Liverpool Sound City 2014 opens with John Cale in jovial yet savage mood before a night which simmers steady suddenly froths into White Heat overload, Getintothis’ Peter Guy gets loaded.
Liverpool Sound City Day Two began with something special. John Cale came to town. The Velvet Underground magician was in conversation with The Quietus‘ John Doran – and what unfolded was fascinating. These things are tough for all involved – a musician with so much history who doesn’t want to be fanciful, flirtatious or disrespectful of an audience – and indeed, host – who are so indebted to their very being here – but also the expectation, almost contrived setting. So much riding on such little space in time.
John Cale in discussion at Liverpool Sound City
But it delivered. John Doran, a man with encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, is rightly so, nervous to begin with, but quickly warms to the occasion thrusting to the heart of weighty topics (solo albums, production values, relationships with Eno, Nico, Lou, New York and a chicken he lopped the head off) avoiding tattle and allowing Cale the space to fill gaps with his own mumbled menacing anecdotal asides. It’s a treat from beginning to end but what’s most conveyed is Cale’s dedication to himself and his work – a man who takes considerable pride in what he sets out to do – and how he intends to change future art forms – a man who will inflict violence, brutality, pleasure and pain into his passion – a man who doesn’t work with all those around him who he considers worthy of respect because, by his own admission, he’s too ‘selfish’ and committed to pushing things forward.
We reflect for a long time afterwards, how hard that must be – to do what you want to do *all* the time. How many of us really do that? John Cale – a master, always at work.
Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band live at Sound City 2014
The early evening began in louche fashion in the Kazimier Garden as Hooton Tennis Club eased their way into pole for Merseyside’s next-likely-to’s – oozing oodles of shrug-cool and tunes vital of spirit if not subject matter, backing up their credentials as the new kids on the block.
A brief pit stop in East Village Arts Club‘s Theatre saw LSA channelling carefree US fuzz before Fickle Friends delivered the early evening highlight with a hip-swivelling leg-warner of a set booming with keys-infused bop-pop as debut single Swim proved the closing cherry on top.
Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with – gone are the improv, fun if disposable sense of this is a gorilla gig which will be lapped up in the moment and forgotten about by Monday. No, this is a true band – tight as buggery, seriously evocative and retaining all the key elements – namely pounding percussion, belting brass – and fun. They stir the Duke Street Garage with heart-rending legionic beats – and a mighty cowbell, we’re seriously impressed.
Taylor Fowlis doing the business at East Village Arts Club loft
Skirts around the Ropewalks area of town offered fine but ultimately far from blow-your-head-off offerings from Tennis in The Factory, Tourist in Nation and Rah Rah in Korova. Folly and the Hunter are another seriously polite, studied band with oodles of melodic talent but we’re really after a kick up the back side so leave Sound Food & Drink safe in the knowledge we’ll revisit them, but maybe on a quieter weekend.
Taylor Fowlis‘ considerable pipes provided some gusto for an all-too-brief leg up the stairs of East VIllage‘s loft where a healthy home support was on hand to cheer on her blend of self-penned newies and token Christina Aguilera covers. It’s a stunning cameo of burgeoning talent.
The pull of the new drags us to the Black-E where we catch the mud-sludge finale of Sunwolf, who despite offering something altogether different and all the more appealing sound far too drowned out in the multi-layered hall. And it’s only after their set we learn the venue has been restricted after the opening night’s performances and sound levels have been dramatically reduced. Something which has a huge kick-on for the super-late, and super-underwhelming Gentlemen.
Factory Floor live at Liverpool Sound City 2014
We say this, in that, Gentlemen were one of the acts we were looking forward to most on Day Two, but instead of the dramatic, multi-mutant prog spacerock outfit we were anticipating we get a MoR alt-rock band struggling to pack a punch with a ghostly PA. It’s dull. So we leave.
In search of revitalisation, we enter a fug-fuelled Kazimier; the masses have descended on Drenge – they repay us in the only way they know how – bludgeoning the hell out of things. It’s not pretty but it’s effective. The place goes nuts. We’re wakening up.
Like Jon Hopkins‘ set arc of Day One, the night takes a dramatic turn for the better inside Nation as Fuck Buttons dispense with any notion of taking it easy by ramping up those whirring keys and blasting the fuck out of the place. It’s primitive, propulsive and pretty awesome.
But nothing can prepare us for Factory Floor. When they visited Liverpool late last year it was a great gig – a real moment. But for Sound City something special happens. They rip into a groove early – but instead of cementing that concrete granite edge and repeating they insist on pushing it further, higher and harder – and the whole of the octagonal Kazimier floor pumps as one – it’s spring-loaded ecstasy. We’d write more but we’re absolutely exhausted – so shattered we’re still living it. The frenzied state of bodies sweating their way out of Wolstenholme Square told the story.
A night that warmed up and simmered with intent was brought to life by three special heads making Liverpool music heads unite in one massive joyous party. Good, that.
Drenge enjoying life at the Kazimier
Photographs by Getintothis‘ Sakura, Gaz Jones, Tom Adam, Simon Lewis.
Further reading on Getintothis
Liverpool Sound City 2014 Review: Day One Round Up.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 Merseyside bands to watch
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 international bands to watch.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 UK bands to watch.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis‘ guide to the venues.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Things to do off the beaten track.
* John Cale – the grit in the oyster that shaped the sound we worship today.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Revo‘s routeplanner – the insider’s guide.
*Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis presents Jon Hopkins and stellar Merseyside show at Nation.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Fringe events and John Peel World Cup revealed.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: The Hold Steady ready to bear their teeth.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 – a Getintothis festival playlist.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 add The Kooks to festival bill.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: He used to come round wearing make up and strange Japanese Kimono clothing – David Pichilingi.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Jon Hopkins, Albert Hammond Jnr, Drenge and more for May festival.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 announce headliners Kodaline plus Gruff Rhys and Fuck Buttons for May festival
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: John Cale and Thurston Moore head up Conference speakers
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 reveal football, music and style themes
* Liverpool Sound City 2013: Top 10 bands and review round up of the festival