In Review: Sound City 2019
2019 marks the twelfth year of Liverpool Sound City, this past Bank Holiday weekend the festival returned to The Baltic Triangle for a second year in the City Centre and brought with it it’s most diverse lineup to date.
Despite offering headline sets from Mabel and Loyle Carner, and huge Hangar 34 shows from the likes of The Magic Gang, Confidence Man, Blaenavon and The Night Café, as expected each of Sound City’s sixteen stages offered a variety of exceptional talent from some of both the UK and world’s strongest upcoming artists.
(Photo by Shannon Smith)
Having moved to The Baltic Triangle back in 2018, there were definitely some concerns as to whether last year’s minor issues would be resolved this year; including the plethora of hen parties and stag dos which come as part of The Cains Brewery which featured as the heart of 2018’s festival.
This year the Brewery was steered well clear of, which no doubt would have been massively appreciated by all of us who’ve risked our lives trying to cross Parliament Street after one too many pints.
Instead there was the introduction of the outdoor main stage at New Bird Street, playing host to headline sets from Mabel and Loyle Carner; and certainly didn’t come without it’s hiccups. Long and intimidating security checks led to long queues to enter the main stage area, which although understandably essential is enough to put a dampener on any mood. Combined with the tight capacity of the area which was essentially squeezed between two buildings, and left tighter with the questionable inclusion of catering vans, many were left desperately peering over barriers to catch a glimpse of headline sets.
Aside from the teething issues of New Bird Street, stages at Hangar 34, Brick Street, Constellations & Constellations Garden, and District to name a few mostly ran like a dream; and with their close proximity allowed festival goers to catch almost everyone, despite those dreaded clashes which come with any line up.
While the weather may not have been quite as glorious as 2018, there were definite improvements from the Sound City team for 2019; all of which resulted in a truly delightful weekend packed with quality music which catered for almost every taste.
Check out our highlights from the weekend below.
Despite having rescheduled their May headline tour due to needing “extra time to get up to scratch”, indie sweethearts Blaenavon took to Hangar34 on Saturday evening with material from That’s Your Lot, and their eagerly awaited new album.
Even though technical difficulties led to a long delay to their set and caused obvious nerves in frontman Ben Gregory, the now four-piece managed to shake off their early woes and provide a warm, emotional set packed with fan favourites such as Let’s Pray and Prague, and new material.
While it was clear to see the Hampshire boys are maybe a little out of practice, and were undoubtedly holding back in comparison to previous live shows; the genuine gratitude and happiness on their faces as their Sound City crowd sang every word back to them created a truly intimate atmosphere, leaving many grateful for Blaenavon’s full return.
Clean Cut Kid
Beloved locals Clean Cut Kid may have had a busy weekend playing sets right across the weekend from The Cavern Club to New Bird Street’s main stage, but the cheeky charm of frontman Mike Halls could have been enough to cure the most brutal of hangovers on Sunday afternoon.
Removing any concerns of the ice cold wind which was gracing the outdoor stage, the furiously infectious sounds of jangly guitar and sweet Scouse tones of We Used To Be In Love and Vitamin C spread smiles across countless faces as the sun came out over The Baltic Triangle. Topped off with down to earth banter between tracks, Clean Cut Kid couldn’t have been a better match for a Sunday at Sound City.
Brick Street was full to the brim on Sunday afternoon as London/Seoul duo WOOZE took to the intimate stage with their blindingly bright yellow set up. Fresh from the release of their second EP the duo offered up a captivating taste of their experimental, wonky take on indie pop.
Glistening synth and echoing vocals from Hello Can You Go and Ladies Who Lunch With Me unsurprisingly drew in intrigued passers by throughout the set, leaving those at the back of Brick Street on their tiptoes trying to grab a glimpse of the eye popping stage set up beaming through bodies. WOOZE pulled off one of those sets which leaves you a little bit speechless, and with an undoubted feeling that you’ve just witnessed something set to blow up in the not so distant future.
Liverpool local Pizzagirl drew an impressive crowd to District on Sunday afternoon, offering a charismatic taste of his lo-fi bedroom pop and a dose of comedy in-between.
From the exuberant jangle of Coffee Shop to the dreamy romanticism of Carseat, Pizzagirl’s one man band performance was an exciting example of proper good pop; making Liam and his loveable light hearted stage presence a solid highlight of the weekend.
The Magic Gang
Having seen the sheer amount of The Magic Gang t-shirts floating around town throughout Sunday, it was little surprise to find a rather sweaty Hangar34 full to the brim as the Brighton boys brought sheer joy and excitement to Sound City’s closing hours.
The classic sugar coated melodies of How Can I Compete and All This Way made for mosh pits and mass sing alongs; while the addition of two new songs treated their ever so dedicated fans to a taste of what’s to come. As always, The Magic Gang proved themselves an essential addition to any festival line up, helping Sound City draw to a delightful close.
I doubt you’d have found many Sound City goers who hadn’t shared their excitement for Confidence Man’s closing set across the weekend. Taking to Hangar34 with cartwheels, choreography and eye popping LED clothing, Confidence Man had fans wrapped firmly around their fingers.
Their insanely infectious take on dance pop blew Sound City away, Janet Planet and Sugar Man bounced around the stage with unrivalled energy; blasting through an hour long set jam packed with the fun every festival needs. From Boyfriend (Repeat) to Fascination and Don’t You Know I’m In A Band Confidence Man’s closing set was one of those “WOW” performances it’s impossible to forget.