FestEVOL 2013 concludes with some of the brightest names in UK music joining forces in spectacular fashion, Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury, Peter Guy and Joseph Viney reflect on Liverpool music’s royal rumble musical rampage.
Well, we made it back – but how could we not?
After the rigours and demands of FestEVOL part one, there was still no way Getintothis could dream of missing what has become a de-facto celebration of a sublime period for Liverpool’s music and artistic community.
Yet, FestEVOL part two didn’t start with a bang but a beautiful, haunting whisper that wound its way to every hidden corner of the Kazimier.
It might have been the opening slot, but Natalie McCool was unperturbed as her dark, smoky guitar tones captivated the gathering crowd. While her playing is hugely impressive – particularly when channeling a mix of Johnny Marr and Joni Mitchell with the shimmering octaves and waterfall of notes on Dust And Coal – her voice was the star here.
Her delivery effortlessly rises from fragile lower register murmurs to bright, Bjork-like high end frills. Other memorable moments were her Drive soundtrack mash-up of Nightcall/Real Hero and her sign off on Thin Air, eschewing the big beat Florence Welch stylings on record for a more ethereal take. This was a great showcase of a unique talent; so good in fact, she was asked to play again three hours later.
Natalie McCool at FestEVOL – so good she was asked to play twice; astounding
A quick dash to outside sees Tear Talk getting into their moody stride. The first impression of how tight this band are comes just after a song finishes, when all five members reach for a Red Stripe and take a well deserved synchronised swig. Comparisons with The xx are all too easy to draw as they wrap fragile vocals around hypnotic lo-fi textures and rhythms. But there is occasionally another gear on show as raw emotions come crashing to the fore with the thrash of a guitar or an insistent drumbeat, giving their sound a glimmer of Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers-era The National.
Back to the club for Voo and it’s down memory lane for Getintothis, who last saw them a decade ago in the Zanzibar as a wide-eyed 17-year-old when they soundtracked a series of questionable decisions involving Tequila and Guinness. For better or worse not much has changed, the band still chugging their way through three-minute rock nuggets powered by delicious Teenage Fanclub harmonies and dodgy checked shirts. They close with the timeless Schnick Schnack Schnuck, setting off a sea of head-nodding as it always has and always will.
Death Masks are next in the garden. At their best they are blissful, as sustained instrumental peaks led by the sound of twin lead guitars soar above the clouds and take everyone up there with them. While the vocal delivery doesn’t always seem the closest fit and could perhaps benefit from floating a little higher up among the intricate grooves, their tunes – at turns hazy psych, locked-in prog, considered math-rock – are a fine thing to soak up on a sunny afternoon.
Silent Sleep, together with the Sense Of Sound vocal choir, brought a jam-packed stage and a special something to FestEVOL
Silent Sleep and friends, including a delegation from the Sense of Sound choir, packed out the stage to deliver a giant tearful hug to everyone indoors.
When the music is good it is superb, falling somewhere between Damien Rice and Arcade Fire, as on the tenderly crafted beauty of It Breaks Me and lusciously mournful Scouse lullaby On The Steps Of The Bombed Out Church. Even the less remarkable numbers are replete with swelling heartfelt choruses, with infinite singalong and repeat potential.
Filter Distortion turned up, tuned in and freaked out as per the demands of the day. On paper, the trio’s musical modus operandi might seem a little unwieldy; subtle glam-stomp tones sloshing around a backdrop of ice-cool electronics and thudding, speedy drum work. Thankfully it all comes together without causing any discernible collateral damage to their sound or the audience themselves.
As soon as opener Strange Love booms out into a sky whose hue is in stasis at ‘undecided’, the crowd’s attention is fully trained on the stage. By time we’ve been run through the mill on tracks of the quality of The Good Life and Love Vacation, there is a sense of victory in the air; Filter Distortion may have overcome the crackling static that swamps bands in their infancy. Let’s see more of them soon.
Hey Carrianne found Filter Distortion a tough act to follow in the Garden. On record, their songs convey a certain atmosphere and express a certain weight that the listener can actually feel were they to try hard enough. On this occasion it was the atmosphere that proved their undoing, their otherwise fine songs succumbing to a wide open, light space. Hey Carrianne make music for the dark, but you can’t win them all. In their own words, “not tonight.”
VEYU’s Chris Beesley – or is it Xabi Alonso? – starting out on a very promising path at FestEVOL
Over to VEYU who get the Kazimier fully on its feet for the first time. Fronted by a ringer for Xabi Alonso, the band show a similar metronomic precision and range in their artfully-constructed indie-rock.
Their stock in trade is Wild Beasts minus the melodrama; soaring melodies with yearning vocals, capable of rising into Thom Yorke flourish territory best demonstrated on set highlight Running. It’s early days for this highly promising outfit – indeed, this is but their second gig, following quickly on from that superlative debut at last month’s Astral Coast – but there’s already signs that they’re on to something very special indeed.
It’s difficult to talk about female aesthetics in music without coming across as an utter chauvinistic oinker, but let’s try and tread lightly; Taylor Fowlis is a beautiful sight to behold. Her sharp heels and healthy, wavy hair indicated an artist with vitality, energy and plenty to say.
The easy comparisons with the other young turks of their time can be made; Amy Winehouse had the same distracting beauty in both body and voice. Lauryn Hill had the way with words but also looked (and proved!) like she had a mean streak. Fowlis can be regarded as a composite of artists like these, but she’s no mere imitator.
Her sultry music brings out the romantic side of an ever-increasing, varied audience. Hands are held, arms are around waists and for a few minutes you can forget your problems. After all, isn’t that what this is all supposed to be about? As Fowlis wraps her vocal chords around Compare Her To Me, you wonder how long it will be until she herself is incomparable.
Taylor Fowlis dazzled on the Garden Stage at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
Liberty Vessels might not be the most original of acts but sometimes it really doesn’t matter. Despite singer Oscar Reddrop declaring “we don’t want to play this one in case someone rips us off” in a set which included an offering that was essentially a supercharged version of Not Fade Away, and booting a bottle of what seemed to be distinctly un-rock and roll flavoured water towards the audience, it is abundantly clear the boys can play.
Their Dolph Lundgren-alike lead guitarist fires out suitably meaty rock riffs while Reddrop leans, preens and owns the stage. The natural frontman introduced another number with “this song’s a fucking tune” – and he was absolutely right.
Here’s a divisive phrase: “scouse rap.” Despite the fact that the city’s rap and hip hop scene is currently in the midst of a purple patch, some of the old prejudices that surround this rich and historical style remain in some quarters.
By time Jamie Broad had finished his set however, any reservations you might hold about the style should have been put to bed.
Acerbic and ace, Jamie Broad takes the game to the Kazimier’s packed Garden
Broad is at once an acerbic, witty and energetic performer; a man very much at ease with himself and his surroundings. A stuttering start seems to have been compounded by two particular issues; the apparent apprehension of the crowd to get too involved and what might be a dash of nerves of Broad’s part. Who could blame him? Taking to the stage on his lonesome backed by nothing but solid beats emanating from the speakers, such pursuits can be humbling and frightening experiences.
Or maybe we’re looking too much into it because the second half of his set was revelatory. Broad spat rhyme after rhyme, touching upon the mundanity of Great Britain PLC, crooked governments, the scene he occupies and other matters. He also has the best rap you’ll ever hear about a cuppa (Fancy a Brew?) that got the finally-up-for-it crowd locked in an amusing game of call-and-answer.
Young Fathers‘ incendiary half hour in the club was the blistering highlight of the night. Drawing from a litany of influences and taking a discernible cue from Kanye West‘s approach to building hip-hop tracks out of anything and everything, the Edinburgh trio burnt through a brilliant and breathless thirty minutes.
Their controlled aggression, physical and verbal interplay and possessed stage presence was a total barrage of the senses from which the Kazimier may never fully recover. They return later this year, and Getintothis suggests you keep your eyes and ears open for their live show is one not to miss.
Making their Liverpool debut, Young Fathers left jaws on the floor at the Kazimier
Wet Nuns (try to avoid Googling them in work, please) have been on the receiving end of some serious hype of late. A dirty, loud and unforgettable set at FestEVOL was a hammer-blow reminder of just why the Sheffield-duo have been nibbling on the earlobes of fans and critics alike.
In layman’s terms, let’s call them Black Keys-meets-Black Sabbath (with a dash of Kyuss and their ilk), you’ll get a fair idea from that. But it does them a major disservice, as they are not simply here to pay tribute to past and presents masters of the trade.
No, what Wet Nuns promote is some form of musical scorched earth policy that drips with a “we don’t give a fuck” attitude; howled, gnarly vocals, big riffs and drums that give your ribcage a shake just to remind you that you’re alive.
Stand close enough and their music actually hurts. Nuns haven’t been this fun since Sister Act.
As vocalist Rob ends the set with crowd-surfing and a quick bout of hanging on for dear life on the Garden’s overhead wooden beams, you can’t help but wonder whether the sky isn’t just the limit anymore.
Wet Nuns – as fun as it gets – at FestEVOL at the Kazimier
Each time Getintothis has seen Baltic Fleet in recent months, the confidence exuding from Paul Fleming and his partners in krautrock crime has been steadily growing. There is an increasing sense that the tracks they have committed to record are now blueprints for performance experimentation, marching into new motorik territory with improvisation and extended jams. Towers has been their breakthrough release, they’ve cemented and are building on a great live sound – we can’t wait to hear where they go next.
Ady Suleiman provided yet more evidence that his crosshairs will soon rest on bigger targets. Taking to the stage barefoot, bedecked in the most casual of clothing, the infuriatingly young and handsome Suleiman made the girls swoon and the guys hold them closer just in case. He could well be the male counterpart to Fowlis – for not only does he share the same guitarist, in the shape of former Ninetails frontman, Ed Black, but so to the tales of love (unrequited or otherwise), lust and the perils of life in general in the modern age. Another doubleplusgood performance from Suleiman.
By The Sea rolled in next, enveloping the Kazimier in a rich dreamy swirl. Their set seemed to melt into one collective reverie, underwhelming by their usual standards, until they clicked their fingers and snapped the place out of it with Waltz Away, the band’s sonic vision of a Mersey Paradise, bridging the gap between Stone Roses and Shack with breathy vocals and lapping waves of guitar.
Outfit’s Andrew Hunt guides the crowd to a climax at FestEVOL in the Kazimier
Outfit were back in town ahead of this week’s release of debut album Performance and played it almost in its entirely, almost in track order. The effect is beguiling as attack in the form of three dark dream-pop bursts (House on Fire, Nothing Big and I Want What’s Best) gives way to a pause (Spraypaint and Performance) before pure release.
If there was any suggestion that Two Islands stood alone as their best work before, then doubts must now be dispelled by the potency and polish of their set as a whole. Elephant Days transforms from seductive restraint into a riotous jam while the gently mesmeric Thank God I Was Dreaming is the cable car climb that sets the way for Two Islands‘ triumphant descent.
Owing to an 11th hour cancellation from Bill Ryder Jones, Bird were welcomed back for a second peck at the cherry.
Even in the rather questionable weather conditions that had since sprung up, Bird held their own and delivered a performance that presented an improvement on last week’s. Perhaps the weather suited them better after all. Showing little signs of fatigue or over-familiarity, the crowd found their feet and their rhythm in time with Bird’s ghostly, almost tribal sense of sound.
The night ended with The Fire Beneath The Sea providing a suitably whacked out bookend to Natalie McCool‘s ghostly beginning. The line between band and audience became increasingly blurred as their quadruple MC, ska-punk/funk assault keeps the survivors (and the casualties) left in the Kazimier grooving well into the night.
Fire Beneath The Sea closed FestEVOL 2013 in their own inimitable style
Cerebral verbosity married with addictive beat-funk is just what the doctor ordered, no matter what time of the morning it is. Given that they already contain a number of MCs, players and general trouble makers, the crowd can’t have been blamed for going a little crazy, especially given how a few of the revellers might have been seeing double by this time.
Their loose, chaotic and fun style was a fitting finale to two chock-a-block weekends that showed the depth of talent and dedication available in Liverpool, from bands to promoters to technical staffers and even the Kazimier in-house chefs. You don’t have to be an expert in cryptography to know that EVOL backwards is LOVE, but a little awareness might come in handy when trying to understand the good events like this do for us all. Is it 2014 yet?
Pictures by Getintothis’ Michelle Roberts, Ian Gamester and Gaz Jones.
Further reading on Getintothis
Getintothis reviews FestEVOL part one feat Tea Street Band, Loved Ones, All we Are and more.
FestEVOL Part One: Tea Street Band, Loved Ones, Dogshow and more: Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
FestEVOL Part One: All We Are, Bird, Dark Horses, Broken Men and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool – picture gallery.
Things Getintothis learnt from FestEVOL 2012.
FestEVOL Part One feat Wicked Whispers, Edgar Summertyme, Folks, Silent Sleep, Lovecraft, The Sundowners, Dirty Rivers and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool.
FestEVOL Part One feat Clinic, Death At Sea, Oxygen Thieves and more: The Kazimier, Liverpool.
FestEVOL Part Two feat Baltic Fleet, Tea Street Band, Thunderbird Gerard, Outfit, Sun Drums, PINS and more: Kazimier, Liverpool.
Getintothis FestEVOL picture gallery part one.
Getintothis FestEVOL picture gallery part two.
Getintothis talks to Steve ‘Revo’ Miller.
Thanks to the FestEVOL 2013 Getintothis team: Sean Bradbury, Orla Foster, Ian Gamester, Gaz Jones, Michelle Roberts and Joseph Viney.