Sound City’s best decision was bringing the annual festival back to the city centre and its second year in the Baltic Triangle has proved to be a big success with stand out moments from Liverpool’s own Clean Cut Kid, Salford’s The Lottery Winners and headliner Loyle Carner.
Saturday saw a big turnout in the Baltic Triangle and a buzz that typifies the festival, with people (us included) briskly walking from stage to stage to catch the next up and coming artist or favourite local band. Our day started at a Baltic Triangle favourite, Constellations. We happened upon Tempesst, a groovy pysch rock band from London had a perfect blend of anthemic songs with 70’s sentimentality. Next up we hotfooted across the road to Hangar 34 to catch Widnes’ finest The Racket. As a young band you can’t help but watch them and feel like you’re experiencing one of those “we saw them before they were famous” moments, full of energy and catchy songs they soon had a room of strangers converted into fans.
From here we headed over to District to watch a Liverpool Noise favourite Natalie McCool on the Modern Sky record label stage, however the venue was heaving so we decided to stay for one song and try out a new out of town artist who we found a little further up the road at 24 Kitchen St. Now, we love Natalie McCool but we are so glad we made the decision to dip out and see Ennio The Little Brother, the North Wales lyricist blew us away about 30 seconds into his set and it just got better and better. Combining electro beats with a guitar and hip hop, his DIY style and gentle lullaby voice has the audience captivated and after a particularly special rap the crowd erupts half way through one song, throughly deserved. Definitely an artist we will be keeping a close eye on going forward.
It was back to Hangar 34 then to see a band that we have supported for many years now, the LIPA formed Wide Eyed Boy are on top form today and have the crowd the most lively we have seen on any stage all day so far. Their music is so finely polished, their front man Olly swaggers around the stage and elicits so much energy from the crowd which complements their heavy pop-influenced rock and roll.
After that blistering set it’s time to check out Remy Jude, an artist part of Loyle Carner’s Levi’s Music Project, who has flashes of Loyle himself in his musical style. The soulful rapper performs such a lively set with brilliant, honest lyrics to a full crowd at Constellations.
District is the place to be late-afternoon as the crowd snakes around the outside of the building to try and catch a glimpse of the hotly tipped Red Rum Club. The set is electric from start to finish, there’s even some fancy dress thrown in there too. RRC are going from strength to strength and their performance here proves they are worthy of every bit of praise they’ve been receiving.
Another band in top form is Paris Youth Foundation who play to a packed out crowd over at Hangar 34 and then it’s a quick dash over to Brick Street for another uncomfortably busy venue to see pop punk electro local hero Tracky. Having the pleasure of this being our third time seeing Tracky live, it’s just always an amazing experience leaving you walking away feeling a bit euphoric. He released his debut single Boys in Black just days before – go and check it out immediately.
The night became more and more difficult to chose who to see with a raft of talent across multiple venues No Hot Ashes were at their best with their 80’s soaked infectious songs we caught half their set so that we could head outside to the Constellations Garden and hear the dream pop sounds of Niki Kand. We’re transported to a different place just listening to Niki it’s such a refreshing sound and feels perfect as the light begins to fade for the day.
Main Stage headliner Mabel is up next and wows the crowd with her powerful vocals and very catchy pop songs, it’s a great uplifting performance to bring to a close the main stage after an action packed first day.
There was still much to come from the night with The Night Cafe warming up the crowd with aplomb for a spectacular performance from the awesome Louis Berry. As with every live show from Louis it was the biggest set of the day.
Sunday had a lot to live up to after a sparkling Saturday but the line up suggested that it was more than capable of living up to the hype. First on our agenda was Spinn – the Liverpool band has enjoyed national and international success over the past 18 months and it was another jam packed room bustling with fans and newcomers who had to catch a piece of the action. They didn’t disappoint and its easy to see why Spinn are so popular. Their blend of pop-rock has the young girls screaming and the lads wanting to be them.
Clean Cut Kid were next up on the main stage and as a firm favourite in the city and beyond, again, there was a massive crowd flooding into the area and before long the majority of them were singing along.
The Cheap Thrills are one of the most energetic bands who have a huge following and their performance on the outside Cavern stage lived up to their usual high standards. Performing some of their new tracks, both fans and new listeners were really enjoying their set. Scottish rockers Vistas are next up to play the Hangar 34 stage – a venue made for the anthemic songs which fill their set list. It was absolutely rammed, with the perfect festival atmosphere which Hangar 34 effortlessly creates anyway and the stage was made for a band like Vistas.
Another Liverpool Noise favourite Pizzagirl was playing over at District and he had the crowd in great spirits, with his enthusiasm and humour. His upbeat songs and impressive dance moves…ahem…had the crowd bouncing throughout.
We then headed back over to Constellations for a couple of hotly tipped acts. First up was Steven Bamidele, a very talented singer, songwriter and producer who wowed the large crowd with his soulful set. A captivating performance from a rising star who we hope will be back in Liverpool again soon.
Following the chilled out vibes of Steven Bamidele, The Lottery Winners where quiet a contrast with lead singer Thom bursting onto the stage with plenty of wit and an exhilarating live show followed. Their songs are insanely catchy and the energy of the band hit the audience almost immediately. Their set was over in the blink of an eye and the room was buzzing. The Lottery Winners are a special band and it’s only a matter of time until we’re hearing them on the radio.
After an action packed two days, the icing on the cake truly was Loyle Carner. His hour long set on the main stage felt really special probably in part due to the Levi’s Music Project that Carner has been a part of over the past six months and his continued love affair with the city of Liverpool. It felt like a fitting end to the night for us, although the festivities continued elsewhere into the early hours, we’d seen and heard all we needed to to confirm the 12th annual Sound City a big success.