Knowing I had limited time at the Liverpool Calling Festival this year, I was torn between two of the hottest talents on the Liverpool scene to begin my festival experience. Last Line Out and The Jackobins are already firm favourites of mine, with shed loads of potential between them. I couldn’t choose, so I opted for the half-set option, starting with The Jackobins playing a set in the sunshine of the iconic Bombed-out church venue. As ever, the beautiful open space had gathered a good crowd in the warmth of the late afternoon, and the band looked suitably chilled for the up-beat atmosphere. The music was superb as ever, the sublime vocals supplied by Dominic Basnett providing the finishing layer to the amazing virtuosity of the rest of the band. I was able to catch some favourites such as ‘Ghosts’ before I tore myself away to jog up Hardman Street to The Magnet.

The Magnet Stage, hosted by Liverpool Noise, had some of the hottest talent on offer at the festival. Last Line Out had the unenviable first slot, yet still received a hero’s welcome from the crowd of fans who had foregone the sunshine to listen to their fine blend of blues/rock. Finishing with the beautiful track ‘Kenny’, the set left me expecting to see this band much further up the listing in the future.

Antidotes were next on at The Magnet, their edgy rock with slight funk overtones an instant crowd pleaser. The meaty drums and varied vocal range made for a great set, with tracks like ‘Savage’ and the new single ‘Jigsaw’, these were another high-calibre band I hope to see in the future.

If things were getting a little predictable (as in ‘another amazing guitar band’ sort of way) then the Wirral band Organ Freeman were about to shake things up big style. With light-up balloons being released into the audience by the two singers at the beginning of the set, and a band that consisted of two drummers and some backing tracks, things were going to be very different. The entertainment value and sheer energy of the band and their crazy hip hop could not be beaten, even by Falls (I’ll get to them later). I can’t begin to describe the set, but it was amazing and you should see them live if you can. The track ‘Wirral Crab’ has to be experienced rather than just listened to, trust me.

Next, I left The Magnet for Studio 2 and a great set by Secateurs. These had formed part of my must- see list for the festival, as I hadn’t caught them live before. The crowd was sparse, which was a shame because the music was as good as I expected it to be. I think ‘Agatha Black Mamba’ was my favourite, but the whole set left me wanting to hear more. If you like things on the heavy side, the rock played by this Deeside band is amazing.

After a brief dodge into The Bombed-out Church to tip my hat at Reverend and The Makers, it was off to Maguire’s for pizza and Math Rock Metal mayhem. Due to a growling stomach, I heard Doppleganger from the front of house, a welcome Alt Rock soundtrack as I devoured far more pizza than is good for anyone (Maguire’s pizza is a class act all on its own). From where I was sitting, the set sounded pretty awesome, so it must have been quite something in the venue proper.

Falls. What more can I say about the creative craziness going on here that I haven’t already said? I love this band. Who can resist being in the thick of the action with the music taking place right in the audience? Just great, as always. Sasscore or Gashpop? I couldn’t say…just brilliant, though. And a man with a horse’s head, well, what more could you want.

I had to leave it there, but I know I missed out. There were loads of things I would have loved to see. Go Fiasco, Beans on Toast, Allusondrugs, Broken Men…the list goes on and on. Ah well, maybe next year.

Roxy Gillespie