An impressive crowd has battled through bleary-eyed hangovers for Honeyblood’s early afternoon slot on the DIY Baltic stage, and Stina Tweeddale can’t stop beaming. “It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!” she exclaims, before shredding headlong into ‘Super Rat’. Cat Myers - who joined in September last year to replace the band’s previous drummer Shona McVicar - is more than just ‘stepping in’ by now. She brings inventive little flourishes to every turn, she’s solid as a metronome hard-wired to the speaking clock, and best of all, she has become an equal force in Honeyblood. “I know it’s a Sunday afternoon and most of you probably haven’t started drinking yet…” she says, grinning, “but grab a partner and have a jive. This one’s a tea dance.” The crowd happily oblige during ‘All Dragged Up’ - the rowdiest tea-dance since records began.
Honeyblood also treat Sound City to a couple of brand new songs. There’s the snarling, pounding ‘Love Is A Disease,’ as well as ‘Babes Never Die’ - a phrase that Stina Tweeddale has as a tattoo. Honeyblood’s live show is fast growing into a furiously fine-tuned powerhouse, the new material is coming on in leaps and bounds, and it’s dead exciting to see where they’ll skyrocket to next.
Photos: Allusondrugs and Honeyblood.
Palace are destined for big spaces, but the Baltic Stage might be the grandest, most reverberating area they’ve hit so far. The London four-piece claim after their set that they couldn’t hear a thing and had no clue how it might’ve sounded from the other side, but they needn’t worry. Their great, galloping sound is designed to bounce off walls. Even in their early recordings, there’s always room for exploration. Live, the likes of ‘Kiloran’ and ‘Veins’ ease out and nestle into the warehouse’s dusty corners. Beyond that, there’s a magnetic pull to the group’s early-afternoon set. Leo Wyndham’s becoming a more assured frontman gig-by-gig, and he helps shape the rest of the band’s spiralling, adventurous musicianship. Huge venues await.
It’s not too much of a surprise that Bill Ryder-Jones has attracted such a large audience to the Atlantic stage at Sound City; after all, he is on his home turf in Merseyside today. Despite having spent more recent years exploring the production side of his talents more, there’s no denying that he still possesses charm when it comes to being on stage. With the sun shining against a blue sky, his musical offerings sway in time with the breeze and it all makes for quite the special moment down on the Docks.
Photos: Palace, Bill-Ryder Jones and The Mispers.
Moon King prove the theory that you get what you wish for. When they arrive on stage, Daniel Benjamin and Maddy White only have a handful of onlookers, but they play like they’re in front of hundreds. Benjamin hikes himself up an amplifier and howls into the skies, while White seems to fizz around on stage, like she’s been crammed into a pinball machine. What follows is a gradual realisation that this Canadian band are the real deal. By the time they finish, that packed-out audience they’re seeking eventually arrives.
There’s a sense of unhingedness when it comes to Single Mothers’ performance on the Baltic Stage this evening. Whether it’s from the fierce look in frontman Drew Thomson’s eyes as he runs a finger across his throat, or in the erratic musical stylings of the band themselves, they’re an outfit that demand attention. Having already made quite the name for themselves within hardcore circles, their set’s a frenetic feast of energy, with Thomson’s screamed vocals taking the lead throughout. Yet their offerings get somewhat lost in such a massive warehouse and they don’t quite connect as much as they could in more intimate confines.
Speaking to DIY ahead of his performance on the Baltic Stage, Clarence Clarity said that he never really knows what is going to happen when he enters the arena. That shouldn’t come a surprise, because his debut album ‘NO NOW’ is a tale of the unexpected, brought back from a trip to another world.
Watching him translate the record is no mean feat, and aided by a supporting trio, Clarity has Sound City grooving as much as he has them perplexed. ‘Those Who Can’t, Cheat’ is the frontrunner for the most dancey track in his set, though much of the performance appears to be ad-libbed. Self-bastardising the soulful ‘Bloodbarf’ with an improvised jam, it’s clear that Clarence Clarity doesn’t mind ripping up his own rulebook when it comes to a live spectacle.
He brattishly delivers his lyrics on ‘Buck-Toothed Particle Smashers’, and collectively they thrash through ‘Will To Believe’, giving most tracks a groove more aligned with metal than pop. Clarence Clarity came alive and untamed in Liverpool.
Photos: Moon King, Single Mothers and Clarence Clarity.
If Cymbals Eat Guitars prove anything is true when it comes to music, it’s that the skill is in the balance. Their time on stage is predominantly ruled by impressive instrumentation and intricate musical textures but it’s the unexpected moments of howling shouts bursting from frontman Joseph D’Agostino really make their set electric. Bounding between woozing euphorics and intense blows of anarchy, these New Yorkers are anything but predictable; that’s what makes them such a thrill to witness.
Unlike most city-centred fests, Sound City doesn’t heavily rely on buzz. Most of the time, crowds flock to whichever sounds most interesting on paper, be it The Flaming Lips’ Liverpool-loving, Beatles-nodding psych realisation, or the head-pummelling sonic assault of Swans. Familiar faces share the plaudits with new names. However, on a couple of occasions across the weekend, word spreads about band making their first steps. Black Honey packed out the Kraken yesterday, and Spring King earned a similar reception in the same space. It’s Gengahr who draw the biggest talk, however. They also happen to be the perfect conquerers of hype.
Like Palace a few hours before, the four Londoners don’t seem to have a clue how the reverb-drenched surroundings are shaping their sound. They even look to be having a joke amongst themselves about the experience. But make no mistake - there’s a genuine, feverish atmosphere in the Baltic. As the group’s ‘A Dream Outside’ is debuted one month ahead of release, the reaction’s palpable. There are “did you see that?!” Partridge-like whispers from punters after each song, a pinch-yourself appreciation for what they’ve just seen. John Victor remains more dazzling than most guitarists, but it’s the glue-like grip of the whole rhythm section that helps Gengahr stand out. They’re a masterfully tight band. With nearly a hundred shows under their belt now, things are only on the up.
Photos: Cymbals Eat Guitars and Gengahr.
On the final date of their UK tour, it seems unfair that The Cribs are greeted with the same slate-grey skies that only a childhood in the north could provide. Opening with a sneering version of ‘Mirror Kissers’, the Jarmans collectively give two fingers to the weather and set the scene on their own terms.
The set heavily relies on material from their new album ‘For All My Sisters’, with ‘Burning For No One’ and ‘Different Angle’ being the most hard-hitting. Over ten years of performing and recording together, their hit-packed set to an incredibly packed crowd on the main stage proves this Wakefield trio aren’t waning in adoration. Arguably, their set proves to be one of the best retrospectives in modern times, with plenty of pint-spillers (‘Hey Scenesters’), drawling and spitting (‘Our Bovine Public’), sing-alongs (‘Men’s Needs’), and tenderness ‘(Another Number’).
The brothers never stop moving throughout, while Ross punkishly assaults his drum-kit as if energy were a competition between the three. Gone are the days when Ryan Jarman would throw himself into award tables full of glass, but his band’s breakneck speed could never be questioned, and for many modern groups it’s enviable. Peeling through their skycraping anthem ‘We Share The Same Skies’, the crowd are constantly in a state of excitement.
Photos: The Cribs.
As the sun goes down on the final evening of this year’s Sound City, the excitement in the air in tangible. Fresh from performing at The SSE Hydro up in their homeland just the night before, Belle & Sebastian are more than ready to close proceedings over on the Atlantic stage and, unsurprisingly, tonight’s audience are too. Accompanied by quite the video backdrop, things burst to life with ‘Nobody’s Empire’ and spirits are instantly high.
“It’s a sunday night party down by the river here,” offers up the band’s leader Stuart Murdoch just a handful of songs in, “on the Costa del Mersey!” Roars of appreciation go up with every change of song, with favourites like ‘The Stars of Track and Field’ and The Boy With The Arab Strap’ sparking adoring crowd-wide singalongs. The newer additions to the set - of which there are a quite a few - go down well with their dancey feel while their set still feels balanced with the likes of old and new. Belle & Sebastian may have now been making pop music for the best part of two decades, but tonight’s headlining set proves some bands just don’t stop being brilliant.
Photos: Belle & Sebastian.
Having ticked Reading and Leeds’ main stage off their bucket list last year, Peace have a gigantic October headline show at London’s Brixton Academy stealthily creeping up on them, and their festival slots are only set to get bigger. If the Birmingham rabble are still feeling their way a little, though, it doesn’t show a jot.
New album singles kick things off in quick-fire. The only shortcoming is the disappointing absence of Peter Crouch - who made a cameo in the ‘Gen Strange’ video - but no doubt he’s hiding somewhere in the wings after being spotted at Sound City yesterday. Then, announces Harry Koisser, “it’s time for an oldie”. Doug Castle has a few guitar issues during ‘Float Forever,’ but Harry - ever the seamless frontman - swans about overseeing an improvised jam until it’s all fixed. Whether they’re pulling debut album favourites out of their glittery, foil adorned hat, or closing things up with the jaunty hacienda-flavoured ‘World Pleasure,’ Peace have hit a new stride lately. They might be a few years off having a tune-stash as staggering as Swans, or the live experience of Fucked Up, but when they step up on stage to the biggest screams of Sound City so far, they own it like they’re established arena hard-hitters already.
All photos: Emma Swann and Sarah-Louise Bennett. Words: El Hunt, Jamie Milton, Sean Stanley and Sarah Jamieson.