REVIEW: Sound City | Liverpool Waterfront | 22 – 24 May 2015

stage lsc2015Now in it’s eighth year, Liverpool’s iconic Sound City Festival took place from Friday 22nd until Sunday 24th May 2015. This year marked the decision to move Sound City from its original home, down to the Liverpool waterfront, a move that was greatly debated in the run-up to the festival. Deke Hardman went along to Bramley-Moore Dock to see what the weekend had in store.

Since its inception in 2008, bars such as the Kazimier, Zanzibar and Leaf in Liverpool’s City Centre have always hosted the artists plucked to play the festival. Though as Ian McCulloch, Echo and the Bunnymen frontman and Sound City conference alumni, sang; ‘nothing lasts forever’.

Nominated for best UK metropolitan festival five years on the spin, CEO David Pichilingi could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels, but that is not in the man’s nature. Akin to a child on their first day of school, Sound City’s main man was walking around the Titanic Hotel in a cloud of anticipation, and declared himself ‘excited and nervous’ with less than an hour until the first band took to the stage on Friday afternoon.

ANTICIPATION

The consensus of the masses of the people I had asked on route down Regent Road on Thursday evening regarding Sound City’s change of venue, was fairly unanimous. When I put it to Dave Pichilingi that not one person I had spoken to was not, at least in some way, disappointed that the festival had been taken out of the city centre, he nodded along and admitted that he himself was apprehensive about the move, but it was a move that had to happen.

The weather was always going to be a concern, and Bad Meds had it right with the closing song in their set on the Baltic Stage early on Friday evening. As lead singer Paul Raffery belted out the number of towns in their cover of JAMs’ ‘It’s Grim Up North’, eyes turned to the clouds gathering over the Mersey, leading to fears for a wet weekend.

Moments later, late additions to the bill Circa Waves did all they could to force the rays out as they trounced through their set on the North Stage. But the sun wasn’t listening, quite possibly due to the sound issues around that part of the site.

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The leakage between the Kraken, Cavern and North Stages did create an inaudible din that was thankfully resolved before too long. Yet the debate still began over whether this shift towards the river was a good idea or not.

M.O, George the Poet and headline act The Vaccines were among the other highlights on day one, but there was one sleep to go until the most anticipated act on the bill took to the stage.

ACCEPTANCE

The feeling around site from the new venue naysayers on day two was very much ‘we’re here, let’s enjoy it’. The sun also decided to play ball, providing a gorgeous backdrop to the Atlantic Stage, where All We Are and Stealing Sheep, neither strangers to this parish, impressed either side of sets from Dutch Uncles (my personal highlight – for what it’s worth) and Sean Lennon’s Ghost of A Sabre Tooth Tiger.

A packed Baltic Stage for Unknown Mortal Orchestra rivalled others such as the Thurston Moore Band for festival-goers in the penultimate round of acts on Saturday evening, though it is safe to assume that most who watched either were present for the closing act on the Atlantic Stage.

Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne took to the stage dressed in lizard-regalia, as if the Oklahoma outfit rocking up in Liverpool was not already difficult enough to fathom. But that is the pull the city, and now this festival, has.

flaming lips lsc2015

It was somewhat surprising that having recorded their own tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, that there were no Beatles’ songs in the Lips’ set, though there were few complaints from a truly mesmerised crowd.

ADMIRATION

As legs were aching, day three’s main problem were the puddles that had formed at the Atlantic Stage, something that was remarked upon by Gaz Coombes, who was the day’s penultimate act.

Sunday evening was certainly the greyest part of the weekend, but that did little to deter Bill Ryder-Jones, Cymbals Eat Guitars, The Cribs and Coombes, who played under headliners Belle and Sebastian.

gaz coombes lsc2015

Stuart Murdoch, lead singer of the Scottish funsters, even had time to have a little dig at Steven Gerrard (Liverpool had lost 6-1 to Stoke City in Gerrard’s final game for the club earlier in the day) during a crowd-pleasing set, with the biggest cheer coming for the lyric ‘now she’s throwing discus, for Liverpool and Widnes’ from ‘The Stars of Track and Field’.

Unsurprisingly, towards the climax of their set, the bands 1998 hit ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’ went down a storm with no less than thirty-or-so fans being welcomed on to the stage to join the party, and they stayed there for initial closer ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’ before the band encored with ‘The Blues are Still Blue’.

In our initial chat on Friday afternoon, Dave Pichilingi told me that he would only be able reflect on how the weekend went whilst walking his dog on Monday morning, and sure enough once he posted a picture of Dotty down the prom on Facebook, there were countless comments of congratulations on a job well done.

WORDS: @DekeHardman
IMAGES: Steve Andrew

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