This month, our city will once again be transformed. For one weekend we won’t think about family rows, rubbish collections, essay deadlines, kebab shop opening times or football (as much): LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY is set to take over your life. The music-loving community will emerge on to the city streets like the undead; car parks will be meccas to this year’s indie darlings, the cathedral will become, well, a cathedral, but to KODALINE instead of The Almighty, and every venue and almost-venue will become alive with the best music on the planet. Who’s excited?
It’s our duty at Bido Lito! to help you traverse these new musical avenues and alleyways. We’ve cast our eye over this year’s glittering roll call of artists and picked out some acts that may transform your weekend; hell, some of them may even transform your life!
First off, the marquee names this year offer variety, intrigue and fantastic CVs: we will see ALBERT HAMMOND JR’s return, as The Strokes axeman comes to these shores in support of a third solo release. Last year’s AHJ EP was of a typically high standard even if the records produced in his day job aren’t to everyone’s tastes (nowadays at least). An elder statesman in the post-indie band solo stakes, GRUFF RHYS has been restless since the inimitable Super Furry Animals went on a hiatus. He comes to Sound City on the back of a typically innovative project: American Interior is an album, film, book and app about Gruff’s “investigative concert tour” tracing an ancestor who sailed to America in 1792. Another artist who’s charting his own solo course apart from his regular band is Doves frontman JIMI GOODWIN. Doves fans can rest easy though, as Goodwin’s debut record Oldludek (released on Heavenly Records) doesn’t stray too far from his usual path – unless you’re still a staunch Sub Sub fan. JON HOPKINS sails to Liverpool (well, gets a bus probably) to further investigate the inner-workings of electronic music, which we’re fairly ecstatic about. The London-based producer, famous for working with Coldplay, Brian Eno and David Holmes, plays Nation on Thursday (1st May).
Back in December The Kazimier saw what it was like to reverberate to swathes of industrial electronica courtesy of FACTORY FLOOR, and they (and us) can look forward to the same thing all over again on Friday (2nd May). The post 1am slot will be perfect for the late-night rave element in this year’s Sound City crowd, though if you prefer something a little more challenging then Belfast’s AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR could be just the tonic for you. Athletic and supple in their performance, the quartet bring a more considered edge to the post-rock genre, and their reputation precedes them. And on the subject of innovators, the RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP continue the trailblazing work of Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram which began in the BBC’s Maida Vale studio, bringing all of their audio manipulation to life in a stunning live context.
Further scientific explorations into electronica that will be greeted with open arms by a large section of the city’s music fraternity will come from MIXHELL, AKA former Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera and his wife Laima Leyton. The Brazillian duo spearhead the international contingent at this year’s festival with their ultra-accomplished musicianship and electro grooves. Staying below the Equator, Kiwi COURTNEY BARNETT has an early contender for track of the year in History Eraser, and the garage rockstress will be cashing in on her anthem at The Kazimier on Thursday night. Fellow antipodeans THE CREASES are a typically obscure diamond unearthed by the Sound City bookers. But with the Brisbanites’ signature on a Rough Trade contract, and a litany of jangly guitar pop gems, they aren’t going to stay obscure for long. If obscure is your bag, then check out the indigenous folk stylings re-imagined by NOZINJA. As part of Shangaan Electro, the South African artist, producer and DJ put on one of the shows of the year last summer in The Kazimier Garden. For Sound City he is back to bring the African street party to The Kazimier club.
If you were having a street party you wouldn’t invite Brighton noiseniks ROYAL BLOOD. The garage rock duo (yes, another one of those) have earned their place set apart from a saturated market with tumbling onslaughts of precision racket: bring your earplugs to The Garage on Friday night when they’re in full flow. THE WYTCHES are another set of rockers from the English Riviera bursting on to our radio waves with few manners. The neo-grungers have proved themselves an exciting prospect with tunes in the shape of brutal singles Gravedweller and Beehive Queen. Slightly more unassuming but no less exciting are WOLF ALICE, a North London foursome dealing in uplifting indie rock which fuses some of the structures of grunge with a folkie aesthetic. JUNGLE are another band with little respect for genre boundaries: enigmatic duo J and T made waves with the superb video for Platoon last year. Hopefully they will bring six-year-old break-dancing star Terra to The Factory on Saturday (3rd May).
It’s been rich pickings for the Sound City bookers when looking for acts to represent our local scene this year. They’ve done a sterling job in plumping for EX-EASTER ISLAND HEAD, ALL WE ARE, NINETAILS, and CIRCA WAVES among a plethora of other Merseyside mavericks. The city’s more experimental bent will be catered for by EEIH and Ninetails both playing Nation on Thursday, while Circa Waves will prove Liverpool is still capable of producing pop of an international calibre, and All We Are will bring the party on Saturday. VEYU look set to continue their gorgeously meteoric rise as they take on the Parr Street Car Park on Thursday, while ETCHES top off a great local bill at The Cavern Club on the opening night. All and sundry will welcome BIRD back home on Saturday night, as they open proceedings at Liverpool Cathedral after completing a tour with the legendary Rodriguez.
Music isn’t the only area of the arts thriving in Liverpool. Gary ‘Horse’ McGarvey’s SCREENADELICA exhibition boasts some of the best gig posters produced in recent years. Tear down your sixth-form Scarface poster and replace it with one of the dozens on offer: we’ve got our eye on a lovely print by designer That Girl too. Dozens of screen prints will be on display at The Black-E over the weekend, and the venue will also host the Screenadelica stage, which has been the site of many a raucous moment over recent years (not least when two of the Bido editorial team nodded off during Bo Ningen’s blistering set last year). In conjunction with Liverpool Biennial, there will also be a chance to get hold of some exclusive pieces in a private art auction. A limited edition print by Richard Woods and an exclusive poster from Antony Gormley’s studio signed by the artist will be among the pieces on offer. Celebrated artist and illustrator Nick Rhodes and his team will also be on hand creating incredible live murals and pop-up sculptures across the festival site, and there will be an opportunity for new and unsigned talent to showcase their wares at Busker’s Corner in Wolstenholme Square.
Beyond the city streets, Sound City will also take over the Mersey Ferry on Saturday afternoon where punters can take Gerry Marsden’s favourite commute to the sounds of THE SPLINTERED UKES, THE HUMMINGBIRDS and THE GENTLEMEN ROGUES. After all that you’ll probably be in the mood to buy some music – fear not it’s covered: Wolstenholme Creative Space is flinging its doors open once more to host Worth The Waxxx, Sound City’s vinyl fair in conjunction with Waxxx and Ramone Records. Here all you vinyl junkies will be able to get off by rifling through over 6000 rare gems and forgotten favourites.
So, there’s pretty much no escaping – just strap and on your wristband and get lost in Sound City.
Liverpool Sound City runs from 1st-3rd May. Pick up your copy of the Bido Lito! Sound City Daily every morning of the festival for up-to-date news, interviews and reviews.