Sound City was back in Liverpool on the May Day bank holiday for its twelfth run, with a host of live music and after parties across the Baltic Triangle, and of course its music industry conference events. This year saw the addition of the new outdoor stage with the Anglican Cathedral in the background, the Levi’s music project, and emerging artists from across the U.K. and beyond.
Seems pretty subjective to talk of highlights of Sound City 2019 when by all accounts the entire festival was a success and the varied line ups went down well with different audiences. Still, I was really pleased to have got to see all of the acts that I planned to see, as well as others I didn’t plan to see, and they didn’t let me down.
Red Rum Club
Red Rum Club on the Saturday was a lock out, with queues round the block which gives an indication of how many people were making a beeline to see the band. The ones who were lucky enough to make it into District were packed like sardines but it added to the atmosphere and, as expected, the crowd went mad for the anthemic climax of ‘Would You Rather Be Lonely’.
Talking to festival goers afterwards, some of them had never heard of Red Rum Club until Sound City and were dead impressed with the live performance, so I had them all downloading the band’s latest album ‘Matador’ on Spotify there and then! That’s what Sound City is all about, after all. Everyone loves Red Rum Club, even people who have only just heard Red Rum Club.
Later on we took an unscheduled trip to check out Tracky at the Funnel stage at Brick Street. ‘Boys in Black’ – a self proclaimed “fucking belter” – was as catchy as it was funny. Any song about bouncers, 110s, and fake IDs is Scouse as fuck, even coming from Ormskirk natives. “He’s all dressed in black” and “where you from, did you put that accent on?” was ringing in our ears all night.
Saturday continued with boss showcases and I’ve already pre-ordered the new Night Café album and am getting tickets for their October show which are released this week.
On the Sunday we were back again, enjoying stumbling across acts we’d never heard of in between the bands we had scheduled on the Sound City app. First stop was Clean Cut Kid who looked at home on the main stage, then mainly lots of me saying I wanted to go for “a wee and a warm” preferably somewhere with comfy couches and food.
The Cheap Thrills
The Cheap Thrills smashed the outdoor Cavern stage even with their slight personnel change of a cardboard cutout of Virgil Van Dijk standing in for their absent bass player. The predicted highlights of Codependence and their latest single Smile When You Sleep were stand out performances as well as the memorable Same Old Faces which I hadn’t heard before but have given a good listen to since, after hearing it live.
These local favourites deserve a bigger platform at Sound City next year, and as they’re in demand for many more gigs and festivals to come, hopefully they’ll still be saying “We’re The Cheap Thrills and we’re from Walton Vale” when they make it big.
The Tea Street Band
Constellations was the perfect setting for the headline act before the Levi’s after party kicked off and was predictably packed for Liverpool favourites the Tea Street Band. The lights and atmosphere were amazing and the faithful crowd weren’t disappointed (despite the abrupt ending when the set ran over). As expected, Disco Lights sounded beautiful and was a moment of pure, quintessential Liverpool music scene pleasure.
We went back to Brick Street to see Big Bambora who attracted the most enthusiastic support of the weekend as they headlined the Funnel Live stage.
The seasoned live performers delivered a tight set, with their own material as well as a nice surprise cover of MGMT’s Electric Feel. Highlights included ‘Treat Me Nice’, ‘Sick and Tired’ and latest single ‘Good Times’ from their EP ‘Monsoon’ which is available on Spotify.
Speaking to lead singer Joe after the gig (probably the best frontman of all the Sound City acts this year), he said that they were made up with the audience and atmosphere. The band hale from Skelmersdale (but we won’t hold that against them) and I wondered whether they’d brought a crowd for the occasion with them but the audience was all organic. Seems I was right, they are fast becoming people’s favourite band, and with good reason.
Shit Indie Disco
There’d been so much to choose from over the weekend, which sometimes meant missing out on some acts to make sure we got to see another. With the after parties as well there was a decision to be made but there was no place I’d rather be to round off the Sound City weekend than at Shit Indie Disco at Hangar 34. Cause let’s face it, what’s more indie than a weekend of day drinking and dancing until you’re covered in sweat and ale?
In fact, don’t tell the Sean and Nic, the twins behind Shit Indie Disco this, but there was a moment where I was so fucking happy, feeling like I did when I was 17, that I might have just had tears in my eyes.
Sound City 2019 earworms
The mark of any good live gig or festival has to be being left with memorable earworms and Sound City 2019 was no exception. Songs that have been stuck in my head have been ‘Disco Lights’ by The Tea Street Band, ‘Would You Rather Be Lonely’ by Red Rum Club, ‘Codependence’ by The Cheap Thrills and ‘Good Times’ by Big Bambora. Download them all rar now and I’ll see you next year for Sound City 2020.