A Letter From... Liverpool #4

The month in Merseyside...
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OK Liverpool, we’ve had a sucky few months for local music. The disappointing loss of both The Masque and Mojo inspired a variety of responses from ‘this is a tragedy’ to ‘big fucking deal’, but Static Gallery’s closure hit pretty hard. No, it wasn’t the best place in the world. Yes, it could’ve done with, say, a second toilet. But as a lovingly-operated arts centre, not to mention host to some of the best damn shows this fair city has seen over the last decade, it was pretty special. And even more recently, Le Bateau – home of the long-standing and much-loved Liquidation club night – joined the lengthy list of venue casualties. Happily, Liquidation has moved to pastures new in the re-opened Magnet, and they’re promising things will only get better. So let’s surrender to this wave of optimism and get fucking excited.

There’s been plenty of good news, in any case. April saw the inaugural GIT Awards take place – the self-dubbed ‘Scouse Mercury’ prize, designed to place the focus squarely on bands from our fair city. The panel deemed Loved Ones’ haunting folktronica (shit genre tags, eurgh) should pick up the gong, and the band duly treated all present to a live show alongside fellow nominees Stealing Sheep, Forest Swords and Ex-Easter Island Head. As the brainchild of local journo and music blogger Peter Guy, the GITs are a logical continuation of the fine scene coverage his site has provided over the past few years. It’s worth celebrating.

Similarly, Liverpool Sound City 2012 kicks off from May 17th, and the three-day festival looks set to be as action-packed as ever. Last year’s event saw mind-blowing sets from the likes of Three Trapped Tigers, Yuck and the mighty Chain And The Gang (this hack’s personal jaw-to-the-floor moment), which is a tricky precedent to follow. This time out the headliners include Professor Green and The Temper Trap, with Alkaline Trio, White Denim and The Wedding Present also among the star attractions. Of course the real joy of LSC is wandering between venues and catching as many acts you’ve never heard of as possible, so get a wristband and a timetable, and go explore. Awesomeness guaranteed.

Feeling spoiled? Hey, don’t think that Sound City’s the only thing to look forward to over the coming months – Blood Red Shoes and The Cast Of Cheers share a stage at the Zanzibar on May 7th, while the following day gives you a choice between Porcelain Raft’s daydream rush (Shipping Forecast) and the compli-coustic guitar wizardry of Chemikal Underground’s R.M. Hubbert (Mello Mello). There’s also chest-swelling dramatics to come from We Are Augustines (O2 Academy, 9th), which might well serve as decent preparation for Echo & The Bunnymen legend Ian McCulloch – the Epstein Theatre hosts Mac’s solo venture for two nights (10th and 11th). Those who prefer their songwriting doused in electronics might prefer to check out the Hood-tastic duo Houses (Mello Mello) on the second of those nights, and we strongly recommend that you do.

Few things make an audience wary like the term ‘charity gig’, but the Alder Hey children’s hospital fundraiser at The Dome (12th) is more than worthy of your hard-earned cash. The line-up is chock-full of local heroes like Ian McNabb, The Real People and Ian Prowse, and while that may not be the most forward-looking of lineups, it’s a thoroughly deserving cause. Maybe think about that if you’re currently sneering into your keyboard, eh? James Walsh is also down to play – are Starsailor still going? If so, when did they split up, and if not why not…?

Just enough space to mention the final few shows of the month – The Handsome Family’s winning harmonies visit Leaf on the 23rd, which should have alt.country fans trembling with joy. We’re also lucky to be faced with a visit from St Etiene (Kazimier, 24th), as they tour their first album in seven years, and the hotly-tipped fuzz-rock of DZ Deathrays (Shipping Forecast, 26th). See, Liverpool? We may have lost a handful of venues, but there’s still as much going on as ever. Onwards and upwards – it’s the only way to be.

Words by Will Fitzpatrick

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