Feverish music lovers sampled the sweetest sounds of the future at this year’s premier North-West festival, Liverpool Sound City. Once again adopting a multi-venue mindset, the diverse showcase officially and successfully opened up the floodgates on festival season 2018.
Sound City’s former bar-hopping likeness was re-installed for 2018, allowing fresh fans and seasoned veterans to schmooze around a cluster of venues in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. Camp & Furnace seen more-established acts grace its stage (Peace & The Night Café) while Constellations and its gardens, On Air, Baltic Market – which housed the Pirate Studios stage – and more, offered up a highlight reel of the coolest cats stationed in the ‘new music category’.
Fronting the selection of fresh blood was the ethereal Shadowlark, Lucy Barat, Stockport’s No Hot Ashes (who skanked their way to victory at District) summertime groove-busters, Cassia, seditious rebel, YUNGBLUD and your favourite younger brothers, RedFaces. Despite being relatively new to the festival circuit, RedFaces enchanted with their rough-around-the-edges stage-presence and killer indie-movie soundtrack-style songs.
While RedFaces dazzled with their brilliant ‘newness’, our Saturday and Sunday night headliners – DMA’s and Billie Marten – inspired with heavenly familiarity.
DMA’s brought a crescendo of power and a defined, high-spirited atmosphere to Camp & Furnace, triumphantly sealing the first day’s deal. Their set saw death-defying highs (‘Feels Like 37’) and mellow melodies (‘Warsaw’) marking DMA’s as a serious contender for the ‘UK’s favourite band’ crown.
Billie Marten, our Sunday headliner of choice, sparked swooning hearts and an air of lust and longing, forever to be relished. Marten’s honeyed vocal and the simplicity of her set spoke to our souls on a level like no other across the weekend. If there was a more spellbinding way to bring Sound City to its inevitable end, then we really do beg to differ.
Streaking alongside the big dogs in terms of captivation, we can definitely list the seminal Gaffa Tape Sandy, Calva Louise, the haunting Sam Fender – who also played his hometown Newcastle’s Hit The North earlier that day – and of course, the mighty Vistas.
Sunshine in sound form, the Edinburgh band humbly performed their array of feel-good tracks (‘Strong Swimmer’ and ‘Retrospect’) in Constellations back room on Sunday, May 6. Come rain, come shine, come darkness or come light, the reliability of Vistas to pull off a performance of a lifetime always sticks them head-and-shoulders above the rest. You should be sore if you missed their Sound City 2018 performance
Previous to Vista’s scintillating performance, however, was a set filled with sporadic destruction and mighty tunes. Who other than False Heads could successfully tear up the Pirate Studio’s stage with such energy (specifically on ‘Weigh In’ and ‘Twentynothing’) and see barrel hopping, an amp leap and a dive into a drum kit, causing utter pleasurable chaos? False Heads are the future of guitar music. We have said it and their Sound City slot has made us believe it. Their dark and stormy riffs, syncronised understanding of the phrase ‘cool as fuck’ and their loyal army of fans have put them on a pedestal. The rebels are forming, and there is going to be a False Heads uprising.
Despite the weekend of greatness, like every festival, Sound City had its teething problems. Goers were expelled from entering Baltic Market, due to a high-influx of non-Sound citizens grabbing drinks and food in the building. Set timings on certain stages ran away with themselves. Bang Bang Romeo was due to be performing when The Wholls were just getting warmed up, meaning schedules were skewed and compromises had to be made. But, with dazzling sunshine and warm faces at every venue, we cannot stay mad for very long, can we?
Liverpool Sound City 2018 brought its game to the highest level. The emerging lineup championed Liverpool-based artists and those of which usually reside in a minuscule font at the bottom of major bills. Everywhere you darted too and everywhere you found yourself entering was somewhere new and exciting, with the highest probability of discovering your new favourite artist.
Although we did not manage to get everywhere, our photographer Jon Mo, seemed to. See below for a gallery of artists who played across the entirety of the weekend.
Words: Ella Scott
Photography: Jon Mo