Now in its second year and with another line-up boasting the best of Liverpool and the wider world’s alt-rock scene, Loner Noise’s WRONG FESTIVAL returns on a day of hail hail rock ’n’ roll – in more than one sense. Billed as a “festival for the freakscene”, what exactly that entails is left wide enough to suit every taste on the spectrum. With acts ranging from art-noise project LONESAW, to indie four-piece DEATH AND THE PENGUIN and KAGOULE’s more indie-tinged take on the big riffs, all the way to Scouse doom-metallers CONAN, this packed bill split across three venues and more than 12 hours awaits festivalgoers down in the North docks.
The sounds kick off with TOKYO TABOO’s angst-driven, pop-punk energy, perfectly transferred from last year’s debut album, 6th Street Psychosis. Lead singer Dolly Daggerz heads into the crowd before long, with guitarist Mike joining during Make It Out Alive. If the group’s fury takes the crowd by surprise, maybe it’s the timing of the early-doors set, but they supply the riffs, beats and vocals to North Shore Troubadour. Later, in Invisible Wind Factory, NASTY LITTLE LONELY are a grit and bile-filled grunge trio whose noise fills the venue to the roof.
Away from IWF’s slightly cavernous atmosphere, Drop the Dumbulls and North Shore Troubadour feel like fitting homes for the DIY aesthetic much of this scene is built from. No wonder, for it turns out that Liverpool bands are really good at this kind of thing. We catch SALT THE SNAIL VS BLEACH SWEETS halfway through their dual (or is that duel?) set. Bleach Sweets are a trash-punk duo with relatable tunes about the joys of watching dog videos online, while Salt The Snail combine a hardcore feel with screamy-sprachsung poetry. The pair trade blows until Wrong Fest organiser Mike announces a sudden-death round of a combined cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It’s a shambolic enough affair, particularly when North Shore Troubadour’s fire alarm goes off, and all present decide the alarm is the obvious victor.
Scrawky, screamy Welsh trio GRAVVES follow in IWF with a piercing guitar driving their tunes forward and adding a creeping feel of anxiety. There’s no such sense with OHMNS, though, who make it clear that they’re not messing about. If you’re familiar with the band, it’s a set full of their trademark stomping, garage thumpers, with the occasional pause and switch into sludgier territory. Part of the staging in North Shore Troubadour includes smoke columns that billow amid the overlaying guitars and flickering strobe, lending things an echoey and psych-y feel. Later, TABLE SCRAPS appear between the gums of Drop The Dumbulls: a perfect venue for their fuzz-toned, horror-tinged garage. They tear through their songs so hard the floor shakes, but they mix it up too with songs dealing with failure and obsession, and a sound sitting somewhere between the performativity of The Cramps, the proto-garage of Black Sabbath and the later take of Motörhead. Back in IWF, DAMO SUZUKI appears flanked by the new MUGSTAR line-up, with the latter producing a swirling mass of psych freak-out around the old school krautrock master’s beckoning croon.
There’s a palpable sense of a community feel running through the day, the sense that everyone is here for the pure fact of being massively into the music. This is clearly a scene in the most supportive sense of the word, with the crowds of every show peppered with faces from other bands on the bill. Nowhere is this more true than for FUTURE OF THE LEFT’s set. The headliners offer a juxtaposition to Suzuki’s dense and technical psychedelic improvisation, with a set full of intensity and aggression. The crowd down the front turns into a pit of bodies being thrown around to each ferocious riff. At one point, lead singer/guitarist Andrew Falkous screams, “Audience, please! Every minute matters!” and punters treat it as a command and crowd-surf onto the stage for a second with the group, prior to leaping back into the mob. Amid the mayhem, Julia Ruzicka’s bass still pummels away, calling back to her days in Million Dead. Falco declares that “the music industry is lying to you” during closer Singing Of The Bonesaws, making it clear that Future Of The Left are as uncompromising as always – an alternative to alternative rock, and perfectly fitting to the outsider feel of Wrong.
For those who still can’t get enough, the fun continues into the early hours at the two smaller venues. The recommendation of Future Of The Left’s Falco to go and see the ST. PIERRE SNAKE INVASION over at Drop The Dumbulls is immediately vindicated. His words are well heeded, too, as the crowd immerse themselves in a noisy, sweaty set which serves up the ending today deserves.
Tracking a line-up across the three venues, we’re variously struck with both bright sunshine, heavy rain and hail-stones the size of gumballs. The weather and food are in keeping with an esoteric bill, incorporating the freakier side of alternative music in venues and an area of town on the up-and-up. One of the most satisfying days of music Merseyside has seen in a while – being Wrong feels so right.
John McGovern, Julia Johnson, Ken Wynne