Liverpool Sound City 2011

With Young Knives, Cold In Berlin
Liverpool Sound City - Vinyl Jacket
A city drenched in music history has to be the perfect home for a 3 day festival of new bands. And with the Beatles blaring out of various hotels and bars sating the endless stream of tourists, getting a fix from live, cutting edge bands is just what I need as I arrive in Liverpool for Sound City.

My fix starts with Wolf Gang, early faves of super cool Neon Gold, it's easy to see why this Atlantic signing have a busy summer ahead (Glasto, V and more) as they belt out songs to a packed and happy crowd. Sadly, I left before Pete and the Pirates but having blown me away at SXSW earlier this year I wanted to catch something new.

Which I did with The Publicist. Sebastian Thomson (of Trans Am and Weird War) is a one-band-man dance phenomenon.

Playing on the floor in the thick of the crowd (and known to drum topless – sadly not tonight though) he is so much more than just a drummer. Producing full blown dance music with nothing more than a drum kit, various pedals and a bunch of SFX including his distorted vocals, the man does live, and on his own, what DJ’s merely spin on the decks. Fully and best appreciated in person – he didn’t stop once throughout his 30 minute set. A one man machine.

To round off the night, and round it off in style (we’re talking an orange suit here folks) was Washington outfit Chain and the Gang. The most recent project of
Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War), this is one of Adam Clash’s teenage heroes. It’s why we’re here. And I’m bloody glad we are.

I felt like I was at Huggy Bear’s bar with Starsky and Hutch about to screech up outside in their red and white cop car and swagger their way to the bar. Not too polite but not too filthy psychedelic blues rock that you don’t hear many places these days – but really should.

We left in a haze and glided our way across town to the Drowned in Sound night to up the tempo with Yuck and The Whip. Nathan Sudders (Bass – The Whip) took some time out before they hit the stage to tell us about their new album out in September this year produced by Jagz Kooner. If you need your fix before then and you want to see a girl who can really drum, and bloody well, there will be a single this summer and they’re playing a load of dates including Wireless, Secret Garden and Space (Ibiza).

Judging by their performance to a very up for it crowd, which included favourites 'The Blackout', 'Trash' and 'Dive Bomb', Space and Secret Garden will be the perfect summer destination for these party loving Mancunians.

We’re ready to do it all again on Friday and just a little bit excited because tonight we host our Clash stage.

There is time on the way over to catch Vinyl Jackets with their Two Door Cinema Club style summer melodies. A great set and definitely ones to watch.

The Cathedral Crypt is the auspicious setting for the Clash party and Canadians Rural Alberta Advantage get things underway with their Americana sound to a very appreciative and packed crowd . The guys have been in the UK for a week and had more shows in the UK before heading off to Europe promoting their 2nd album 'The Parting'.

Things turn inauspicious very quickly, however, when Cold in Berlin, who are up next, are told by those that run the Cathedral that they can’t sing any songs that use the word God or have swear words in. That’s pretty much the whole set gone then. After a six and a half hour drive up form London. Seriously? Don’t you just love the open, welcoming philosophy of the church!

Seemingly, a day or two before the show, those forward thinking church folks decided to listen to the bands that were playing. And somehow, in their very religious minds, decided that Cold in Berlin were a satanic band.

If it wasn’t so ridiculous, it might have been a bit funny. But believe me – it really wasn’t a bit funny. If the band swore or used the word God in any of their set, they would pull the plug. And not just on them but on all shows for the rest of the weekend.

Talk about satanic behaviour. Not ones for taking note of such ridiculous authority, the mag and the band talked about pulling the show. However, being the bigger people here, we decided that we couldn’t jeopardise things for everyone else.

So, opener 'God I Love You' become 'Oh I Love You' and the profanities in all the other songs were dropped. The anger and frustration made Maya and the band's performance fully charged and electric, they may not have been able to swear, but everything about Cold in Berlin’s performance said FUCK YOU – no words needed!

The Clash party was rounded off by Young Knives. And what a way to finish off such a highly charged night. This show was the first of a run of UK dates to promote material from their third album, 'Ornaments From The Silver Arcade'.

Having taken a break after the release of their second album, they had much to live up to with their Mercury nominated debut 'Voice of Animals and Men' still their strongest material.

Henry, Thomas and Oliver came back with magnificent songs and an outstanding live performance that put them firmly back as one the UK’s best bands (live or otherwise) and, if there’s any justice, likely to be around for a very long time.

'Human Again', their current single, typifies everything that is great about Young Knives and whilst that didn’t make it into the 80 minutes set – they still mixed up new material with old favourites like opener 'Terra Firma', 'Loughborough Turn Talk' and 'Attracted To'.

'Decision', the track and video that brought them onto people’s radar late 2005, was the only encore of the night – they belted it out like it was the first track of the night – hats off gentlemen – truly awesome live.

My final indulgence of the night was Wave Machines, local lads and masters of some of the best electro pop around. Another band with a new album out, we were treated to tracks from the new record as well as favourites from the debut 'Wave If You're Really There' such as 'Keep The Lights On', 'Wave If You’re Really There', 'Stupidest Thing', 'Greatest Escape', 'I Go' and 'Punk Spirit'.

What little voice I had left, I used up and left the venue a very hoarse but very happy girl.

Words by Sybil Bell

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