Independent Venue Week 2018 took over Liverpool city centre venues, Getintothis reflects on a fascinating week of new music and some surprising results.
With 160 venues signed up to Independent Venue Week all over the country, it’s safe to say that it’s kind of a big deal.
The build-up for 2018 has reached the far corners of the UK music scene, and had innumerable acts involved.
In fact, the 2018 edition of Independent Venue Week brings with it an extended bonus – that it will be heading over to the States for the first time ever this summer to spread the love of independent venues and celebrate everyone who makes them possible.
Now in its fifth year, Independent Venue Week has seen thousands of brand new artists flood through the various doors up and down the country, each one dependent on the tight-knit communities independent venues create.
The passion of every musician, manager, promoter and blogger is hinged on the doors of local venues, housing a place for new music to thrive.
Unfortunately, the threat to independent venues is ever-present, with sites like 24 Kitchen Street in Liverpool battling in recent years with threats of closure thanks to numerous forces working against them.
In fact, UK Music reported in January that 35% of venues have closed in the last decade, largely due to the residential buildings springing up nearby.
This is why events like Independent Venue Week are so important to not just the livelihood of young musicians, but to the entire music scene.
If closures were to continue at this rate, it would mean an entire shift in how we consume new music, pushing us all ever-closer to a Black Mirror-style mainstream consumption – squashing the creativity from it all together.
It seems even more important to raise awareness about these closures in Liverpool, a city that holds a huge part of music’s history, as well as its future.
Self-proclaimed plastic Scousers, Runcorn’s SPILT are freshly signed to Anvil Records and despite the omission of Facemelter, the psych-grunge three-piece opened up the night in style. Their drummer, clad in The Bohos merchandise in support of their newly-signed label mates playing under the street parallel in EBGBS, threw both arms around as if to shake the optics in the bar above. SPARK began with a Spanish offering and closed with an all-out singalong. In between, the ruby red guitar of front man Mike Blue provided a focal point with Lemonade an obvious highlight.
With Déjà Vega‘s vocalist sadly ill, False Advertising closed the night with a set that made the ceiling shudder. Their EP I Would Be So Much Happier If I Stopped Caring is unleashed early doors with Not My Fault greeted best before vocalist Jen Hingley takes to the drums and Chris Warr to the mic. From there on in it was dual-vocal, hair-spinning bliss.
— Lyndon Philliskirk (@LPhilliskirk) February 1, 2018
Loads of people have a guitar, but very few people know how to own it. Luckily for us, Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones is one of those few.
There’s surely no better way to enjoy a rainy Tuesday night than with a double dose of 30-minute acoustic sets from the man himself, which is what everyone attending his Jacaranda gig was treated to, plus a fair few anecdotes.
Who could make a song about a cat so intriguing that you can barely pull yourself away? Big Boo sounds like an enigma to me, and the intermittent ‘meows’ prove that there’s no noise that Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones can make during an acoustic set that would seem out of place.
The highlight of the evening had to be the cover of a classic tune by The Penguins that although was preceded with the statement ‘it’s meant to be a big ballad’ it was more than at home on the frets of Edgar’s guitar, matched with his deep and distinctive vocal.
💥💀 Nice one to everyone who came down to @ebgbsliverpool for our @IVW_UK show with @GetintothisHQ. It was epic, and bloody loud – just the way we like it. Hail Satan 💥💀 https://t.co/pRoIACdgwy pic.twitter.com/UDN9AAt5kB
— PALE RIDER (@PALERIIIDER) February 1, 2018
Doing exactly what Independent Venue Week should be – providing the platform for debut gigs, bass & guitar duo Charity Shop Pop! opened up at The Jacaranda bringing synth beats and dreamy teenage love-fuelled pop with them. The spark of witnessing something embryonic sets the perfect tone for the night.
Braving out solo Emilio Pinchi commanded the stage next, with reflective tales from an insightful songsmith. Echoes of Waites delivery, pitched somewhere between yearning and necessity. Set highlight Imitation of Life breathed honesty into a delicate performance. With a single launch just around the corner it’s only the start of a busy month for Pinchi.
Ali Horn finished the night, wielding his guitar with swagger and tunes bigger than his pockets. Lost lovers, stolen hearts and sharp wit trickle from this storyteller.
It’s a rarity to hear him stripped back and despite his own reservations Horn delivered a spellbinding set. So much so people were heading blindly into glass doors, showing that even concussion has soul. A John Grant classic gently dropped in mid-set signposts where the atmosphere rested. A special treat for those that were there and appreciating this charismatic modern lover.
The midpoint saw fast-rising mayhem mavericks Idles bring their Brutalism to Studio 2 on Parr Street as part of BBC 6Music‘s Steve Lamacq hosted event. A wild, select crowd crammed into the recording studio as they saluted issues including the NHS and mental health while throttling guitars and clattering drums. It was a riot.
The Friday of Independent Venue Week was always bound to be absolutely bouncing with the finest new music the city has to offer.
First on were mighty Samurai Kip, who treated us to their brand new track Mr Void: a tune that’s guaranteed to brighten anyone’s weekend. These fresh-faced locals offer up a psychedelic laid back sound that’s infectious, and only makes you want to hear more.
The three-piece were one of the highlights of the evening, soon followed by Maddie Stenberg. The Formby-hailing singer/songwriter tonight came complete with a diverse band, changing her image from six months ago when she sung solo acoustically.
The jazz-influenced set was a far cry from her solo performances, with a fuller sound and a broader range of contributions to the set. With the backing giving a fresh take on jazz that you can’t help dance to, there’s still room for this young musician to grow.
Next up was Neildsy, fashioned with fur coat, trilby and all the blow up animals Glastonbury could ask for. His 90s Britpop vibes rile up the audience effectively and get them ready for the main woman herself.
Dubbed as 2018’s ones to watch, Katie Mac offered not just a brilliant musical performance for the audience, but a powerful, piercing and incredibly distinctive vocal that’s as good at story telling as it is at being emotive. Without a doubt the highlight of her set was Into The Wild, her latest track following her breakaway from the daily grind to become a full time musician. If there’s one musician you put on your list to catch live this year, make sure it’s her.
Ty Freeman opened Saturday night at The Magnet with a lively set. Getting the audience dancing almost immediately, the band kicked the night off with a set that struck a balance between the intensity of early Led Zeppelin and the lyrical prowess of a young Nick Cave.
Next up were The Mysterines who brought with them the energy of The Runaways and lead vocals of front woman, Lia Metcalfe reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, teamed with the confidence of Suzi Quatro.
Headliners of the night were Peach Fuzz. The slight decline in energy left the audience wanting more from the main act. Hints that the songwriting had considerably matured came through the melodic bass lines, catchy choruses and the consistently well-performed guitar riffs.
Down at The Jacaranda there was an intergalactic array of jazz, funk, psychedelia and dirty garage rock. The Blurred Sun Band kept the audience on their toes by alternating tempos quicker than you could keep up with. They embrace jazz and take it on an existential journey, and the product is what we imagine blues on LSD might sound like.
Next up are unconventional four piece Jo Mary, who a raucous energy matched with psychedelic garage rock. Shoes and shirts strewn over the stage, they plough on, with Wife Song a particular highlight. This song alone blew away any remaining cobwebs left in the bricked basement of The Jacaranda with a leap into punk rock exploring the complexities of marriage.
Last up were Pure Joy… Go Galactic! proving that you don’t have to be pigeon-holed to one sound. Having ditched two guitars and added a whole lot of tech, they served up a preternatural sound forming a set that’s layer upon layer of warping kaleidoscopic tones, which was impossible not to bob your head to.
On Sunday night it was Bang Bang Romeo who stole the show. Oozing confidence they blended soulful rock which went down a treat with the crowd.
Kicking off the night was NOAH NOAH, a band from Scotland whose strong basslines and groovy moves pulled everybody – hook, line and sinker – onto the dance floor. Mad Alice turned up with a 70s punk-grunge attitude and.the glitter on lead singer Caitlin‘s face was nowhere near as bright as their future.
Completing the line-up was the much-adored Life at the Arcade, and they sure lived up to their reputation, with the crowd completely packing the dance floor – so much so it was hard to move! With screams of “I love you” from the audience it was a fine way to wrap things up.
Now that Independent Venue Week 2018 is over, we can only wait in anticipation for what IVW19 will bring.
Getintothis Independent Venue Week team: Tom Adam, Keith Ainsworth, Mike Burns, Luke Chandley, Lily Corke Butters, Howard Doupe, Chris Flack, Peter Goodbody, David Hall, Lewis Ridley, Chloe Sharpe, Lauren Wise.