Last weekend I was up in Liverpool with my mate Jeremy. We hadn’t just gone on a whim, but were attending a psych fest, rather grandly entitled Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia (Liverpool Psych Fest to you and me).
This festival runs over 2 days (Friday and Saturday), from mid-afternoon until the wee hours on both days. Obviously I wasn’t going to spend the entire 26 hours with my head in a speaker. I mean, there are other things to do in Liverpool, but I still got to see a few good bands, have a look at some very cool film and lighting installations, peruse the record stall and generally hang out and catch up with other chums.
So here they are, sort of in order of top-ness (although not necessarily exactly), my micro-reviews.
My overall winners of Liverpool Psych Fest 2015:
50% of The Heads now = 50% of Loop, so that’s happening, right? But, in any case, I also like The Heads in their own right. By the time that The Heads were really doing the business in the later 1990s/early-2000s I’d gone off into the world of dark drum’n’bass so I pretty well missed them. A quite different group of Bristolians had my attention. I’m happy to be making up for it now though.
To describe this gig as ‘face-melting’ could be considered as something of an understatement. There were moments when the sheer volume was actually making me a bit dizzy. My inner ear took a right battering, I can tell you. At one point, I thought I was going to fall over. But I didn’t. So that’s ok.
This was largely a noise set rather than a sing-song (the gig at The Lexington in April was a bit more of a sing-song. But only a bit). But although, yes, it was stupid loud, it wasn’t stupid, if you see what I mean. And so they went storming around their back catalogue and we had lots of tunes from across various of their albums with barely a break throughout the whole set.
Basically, they went large.
At the end of the set, I was able to get a setlist from Wayne. Thanks Wayne.
THE BIG DECISION for a lot of people at this year’s festival was Spiritualized or The Heads. I made the right choice :D I can still say this, even though I know that Spiritualized played Take Me To The Other Side which, I bet, was a real tear-jerker.
After the set I had to pop upstairs to retrieve the swag I’d bought earlier, and when I was up there, another festival-goer remarked that I must have just seen a great band because I was still doing the monkey-dance :D It was the kind of set that leaves you reeling and high-kicking at the same time :D Fun, fun, fun (with added AHB).
Also mentioned in dispatches:
This is Simon Price from The Heads’ other project, and saw the ‘3’ expanded to ‘5’ with the addition of The Heads/Anthroprophh axe-man Paul Allen and Carlton Melton’s Rich Millman.
This is a slightly less in yr face beast (but only ‘slightly’ less), but the set as a whole had a pleasing driving quality (lots of forward motion) with long (semi-) improvised (?) instrumentals building, evolving, adding layers and texture. A little less rock and a little more roll. One of the stand-out sets of the weekend, without doubt.
Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jaumet, of Zombie Zombie fame, pulled out a relatively low key set, with saxophone samples (sampled live!), beats and a certain Gallic funkiness. It’s less party-party than Zombie Zombie, but I liked it.
The Lumerians. I was actually in another little venue, District, seeing Vision Fortune (who hadn’t really got going yet) but Jeremy kept sending me texts telling me that there were sparkly monks playing in Camp. Sparkly monks, you say? Yeah, well obviously. So off I went.
I can’t honestly say that The Lumerians were big or clever, but they were fun :) Lots of synths and rythmic guitars. And sparkly.
K-X-P, more hooded figures to round off Saturday night. These are a Finnish krautrock-y 3-piece with a nice line in ‘motorik’ (*snigger*) with pretty dark, driving beats and a certain amount of yelping. I did like this band but, unfortunately, they were following The Heads so I was still bouncing off the walls. I’ll need to see K-X-P again in order to do them justice but I think that they’re a goer.
Blanck Mass, him out of Fuck Buttons, pulled out a great, pretty upbeat dance set (much of my Friday was on the dance rather than psych side). Described as an “eclectic mix of krautrock, minimal synth and Detroit techno”, which is about right, but it also made me think that this is what hard house could be like if it wasn’t so bloody boring.
This was followed by Factory Floor who rounded off Friday night with another rousing dance-along. I understand that they sometimes have a live drummer which I think would have been even better (I like drummers. More drumminess please). It was more like a club vibe for the latter part of the night with hard techno beats and visuals there was no time for sleepiness until my head hit the pillow at stupid-o-clock.
Not bad, so-so and meh:
What’s Russian for ‘shoegazer’? Pinkshinyultrablast. These are getting a bit of a buzz at the moment and they’re alright, but a bit of a one-trick-pony. They are clearly (very clearly) big fans of MBV but I think that the reliance on one, very girly, female vocal becomes a bit samey after a while. The music is not bad, all late-80s fuzzy indie guitars, but I hope that they’ll push it a bit more and not stick to the one tried-and-tested formula.
Virginia Wing were also alright. They had a touch of the Stereolabs about them but I really felt like they could do with just a little more bounce. The songs (I think we saw 3 or 4) were pretty good but needed a little more energy to stop them tipping over into becoming a bit boring. One to watch, maybe.
Vision Fortune. Well TBH, it hadn’t really got going before I was lured away by sparkly monks (see above, The Lumerians).
Jane Weaver, yes yes I know you all love her and she’s the saviour of music (or something) but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to end up being the next Dido or Adele, and doing a Bond theme for nice middle class Guardian readers. I’m sure she’s very nice but I just don’t really need this.
There was another band playing in Blade Factory who we saw 5 minutes of by accident. One of the blokes had a hat on that was just upsetting me, so I had to leave. I don’t know who they were.
Damn and blast it:
At festivals it’s inevitable that you’ll end up missing something that you wouldn’t have minded seeing, either because of clashes or because of late-night-early-morning-I-don’t-want-to-get-up-ness. Anyway, I missed Destruction Unit, but I’ve heard that the sound wasn’t great for them. I probably would have liked to have seen Hey Colossus but I was in Kandodo5, and ditto for The Octopus Project, but I was in Pinkshinyultrablast. Another time, hopefully.
In addition to all these musical shenanigans, the festival had lots of other spaces to hang out in and see stuff.
There was a chill-out cinema.
With groovy lights. (Look, Loop t-shirt :) )
There was silk screen printing which looked like fun (I didn’t really have time to do one).
I really liked the room with the projections. They had bands playing in there too but it got too crowded to be able to even see anything.
And what about all those other things-to-do in Liverpool?
I had actually determined that while I was in Liverpool, I was going to have nothing at all to do with the B****es (because I’m contrary like that). I was doing pretty well until I ran into this splendid specimen…