Alex Scott

Liverpool SoundCity 2015 Review

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Its Thursday the 21st of May and ahead over the weekend to come was a very busy, nerve wracking and really exiting experience. Before the weekend I had never been to a big festival before never mind by myself. This years SoundCity though was full of rarities, passionate loving music fans and plenty of Journalist’s reviewing all bands playing the festival. It seemed as if there was a big feeling around the place in preparation for Saturdays headliners The Flaming Lips, who don’t really get over to the U.K to perform very often so there was no surprised. That doesn’t mean that it was all about the amercian based band though as the line-up included some amazing acts who have had some real strong years in terms of record and album releases.

So, Friday the 22nd was the beginning of SoundCity15 and the festival was starting later than the days to come due to it being a weekday. Friday saw bands and acts such as The Vaccines, Everything Everything, Spector, M.O, Stormzy, Swans, George the Poet and many many more. It was no surprise to see the cue for day tickets being at least an hour long outside of the Bramley Moore dock. So I started off at the Atlantic stage at the festival where one of my favourite bands from the past year Neon Waltz were opening the festival and it was no surprise to see a large crowd gather around the stage for the Most northern based band in Scotland. In which they have very recently released their first record ‘First Light’. It was a pleasure to watch them once again but this time on a bigger and better stage.

From the opening set from Neon Waltz I then moved onto the Baltic stage. With SoundCity being on the docks of Liverpool the organisers seized the opportunity to open up one of the old shipping warehouses and this was the Baltic stage. The natural reverb and derelict esc look around the place was a real treat and a first for anyone attending the festival. The Baltic stage was also placing host to some great bands that have a mature and reverb based sound so therefore I was very excited to see the bands across the weekend on the Baltic stage. Being in a band myself The Baltic is the most ideal venue anyone could ask for, also with the addition with a coffee shop at the other end of the warehouse away from the stage. Coffee, beautiful venue and fantastic music what more could you ask for? Well of course the bands. My first band experience at the Baltic stage was the London based experimental rock trio YAK. A long haired denim jacket clad band with a fantastic and old fashioned style sound. There set really didn’t disappoint and they drew in a big crowd at the Bramley Moore Dock. My favourite aspect was the addition of a very old 80’s style synthesizer which was played flawlessly throughout. They have clear inspirations from The Doors and The White Stripes but maintain their unique sound and style.

My Friday journey had started very well, but it would continue to get better throughout as I ventured out to the other stages at the festival. After YAK, I ventured to see a Spark favourite in the shoes of M.O, a three piece girl group from different lengths of the country who were playing The Cargo stage at this years festival. I initially thought that there set would be cut short as it took far too long to soundcheck and people were getting impatient and wanting to hear music not before long. But finally after a good 30 minute break from music at the Cargo stage, people were raring to go for M.O whose performance was worthy of waiting for. There set was undoubtedly overshadowed by there best song to date which is their newest single ‘Preach’. They ended on the song and ended on a high. I caught up with the girls after their performance as the crowd were still cheering and you can tell…

After M.O I ran over back to the Atlantic stage where Spector were tearing through old and new tracks to the budding Liverpool crowd who were somewhat waiting for Everything Everything and The Vaccines with no disrespect to Spector who handled the crowd very well. One highlight of the show Spector put on was when they stopped 10 seconds into Chevvy Thunder and frontman Tom decided to address the audience and question there devotion to the track. “C’mon Liverpool, you can do better than this? We will start the song again and I want to see you jump!” were the words of Tom and it certainly worked and the crowd seemed to have a massive lice of life when it restarted . A risky trick from Spector but it worked in the end and the crowd really did respect their music if they were fans or new to the band.  6/10 would be my rating for Spector on the night. From then on I decided to stay at the Atlantic stage and get my good place in the crowd ready for Everything Everything and The Vaccines. First up before the Vaccines were Everything Everything, I saw the band back in 2010 and I never really got that initial spark from the group. But, this time round I really fell in love with the band and turned for a great resoect for them. Confusing vocals, harmonies were tight, guitar licks like heaven and a cohesiveness which mesmerises whoever watches. It was no surprise to see then tear through old but gold tracks as well as showcasing their newest material which sees the band release their 3rd LP. Some stand out songs were Schoolin, Distant Past and Regret. 22nd June is the release of ‘Gone to Heaven’ and I would seriously recommend buying it as they continue what is a massive year for the band.

So, Everything Everything, Spector, M.O, Yak, Neon Waltz were an array of bands I was lucky enough to catch on the Friday night. But The Vaccines were my major highlight for the Friday at SoundCity. They headlined the Atlantic stage and came out all guns blazing with matching jackets, swarve guitars and really strong new material. Justin Young and the Gang have always been a big part of my life in terms of listening to music and I’ve followed them from the start. ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ remains one of the most influential indie record of the past decade, ‘Come of Age’ to me was never as strong as their first LP. But, a very big but is that ‘English Graffiti’ which is out now is as strong as them all and it seems as if the four piece have worked their socks off to achieve the same recognition of the first two albums and they seized the chance to say so during their very strong sounding set at 10:30 last Friday. Teenage Icon, Wrecking Bar Ra Ra Ra, If You Wanna, Post Break Up Sex, Dream Lover, Handsome, 20/20, All in White and many many more made a really strong set from Justin, Freddy, Arnie and Pete. You know whats coming next, go and check out their new record! The Vaccines headline set at Liverpool SoundCity would definitely get a 10/10, but they have seemed to avoid us up here in the North East on recent tours…

My first day of a real festival was very unexpected to say the least, I knew I was going to get good music but I was very amazed by the whole atmosphere on the night. I had begun my weekend at Liverpool SoundCity on a very high, now onto the days to come!

I woke up the next day reminiscing on what was a truly fantastic first evening of SoundCity 2015 was on Friday the 22nd. The festival began earlier on the Saturday so there was even more acts to see on the Saturday. I was keen to check out the other stages so I headed to The North Stage and I saw Collectors Club opening set. The Middlesbrough quartet were full of energy at 12:15pm. I can see why they were booked because they were the perfect type of music for the opening act of the day. Indie Pop and sunglasses were on show for midday at SoundCity on Saturday a great start to the Saturday. Strange Collective were another band I caught last Saturday, Howler were an influence that came into mind whilst watching the scouse lasts strut their stuff at the Baltic stage. Theyw ere all most like a more heavier Beach Boys but not quite falsetto hitting in their songs. They pulled a great local crowd during their set and their was no surprise, not too long away they will be supporting Ariel Pink in Liverpool and that is something in which they should be very proud of. Check out Strange collective over at Youtube as well as Spotify, only one track up their at the moment but expect more. Saturday at SoundCity didnt see me go to the Atlantic stage for a few hours an that becasue there was a larger array of music around the other stages. But eventually The Serpent Power were a band I really wanted to see. The Members are past members of The Coral and The Zoutons so there was no surprise when they were booked for SoundCity. But the music from The Serpent Power is very interesting ans something I havent heard for a while. The best way to describe them would be 70’s style, classical organ with songs full of raw harmonies. The Cargo stage on Saturday at SoundCity saw some great acts, but one stand out act from me would be the very graceful Flo Morrissey. Who’s attraction to singing in a very subtle but exquisite voice have caught the attention of music fans from around the country. Songs such as Show Me and Pray for  Gold have somewhat been a blessing to anyone’s ears. Being a festival there were a handful of people talking over her whilst she sang which I see as disrespect but she handled it with great control and picking an ironic cover would grab the crowds attention. She covered her named shared artist Morrisseys ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’. Which at first I was like, noone can replicate and make that song their own and challenging Morrissey. But at the Cargo stage at Liverpool SoundCity on May bank holiday I was very glad to witness and listen to her master the sing and make it her own. 8/10 for Flo Morrissey and catch her out and about very soon. Go listen to her music and chill out to a beautiful voice which we have in our music world. Before the weekend I had been very very excited about seeing the next act I ventured out to see at Bramley Moore last Saturday. Sean Lennon with his band The Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger were playing the Atlantic stage in front of a beautiful evening sun set with the water glistening away over the site. The audience couldn’t have asked for more and the mood was high. To me the sound was pretty good for The Ghost and it could be heard for miles throughout the docks. Songs such as Animals was a personal favourite but Sean Lennon never stopped throughout the set to play tight psychedelic guitar licks worthy of the reputation of his father. Bit within his own Sean is very different to his dad, they may be obvious elements within the music which sound like the Lennon backlog but then again Seans writing and technique of playing guitar is very unique and Liverpool were certainly amazed by a perfect set on a lovely evening on Saturday 23rd May. If you get a chance to go out and see  The Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger then its a must. Sean Lennon appeared more on the evening but that’s for later explanation.

The support before the big guns was a big gun within himself, Thurston Moore the iconic very experimental legendary guitarist formerly of Sonic Youth. The thing that was the most interesting was that Thurston Moore only played about 6 tracks in one hour, due to his amazing instrumental guitar work. The occasional lyric crept in but still I think his guitar playing overwhelmed more than the vocals. It was a great warm up ready for the amazing show which everyone around the weekend was anticipating, The Flaming Lips headlining set. The second Thurston Moore finished everyone saw the massive crew from The Flaming Lips prepare the amazing set  they are profound for alongside their music.  But their first track reminded me of something that would be played at the very end of the set which astonished everyone at first but it made sure everyone was in a cracking mood for the reminder of their set to come. Which included some great hits such as Do You Realise and The Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah song. Outrageous costumes, crazy set design, a proposal, zorbing ball, confetti and inflatables and absolutely massive tunes which blew the roof of  the crowd at SoundCity on Saturday night. I had spent two days at the festival and I was very comfortable being on my own and the music and the people and everything were a pleasure to be a part of. The Flaming Lips are the sort of band where you will always be amazed at how lucky we all are to live in the day an age for when they got absolutely massive and will one day unfortunately eave us behind with some great memories and SoundCity 2015 was the year The Flaming Lips headlined and brought a tear to some peoples eyes and lifted the mood of anyone who went, Saturday May bank holiday at The Bramley Moore dock in Liverpool had it all but, yes but their was still a big day ahead for the last day of the festival and the bands were more well known for the Sunday.

The crazy amount of litter left after Saturday was amazingly tidied up ready for the final day of this years festival. Sunday bands such as HoneyBlood, Peace, Belle and Sebastian, The Cribs, Bill Ryder Jones, Clarence Clarity, Genghar, Fat White Family and many many more play across the site. I managed to get out and see loads of bands throughout the whole weekend but I felt that my last day it was all important to see more and more before I crave more music after the festivals finished last weekend. My highlights from Sunday were speaking to Peace and Bill Ryder Jones who were the most genuine guys I have ever met and their music sees a great honest sound which we should all as music lovers appreciate. The Cribs played Rock and Roll louder than ever to a crowed which were left battered and bruised after they played all their best tracks from their newest album and the oldies. The Jarman brothers have certainly still got it. The weekend was a mixed bag of brilliance and amazement and my first experience of a festival was at SoundCity but to have a festival where there’s no camping sticks out straight away from any other festival and artists and bands across the weekend very keen to express that. How bigger and bigger bands are playing each year, how more fans are turning up. I kept meeting loads of local people around the festival over the weekend and all they seemed to say was how strong the Liverpool music scene is and how they still reminisce on the legacy that The Beatles left the city with. Also expressing that the North is still amazing for music and my personal view is that mire bands should come up to the North East to play because we appreciate good music and all we want is something new. If there is no good music around the North East we crave it, fortunately we do have some amazing bands coming up and around the area and we are the first ones to listen to them. Liverpool is very much the same and SoundCity was a great showcase of local and global talent. I thought the festival is a great stepping stone for bands playing it in terms of making contacts because all the bigger bands were heading out to check out the other bands out. So sooner r later they will be around and I am very pleased to say I have saw some bands which will be big within the coming years.

Its no surprise to see that early bird tickets are already on sale on the Sound City website for next year without any bands being booked yet, so expect something big and check out a festival that is the cream of the crop in terms of an individual event.

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