Live Report: Sound City 2021

Live Report: Sound City 2021

A fantastic platform for new music...

From humble beginnings in 2008, Liverpool Sound City has grown to become one of the cultural highlights for the city over the years. Having been hosted in various places around Liverpool, the festival followed two years in the Baltic Triangle for the 2021 edition. Nestled between gentrified bars, coffee shops and restaurants of cuisines from all over, the weekend served not only as an introduction to new talent but further shined a light on Liverpool’s incredible music and independent venue scenes. From the sweaty crowds in Grand Central Hall to the nostalgia of being in the Arts Club soaked in beer, the festival converts the cobbled streets into a walking tour of discovery for three days.

Scouse indie favourites SPINN kicked off the weekend with their catchy tunes full of jangly guitars and bopping beats. “Keep an eye out for his dance moves,” someone in the crowd said to me. I didn’t know what to expect after that comment but I can truly say I was not disappointed. His dance moves (frontman Johnny Quinn’s) embodied a child pretending to be a superstar in their bedroom mirror and everyone was living for it. The body sways and head flicks kept their set lively and entertaining whilst perfectly fitting to the genre of their music. The band even played a few tracks from their new album for the first time which were evidently a hit with the crowd as people were seen bopping along, especially to ‘People Should Know Better’.

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Moving to the Arts Club Theatre, Scottish natives The Snuts packed out the venue to full capacity half an hour before taking the stage. The band had queues forming round the block and left many disappointed and unable to catch a glimpse of their tentative to rapturous set. As the lights go down, cheers erupt as they open their set with ‘Glasgow’ and cautious fist-pumping fills the room as the song kicks in. Though beer had hazed my vision and the abundance of older men moshing next to me was a sight to be seen, The Snuts provided an impressive set and I am sorry to those who weren’t able to catch it. It was quite the show. Mainly because half of the crowd was either half cut and dancing insanely or moshing away but nevertheless, the band provided the crowd with punchy and explosive tunes to enjoy.

For a festival that has had Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Kooks and Loyle Carner as headliners across the previous years, Beabadoobee seems like a fitting act for the first headliner of the weekend. She fits into the genre of artists and bands that have performed before her and sees female talent come alive. The indie icon played through a crowd-pleasing set with fan favourites ‘Coffee’ and ‘She Plays Bass’ and with this being her first-ever festival headline slot, she pulled an extremely dedicated audience.

The fact that festival season is coming to an end is reflected by the gloomy weather on Saturday though the torrential rain battering the city didn’t stop crowds. In keeping with recent years of highlighting the northern music scene, the thriving talent continued to spill into the weekend. Monks set the Saturday in motion with their 70’s and 80’s inspired alt-pop which had hints of Liverpool indie heroes The Night Café lingering in their sound. The Liverpool lads drew in a hefty crowd, setting the tone for the rest of the day in Grand Central, and received the most animated reception when performing their latest single ‘Night Moves’. It also must be a scouse thing to dance like nobody is watching as frontman George Pomford embodied the same moves as SPINNs Johnny Quinn when performing - entertaining and infectious to say the least. The five-pierce certainly left their mark and asserted themselves as ones to watch in the future.

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Taking the spots for the highlights of the festival, local acts Jamie Webster and Red Rum Club packed out Grand Central to full capacity as expected. You could even argue that Webster should have performed after Red Rum Club due to the reaction he received despite both acts playing equally amazing sets. The crowd continuously broke out into the famous Liverpool chant “f*ck the Tories” throughout Websters set which his band joined in with by playing along. Known for his close relationship with the city, Webster said: “That’s better than hearing you sing my own songs to me. Honest to god, it’s f*cking amazing.” Bringing the day to an end and making sure to take the roof off of the venue, Red Rum Club finished their set with confetti and sprayed the crowd with champagne. How rock and roll of them.

Not only does Sound City allow new talent to be discovered, but it also aids those in the creative industries with advice, workshops and networking. Through Sound City Plus, there was an extensive range of events to attend from networking breakfasts and drinks to panels focused on cutting-edge discussions and debates. On the rainy Friday and Saturday mornings of the festival, panels discussed topics from gender equality to how to make it in the music industry. It even had London rock duo Nova Twins offering insight into the shape of the industry where they discussed the constant challenges faced and opportunities. This part of the festival makes Sound City stand out compared to others as they are aiming to do more than give people a good time. They are trying to educate those in creative industries on how to get somewhere and give them the fundamentals to do it properly and successfully. It also gives new creatives a confidence boost by being able to network with those in the same career fields.

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Considering all the obstacles creative industries faced over the last year, the team behind Sound City pulled off a truly impressive weekend. From independent venues, educational panels and new upcoming talent, the three days brought excitement and fun when it was needed the most. Not once was there a sight of someone moping or stood still. The venue floors were shaking, beers were flying and nothing but good times were amongst us. As a city, Liverpool has changed in many ways since The Beatles but its importance to music will never diminish; Liverpool Sound City will continue to make sure of that. The festival is a testament to the northern music scene and the team did an excellent job in reminding us of why we are so proud to celebrate it.

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Words: Shannon Garner
Photo Credit: Sam McMahon, Jazamin Sinclair

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