It’s back. After 2010’s triumphant event, Sound City returns to Liverpool this May, promising to be a far grander and more eclectic event than has been seen in previous years. LSC has garnered a reputation for bringing a mix of established global artists and hotly-tipped newcomers to Liverpool, as well as providing a stage for the cream of local talent. The festival has gained favourable comparisons with the internationally renowned South By Southwest Festival in Texas, and is run in much the same spirit as its transatlantic cousin. Both comprise a mix of high profile showcases for both artists and labels, and both spread the shows across several venues. In addition to the performance aspect, Sound City runs two days of conferences, discussing the finer details of the music industry on a local, national and international level.
Topping the bill at the 2011 event are THE BLACK LIPS, self-proclaimed ‘flower-punks’, who headline The Masque theatre on 20th May. Support includes Liverpool psychobillies EL TORO!, whose recent album has been on constant rotation at Bido Lito! HQ. Scottish upstarts THE VIEW return to Liverpool promoting their upcoming third album Bread and Circuses. The band received rave reviews for debut album Hats off to the Buskers, and will hope that their new material fares equally well at the O2 Academy on 19th May.
A must-see for the weekend, Canadian hardcore rock outfit FUCKED UP return to the North West for the third time in 12 months. The band have a universal appeal that their name belies, finding fans amongst hardcore aficionados, rock fans and even the indie-minded, having toured with Arcade Fire. Their 2010 appearance at The Kazimier was one of the most memorable of the year and they return to the same venue on May 21st. Also at the Kazimier, new favourites of BBC 6Music YUCK return to the city after their support of Modest Mouse in late 2010; and, with their debut album making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, their show on 19th May, supporting THE WHIP, is likely to be one of the hottest tickets in town.
Leading the British contingent at LSC will be FRANK TURNER, a hardcore frontman turned folk-troubadour. After the short but memorable career of Million Dead, Frank reinvented himself and discovered a talent for acoustic protest songs. Recent albums Love, Ire and Song and Poetry of the Deed have made the UK charts; and, in this day and age, Thatcher Fucked the Kids should become one of the anthems of the festival.
A major coup for the festival is securing an appearance from PHILIP SELWAY. Not a household name by himself, perhaps, but as drummer for Radiohead he has had a major role in British music over the last two decades. Following bandmates Yorke and Greenwood into the world of solo recordings, Selway released Familial in 2010, revealing a knack for low-key, beautifully understated melody as well as the rhythm his day job requires. Headlining the Bella Union showcase at St.Luke’s (bombed out) Church, the gig offers the chance to see one of the unsung heroes of British music in unfamiliar surroundings. A real treat.
Whilst all these visiting artists will be welcomed with open arms, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Liverpool’s music scene is in robust health these days, and naturally is well represented in the upper echelons of the Sound City line-up. Former Rascal MILES KANE and rockers SOUND OF GUNS will play consecutive evenings at the cavernous St. George’s Hall, while local legends CAST play the Metropolitan Cathedral Crypt.
Also flying the flag for the host city will be FOREST SWORDS, who received international critical acclaim – and a Bido Lito! front cover – for 2010’s Dagger Paths. An ambient mix of dubstep and soul, the album tapped into the same zeitgeist mined by James Blake and Jamie Woon. Releasing a single through hyper-cool label No Pain in Pop, Forest Swords will perform at The Kazimier in support of THREE TRAPPED TIGERS and KURT VILE. Fellow Bido Lito! cover stars CLINIC will appear at St.Luke’s Church on 20th May, and with any luck they’ll be performing their International Record Store Day, Cilla Black cover.
Charged with closing the festival are psychedelic drone-rock masters MUGSTAR, and after their mind-melting set at our own Inside Pages festival there is no doubt that they are more than up to the challenge. And no party could be complete without the quick-fire mathpop of HOT CLUB DE PARIS.
With many more bands playing across the city over the weekend, the LSC line-up is an indication of the pull that Liverpool has. This year, more so than in the previous years, the festival seems to be a celebration of what Liverpool itself has to offer, with higher-profile slots being taken by local artists, and undercards as exciting as the headliners themselves.