After hearing mixed opinions on the new layout and line up of Sound City 2016, I was thoroughly looking forward to my first encounter with the Liverpool festival that was on the rise to bigger things. A variety of stages, food stands and bars were surrounded by the picturesque panoramic view of the River Mersey which flowed into eyes view of the infamous city skyline.
The first day commenced with a showcase of talent from across the UK and other parts of the world. The first act I encountered was a solo artist from Western Australia, Simon Okley also known by the stage name of Slow Dancer. His vocals leaked similarities of Unknown Mortal Orchestra in parts but with a beautifully mixed balance of melancholy and contentment being projected from his voice and through his guitar. His music had bought a fairly sized crowd that seemed pleased with each song he would play. His music bared similarities between James Taylor and Van Morrison which is one understandable reason why people thoroughly enjoyed him.
The North Stage hosted 7 piece reggae band 1Eye. A large crowd of at least 100 standing, sitting and laying back embracing a combination of hip hop reggae, the bands set fitted perfectly with the surrounding water and rare British sunshine bringing a much needed slice of the Caribbean to Bramley-Moore Docks. Lucky for the listeners of 1Eye, another fabulous act wasn’t even within walking distance away. The Tall Ship Stage, which is as literal as the name was located on the water of the docks and accommodated anti-garage duo, Gallery Circus.
Identical twins, Daniel and Graeme Ross have composed music which is similar to Royal Blood and Drenge, and I’m sure they’ve heard this comparison before but there was something different about this duo, the charisma and stage presence was phenomenal. They’re both very talented individuals, switching instruments throughout their performance and hitting notes higher than the heavens, Gallery Circus deserve a lot more credibility.
Now with all festivals there are always a few teething problems, the almost blatant pointers are the food and drink prices cost you a limb and they’re usually , but that is part of the festival experience and I think most of the people there were enjoying themselves too much to care.
But the thing that baffled me the most was the performance of Sleaford Mods. Can someone please explain the appeal of this band? Their performance didn’t lack energy but it certainly lacked talent, and this isn’t just my opinion. From some whistles and clapping of fans at the end of each song came a strong contrast of booing and screwed up faces of others as if someone had smelt their lyrics. The performance could have been better if they had a live band playing their music and showing some effort but this was not the case. Talking lyrics like “the smell of piss is so strong it smells like decent bacon” over boring basslines was not mine or a majority of the crowds forte.
Floating Points were a band I’d heard of prior Sound City and I’d only heard positive things so I thought I’d step into the unknown and inspect what I could. The effect this band had on their audience was entrancing. The combination of the warm cosmetic electro bounced off the wall and hypnotised the crowd to a point where no one could become distracted any other way. The live band was spectacular and created this intensity that complimented the electronic music and synths perfectly which kept the audience happy and the set fluid.
Neon Waltz lived up to my expectations after I arrived just in time for the intro of their slot. The band bared 60’s influences throughout their set with synth loaded guitars and perfectly fitting indie vocals. The crowd began to weave further towards the front and stepped out into the open as Bare Wood Aisle played out into early stages of the sunset over the River Mersey. This band are crowd pleasers no doubt, even to members who weren’t aware of the band before. The reputation of Neon Waltz will definitely quickly ascend.
I felt the Southampton trio, Band of Skulls mastered their sound down to a T as well as the way they performed on stage. A fabulous combination of sound comparable to Queens of The Stone Age and The Black Keys but with their own modern twist that sat well throughout their full performance. The charisma of the band on stage added that extra spark which ignited one of the biggest crowds I’d seen for the full weekend.
One of the performances that I included in my preview before the festival was West London’s, Shura. Her hazy electronic tunes shook up R&B and pop creating a dreamy 80’s cocktail, casting a warm aura hypnotising the crowd. You couldn’t fault her ability to take it to another level on stage. Touch rattled the listening minds of her audience, basically reflecting the studio version of the track which is a winner in my mind.
I switched things up a bit and went to the Tim Peaks Diner tent for ‘In Conversation with Circa Waves‘ where a journalist would interviewed Lead singer Kieran Shudall and Guitarist, Joe Falconer. The tent was over-flowing with fans and other members of press sat on bean bags and unfortunately for some like myself, the concrete floor. The comical band members gave me a decent insight of the band, some info about how they started and a bit of history. This year’s Sound City was their first gig they had played for a year and incredibly the last gig they played was Sound City 2015 on a lower stage. Pat yourselves on the back, boys. The city of Liverpool’s residents gave a warm welcome with open arms as they arrived on stage. Slamming out juicy tunes from their debut album ‘Young Chasers’ caused a pretty vicious mosh pit at one point that I swiftly avoided. Circa Waves music is fab to listen to, it’s easy-going indie rock and the set as a whole was very well structured.
The only downer was the power cut mid-set that caused everything on stage to cut off. The band left with high hopes and told the crowd to hang and they’ll be back as soon as possible kept everyone’s heads afloat only to return with a Beatles cover and ending with ‘T-shit Weather’.