two steps nearer and rhythmic beats then filled the air. Guitarist Henry Wade seemingly became entranced by their own sound, swaying with eyes closed, mouth open, as if in some profound euphoric state.
Guitar play was naturally the centre piece of the music, with everything else strategically placed around it as if to see just how layers could be added to the already psychedelic-dripping garage rock.
With the last song now upon us, The Orielles clearly saved one of their best for last. A 10 minute long trip with many twists and turns, distortions, tempo ups and then downs, wild drumming, guitar strumming, dominant then subdued vocals. An organised chaos. Something that takes great skill not only to do, but to do it well – that’s The Orielles.
Cast yourself back some 14 years ago. The Coral release their debut self-titled album and near instantly cement themselves as Mersey greats.
The album, which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, contains the now iconic song ‘Dreaming of You’ – with perhaps one of the most easily identifiable bass intro’s ever – the track topped the charts. The boys from The Wirral had created a catchy, simple pop hit and assisted in the surge of 00’s indie in doing so.
With a few ups and downs, members leaving and a brief hiatus, we’re back to 2016 and The Coral are now touring on the back of their eighth studio album Distance Inbetween. Five years since last their tour and now playing once again to a full house at the Liverpool Olympia.
One over extended interval later, The Coral arrived. Roars and cheers came from the eager crowd and the band responded by jumping straight into their set.
Minimal conversation with the audience, other than the occasional ‘nice one’ from frontman James Skelly. It took until the third song to really get everyone moving, and that song was of course In The Morning. It was the classics that primarily got any reaction from the crowd, as to be expected. Songs from Distance Inbetween seemed to act as more of a filler until a pre-2005 Coral tune was played.
Dreaming of You was of course left until last. Banking on the popularity of the track (and still the only song many know from The Coral, unfortunately) the band gave it their all and so did the crowd. Getting the biggest reception of the night, drinks now flew overhead, strangers danced and lyrics were belted out.
Of their newer stuff, the band are no longer drenched in the Merseybeat style they once had, but they still maintain that image and the confidence of a fully fledged band who could develop, change and mould their sound. Few bands can continue to adjust and thrive in the same way as The Coral have done for many years now, but some will still argue that they’re still just riding the success of their early 00s career. You can’t please them all.
The Sundowners made an entrance to a now near full room. Playing tracks from their, as yet, new, unnamed album, the band displayed their own brand of psychedelic, harmony heavy rock. Clear influences from the likes of The Velvet Underground were undeniable. The lighting tech did them a favour by turning on the soft, yellow, sundowny kind of lights. It worked well.
Often times at a lengthy show, many gig-goers will be tired of waiting for the main event as the anticipation grows too much – but not here. In fact, at this point in the evening you’d think The Sundowners were the main event themselves, and they could have been – they’re that good. The performance from the band was one of full enjoyment, by both the audience and the band themselves.
Emmy The Great
If you’re unfamiliar with Emmy the Great, then we’re more than happy to be your introduction. With over a decades worth of music, the Hong Kong-born, now London-based musician offers more than just your run of the mill heartbroken singer.
Moving forward from her first two albums, First Love and Virtue, the focus has shifted to the struggle many fear of a life without meaning. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the prospect of love can save us all! Perhaps a tad clichéd in her views, but take nothing away from Emmy‘s ability to engage with the audience through powerful vocals and the occasional chat.
The time was now here for Emmy the Great. Jumping immediately into her whimsical lyrics, the musician made a great effort to communicate with her audience. It was clear most were here just for Emmy.
Songs such as Algorithm had the lyrics now flowing so naturally, with a relatable, personal feel. It was clear Emmy was passionate about the very words she was singing. Soul filled and deeply enchanting.
The personal feel only got deeper when Emmy the Great told the story of her love for Leonard Cohen, and how his words and his passing are both gifts.
The heartfelt chat led to a Cohen sing-a-long with the audience. Lyric sheets to the song Anthem were passed around and rehearsed as each person was encouraged to at least sing the chorus. As nice as an idea it was, most chose to simply not sing, perhaps summing up the overall tone of the night.
Here to first warm up the crowd of 20 was lone artist O Karmina, whose mix of hums and repeating beats garnered little reaction from the few that could actually see her playing the keyboard, hidden in the corner behind the speakers.
It was around half way through the set when O Karmina really seemed to announce herself, presenting the vocals as the centrepiece and any other sounds created were only there to support her voice. Following up with a question of ‘who here knows Bat for Lashes?‘ was met with only silence as a reply, but the undeterred singer continued with the greatest of admirability.
CYTA were next up to try their luck. The trio opted for hardly any lighting for the start, only the dreary guitars gave any indication that someone was there on stage. Soon enough the band found their feet and songs such as Voices Carry on Through the Mist created a few bobbing heads. Some of guitar solos gave a faint hint of a pre-1973 Pink Floyd (think A Pillow Of Winds) – which is of course only a good thing.
For the bands final song, both O Karmina and Emmy the Great were invited to the stage. This was by far the highlight. The artists collaborated extremely well. Perhaps they would be better as one band: O CYTA the Great?
She Drew The Gun
On a night when most are out dressing up and waiting in obnoxiously long queues for the Halloween weekend, this writer opts for the more cosy mixture of a dimly lit room and some compelling live music in the form of She Drew The Gun and friends.
Having previously played at Leaf for the 50 Years of Revolver celebration (and performing an even more psychedelic rendition of The Beatles‘ Tomorrow Never Knows) She Drew The Gun were now to showcase songs from their debut album Memories of the Future.
The magic continued with She Drew The Gun, who received a warm welcome from the now packed out room. Each member of the band wearing skeleton face paint, all in the spirit of Halloween.
Something that immediately stood out was how lead vocalist Louisa Roach would create short rhymes as introductions to many of the songs, each being incredibly witty and well thought out.
In an unexpected twist, it was now time for SDTG‘s “token cover song“; the unexpected twist being that it was in fact Overload by Sugababes. To say they made this song their own would be an understatement. The lyrics being the only give away that it was a classic Sugababes song.
Cover song over, it was time to get real with a track called Poem. It was at this point the band truly flourished, delivering a dose of raw and powerful words. The beautifully crafted lyrics flowed so smoothly, delivering a dark impact with its message straight from the soul. The bare bones approach only made the feel more intimate.
With lyrics about problems that we all have seen or have faced ourselves, the title couldn’t be more correct. The words would still have the same influence if just read off a sheet of paper, and is that not true song writing?
First to give a gentle kick start the evening was solo artist Charlie McKeon, whose warm semi subdued vocals set the tone for the night. With only his guitar for assistance, influences from Nick Drake and Paul Simon were clear to see as Charlie managed to calculate the perfect ratio of lyrics to guitar.
With only a 20 minute set, McKeon had managed to display a palette of poetry. Although the crowd was still mostly unsettled, those that got in early definitely had no qualms about the decision.
Next up were freak-folk group Mamatung, who were playing in place of We Are Catchers who unexpectedly had to pull out of the night for reasons as yet unknown.
The trio made the most of the opportunity, capturing the audience completely. Describing these girls is like describing your favourite food to someone who has never experienced it. The sheer range of instruments used by the threesome was impressive alone. With bird whistles, ukuleles, a blow organ and all the usual suspects too.
If the audience was anything to go by, it seems Mamatung already have a fanbase to be reckoned with – and rightly so. The group offered praise to She Drew The Gun for allowing them to tour with such a “revolutionary band“.
The Big Moon
Playing host for the evening was the very fitting Arts Club, just one of the many venues used for Liverpool Music Week. The place was bigger than the entrance suggested – split into a basement and a loft, the Arts Club was dimly lit but maintained a laid back vibe that only few sites can claim to have.
A brief interval and a few drink refills later, The Big Moon had come to steal the show. Wasting no time, the band jumped straight into their first track Silent Movie Susie. This was just a taste of what was in store, as the all girl quartet jumped up a gear and headed full throttle into the next song. Being their first night on tour perhaps explains all the saved up energy, or perhaps The Big Moon already have the character to deliver on each performance they give. We’ll go with the latter.
Following on from the hair whips galore during many of the guitar plays, the girls would often just chat to the cluster of people here. Mainly about how frontwoman Juliette Jackson has a case of the “sniffles“. Their behaviour onstage was not that just of friends, but of a calm, cool and collected feeling. Veterans of the live act already.
Finishing off with the song Sucker, a slightly slower tempo than some of the other tracks, only proved that The Big Moon are made for live performances. A set full of smiles, friend talk, a bit of rashness and goofy dancing proves a good recipe.
Trudy and the Romance
GIT Award Nominees Trudy and the Romance were next up. The odd-case trio (we use the term endearingly) showcased their self-described “50’s mutant pop” with some rather eccentric guitar play from lead vocalist Oliver Taylor, whose questionable dance moves are now synonymous with the band.
Immediately gifting the audience with a play of their latest song Doghouse, Trudy and the Romance gave no signs of holding back. This idea was cemented as they invited up to the stage fellow musicians Pink Kink from the crowd. With barely enough space, the mix of band members gave their own rendition of The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down. Truly a spectacular, bizarre, wonderful take on the classic that seemingly gained the most energy from all there. Highlight of the night? You bet.
Now back to just three people on stage, Oliver Taylor was able to deliver his trademark ferocious strumming. Often finishing a song at least ten steps to the left of where he had originally started. If it weren’t for his guitar cord keeping him tethered in place, we have no doubt that he’d have gotten lost by the end of the set.
Excluding the cover song, it was the Trudy originals that won the most yells and screams. Songs such as Baby I’m Blue and All My Love were sang and copied by the crowd – the erratic dancing, however, was not.
The night commenced when VYNCE took charge of the stage. Starting off with an instrumental approach, the four piece launched an all out attack with their guitars before frontman Peter Pegasiou broke up the assault by announcing himself through both well timed and well rounded vocals.
Although the set had some minor sound issues at the start, with many of the members asking the sound engineer for basically more of everything, the four piece had no problem performing their melodies and lyrics in sync.
The staccato guitar riffs presented by the band were a common theme throughout their set. Evident in the majority of the playlist, VYNCE‘s guitar tinged tunes proved a winner amongst many in the crowd, albeit not a large crowd at this point in the night. The infectious indie pop beat perhaps wasn’t as contagious as deserved, with all but a few glued in position, simply choosing to soak up the sound.
With the festival season is pretty much over, as Liverpool’s Psychedelia Festival closes its doors for another year, what better way to kick away the post fest blues than with a dose of raw indie rock at Parr Street’s Studio 2.
Here to deliver that dose were South London band, INHEAVEN. The night was the quartet’s third trip to Liverpool this year, having previously supported for Sundara Karma at the Arts Club back in June. INHEAVEN have already made waves in the indie scene after The Strokes‘ frontman, Julian Casablancas, gave his approval of the foursome’s music.
The intimate Studio 2 venue became just that as INHEAVEN made their way front and centre, advising all to move closer to the stage, claiming “this is live music after all!“. The buzz surrounding the four piece was easy to see in the crowd of eager bodies, but cheers and whistles became mute as the band blasted their guitars to the first song. We were lucky enough to get a “Liverpool exclusive” in the form of new song All There Is, a more smooth take than tracks such as Regeneration – which was saved for last.
Always conversing with those in front of him, lead vocalist James Taylor knew how to please a crowd. Asking questions, telling jokes and shouting just how great everyone is for even being there. It was after many more thanks that James demanded all photographers move aside to allow each person to get even closer, now we’re virtually on the platform. It was time for the finale. Drummer Joe Lazarus kicked off the beat as the vocals soon make an appearance. Under instruction of the band, most are now bouncing up and down, by far the most energy generated by this partly static crowd.
When the song came to a close, the band gave thanks once more before exiting. A few shouts and jeers from fans suggested that perhaps one more song should be played, but alas, it never happened and the bodies dispersed.
INHEAVEN provide a sort of Jesus and Mary Chain and Stone Roses hybrid sound with a dash of grunge and an ounce shoegaze, all while managing to maintain their own feel. Expect big – sorry, BIGGER things from INHEAVEN. They’re definitely one to look out for.
Pale Waves had gained the biggest audience so far, which is to be expected. The self described band of ‘nineties inspired indie pop feels, drenched in reverb and glitter’ took no extra time jumping straight into their set. And oh how indie pop feels were had. It was clear lead singer Heather‘s vocals were the centrepiece of so many songs, only resting to join in the joyous jangley guitar melodies produced by the band. The likes of The Cure come to mind, seemingly similar in guitar riffs.
Next on the stage were Liverpool’s own, The Protagonists. Offering a mix of their own songs, a few covers and some questionable dancing, the band drew in a crowd. Showcasing tracks from their latest EP, Girls, proved a winner, garnering a bit of movement from the now near half full venue. The Protagonists were able to add their own mark on Catfish and the Bottlemen‘s track Twice. Without introduction, you’d have assumed it was their own. It matched their style perfectly, a sort of slick boy band look.
Back To Basics
First to warm up the crowd were fresh out of school trio Back To Basics. Playing to a crowd of only a dozen or so people, the band played mostly cover songs – and that’s not a band thing. With a cover of Chuck Berry‘s classic, Johnny B. Goode (that we will approve on Mr. Berry‘s behalf) and a worthy effort of Pink Floyd‘s Another Brick In The Wall. No song was too big for these boys as Back To Basics lead vocalist and guitarist played the solo’s with immense dedication as the room slowly filled up.
First to perform were guitar heavy band WIFE, who opened up to a mostly empty room but that had no impact on their performance. WIFE meant business. They oozed grunge – from their look to their sound. Singing, playing, moving and pretty much owning the stage as the crowd opted for simple head bobbing rather than the more suitable head banging.
A single hiccup occurred mid set when a microphone screeched a less than pleasant robotic sound. No fault by the band, however. A few grumbles from the sound engineer with a couple of test “one two’s” and WIFE were back under way, in no way being put off as they continued as if performing to thousands.
As the venue continued to gather more bodies, it was now time for Liverpool’s very own five piece, White Cliff. Although they’re a self- proclaimed “indie-rock” band, a more fitting description would simply be “pop band”. With a quick apology to the ever-growing audience for their lateness to the stage, the band gets into the swing of their first song.
Front man Oliver Nagy‘s vocals gave a sort of early Kings of Leon vibe, which, depending on your outlook could be good or bad. The smooth transitions between each song made for better listening all round, as the group knew exactly how to perform live. A sort of practice for their Germany tour in October.
Female rap duo Girli, brought arguably the most energy to the stage and it transferred through the audience. Think a more explicit version of Let’s Eat Grandma. With the duo rapping about losing your friends at parties, meeting people online and of course, all those silly boys who will break your heart.
Acting out their lyrics with slow motion fights and gestures, Girli had the crowd in their control and even joined the audience at one point as they proved not to just be stage bound.
The time had now arrived for the main act, Oscar Scheller himself, or simply referred to as just Oscar. After many thank you’s to the audience for sticking around the show began. The release of his debut album Cut and Paste saw a rise in popularity for the Londoner. His cheeky chappy demeanour visible through many of his songs as he sings about breaking phones and breaking hearts.
The song Good Things is what got most movement from the crowd. The melancholy undertones of the song sit perfectly with Oscar’s deep, moving voice. A band that spring to mind, when listening to the tales of Oscar, is Blur, often similar in both style and storytelling ability with witty lyrics which seem most prominent in the song Sometimes.
With many of the tunes tinged in guitars and the throwback style of play, Oscar is able to provide something more than his contemporaries. Conversing with the crowd between each song, being truly thankful for those that came to support him and best of all, creating a sound that both relates and resonates within.
Many more thank you’s were said before the set came to a close and the crowd dispersed. Some stuck around as Oscar happily took photo’s with anyone who asked. What a guy.
Ex-Easter Island Head
What better place for an Ex-Easter Island Head new album launch show than at the (somewhat) new Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room – impressive in both size and stature, much like the sound produced from Ex-EIH.
For those not yet in the know, Ex-Easter Island Head are a Liverpool based trio who use their guitars, bass and drums to create sound in a, perhaps, unconventional way. The trio are pioneers of the this unique solid-body genre, their minimalist approach explores just what is possible when you lay down three electric guitars and a bass guitar. Just two weeks prior to the show, Ex-Easter Island Head released their latest album Twenty Two Strings. Three electric guitars and one bass = 22 strings. Clever, right?
Of course most were hear to witness the talent of Ex-Easter Island Head. Applause was already in abundance as the three musicians each found their place. Three guitars and a single bass lay flat on two tables.
After a knowing glance at each other, Ben Duvall and Ben Fair picked up their drum mallets and the journey began. Promptly giving their guitars/bass a less than tender treatment as they beat the sounds from their instruments. Jonathan Hering eased himself in on drums, ensuring his movements were on sync. Every cymbal hit matching that of every guitar strike, resulting in a fixed, yet audacious ambience.
Switching it up, both Bens opted to drop the mallets in exchange for an Allen key. Yes, you read correctly. Briskly rubbing the tool across the strings of their guitars, creating a mix of cascading tones that were so emotionally powerful.
Ex-Easter Island Head have an unmistakable, signature sound. It’s been said before and it will be said again – eyes closed, you’d never know you were listening to an electric guitar and bass. This is certainly done with every intention.
Momentum built with an assortment of cowbells being put to use. This momentum continued into the next song with a prominent energetic bass now as the backdrop. The supercharged song, Six Sticks, was the perfect finisher. The climax had them stepping outside of their ambient comfort zone. Furiously striking their equipment with a power that transferred into their sound and then into the audience.
Ex-Easter Island Head are a group made to perform live. A one off band. Unique in so many aspects. Changing the way in which people air guitar. It’s a pleasure for Liverpool to claim them as one of their own and a greater pleasure to listen. Be sure to check them out.
The night started when Kepla took to the stage. Sound slowly began to wisp through the room, bouncing from wall to wall, constantly changing directions, coming from every angle. Immediately your sense of sound was being questioned.
Visuals appeared around 10 minutes in. The clips displayed were extremely high definition. Short videos of caves, insects, and bones – definitely quite creepy and unsettling much like the sound being produced. Just when you thought you could relax – BOOM! A thunderous noise announced itself, making many in the audience jump in their seat (this writer included) proving just how engrossed the audience were in the chilling atmosphere.
With no sign of the tempo dropping, sounds rapidly gathered more and more layers, creating something bigger, more dynamic. Sort of like how a snowball gather more snow and expand when rolling down a hill.
The sound ultimately faded and visuals drew blank. The whole experience was a somewhat haunting, near psychedelic trip.
Wait, what do you mean “who”? Nopame are a project, born in the winter of 2013 with a percussion jam based electronic music. Hailing from Bucharest, Romania, the quintet attracted a crowd of originally just over 100 people, not the same numbers as other acts such as Bastille or Skrillex, but that is obviously to be expected, as most were still sleeping off their hangovers in the early morning. The more the band performed, the more they attracted. The crowed had now doubled in size as fellow music lovers followed their ears to easy listening style of Nopame.
Their stage offered something a little more intimate and almost elusive, those who were there just knew. Paying homage to all that came made them seem genuinely thankful for all there. But above all this, they played great music. So if you were one of the ~200 people who were there, shout out to you for making the experience so much more.
Congo Natty aka Rebel MC’s appearance proved that Electric Castle isn’t always, well, electric. The reggae artist provided a chilled atmosphere, a break from the hardcore dancing, with his calmly executed reggae. Admittedly the rain probably had a say in the amount of people there, Congo Natty deserving of 1000s was singing to an audience of only a few hundred.
Many chose to view the act from the safety of drinks stand located near the back. An almost backwards twist from the norm of everyone wishing to be as close as they can.
Self-described as “music made by your imaginary friend,” Slow Magic seemed to be a personification of the festival itself – unique, energetic, full of great sound and something not many people know about.
The theme of breaking barriers was a reoccurring theme throughout the festival. The mellowness was broken with Slow Magic then grabbing their drum, placing it above their head, and then walking directly into the crowd. Surrounded by many, the anonymous artist then began to play. Displaying the use of the main stage’s pyrotechnics and strobe lighting in sync to the beat added to the experience, as Slow Magic continued to beat the drum as if it had insulted him.
Now, hear us out before you start making mean comments about how it’s not 2009 anymore. Maybe not the most anticipated act, but Enter Shikari know how to perform live. Having existed since 1999, you bet they’ve learnt a thing or two about how to put on a show. Their up close and personal with the crowd type of performance made everything that little more meaningful.
Understandably not everyone’s cup of tea (including this writer’s, before seeing them perform live), Enter Shikari worked the audience to the max. After breaking a guitar only one and a half songs in, you knew this was serious.
The highlight of the show came when guitarist Chris Batton joined the crowd and had those form a circle pit around him while attempting to still play. When the song was complete, Batton was gracefully crowd-surfed back to the stage, albeit a bit wet, but with his guitar still intact.
Drawing one of the biggest crowds of the festival were Sigur Ros, and for good reason. Opening with the eerie track Óveður instantly offered an insight into their world. Chilling sound paired with trippy, mind altering visuals that matched the music in both the feel and awe. It’s no criticism to the music to say that the visuals impressed just as much.
As the trio suddenly moved forward from their curtain of lasers with a sort of pathetic fallacy as the rain came down as soon as they started singing and ending once the song stopped. This raw emotion of being in the moment, right there and then was nothing short of enlightening. You would think they had cued it, honestly.
The Pies, arguably the greatest Liverpool band that Liverpool hasn’t heard. Gaining fame – rightly or wrongly – for their (in)famous motorway graffiti, many didn’t realise The Pies were actually a band. And a very good one at that. Occasional appearances have been made by the almost mythical musicians, playing only two gigs since 2005, the first in Walton Prison and the second to mark a decade since the September 11 attacks. It’s fair to say St. George’s Hall made for quite a change from their previous settings.
The night was hosted by veteran radio presenter, BBC Radio Merseyside’s Spencer Leigh, whose knowledge of music provided great insight to what The Pies were really about. As the man who inspired The Pies to continue on and make music, he was the best person for the job.
Before The Pies were set to play, Spencer Leigh conducted an interview with frontman Ashley Martin. With tales of how The Pies started, near misses with the police and Ashley’s new found relationship with famous streaker, Mark Roberts – who did actually come and ‘streak’. Thankfully, not fully.
With some of The Pies graffiti on its third or fourth revision, Ashley Martin told the tale of how some of their graffiti has stayed up for so long. “What I find is that usually the council sometimes will paint over it and if you replace it straight away, it gets them peeved and then it stays up a bit longer, but once you do it the third time then they just throw their hands up and go ‘nah, leave it, mate. It’s The Pies.’”
A brief interval allowed time for drink refills, and then it was time for The Pies to show they’re more than just writing on a bridge. Kicking off with the song This Is Your Time, but after realising that the bass wasn’t correctly hooked up, The Pies played the whole song again, to no one’s displeasure.
Ashley Martin would give a short description of each song before playing, talking about the meaning behind the music or the origin of the song. The song, Batman, was a prime example of The Pies story telling through music. Pointing out that the number was about a flawed law in the system for those not being able to see their kids. Bringing up a trio of girls, no older than 7, to the stage to assist with the vocals, the tone became emotionally moving as they each sang into the shared microphone whilst attempting to dance in sync with one another. The ballad ended and transformed into an epic guitar solo from original Pies member, Si Lee, earning a standing ovation from many of the crowd.
After claiming to be playing their last song, three songs later it was actually the last song from The Pies. Electronic was the perfect ending to a night that will go on in Liverpool folklore. Each person headed to the front of the stage to bask in the sound not many get to hear live. Dancing flowed through the hall and although everyone was invited to join them on stage, the security team wouldn’t allow it to happen. Bores.
So what’s next for The Pies? Well, nobody knows. But that is of course what makes The Pies, well, The Pies. An unknown elusive aura shrouds them in mystery. It could genuinely be another decade before we hear from The Pies again, or perhaps this was the last ever event for band. Either way, The Pies legacy will live on through their aged motorway graffiti, and now, hopefully, their music.
D R O H N E
Imagine you’re in a dimly lit warehouse, drink in hand and music rattling your ear drums. Now shrink that warehouse down to a garage (okay, maybe a bit bigger), add a bit more intimacy as everyone stands shoulder to shoulder, throwing their hands about. You have the Buyers Club with a perfect atmosphere for some heavy future beats.
Starting the night off were alternative electric duo, D R O H N E, whose music wouldn’t have been out of place as a soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic movie. And yes, that’s a good thing. Having started off as a simple bedroom project, the duo have now developed the experiment into something bigger, doing what they like to call ‘shocking the audience’.
The bass heavy beats acted at times as an ambient lullaby, with looping, echoing vocals, each track flawlessly blending into the next. Their ambient soundscape, with occasional eerie chanting, is haunting and stunningly effective. With only a 30 minute set, D R O H N E managed to utilise their time and with enough variety to support itself and give a kind of cutting edge the sound deserves.
If you’re a fan of new music from BBC Introducing, then you’ve more than likely to have heard of Feral Love. Certainly many at the Buyers Club had, as the crowd gravitated towards the stage to witness the dream pop band. Their cutesy appearance dissolved when Adele Emmas announced herself through her powerful vocals. Christian Sandford impressively multi-tasked between keyboard and guitar, with flourishes of shoegaze throughout their set, stepping in at just the right times to put more oomph into the melodies when needed. No doubt Feral Love will be a name you hear a lot more of.
Now it was time for Aristophanes. No, not the comedic Greek play writer, but the 25-year-old Taiwanese rapper, making her Liverpool debut. Before playing, Aristophanes opened her set with a question to the crowd ‘Do you want to follow me to outer space?’ And so the dreamy electronic thrill ride began.
At first, the textured glitch sounds merged with magnificent rhythm, and then instantaneously became more complex from there on in. Elements of rap and super-fast vocals collided into the aggressive, almost excessive, amount of beats per minute.
As if not kooky enough, Aristophanes then turned the set into a theatre-like performance, swaying, dancing, bowing and even screaming her verses whilst laying down on the floor. It’s more than fair to say she grabbed everyone’s attention; completely owning the room.
Her interpretations and explanations of what each track meant made a connection with the music on a a deeper level, creating a sound that’s so tight and well-placed, it feels sparkly on all ears.
The tones of Aristophanes is somehow arresting and confusing at the same time, but always maintained a certain flow. Her playfully taunting delivery gives each track a more alternative hip-hop feel whilst also being effortless and clean. Her music is so extremely original and truly experimental that we just lust for more of her outer space adventure.
It was now the turn of 8-man Israeli band, The Apples, who had recently played their very first stage at Glastonbury justdays ago. They may not not the first group to stylishly mix turntablism with jazz and funk -that feat arguably goes to the Brand New Heavies – but let’s not takes anything away from The Apples here.
Playing their carefully weaved samples into an explosion of instrumental glory, with a heap of brass, a bundle of horns, an assortment of turntables and naturally, a dash of cool. The Apples treated this more like a party than jam session, encouraging lots of laughing, dancing and fist pumps – many people doing all at once as they overcome to the warm blanket of sound.
The compelling mix often switched between constructed symphonic plays to madman-like trumpet outbursts all while still managing to capture the ears of many with their dance-able, near impromptu music.
Being treated to The Apples particular brand of jazz is in itself a pleasure, but to then hear the group take on iconic song Killing in The Name by the notorious alt-metal band Rage Against The Machine, is nothing short of mind blowing. Turning the angst nature of the song into an upbeat instrumental takes creativity, skill and confidence – precisely what The Apples are all about.
The Soul Rays
Kicking off a night of strong foot tapping and severe head bopping at The Magnet was straight up funk band, The Soul Rays. The group have a heavy influence of funky R&B and Hip Hop, which created a truly unique experience throughout. Boasting an incredible 10-piece line up, including a trio of female lead singers, a quartet of brass, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer who occasionally dropped his own rap verses.
Having previously supported for The Apples at The Kazimier last year, The Soul Rays certainly knew how to put on a show and understood the audience completely. Each of the girls dancing in sync (well, for the most part) as they flashed smiles at one another.
Through a cool mix of groovy bass lines, epic guitar solos and a strong set of vocal cords, the group of 10 managed to get the whole crowd moving – and we really do mean moving. From bar staff waving their arms and getting involved to the photographers throwing a few shapes too. With the crowd bopping in unison to the sweet harmonies, rambunctious brass section, and everything in between. The Soul Rays know how to bring the swing and the soul plus a massive dose of funk to the floor.
As their time faded to a close as the band then announced it was bassist Ben Parkins‘ birthday, to which the entirety of the crowd gleefully chanted happy birthday. It was joyous to say the least.
With a debut album due as well as a tour planned, The Soul Rays are making all the right moves for a bright 2016.
Immix Ensemble/Ex-Easter Island Head
The Bluecoat Chambers – arguably the most historic building in Liverpool City Centre (seriously, Google it) – once again shows off its rich artistic culture as Liverpool-based experimental musicians, Immix Ensemble and Ex-Easter Head Island, rekindle their partnership formed back in 2014.
After a short interval spent watching the musicians tune and test their instruments to ensure perfection, the room was now ready for Immix Ensemble and Ex-Easter Island Head. The project based group is led by Benjamin Duvall, with Ben Fair and Jonathan Hering, who make up the three piece. With three guitars, a bass and only a trio of people to play them all, Ex-Easter Island Head were welcomed to the stage by their 2014 companions, Immix Ensemble.
With each musician in place, the ensemble began to play. Starting off with only a few brass sounds, Ex-Easter Island Head then joined the scene, rapidly stroking the strings of their guitars – which were lying horizontally on a table – and at times they even plucked two guitars at once. The two diverging tones felt like the carefully digitalised mechanics of an old steam train; one represents pistons as delicate as sewing needles, and the other being the train’s glorious steam plumage.
Every performer executed his or her part beautifully. Every sound in perfect sync with the conductor’s hand movements and each of them carefully creating the expert sound simultaneously. There was a moment where an accidental squeak from the lone trumpeter brought only understanding smiles to both the musicians and audience, as the ensemble continued to play.
Then with true unexpectedness, Ex-Easter Island Head began to give their guitars even less tender treatment as they began striking the guitars with drum mallets. If you were to listen with eyes closed, you would never know these sounds were being made by a guitar. These unconventional methods captured the attention of everyone in the room as both groups had everyone in the palm of their hands. With sustained drones and poly-rhythmic grooves, the area was soon filled with a smooth, warming atmosphere.
The performance saw the prepared guitarists of Ex-Easter Island Head incorporated into a sextet of strings, brass, reeds and woodwind to present ambitious extended works with great success. Their complex, orchestrated physical movements were an integral part of quite an astonishing performance.
When the show faded to a close, all musicians received a well-deserved round of applause followed by cheers from the near emotional crowd. Not too many artists come to mind that can control an audience like this. It was heart-warming to see each set of musicians then give credit to one another before bowing and giving one last thank you.
The tone was set for the night when supporting artist, In Atoms, performed his ambient melodies for the soul. Layering sounds with great effect as the noise evolved into something bigger. The centre piece was the visuals – short looping videos no longer than five or six seconds long. It was never clear what exactly was in the home videos – flickering, stuttering and often overdeveloped – but the sounds seemed to help it all make sense.
The mix of hums and distorted high pitches together with the almost hypnotising broadcast, created an experience – dare I say adventure – of just how sound can transport you into another world. Now, this might seem overblown, but give In Atoms a listen before judging.