Liverpool Sound City 2013 review

'A festival with its own flare and flavour'

Liverpool Sound City 2013 review

Photographer: elinor jonesClaire Elshaw on 05 May 2013

The sun is shining on Merseyside as it plays host to the music, arts and expo extravaganza that is Liverpool Sound City. The three day event boasts a varied and exciting bill of artists, exhibitions, film screenings and even a football tournament. Thursday also sees the start of the two day conference that brings industry insiders, fans and the press all flocking to the city.

The sheer array of venues on offer means there is something for everyone. Small intimate gigs, improvised garage spaces and large austere architecture play host to a wide range of acts. In the sunshine of the Kazimier Gardens, Science of the Lamps (7/10) are entertaining a thong of punters enjoying the warmth and whimsical tunes. Their unique brand of mellow, jazz-infused pop culminates in a very enjoyable version of Britney classic ‘Toxic’.

Those looking for something a little more meaty head to the Shipping Forcast to catch the punky- bluesy riffs of Drenge (6/10). Pumping out the likes of ‘Bloodsport’ and ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ like their lives depend on it.


Up at one of the most exciting and magnificent venues on the bill Noah and the Whale (9/10) are taking to the stage. The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is a massive, beautiful building perched on top of a hill. Its playing host to some of the big names of the festival, and Noah and the Whale are the perfect fit. The balanced harmonies of ‘Give a little Love‘, and ‘Tonight’s the Kind of Night’ resonate around the sweeping walls.

From reverence, to Reverend and the Makers (8/10) at the Liverpool Academy of Arts. Pogoing onto the stage Jon McClure tells the audience "If you’re not bouncing, you’re a dickhead." Producing tunes like ‘The State of Things’ and ‘Baseline’ ensures that no one in the large crowd is going home with that label.


Friday is cloudier, but thankfully it’s not raining on Liverpool’s parade. The Brooklyn Mixer plays host to Tripwires (5/10) who have some interesting melodies, but need a serious injection of charisma and confidence to pull it off properly. A clearly defined front man might also help.

The Black E is another amazing venue that helps make this festival so special. A community and contemporary arts centre that has recycled an old chapel building, it is the stage for four piece The Thespians (8/10). ‘Reason to Reason’ and ‘Adored’ are well crafted, catchy tunes that keep the feet tapping.

Highlight of the Friday, and indeed the whole festival, are American indie rockers The Walkmen (10/10). Perfectly pitched to headline the Anglican Cathedral, their dramatic tunes, punchy vocals and stage presence fill the enormous space. The beer queues empty as the drum beats build to open a set of well-placed magnitude and grandeur. The lights cast long shadows up the steep side walls as the likes of ‘Line by Line’, ‘Heaven’ and stand out track ‘The Rat’ bellow through the night.


The sunshine returns on Saturday, much to everyone’s joy. The afternoon sees the John Peel World Cup, a 5 a side tournament being played in Chavasse Park in the centre of Liverpool’s shopping centre. Bringing together the city’s twin allegiances of music and football gives everyone an excuse to sit down and chug a couple of 99-ers.

As the sunshine starts to dip behind the Liver building, the main place to head is once again the Cathedral. Where Dexys (4/10) are playing an extended set. Unfortunately it feels like a marathon... long, exhausting and meandering. Wearing sunglasses inside, at night, in church is not rock, more self-delusional. And whilst the Dexys hardcore might enjoy it, the word ‘disappointing’ is floating round from more than one punter.

Several of the Dexys dissatisfied head over to the Black E to catch the set from Mercury 13 (6/10). And whilst they may not change the face of music, their more upbeat tunage, trumpetry skills and a generally better defined performance lifts the mood.

Egyptian Hip Hop (7/10) aren’t totally ready to take to the Liverpool Arts Academy’s Red Bull Studios stage. As lead singer Alex Hewett appears to be still wearing his dressing gown. Despite taking scruffy chic to a new, daunting level, the band plough on through their set of psychedelic rock. And whilst the pumping bass lines of ‘Tobage’ and ‘Yoro Diallo’ course through the room it feels like a somewhat muted performance. They make way onstage for Delphic (9/10) to close proceedings with a more fuel injected performance of ‘Doubt’ and ‘Acolyte’.

Overall Liverpool Sound City is an enjoyable festival with its own flare and flavour. Whilst the venues may be separate units, they are all grouped together geographically to allow for a feeling of cohesion. And having a roof in this unstable British weather is often a useful thing. However, the weather looked kindly on the Mersey this year. Let’s hope it’s the start of a sun soaked festival season.

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