The Big One: Liverpool Sound City 2010

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Phil Micallef | 14 May 2010

What is it?

Liverpool Sound City
is a five-day jaunt through one of the finest cities to ever serve the world of live music.  A fine selection of local, national and international talent is on offer as well as music industry conferences for those who like to dissect and discuss what they see and hear on stage that little bit more.   

When and where?

It all kicks off with Afrika Bambaataa (see ‘who to watch’) headlining the opening gig at The Masque Theatre on Tuesday 18 May.  There are then several shows taking place at various venues throughout Liverpool each night from Wednesday 19 until Saturday 22 May.  Some of the other venues getting involved include the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Korova, O2 Academy, The Kazimier and Bumper.

Who to watch:

Afrika Bambaataa
(The Masque Theatre, Tuesday 18 May)
One of the true pioneers of hip-hop, Afrika Bambaataa looks set to get this year’s Sound City off to a suitably impressive start.  Having grown up in The Bronx area of New York City during a time of great change and upheaval for African Americans, Bambaataa made his name in the 80s as one of the original breakbeat DJs.  He also formed and became leader of the hip-hop awareness group Universal Zulu Nation, which helped spread the music’s culture worldwide and influence countless artists for years to come.

The Fall (O2 Academy 2, Wednesday 19 May)
Any band who can claim to have been approved by John Peel must have done something right.  But when you can claim the accolade of being one of the late, great DJ’s favourite bands, like The Fall can, then you know you’re onto a winner.  Since forming in 1977 on the back of the punk explosion, the Manchester group, lead by Mark E. Smith, have consistently stayed on top of their game and have a staggering 25 studio albums under their belt.

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (Stanley Theatre, Wednesday 19 May)
Fresh from barnstorming the similarly formatted Camden Crawl at the start of the month, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster will certainly be worth checking out at Sound City.  The eccentric Brighton five-piece gloriously mix garage punk with a touch of psyschobilly and have an eye-catching goth-influenced appearance to boot.  Frontman Guy McKnight’s vocal style, which at times effortlessly flips from ‘50s rock n’ roll-style crooning to exasperating screeching, is particularly impressive.

Ian McCulloch
(St George’s Hall, Saturday 22 May)
The hometown appearance of Ian McCulloch, frontman of one of Liverpool’s most popular exports of the last 30 years, Echo and the Bunnymen, should definitely be a festival highlight and will go down extremely well with the locals.  With a career that now spans five decades, McCulloch should know a thing or two about putting on a good show, so make sure you check him out.

One to miss:

My Passion
(The Masque Loft, Friday 21 May)
Emo – it’s not big and it’s not clever.  Kerrang! cover-darlings My Passion are about as close to the stereotypical emo cliché as you can get without slitting your wrists while posing for a self-taken MySpace photo.  With so much exciting talent on show throughout the five nights of Sound City, the mind boggles as to why anyone would want to subject themselves to something so painstakingly irritating.

Inside tip:

Doktor Combover
(Magnet, Saturday 22 May)
Describing their music as “raw and dirty instrumental sleaze”, Doktor Combover sound like they’ve come fresh from entertaining audiences at a raunchy burlesque show.  Their catchy organ and brass-fuelled rhythm and blues sound is pretty irresistible though and will make you bop along whether you like it or not.  They are also natives to Liverpool, so this should be a particularly special performance.

Be at Liverpool Sound City if you like…

...discovering new up and coming musical talent while also appreciating artists who are slightly more ripened.  It’s definitely a festival for musical all-rounders (but serious ones, not the type of people who say ‘I like all sorts of music’ just because they only ever listen to Radio 1 rather than owning any sort of record collection).

Avoid if you…

...are Boris Johnson, Gary Neville or The Sun.  It has been well documented that either of these are usually about as welcome in Liverpool as Osama Bin Laden in an Alabama redneck bar.

Festival Tactics

Try and take advantage of all that the special events the festival has to offer in addition to the live music.  Examples include the exclusive screening of director Julian Temple’s new film about seminal band Dr Feelgood, Oil City Confidential (just before ex-Feelgood man Wilko Johnson headlines the O2 Academy), and a Q&A session with cofounder and chairman of Sire Records, Seymour Stein, the man responsible for helping artists like The Ramones, Blondie and Madonna achieve fame.

Fashionista or folky?

The very urban setting means there will not be a single field or hippy drum circle in sight, so it has to be marked as a fashionista affair.  There will be many industry big-wigs floating about, so all of those up and coming musical hopefuls wanting to impress will probably be looking extra dapper.

Alcohol of choice

Carlsberg or Chang lager.  Okay, so this is a very lousy attempt at making a Liverpool reference by mentioning the shirt sponsors of the city’s two famous football teams, Liverpool and Everton.  Scousers are well known for generally being a friendly and welcoming bunch that enjoy a good time, so whatever your tipple is, you should have a blinder (don’t take this advice literally though and drink so much you go blind – that probably wouldn’t be quite so fun).

Take your mum score – 4.5/10

If your mum’s musical tastes were conjured up in the late 70s/early 80s, then she may well enjoy the likes of Ian McCulloch, The Fall and Wilko Johnson.  She may be a bit disinterested in some of the more modern bands though, such as The Maccabees or Blood Red Shoes, so it’s not entirely mum-friendly.

Can I still get tickets?

You certainly can, they’re £45 for early bird passes but will increase to £60 for a walk up price.??

Click here to buy Liverpool Sound City tickets.

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