With a new era of Sound City very much in sight on the horizon, Getintothis delves into the heart of the Baltic Triangle, uncovering, at least, some of the secrets each venue has to offer.
Sometimes you need to go backwards to move forward and Sound City’s journey is a fine example of how returning to your roots a little older and a little wiser, can be a most fruitful experience.
Our experiences down on the docks were, of course, memorable, but didn’t always register as fond ones. The Bramley Dock site played witness to some breathtaking moments that seemed to cement Sound City in its new home.
Whether it was Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips zorbing into the Atlantic Stage crowd, YAK tearing the Baltic Warehouse to shreds, or the blistering energy felt during each passing parade, sweeping you up in their vibrant pastiche of colour and sounds, there were some seriously fine moments.
There were smaller victories too, the ease of hopping from one stage to another was a great plus, particularly when darting around to catch as many bands as possible. The up and coming talent on display was immense, too, and turned those drab little tents into valuable stepping stones for many, including a handful of acts who after being relatively unknown a mere two years ago, have now exploded onto their respectable scenes. We’re talking about the likes of Gengahr, Xam Volo and Magic Gang who have turned successful buzzes into electrifying shocks of talent.
It felt at times, like a bold yet wise move from Sound City HQ, and there was sweet promise in the air. Of course, some of that promise soon dissipated due to sound overspill, poor atmosphere, and the dustbowl era of 2017 at the Clarence Dock, during which you slowly accumulated an ever growing layer of grime over every inch of your person… and that’s not to mention The Kooks.
We all knew it was time for a homecoming, in some sense, and to leave the wind-stricken docklands alone for a while, making the most of one of the most exciting and unique cultural sectors on the planet, the Baltic Triangle.
So as Sound City returns to where it rightfully belongs, the ‘City’, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the Baltic Triangle and the many fantastic venues within, so while you figure out who’s on your ‘to watch’ list, you can envisage their performance with a snap of context.
Here’s to Sound City 2018, we welcome you with open arms, one waving goodbye to the docklands, and the other ready to rock up and see what you’ve got in store for us.
Baltic Market – 107 Stanhope St
Currently home of the finest scran from across the city, contained in a hustling, bustling warehouse, the Baltic Market has cemented itself as a genuine gem, and got many of us scratching our heads thinking “why didn’t I think of that?”
The huge, open-plan setting houses an ever-changing wealth of food & drink and they’ll undoubtedly have something special up their sleeves for the weekend with a stellar line up featuring Midnight Delivery, Izakaya and Hafla Hafla (the ones with the halloumi fries). On the music front they’re hosting some of Liverpool’s hottest rising talent including Queen Zee, Red Rum Club, Peaness and Lennie Dies.
Booze-wise you’ll enjoy a wide selection of local ales including the classic Love Lane, plus all your canned and bottled friends by Kona Brewing Company, Warped Wing and The Wild Beer Co.
To top it off, all dogs are welcome and bringing them is encouraged so you can slurp to your heart’s content with your furry, and less furry friends by your side.
Hangar 34 – 34 Greenland St
Despite its industrial aesthetic, Hangar 34 is a chameleonic venue when it comes to events.
Occupying the corner of New Bird and Newhall Street, it stands monochromatic and a tad plain to passers by, but inside its a cauldron of vast, varying excitement.
While they play host to musical spectacles, including the upcoming last leg of Miles Kane’s UK tour, the hangar also hosts boxing, comedy acts and celebrity talks, including a natter with Jamie Carragher in the wake of his spitting embarrassment.
Expect post-Sound City madness here, as we at Getintothis host an after party to remember with King Khan & The Shrines as our proud headliner alongside three of Liverpool’s best new bands; Pale Rider, Beija Flo and King Hannah – plus The Slow Readers Club, Sunset Sons and The Academic among others across the weekend.
24 Kitchen Street
Recently renovated but retaining its intimate charm, 24 Kitchen Street faced closure not too long ago, but it’s now at the forefront of the Baltic hive.
Kitchen Street owes its success to its willingness to support and experiment with eclectic acts, from hosting Liverpool’s top Disco Festival, world renowned DJ’s, as well as hectic, experimental jazz sessions.
Their weekend lineup includes Caledonian Road bedroom producer Tom Tripp, Strange Collective’s Ali Horn and local surf outfit, The Shipbuilders.
We predict many will be watching the sun come up from here so if you’re hoping to segue into the AM in style, then look no further.
Baltic Social – 27 Parliament St
A cosy cubby hole of delicious, hot soup, enticing board games and cracking quizzes, the Baltic Social is condensed version of everything the Baltic has to offer.
They play host to hectic paint parties where you can come and express yourself with a paint brush while you proceed to getting plastered and let your inhibitions slip away.
Expect a solid range of craft ales, unlimited fizz and performances from local garage rockers, The Cheap Thrills, intriguingly named Sam Eagle & The Lemon Lizards, plus Alice’s Night Circus to headline the Sunday.
Red Brick Vintage – The Courtyard, Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street
Within the walls of Cain’s Brewery you’ll find Red Brick Vintage, nestled neatly amid a welcoming entrance, your eyes quickly avert to a wealth of vintage goods you never thought you’d want, but now you just gotta have.
Within the intriguingly cluttered doorway, complete with retro bathtubs, Wild Loaf Pizza and quite possibly (weather permitting) some folk playing instruments, you’ll enter a captivating world of ‘stuff’.
Duck under the chandeliers, rummage through knee high vinyl stacks, tread carefully around the jewelry tables and slip on the tasseled jacket of your dreams, the way retail should be don’t you think?
Alt-rock scenesters Eyesore & The Jinx join Aussie folk artist, Suzie Stapeton and conjurers of develish psych, Indonesian trio, Speaker First on the Red Brick Vintage stage.
Black Pearl/Bedouin Bar – 8 Stanhope St
Bedouin Bar brings a taste of Arabia to Cains Brewery.
Warming lights and candles create a snug atmosphere in Casablanca-style booths with plush cushions for your reclining needs.
You’ll enjoy rich aromas and a comprehensive cocktail list under the multi-coloured tent that swoops overhead.
There’s a stage above the bar too, a great spot for performances provided by disco and house presenters, Four To The Floor & Glaswegian rock outfit, Medicine Men, or just a recuperation zone for those festival-weary toes.
Black Lodge Brewery – 4 Kitchen St
A superb small batch brewery is a staple for any Liverpool-based event, and Black Lodge Brewery are bound to offer special moments for the palette.
They arrive equipped with experimental fusions, including a cucumber saison, black treacle stouts and high percentages to help you on your way.
Some of you may have visited their Tap Room Taster sessions; close quarter sampling in their humble setting with great brewing tanks sitting plump and proud all around.
On Air – Cain’s Brewery Village, Stanhope Street
The latest addition to the Cains Brewery Village, this newcomer to the live venue circuit in Liverpool is a movie set inspired bar from the folks behind Ghetto Golf. Once inside prepare to be in awe of the 60ft high film set that’ll most certainly bring a very unique gig experience to the weekend.
With an outdoor courtyard feel this venue it will offer something different to the Sound City experience. Saturday’s highlights include Wye Oak, Flyte and Zuzu whilst the Sunday you can catch Dermot Kennedy, Billie Marten and Getintothis favourite Nick Ellis.
It’s always a better party when there’s funk and soul on the cards, and over at Brick Street they’re devoted to ensuring the genre’s flame burns strong throughout the festival.
A sterling host of DJ’s including John Dean, Pooky and Kole, (who supported Chic at the Echo Arena) lead the charge, served alongside some of the world’s tastiest rum concoctions, this one has late night boogying written all over it.
Funk isn’t all they have on the cards either, Rotterdam existential rockers Lewsberg appear alongside Bury’s heavy hitters, Novustory on the Saturday. While Sunday houses a monstrous, Merseyside-bred attack of psychedelia with FUSS, Psycho Comedy and Jo Mary topping the bill; things are gonna get messy.
Camp & Furnace – 67 Greenland Street
Camp & Furnace is the largest venue at for the festival, known for being the original home of Psych Fest and a whole range of artistic endeavours. With street food, late night bars, performances, galleries and photographic studios Camp & Furnace has firmly established itself as the cultural hangout at the heart of the Baltic Triangle. Home to The Late Wake Club, Liverpool Disco Festival and themed events all year round- Bongo’s Bingo anyone?
This’ll be home to the heavyweights of the festival hosting the headline acts. On Saturday their vast open creative space will be filled with the sounds of DMA’s, with Black Honey and Neon Waltz. The Sunday lineup boasts Peace, Liverpool favourites The Night Cafe and Jaws.
As for unique creations you’ll find served in the Lobby Bar Brown Bear, the Camp & Furnace’s own bottled conditioned beer. Starting its life right at the venue in the Edwardian furnace where the malted wheat is smoked over birch chips. Make a note to try one of the extending range during LSC.
Constellations – 35-39 Greenland Street
Constellations is an award winning event space in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, winners of the 2016 Merseyside Independent Business Of The Year and Culture & Tourism Business Of The Year Awards.
Home to many a club night- Halcyon, Movement’s recent 1st Birthday and Mad Professor’s Dub Club and On The Corner. There’s always something on to cater for most eclectic of entertainment needs. This year for LSC they host the DIY stage and a headlining set from IDLES who return to Liverpool on the back of their Independent Venue Week gig. Sharing the stage on the Saturday is Jordan Allen and The Longcut plus more. Sunday boats an equally impressive line up including Yellow Days, Puma Blue and Connie Constance.
Serving up a weekend brunch club and plenty of other menu choices, expect to find locally sourced spirits such as Turncoat Vodka and their own home brewed craft ale Equinox. For those wanting to keep a clear head they proudly also serve Soda Works– a range of soft drinks made in Liverpool with only 4.9% sugar. This just might be the first venue to visit on your list.
District – 61 Jordan Street
The originators and humble trendsetters of the Baltic Triangle. District is a hidden gem of a venue with a vibrant and engaging ethos, not to mention delicious Vegan food to boot.
With links to holding the Liverpool Disco Festival and forthcoming Across The Threshold and award winning Positive Vibration – Festival of Reggae this summer. Not forgetting recent gigs from Horseman and the Upper Cut Band, Shame, Jah Shaka Sound System and Louis Berry.
This year they host Heavenly Sounds the Heavenly Recordings stage featuring sets from Orielles and 77:78 along with SESAC’s showcase. On Sunday Baxter Dury headline with a supporting bill that includes Lucia and The RPMS.
Constellations Garden – 35-39 Greenland Street
If being outside under the stars floats your boat then you can’t get much better than this recycled industrial recycling yard- the Constellations Garden. With its national award-winning handmade oak canopy a true architectural marvel, its geometric design, DIY ethic and laid back atmosphere. Experience, escape and relax under the sun and stars. Brightly-lit and oozing in character this is the premier outdoor cultural space for LSC.
Constellations Garden will be the weekend home to the one and only Tim Peaks Diner boasting a pretty stellar line up of Edgar Jones, Deja Vega, The Fernweh and Marvin Powell. The Sunday carries on with Riding The Low, White Room and Average Sex.
This summer also sees a food residency from FINCA Liverpool– a Cuban street food experience. Don’t forget to try local tipple Love Lane and its very own home-brewed craft beer, Equinox.
Blade Factory (Downstairs)/Stage 10: (Upstairs) – Greenland Street
Situated within Camp & Furnace and coming into its own for Psych Fest, the Blade Factory is slowly establishing itself at a quality music venue in the Baltic Triangle. With past gigs from the likes of Hookworms and Baltic Fleet An intense performance space that is certain to be the talk of many who have a wander into its four walls during LSC.
With two performance spaces it’s going to be a mighty busy venue this festival. Downstairs on the Saturday to catch Otzeki, Stealing Sheep and Papercutz whilst on the Sunday Mynth, Mart Avi and more support another Stealing Sheep set.
Make your way to the upstairs space to catch Husky Loops, Sinai and Ginger Snaps on Saturday. Sunday sees sets from Indoor Pets and Artificial Pleasure plus more.
Unit 51 – 43 Jamaica Street
The first venue to trail-blaze the coffee bar culture within the Baltic Triangle, Unit 51 has become the daytime social heartbeat for both business networking and coffee lovers alike. Yet again playing a vital role as one of the prominent venues for this years Across The Threshold Festival.
With home-made soups, salads and cakes this is sure to be a pit-stop when in need of that vital refuelling.
Craft Minded – Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street
With its inescapable metallic skyline beacon, Craft Minded prides itself on the huge breadth of fine drinks on offer. Gaining its stripes on the musical landscape with their Craft Live nights, this will be a welcomed addition to the LSC venue list.
This is the place to catch Ricardo Williams, Lauren Ackie, Gambini, Jay Alexander, Cecil and a set from DJ Ace’s Record Box Pick.
As for the food, Getintothis recommends the Beer Battered Frickles with Sriracha Mayo. The Stuttgart brewed Wulle Biere Lager is an exclusive, just go easy on the Ginger Stout though- it’s 9.2% y’know.
Tap And Still – 62-64 Bridgewater Street
A brewery, distillery and bar with its own tasting room and eatery on the fringes of the Baltic Triangle, H1780 Tap and Still offers many a drinking experience.
Home to The Ginsmiths of Liverpool and Higson’s ales, this particular venue will bring a touch of class to the LSC proceedings.
On the Saturday there’s a mix of both full band and acoustic sets from Wake Island, Far from Alaska and The Paparazzi City. Whilst Sunday belongs to the unique Jazz sounds of Blind Monk Trio and the highly anticipated Anti Social Jazz Social Vs Mono-Tone.
Birdies Bar – Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street
This quirky little outdoor cocktail bar and grill next to On Air has fun at the heart of its philosophy. Its attitude towards music is serving up the city with easy-going vibes and familiar sounds.
This perfectly sized space has a rammed line up for both days with no less than 29 sets from different artists. To name just a handful here’s where you’ll catch Fang Club, Vundarbar, Emilio Pinchi, Team Picture, Moglebaum, Buslav and The Magnettes.
Offering good-time cocktails and small dishes, the street buzz flows through this open air space. Once you get cosy under the blankets, it’ll be hard to shift anywhere else.