With a bounty of stellar acts across the lineup, Getintothis’ Craig MacDonald was spoilt for choice as Smithdown Road Festival returned for more bank holiday madness.
The say that there is such a thing as having too much choice, but why should that be a bad thing? With not one but two festivals on this weekend, Liverpool certainly doesn’t think so.
This is also clearly the way organisers of Smithdown Road Festival mind works too, with a multitude of artists from across the musical landscape on offer throughout the three day event, taking place in a bevy of venues throughout the South Liverpool melting pot. With other festivals struggling to keep punters fed and watered at times, this is never a problem at Smithdown.
Such is the scale of proceedings that to try and cover the whole array of what’s on would take a small army of scribes to do it justice, but none the less we set off with a sense of vigor about what lays ahead.
Our first stop finds us not on Smithdown Road, but up at Sefton Park Palmhouse as we avoid the wrestling outside and make it in time to see SPILT truly clatter it with vicious assaults of brutal psych punk. At one stage an amp catches fire and although probably down to electrical faults, we like to think it’s demise was due to the sheer noise that the trio are able to create.
This is perhaps the only gripe from the whole event, with the stunning location a fair distance form the hub of activity taking place at the regular site and one which this year was taken out of the organisers hands.
Making our way back to the epicentre, we just about make the tail end of Silent Cities to find him in scintillating form in the enclosed surroundings of Oro as his intimate workings wash over us. A brief rest at Evil Eye Burrito allows us to plot our next few hours, as we return to the Main Stage to catch The Boston Shakers heating things up nicely before we hurry back to find Ovvls open the Handyman in some style.
They are magnetic from the start and charm all within as they work their spell over us. Their delivery is exceptional and oozes charm in abundance. Similarly, Natalie McCool follows to make it a double header of brilliance as she delivers a pop masterclass with her lush vocals on fine form throughout.
We set off in earnest to see if it’s possible to join the throng of people that have gathered for Space at the Palmhouse and somehow manage to sneak our way in to find a sea of frenzy as the cult heroes run through their hit filled set. They can do no wrong here today, with everyone within singing to Tommy Scott’ every word.
Our evening concludes with a brief stop in to see the lucid psych melting out of Kelly’s Dispensary as The Floormen conjure a storm of fuzz filled plenty to bring our first day to a close. Slightly weary and still a bit fuzzy round the edges, we make a late start the following day but our calm is shattered as we encounter our first act.
Having no knowledge of Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind prior to seeing them, they certainly left a lasting impression on those who witnessed them as they lay slay to our cobwebs with a full scale onslaught of blues soaked rock grooves. An altogether prospect is the full bodied soul of Edgar Jones who brings a warmth to proceedings as we bounce to his every beat.
Nearing the end of his set, Jones that brings one of many touching tributes that we see across the weekend to Kris Earley. The love for the former Tramp Attack man is clear for all to see and shows throughout the whole festival, with acts quick to pay their respects to him.
Following a brief blast of furious funk from Craig Charles, we make our way back to Evil Eye to catch the mesmerising work of beat-boxing and vocal duo Ivons and Ian zel before zig-zaging our way into Craft Taproom to find Son of Dave producing an intriguing yet puzzling display of harmonica lead blues.
The final day of the festival sees many of the days acts not begin till well into the day, likewise with revelers as many seemingly nursing weary heads. All hope of a slow and steady recovery is swiftly shattered as Elevant unleash a flurry of riotous rock cuts to make all sit up and pay attention, as they deliver a knockout blow to this year’s event.
With the festival still very much in its infancy, it’s a credit to the Smithdown organisers for their work that sees the festival continue to grow and blossom into something wonderful for all to see. Long may it continue.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Francesco Imola