Any visitors to town on the day of LIVERPOOL CALLING would surely be bowled over by the amount of noise our city-centre can make. In the hustle and bustle of a glorious summer’s day, a constant buzzing of sounds from some of the city’s burgeoning crop of artists can be heard spilling from the Bombed Out Church, adding a carnival feeling to the air. St Luke’s is the fulcrum of Liverpool Calling’s multi-venue format of events, with trickles of revellers meandering between the church’s main stage and parallel event at Magnet, Studio2 and Maguire’s.
A young band tune their instruments on stage in front of a largely empty Magnet and people whom I can only guess are promoters look around the venue, nervously hoping and praying for more punters. The band is GO FIASCO, a five-piece from Liverpool who drink beer on stage and generally look and act pretty trendy. Almost as soon as the first chord is strummed, the venue starts to fill up. Liverpool’s rock-band answer to the Pied Piper start their set strong and get people moving about on The Magnet’s dancefloor. What the band are good at is managing levels: Go Fiasco switch from loud, rousing, guitar-driven rock to moments of poignancy, which gives this indie throwback act a much-needed bit of heart. Occasionally the melody of the vocals is lost in the louder bits but overall the audience is very happy and the band start the evening off with a good set.
Next up is BROKEN MEN, who are fresh off the back of a line-up change. The BBC Introducing-recognised band are tight, punchy and delightful to tap your feet to. The histrionic vocals of the lead singer echo throughout the small venue and delightfully skim over a backdrop of upbeat pop. Broken Men show why they are an established band on the city’s scene with a set that only disappoints in not being long enough.
As we arrive at Maguire’s Pizza Bar, Liverpool alt-rockers POCKET APOCALYPSE are just setting up, so we have to wait a little for the four-piece to launch into their first song, with the added pressure acting like a catalyst to the monolith of noise that rings out. A band often reduced to the post-rock tag, Pocket Apocalypse prove tonight they are much more. Where the loud/quiet dynamic is adopted, there are countless elements – from swathes of emo and hardcore to experimental and ambient sounds.
It’s quite a feat to match, but Scottish three-piece EMILIO LARGO seem up to the challenge. They’re arguably heavier than the openers, and serve a platter of technically proficient mathy riffs and heavy chugs to confirm this. As they hit Liverpool on a run of northern English dates, they’re on good form and well and truly deliver.
As the crowd builds and the pizzas become numerous, Wrexham’s DOPPELGÄNGER take to the stage. Wrexham must be a dark, horrible place because the pent-up anger of Doppelgänger is furious. Lyrically it’s dark, musically it’s heavy as hell. In a climate where hardcore has become so polished, perhaps the sloppy, dragging noise of Doppelgänger is exactly what we need.
After being serenaded by some fairly lovely sounds, but mostly just noise and impending tinnitus, FALLS arrive. They are well and truly the stars of tonight and, as things get very surreal, you realise that this isn’t a nightmare, you’re not going to wake up, and yes that man is dressed as a horse. Falls spend the best part of what I could only guess is 25 minutes tearing Maguire’s to shreds with riffs heavier than an iron statue of Satan, and the energy of Iggy Pop during the cocaine years.
It’s up to CREEPS to follow – which must be an intimidating prospect for any band. Creeps, however, offer a different approach with a more electronically orientated set of produced noisy goodness. The elements of sludge and drone offer a totally different energy to Falls but are none the worse for it. An interesting and unique take on a genre so dominated by the traditional band format.
By the time Maguire’s headliners ALLUSONDRUGS come on stage, the venue’s back room resembles a sauna for the fully-clothed indie rock fan, and space is at a premium. It’s easy to see why ALLUSONDRUGS have gained so much momentum: their songs are crowd-pleasing and they find it no challenge to regulate the heartbeat of the first four rows, melt some minds and make at least one kid shit himself. They’re an intense live band who showcase a total love for distortion, noise and bags of melody.
The popularity of the Bombed Out Church’s pre-headline act BEANS ON TOAST may come as a surprise to some people. Not the run-of-the-mill po-faced fare often associated with the folk genre, for a start: comedy gives people a way in to some of the difficult subjects the Essex singer songwriter confronts. We close off automatically and shut away those dark thoughts. The media tend be outright oppressive to any thoughts aside from “it’s all going to end soon anyway” so when Beans on Toast sings “I’m gonna kill David Cameron” it naturally generates the biggest cheer of the day (and when, at the end of the song, he lets us know he’s legally bound to advise that he isn’t actually going to kill David Cameron, the biggest boo as well).
We aren’t surprised when, stood atop a speaker stack, Beans On Toast proclaims his love for rap. His lyrical dexterity often breaks out into rhyme and metre associated more with grime than anything folk. “Trying to make a living, trying to stay free, I’ll be down the front selling my CDs.”
Paddy Hughes / @paddyhughes89