Photography: Keith Ainsworth

Juliette Lewis and the Licks

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  • Cavalry
  • Hooton Tennis Club
  • Lungs
  • Ohms
Camp and Furnace

FESTEVOL is more than just a music festival; it is truly an endurance event which can only be compared to running the London Marathon. With bands spreading across a massive 15 hours and a line-up that spans genres and fanbases small and large, only the most diehard music fan shall survive. It’s hard not to love a festival and promoter that supports tradition and innovation in equal measure, bringing a thrilling mix of new and established music to the Baltic Triangle.

On an early slot in Blade Factory are post-punk newcomers LUNGS. Dark and brooding in nature, Lungs’ deep baritones are infused with intricate high-pitched guitar riffs. The band seem to completely lose themselves in their own hypnotic mantras, and it seems quite fitting that the band play within a venue with ‘factory’ in the name as they would surely have been snapped up by Tony Wilson were it a different era.

Sticking with the Blade Factory brings us the equally atmospheric power poppers CAVALRY. Having recently gained national exposure and finding fans in Huw Stephens and Chloe Moretz, the group are welcomed by a packed room. The slow and steady build-up of their cinematic sound characterises Cavalry’s performance, as vocalist Alan Croft lets blows away the crowd with an incredibly strong voice delivering a performance of epic proportions. With the room a mixture of smiles and open mouths, the band live up to the expectations of fans new and old.

Looking for a change from the organic sounds of Cavalry we move to the comfy confines of District, where the old videos on show come with a rather good musical accompaniment. TVAM, Wigan’s finest export since pies, reels a clunky old monitor on to the stage like a school teacher, but that’s where the feelings of comfort end. Joe Oxley’s blend of library footage, on-screen lyrics and experimental garage rock seems to prove quite the blend. Like a nuclear war public broadcast on acid, the dissociative music leaves the crowd entranced in awe and fear in equal doses.

After sampling the joys of the smaller stages it seemed time to head over to the much larger Furnace in search of local favourites HOOTON TENNIS CLUB. With a huge crowd filling the room the band play with their usual effortless coolness. Having released Highest Point In Cliff Town last year the group seems to be an unstoppable force. With a teenage playfulness the band make full use of the large stage, dancing about, bashing into each other and performing rock god knee solos much to the crowd’s delight. With head-bopping sing-a-longs and rather a lot of merry dancing the lads fill the room with a childlike joy which has become synonymous with them.

Headliners JULIETTE LEWIS AND THE LICKS are supposed to share top billing with Steve Mason, but a technical hitch leaves actor-cum-rock star Lewis leading the way on her own. And boy does she know how to top a bill. Nothing is left behind as Lewis stomps and heaves her way across the stage, cradling her stars and stripes microphone like a precious relic. The Licks seem well-suited to bobbing and weaving with the stage theatrics, but even though the high energy levels are admirable, the music itself is pretty forgettable. Rock ‘n’ roll, of course, isn’t meant to induce mass chin strokery, and you certainly can’t fault Juliette And The Licks for bringing a fun focal point to tonight’s show – even if the inclusion of Proud Mary feels only like a clumsy nod to a ‘tune’ in the set, and a perfunctory one at that.

No act seems more fitting that OHMNS when twilight approaches. These riotous night dwellers launch into their ferocious garage rock with a runaway speed and jagged edge, before being followed on stage by what seems to be their sound incarnate: an angry bald man equipped with a plank of wood. What ensues is perhaps one of the most punk rock shows Liverpool has seen for many a year. Complete with forward roll solos, bleeding heads and a stage invasion from a metal Viking gesticulating devil horns, it can be exhausting work watching an Ohmns show.

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