LIVE: Liverpool Music Week 22-31.10.15

It seems having to update the events calendar is becoming more familiar by the day for Liverpool’s strong, gig-going community. Days booked off work; pulling sickies; or maybe working out a way to perform at them all for some folks, as promising homegrown acts keeping appearing out of the woodwork at an alarming rate. However it would seem one bash in particular, Liverpool Music Week’s 9-day extravaganza seems to be leading the way. So we thought this year we’d give you our heady account of what’s going on down the front.

On a dim, quiet Sunday evening we enter The Kazimier to the brooding, unnerving synth-on-sax drone of APATT. The collective build to a roaring, psychotic close of garbled vocals they then kick into Hall & Oates classic, ‘Maneater’. It’s unexpected but turns out to be pop pastiche at its best. That then succeeds into another pitch-bended, stacked and chaotic climax. It’s difficult to keep a straight face, though some manage it.

Homegrown trio, Barberos roll on stage lycra-suited and balaclava’d and assemble like some sort of avant-garde, delinquent Power Rangers behind their two drum kits and synth set up. If we’re going to struggle to fittingly describe anything over this week, it’s going to be the immensity of these three. Genres lash together in an unrestrained Hadrons Collider fashion; polyrhythms stab and stack against pitch bent keys, as neon strip lights pulse and vocals break down into possessed psychobabble. Still a little fragile from Liverpool’s Psych Fest last month, our senses are willing stretched and stripped once more.

HEALTH certainly don’t disappoint either. Five years since their last city appearance, the noise-rock four-piece power through puncturing material from their pummel-Pop release Death Magic. The cataclysmal drop of ‘NEW COKE’ proves a highlight, as the room throbs. The Kaz has still got a couple of months in her; we don’t want to level the place yet.

Relentless Northwest tourers, Idle Frets open on Monday night at The Shipping Forecast with their energetic brand of indie-pop and prove an early indication of the quality of this year’s DIY shows. Google-alluding, limelight stealing Colour spiral forth with complex, yet sinfully contagious math-pop that nods towards Total Life Forever Foals and the angular indie of Vampire Weekend and Dutch Uncles. The single ‘Strangers’ dropped earlier this month and in this snug ‘n’ sweaty live setting the audience laps it up.

Dublin’s loud and proud alt-pop purveyors, All Tvvins manically tear their way through their headline slot with glitchy ’80s samples, frenetic guitar playing and robust lead vocals. Having recently supported Arcade Fire, from their intense performance they could be earning some weighty accolades soon themselves.

As Scott Walker’s ‘Angels Of Ashes’ drifts around the domed chapel of the Scandinavian Church, We Are Catchers ready themselves for their Josh T. Pearson support slot on Thursday evening. Throwing tall shadows across the walls, their piano-driven songs recall the melancholy and classic melodies of ’60s songsmiths, with closing single ‘Tap Tap Tap’ immediately calling to mind elements of the Beach Boy’s famed Doo-wop and Baroque-pop. The only problem with their set is due to the open acoustics some of the more intricate piano playing is lost and the collective sound of the three piece comes across as muddy.

Josh T Pearson’s razor sharp wit seesaws between the self-effacing and the self-aggrandizing, as he talks of robotic dystopia, the pitfalls of marriage and getting a bit ‘Brokeback’ with tourmate LeBaron. Yet like the true greats, he just as easily slips back into the dejected songs of ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ – although with his new righteous perspective, there’s an initial hostility about it all. But as he zones in, ‘Sweetheart, I Ain’t your Christ’ and ‘Country Dumb’ are as deeply affecting as ever. As cliché as it may sound it does appear that we’ve seen the transition of deeply troubled troubadour to exulted apostle. As he moves into the warm glow of the altar and as the pure, close harmonies of himself and LeBaron echo within the stained glass walls, it appears as if a weight is visibly lifted from his shoulders.

Saturday’s Closing Party at Camp & Furnace felt very similar to the hyperactive Halloween of my childhood days: wired and visually over-stimulated, not knowing which way to look or what to do next; possibly more tastefully dressed back in the day, more binbag and bed sheets over vombified dictators. But most alike is probably the feeling of being totally and utterly spoilt.

Tonight there’s further proof of why more and more people are getting behind Liverpool’s alt-pop three-piece, All We Are. Their eponymous debut boasted more groove than the acetate it was pressed onto; brimming with hook after hook, it’s no wonder why they’re receiving such praise and support for their hometown return. Their cover of Caribou’s ‘Can’t Do Without You’ isn’t the only number to get heads-a-bobbin’ and hips-a-shakin’, two new songs ‘Burn It All Out’ and ‘Down’ are unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience and give a sweet taste of the syrupy sonic sedation in store for LP No. 2.

With their sixth LP, Fading Frontier, dropping earlier last month – continuing their weird era – psych-ambient 4-piece, Deerhunter put on one of the best performances of the week. A recent LA gig meltdown had seen Bradford Cox shaking potted plants at audience members for 30 minutes, but tonight he’s on fine form sparring with individuals in the crowd and cutting the soundcheck short to power through ‘Desire Lines’. ‘Living My Life’ floats by in a buoyant shoegaze haze, whereas closing track ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ spirals out of control into marching rolled drums, looping feedback and then runs on in delirious, eschewed glory for over 12 minutes, as Cox exclaims “I never saw it coming, waiting for something from nothing!”

Manchester’s Spring King proved the ideal close to the weekend with their clashing kinetic blend of garage rock and surf-punk. Besides we’re not sure we would’ve been able to physically take anymore after this. The scuzzy, raw guitar lines and onstage energy has the small amassed huddle of bodies moving unlike anything else we’ve seen this week. Once again Liverpool Music Week sets the mark and exceeds it in flawless fashion. They really are to good to us. Are you sure there’s no more upcoming shows on the way? Halloween and Christmas coming once a year we can deal with but this just doesn’t seem fair.

David Weir