In Review: Liverpool Sound City 2018

(Peace @ Camp and Furnace - Photo by Jack Whiting)

Combine temperatures of 20 degrees, a sun drenched Bank Holiday weekend and a line up consisting of over 250 artists and what do you get? The perfect start to festival season, Liverpool Sound City. Returning to the city for it’s 11th year, this weekend saw the festival take over the Baltic Triangle for a weekend I can only describe as delightful.

With venues such as Camp and Furnace, Constellations and Baltic Market playing host to headliners DMA’s and Peace, as well as upcoming bands Black Honey, Marsicans and The Night Café, 2018’s line up offered enough variety to please every taste.

Any multi-venue festival carries with it some doubt of venue capacities, queues and general organisation. That doubt was strong for this year’s festival, with Saturday tickets sold out and headline venue Camp and Furnace holding less than 1000 people, it seemed unlikely that all would go to plan. Those doubts turned out to be needless, as both days were incredibly well organised, my weekend was free of queuing and stage delays were kept reasonably short; making Sound City stress free. The only flaw of the weekend was in the actual line up.

The early afternoon schedule was quite sparse, leaving us slightly lost with what to do with ourselves (and resulting in a good dose of sunburn). But by around 4pm, we found ourselves spoilt for choice with who to watch. Our picks for the weekend mostly clashed, or crossed over each other; causing a lot of rushing from venue to venue and a struggle to catch a set in it’s entirety. That of course is expected at any festival, and had minimum effect on the mood of the weekend. The overall mood of the weekend was as bright as the weather, making Sound City’s 11th year a truly memorable one.

Check out our line up highlights below.

(Photo by Jack Whiting)

The Night Café - Camp and Furnace

Arguably the most exciting upcoming talent Liverpool has to offer, The Night Café played a packed out Camp and Furnace on Sunday, right before Peace’s headline slot. Having supported the likes of The Wombats, Blaenavon and Sundara Karma, the quartet are no strangers to crowds of that size and that was clear to see.

Kicking off with the feel good jangle of The Way Of Mary, there was no time wasted in proving themselves worthy of a slot so high up the line up. Despite the sticky, ever building heat of the room there was the ever familiar chaos of a Night Café show down the front, with heads and hands bouncing throughout each and every song.

Moving on through the set with Felicity and Together, the energy in the room still continued to build as the Liverpool lads’ pulled off what was easily my favourite set of the weekend.

Drawing towards a close with the mosh pit inducing sound of early single Mixed Signals, before ending on the bitter-sweet potential anthem You Change With The Seasons; The Night Café truly proved their potential at Sound City, they leave no doubt that they’re a vital part of the future of Liverpool’s music scene and more than capable of filling big, potential headline slots.

(Photo by Jack Whiting)

Marsicans - Camp and Furnace

Despite having sat in traffic for 3 sweltering hours on route to Merseyside, Leeds’ infamously upbeat Marsicans brought their typical tropical cheer to Camp and Furnace on Saturday afternoon. As always, the colourful four piece had once again upped their game.

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see just how quickly their following grows, with Furnace holding a decent sized crowd for early on in the weekend, even despite the delay in their set. There’s no better match for a sunny afternoon than Marsicans’ feel good indie pop, and despite having to play a slightly shortened set their bubbly enthusiasm filled the room.

Flying through the set with the likes of Throw Ourselves In and Swimming, there’s a slight sense of pride in hearing and seeing just how the band have grown over the last year or two. Their sound and personality become more and more infectious by the minute, fitting in so flawlessly with the Sound City mood. Marsicans have stepped up their game, spreading more smiles than ever before and leaving a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to stumble across them on Saturday afternoon.

(Photo by Jack Whiting)

Paris Youth Foundation - Camp and Furnace

Paris Youth Foundation are another Liverpool band doing their hometown proud as of late, taking to Camp and Furnace on Sunday afternoon it’s obvious from the crowd that had gathered alone that their recent constant gigging has paid off.

Their bittersweet lovesick lyrics combined with powerful riffs and sweet hooks create a mature, atmospheric indie pop feel which became the perfect mid-afternoon refresh for Sunday’s intense heat. Lead singer Kevin Potter’s vocals give another level of emotional depth to his own lyrics, completing their sound and giving them a tight sound which most bands of their level are lacking.

The only thing Paris Youth Foundation are slightly lacking in is stage presence, not that it takes much from the quality of their performance; but a little more energy and personality would truly complete them. Either way, the five are rapidly growing and becoming true contenders for the best upcoming bands in the North West.

(Photo by Ianthe Warlow)

Violet Youth - Baltic Market

Pirate Studios took over the Baltic Market this weekend, hosting some of the country’s strongest new bands. With their ‘Pirate Prodigy’ competition down to it’s top 10 of over 20,000 entries, a selection of the top 10 were chosen to play their stage at Sound City. One of those 10 are Blackburn’s Violet Youth, playing early on on Sunday afternoon.

Psychedelic riffs met with dark melodies and melancholic lyrics create Violet Youth’s hazy psych-pop sound which drifts through the tracks belonging to their debut EP; with the 30 minute set including She Said and Reliable Sources. Despite playing so early on in the day, the four piece’s energy transferred through their performance, with drummer Jack Perry providing enough of it to knock down his hi-hat mid set.

Ending on their strongest release, Dystopia, Violet Youth possess an ability to truly draw you into their sound, through their swirling riffs and occasionally eery feel, they’ve managed to put a twist on indie-pop which sets them apart from the many bands trying to breakthrough at the moment. Their quality musicianship and songwriting abilities are easily visible in both their sound and performance and continue to grow stronger with each and every show.

(Photo by Jack Whiting)

There’s not much doubt that Birmingham’s very best, Peace were the focal point of the weekend for most. Fresh off the back of the release of their third album Kindness Is The New Rock and Roll, Sound City played host to one of the few live shows the infamous indie quartet have played since the end of their second album campaign.

Headlining the weekend with a Sunday evening show at Camp and Furnace, it’s no surprise that they attracted the biggest crowd of the weekend. Opening with the huge chorus of new track Power, Peace instantly set themselves apart from the rest of the weekend’s sets. Fan favourite Wraith instantly upped the energy in the room, yet there was something slightly missing in comparison to previous Peace shows. The crowd remained much calmer than your standard Peace crowd, singing along to choruses but not so much anything else, and while there was plenty of movement at the front of the venue, the back half was looking rather spaced out.

Crowd aside, the Brummy boys sailed through a set packed with their strongest of songs, including Money, 1998 (Delicious) and Toxic, while mixing in a selection of the newer, more mellow tracks belonging to their latest album. Magnificent and From Under Liquid Glass kept the show grounded, and a stripped back version of the usually thriving Perfect Skin gave the feel that Peace maybe weren’t giving the show their all.

Even as the set drew to an end with the usually bolshy, energy packed fan favourites Lovesick and Bloodshake, it seemed something was lacking. Whether it was the heat making things sluggish, a new toned down attitude or simply an off day, even with the toned down feel Peace pulled off a solid set proving themselves capable as a headline band, topping off a delightful weekend with a good dose of classic indie-pop.

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