Live Report: Sound City 2024

A huge selection of new music...

Sound City marks its return with headliners such including Caity Baser, as seen on Tik-Tok, in addition to West-Lothian indie four-piece, The Snuts. The Liverpool-based inner-city festival that has previously hosted the likes of The 1975, Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and Charli XCX returns with a bang for its seventeenth, annual, time running. 

Sound City spanned for three days across a range of Liverpool’s grass-root music venues, ranging from intimate venues no bigger than your average pub, such as the infamous EBGBS, to settings hosting a fair few mosh-pits amongst larger atmosphere, such as the 2000 capacity Grand Central. 

Spanish alt-pop starlet Lala Hayden garnered a full-capacity crowd at the city’s Jacaranda basement, a venue small in size but not at a loss for atmosphere. Hayden donned a large layered bridal-style dress, ditching the skirt packed with petticoat half towards the latter half of her set, enabling her vibrant dancing accompanying some of her more hyper-pop influenced songs such as ‘WOMAN’. Hayden’s set served as a refreshing change from the festival’s majorly indie-dominated lineup. “There’s no guitars for this one” the singer joked showcasing self-awareness of her slight indifference to the majority of her peers performing over the weekend before delving into performances of tunes from her recent EP ‘GIRL BECOMES’ a collection of songs celebrating facets of womanhood against an alt-pop soundtrack. One to watch especially for fans of artists such as Self Esteem, Chappell Roan and Lorde. 

Indie-rock four-piece Balancing Act proved to deliver one of the most popular sets of the day, forcing communally cherished venue ‘The Shipping Forecast’ to close its doors to gig-goers due to meeting capacity before the band had even taken to the stage. Balancing Act have burst onto the indie music scene recently, making noise with a series of single releases including the King Of Leon-esque ‘She Plays The Theremin’ which will inevitably become the soundtrack to summer given the vast list of UK festivals the band have made the cut for, Sound City is the very first of many. The group who offer a more refreshing take on your typical indie-rock band to the genre delivered a self-assured, lively set which made for an attentive audience who were potentially witnessing Balancing Act playing the smallest venue a lot of the crowd will ever see them in. Future single ‘Lay Low’ proved a highlight during its live preview, cementing that the band are on the up adding something fresh to the overly-saturated genre and proving to be more exciting than indie-peers with a larger audience such as The K’s who played Sound City’s after-party with a setlist reminiscent of The Reytons.

Saturday of Sound City merely missed out on concluding on the same high already established throughout the day by the smaller artists amongst the lineup as headliner Caity Baser failed substantially at filling out the 1000+ capacity venue, ‘Grand Central’. Baser powered through performing to a crowd which struggled to span even ten rows back and the lack of atmosphere certainly wasn’t assisted by the mic issues Baser suffered with throughout the entirety of her set. Unfortunately, Baser seemed to be having a case of bad luck with her Sound City set as there was potential for her performance made obvious by her stage-commanding struts and self-assured vocals solely sabotaged due to sound issues.

Sunday of Sound City proved just as rich in variety of the lineup as showcased by entirely female, rock five-piece Venus Grrrls who, just as their name suggests, served Riot Grrrl reminiscent realness with songs such as ‘Hex’ calling upon the rich craft themes commonly referenced by ultimate grunge girl Courtney Love in her Hole era. 

Brooke Combe delivered her signature suave in a soulful, energetic set which boasted Combe’s impressive vocal abilities. The talented songstress appeared groovy as ever in a pair of tinted sunglasses, an accessory few are cool enough to get away with wearing inside. The talented upcomer spoilt the packed audience gathered in Liverpool’s ‘Grand Central’ with a cover of Childish Gambino’s hit ‘Redbone’, a song which slotted in flawlessly with Combe’s music style which favours elements of R&B in a blend with rock and jazz; think Amy Winehouse meets Ms Dynamite… but with a guitar. 

The Snuts showed they know exactly how to successfully round out a festival with their set spanning just over an hour in length, packed to the brim with a collection of fan favourites and successful singles from all three of their albums including recent release ‘Millennials’. The Scottish four-piece proved to be crowd-pleasers, their older singles such as ‘Always’ making for a few mosh-pits whilst infamous tune ‘Glasgow’ saw gig-goers get on shoulders during the group’s encore which made for the perfect finale to a weekend of celebrating a wide range of smaller artists all whilst supporting grass-root music venues.

Words: Lauren Hague
Photo Credit: Dylan Cox + Tom Carroll

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