SHARDS are first on at Phase One, initiating the lulling tones that echo throughout most of the night. The young four-piece impress with their often long and slowly crescendoing songs from the subdued to the climactic – via a healthy dose of dreamy reverb. The band’s sound, along with frontman Alex McKenzie’s vocals, is similar to Bombay Bicycle Club and they are certainly one to keep your eye as they pop up around local venues.
There is an inevitable sense of curiosity that will follow the second support act of the night with their mildly provocative band name. But, apart from making your nan blush, PEANESS are an instantly likeable band that assert their creativity through their upbeat, groovy rhythms and all-round fun songs such as Ugly Veg and Seafoam Islands. The all-female trio make it look easy on stage. Their collaborative harmonies between bassist Jess and guitarist Balla reinforce the catchiness of their indie-pop tunes.
A Birkenhead native, ZUZU has been quietly making waves in the underground scene over the past year, signing a record deal with Virgin Records and securing big name support slots for Tom Grennan, Peace and The Courteeners. Yet after all this, and even being touted as the “future of Liverpool pop” by the Guardian, she remains charmingly grounded, even apologising for her untimely illness on stage. The show must go on, hey. And that it does. Looping riffs from guitarist and producer Kurran Karbal drift in and out of her tunes that complements a sound fluctuating from the leisurely to the euphoric. In slower moments, she resembles Courtney Barnett with her conversational Scouse twang before, unexpectedly, her and the band boldly smash into a jubilant chorus that more resembles Taylor Swift. It’s this mix of unpredictability and melody that ensures the entertainment value needed for a live act.
Dark Blue, Beauty Queen and especially All Good are manifestations of Zuzu’s ability to write (very good) songs that cram themselves in a place between dreamy-indie and all out pop, but not going too far in either direction. The songs, relating from science fiction to the everyday, become absorbing around the room and leave you wanting more after the short set. Although signed to a major label, Zuzu is an artist who unapologetically wants full creative control of her act. Whether that is writing her own songs, experimenting with different instruments or directing her own music videos, she is all about originality and creativity in being her own person, her own artist.
The mainly female led atmosphere of the night is refreshing to see in an industry that has been overwhelmingly saturated by male guitar bands. More and more we are seeing extremely talented female artists on stage, which correlates with the recent Fender study showing that 50 per cent of all new guitar players are women across the UK and the United States. Across the country, it’s local artists like Zuzu and Peaness that have helped that trend grow and encourage even more girls to take to the stage. The artistry of the night is at once patent, infectious and seemingly effortless. The future, should these trends develop, will rightly be female led.