PRETTY GREEN PRESENT: THE LIVERPOOL WEEKENDERPretty Green Present @ Upper Blade Factory
Manchester and Liverpool may have their differences, but one thing they agree on is that it’s imperative to look great when you’re playing your world-beating music. Pretty Green’s Liverpool Weekender is a collision of the conjoined worlds of fashion and music, with many of the acts playing across the two stages in Camp and Furnace’s Upper Blade Factory and Gold Room going missing amongst the racks of the fashion label’s extensive sample sale between sets. With three days to get through, it will be a challenge to work out whether the threads or the tunes are sharper.
RED RUM CLUB are pure rock ‘n’ roll swagger, and the boisterous Friday night crowd is lapping it up as they break into their single The TV Said So. It’s a short foray into standard indie rock territory, and definitely has the air of radio fodder about it. The interesting bits come when the Spaghetti Western trumpet sounds explode over the crowd, giving their sound an Ennio Morricone soundtrack feel but with those northern swaggering vocals akin to Alex Turner’s. The momentum doesn’t stop as they roll on into each song, trumpet blaring and guitar rumbling.
PSYCHO COMEDY’s vocalist Shaun Powell, sporting a Beefheart-esque hat, growls, “Can I have reverb, shit loads of it!” into his mic. With one of the band’s guitarists sporting a CBGB T-shirt, it points to this being punk (New York-style) and loud – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Local poet Matthew Thomas Smith joins Psycho Comedy onstage for the opener, spitting out the band’s manifesto over the growling music. Each track comes with an ephemeral garage rock haze to it, held together by the Stooges-like proto-punk grit. It’s not a clean sound, but Psycho Comedy revel in the sludge. Like many of Liverpool’s upstarts, they’re a product of a generation of global not regional music, leftfield of what we’ve had before, edging along between fist-pumpingly political and danceably primal.
Continuing our tour of America, all from within the comfort of Upper Blade Factory, we have SANKOFA. This time it’s the Deep South for some sumptuous but murky psychedelic blues rock. The meandering solos prevalent in both styles of music reverberate through the crowd. It’s all tied together by the voice of Stephen Wall. He doesn’t sing in a faux American accent, but still manages to deliver a powerful and soulful punch with each lyric, which swims in the same waters as the Black Keys’ Missisipi Delta. Not one head isn’t rocking, nor a toe not tapping. Their name is of significance tonight, with every band having grown from the seed of music past. It’s from the Ghanaian Twi language, roughly meaning ‘go back and get it’, and get it they do.
Saturday’s acoustic sets begin with breaking Wirral collective JO MARY. Perfecting their craft away from prying eyes over the water, the group’s reputation and musical talent has snowballed in recent months. Dropping their characteristic lo-fi sound (as well as a couple of members), the group play minimalist trippy rock basked in a gravelly glory. Despite a small crowd, the group establish their potential as well as their stamp on the rising Liverpool scene.
The evening action sees the bands amped up and rocking again, and the audacious lad rock of BRIBES is charged with getting things moving. Equipped with leather jackets and a Gallagher swagger, this group seem the most fitting band of the evening. Playing good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll and armed to the teeth with a knowing confidence and Britpop riffs, the group draw in a huge crowd of devoted followers – not a bad feat for a group yet to release their first single.
Following on from the exhilarating Bribes, we’re greeted by slightly more familiar faces of THE SHIPBUILDERS. Having started out life as a somewhat folky, indie group, it seems the group have evolved into an entirely different beast. With galloping drums and waning guitars, they seem to have expertly fused the genius of Morricone and Moroder to create upbeat Western-inspired indie with just a hint of disco.
With a sudden change of mood we’re pitched into the lo-fi delights of AJHD. Having disappeared off the face of the Earth for a few months, it only takes a few notes before we remember exactly why we love them. Perhaps the darkest band of the night, they offer a stream of consciousness lyrical style combined with their ability to juxtapose the ethereal with the brutal. AJHD provide a breath of fresh air with their eclecticism of distortion-led rock and delicate sordid lullabies.
Having gorged on some of Liverpool’s best musical delights we are in in for one final treat this evening with the arrival of Liverpool’s answer to Brian Wilson, TOM LOW, who has won hearts across the country with his Phone EP, amazingly all recorded on his mobile phone. With his humble and casual approach Low brings light into the darkness which envelops the room. Born from the bedroom, the music jumps to life miraculously onstage in a swirl of psychedelic colour painted with synth and echoing guitars, with the audience treated to the occasional field recording. There’s a certain magic and childlike innocence to the music, which adds an almost Sgt. Pepper-esque vibe to the performance. He rounds off the night with his blissful alien pop. It’s nights like these when we are reminded of the wealth of Liverpool’s rich and diverse music scene, which we are so lucky to have.