ROSS FROM FRIENDS
- Banoffee Pies Records
- Familiar Circles Residents
Bewilderment upon reading the flyer for the Familiar Circles premier event is forgivable if you haven’t invested time surfing Bandcamp recently. However, to mistake tongue-in-cheek names for a lazy attitude towards composition, is to conflate packaging with the music produced, a tendency tonight’s artist’s names disregard.
Tonight’s support BANOFEE PIES, a label from Bristol reputed amongst those who dive deep for new records, have built a reputation as DJs. Meanwhile ROSS FROM FRIENDS, having recently released the superb EP You’ll Understand on Distant Hawaii, a label managed by Lobster Theremin, in December, is now being viewed as a prominent ‘Lo-fi House’ producer. The sub-genre has gained a dedicated following in recent months, though the producer’s discomfort with being pigeonholed under the term, often treated sceptically, is understandable.
Given the emphasis on high quality production stimulated by the House revival of the last few years, the low quality, brushstroke blurring production associated with lo-fi has led many an unfamiliar listener to question if their speakers are broken. Lack of immediate accessibility has led to derision, ignorantly overlooked as a hipster in-joke. Liverpool seemingly has a taste for ‘Lo-fi House’. DJ Seinfeld and Mall Grab, two highly rated producers considered under the lo-fi umbrella have recently played in Liverpool, whilst promoter Meine Nacht has adopted its aesthetic tropes, and record label Lobster Theremin are curating a stage at the Baltic Weekender in June.
Following a lively warm up by FAMILIAR CIRCLES RESIDENTS, Ross From Friends plays an uninterrupted live set with a guitarist and a saxophonist. Both instruments are drenched in reverb, floating from the crystal-clear sound system which allows the music’s subtleties space to breath. Ambitions past sub-genre acclaim are increasingly evident, the set’s 80s inspired midsection – more Stranger Things than Central Perk sitcom – exposes a darker, more progressive side. However, it is Bootman and Talk To Me You’ll Understand which get the biggest crowd reaction, reflecting the intense following Ross From Friends has gained. Bootman, closes the set, and with its soft 90s pad chords, 80s soul sample and a patient drumbeat from the ocean floor, the track is an exceptional example of the low budget sound, creating an intimate sense of introspective romance in the red-lit room. Live, he now resembles a three piece for the bedroom generation.
Sadly, the crowd dissipates a little after the headliner, yet Banoffee Pies more than kick on for those who wish to continue, bringing a soulful, more upbeat selection of Disco and Deep House greeted by a number of waving phones set to auto-Shazam. However, the DJ’s tongue remains firmly in cheek, dropping a remix of the Star Wars cantina theme alongside tracks by genre legends.
A successful first night for Familiar Circles, whose policy of just booking anyone they rate rather than adhering to a genre niche shows a focus on promoting acts they enjoy rather than slotting into the scene. Attracting Ross From Friends particularly speaks of finger firmly on the pulse, one which could bring many more fresh artists to Liverpool as they emerge from the underground.