It’s a joyous collision of blissed out alt-pop and rock ‘n’ roll debauchery as Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke finishes his Sound City with the gleeful Belle and Sebastian and lascivious Fat White Family.
Their set late last night had set the Cavern stage on fire with a thumping explosion of left-field EDM, yet to a bleary-eyed Sunday morning crowd you’d be forgiven for considering Beat Market‘s ferocious tempos, well, a bit much. As things transpire, however, they’re something of a perfect wake-up call (along with a sumptuous cup of Tim Peaks coffee) as they open the Baltic stage, and with dancing shoes re-donned they’re the perfect set-up for more pop in the form of local outfit When I Am King.
Formerly under, and billed as, the mouthful of a moniker Coffee and Cakes for Funerals, they’re suave, smooth and effortlessly tight, mainstream pop at its urbane best. Johnny Sands follows them at Cargo in a pleasant enough segue for the fast-rising Blossoms, who supercede expectations for a blinding but all too brief set.
Frontman Tom Ogden takes front and centre stage with style, charisma and a faultlessly louche vocal, while his band play a scorching set of sky-high psychedelic pop that’s the first, but by no means the last, truly incredible set of the day. Jane Weaver, who’s directly next, plays the second. Majestic on stage and completely owning the buffets of gale-force wind, Don’t Take My Soul is the expected highlight in an enticing brew of left-field pop at its best.
Cold Committee, meanwhile, play the Cavern as part of BBC Wales’ Gorwelion Horizons bill of emerging Welsh talent with affably youthful ebullience and though far from revolutionary there’s enough energy to compensate for originality. Hidden Charms, however, are on a different level. Imbued with similar sensibilities as to the perfected art of modern rock ‘n’ roll as Blossoms, though with an added Doors-esque kick, their set is a visceral careen through the history of exhilarating scuzz from Brian Jones‘ Stones to The Black Keys, their sweaty small-stage crowd in the palm of their hand.
Cymbals Eat Guitars‘ main stage set is loud, energetic, but sadly a little disinteresting, but The Cribs, next up, are leagues above. A quite ridiculously raucous affair from stat to finish, every hook igniting ferocity in the sweeping pit, the entirety of their hour seeing hoarse voices screaming at their limit and a furious outpouring passion and pints among the sweaty faithful. Its breathless, youthful, and as memorable as they come, winded revellers stumbling away caked in mud, blood and lager.
We’re in dire need of a breather, the natural retreat of choice being the Bramley Moore Pub just outside the site for a pint without the inordinate festival price-tag, where a Cee-Lo Green lookalike treating us to a karaoke set worthy of the Atlantic. Breath caught, its straight back into the fray for a manic set from Sun God Replica, while a walk past the North stage sees The Amazing‘s set to be, well, not that amazing.
In Belle and Sebastian, however, the main stage has one hell of a closer. Twee they may be, but weedy the Glaswegians certainly aren’t, their set an almost uninterrupted outpouring of mutual adoration. The yearning emotion of early material hits home as well to the masses as to an angsty weeping teen in their bedroom, while the polished pop of their early-noughties material evoking joyous singalongs; even the live airings of their realtively unestablished recent forays into modish electro-pop are lapped up.
Frontman Stuart Murdoch is graceful in his self-conscious elegance throughout, taking to the bongos with ease for Perfect Couples, grinning with a laid-back, confidence cool as he drawls through amiable patter about the city that so clearly adore him. It’s only really a slow-paced Lord Anthony that’s a slight lull as Murdoch unsuccessfully harangues an audience member for mascara, but once the opening credits to 60s sitcom The Liver Birds blare out at its finish we’re straight back into the groove for The Model.
For The Boy With the Arab Strap upwards of fifty starry-eyed punters are dragged on stage for a dance, seethes of jealously from those left in the crowd quickly overcome with mutual joy, and with I Didn’t See it Coming and The Blues are Still Blue, they’re the most impeccably radiant of closers to a magnificent weekend.
Except that’s not all. With such a beacon of positivity having eminated from the headliners, for some of us there’s still a will for perversion yet to be sated. So step forward the self-appointed kings of debauchery Fat White Family for a truly lunatic late-night conclusion at the Baltic.
Ferociously confrontational from the off, from frontman Lias Saoudi‘s ‘KEEP FUCKING BUYING THE SUN’ t-shirt (soon ripped off in sweaty fervour) to his yowling, unsavoury lurches into the crowd, it’s forty minutes of preposterous mania that’s the most cataclysmically perverse, yet intoxicatingly powerful of endings, the polar opposite to the main-stage finishers but in a strange way equally suitable after a frenzied three days of both rapture and reckless abandon; Sound City‘s new guise is a gamble that has most certainly paid off.
Photos by Getintothis’ Martin Waters, Martin Saleh, Michael Hegarty, Jack Thompson, Tom Adam, Vicky Pea, Chris Flack: