From Slovakian noise rock + Russia's best band, to gloomy Brixton psych - there's an immense line-up, and this is how to tackle it...
Cai Trefor
12:45 3rd May 2019

We've arrived in Liverpool for Sound City which kicks off today with a conference and showcase then gets going big time tomorrow and Sunday. Spread out in venues throughout Liverpool, the streets are alive and that festival spirit is giving us a long-needed kick in our step after a long, dark winter.

We will be reporting on the best it has to offer over the coming days. In the meantime, here's some tips that we would tell you if we saw you in the street. Utterly brilliant bands to see, we promise. Have a great festival if you're going. Otherwise, indulge your senses in some music that you may not have heard before and listen to it from the comfort of your home. Either way, it's Bank Holiday so have a good one.

Get Down then spring up with Confidence Man

Asked what the single best thing about seeing Australia's finest purveyors of theatrical big beat for a new generation is after them 12 times or so, mega fan Adam Houghton from Nottingham says: "It's a feel good gig where you can dance yourself senseless." The best moment during this gig by the four-piece, who are fronted by two characters - the sexually deviant Sugar Bones and the stern Janet Planet - comes during their track ‘Boyfriend (Repeat): They get the whole crowd to crouch down and then spring back into life like the dance equivalent of a choreographed metal head mosh. But instead of punching each other, everyone gets their goof on and there’s no such thing as an embarrassing dance move at a Confidence Man gig.

What's more, the above mentioned track is actually changing attitudes and rebelling against old school relationships. Essentially, it stylishly shames boyfriends who think women should be adoring because you made them breakfast. Considering this multi-faceted ability to bring a crowd deliriously happy and have something to say, there's no excuse for missing Confidence Man this weekend.

When: Sunday 5 May
Where: Hangar 34
What time: 00:30

                                             Photo: Shaun Gordon

Watch arena-ready Shortparis in a 700-cap venue

Thanks to the sound of a band trying to "smash five decades of music with an electrified cricket bat"(some of the music they like includes Killing Joke and Domino Records' Clinic but they urge us not to even try and pigeonhole them) they've earned a breathless response from many UK journalists; including: Louder Than War's John Robb, and The Quietus' John Doran, and Gigwise. Over the past few months, they've been constantly touring in and are on their way to becoming one of the biggest alternative bands in the world. Currently, most of their fanbase is Russian - or Russian speaking - so any fans from this part of the world now are certainly still coming to something that's on the cusp of blowing up.

The band are perfectly aware of their potential and tell Gigwise: "This band is already ready to become a stadium rock band and the things are happening with the band is organic, it's what we're expecting to happen."

Classic bit of bravado there and for very good reason: you don't need to be removed from this band to see objectively that they're a phenomenon able to be thought of up there as the most important Russian cultural export of a generation. Afterall, it's time pop music stopped getting categorised differently from classical music and Shortparis be seen in the same cultural lineage as Tchaicovsky.

When: Sunday 5 May
Where: Hangar 34
What time: 17:45

Watch Phobophobes and tweet #2019yearofthephobe

This brooding Brixton band who grew up with Fat White Family are on the verge of releasing an album with Killing Joke's Youth. This show is one of the first time's anyone is hearing these songs played live as they're literally just back from Spain where they recorded. We're told there's more rave-y moments and more direct lyricism than on the six-piece's dark, psychedelic tinged 2018 album Miniature World. We're excited to see how it pans out and given they've been about to break since 2013, but had their fair share of setbacks, we feel 2019 could be the moment for this band who have support from some good places: they signed to Ra-Ra Rock Records which is run by Black Midi and Shame's manager. So yeah tweet #2019yearofthephobe if you're into them and see where they are by this time next year.

When: Friday 3 May
Where: 24 Kitchen Street
What time: 20:15

Marvel at The Duke Spirit's Liela Moss' voice

One of our favourite album of this decade is KIN by The Duke Spirit and Liela Moss is a bit of a genius in our eyes. She's since left the hard-edge Interpol-esque grunt of her backing band behind for a bit and drifted into something a bit more spaced out and orchestral for her solo act. We suspect it'll be goosebumps all round though as Moss' vocal tone and knack for melancholic earworm melodies is one of the treasures of UK indie music.

When: Saturday 4 May
Where: Birdies Live Room
What time: 21:15

Lose your mind to rowdy rockers Bad Animal

We caught Bad Animal live in Kelowna, Canada during Breakout West festival 2018 and testify their thrash-metal pace, and direct, Strokes-esque lyricism caused an eruption of flailing limbs in a rowdy room. It was somewhere the floor felt like it was going to give way and we were all going to end up covered in bruises and plaster in the downstairs coffee shop. It was the closest thing we could imagine to being in New York when the garage rock revival was at its height. That was 2am, this is 2pm at the forthcoming Sound City gig, though. But, we wouldn't put it past the crowd to be able to rekindle that atmosphere, if only for our own nostalgic purposes, please.

When: Sunday 5 May
Where: Best Before
What time: 13:45

Watch Slovakian noise rockers 52 Hertz Whale

One of the great things about Sound City is its keen awareness of scenes outside of the UK. With this in mind, one of the best band's from central Europe at the minute are 52 Hertz Whale and they’re on the bill. Compared to Mark Lanegan's 90s outfit Screaming Trees by Gigwise reviewer Dom Gourlay, they are ones to keep a keen eye on and see on their only UK show of their current tour. Travelling miles to get here you know they’ll be buzzing for the opportunity and have a sweaty mosh going on.

When: Sunday 5 May
Where:Brick Street Garden
What time: 16:00

See why The Cure picked Just Mustard as support

Ireland's band Just Mustard mix noise rock, post-punk, and dream pop into a potent whole and will be the talk of the town we suspect this weekend in Liverpool. Having only formed four years ago and to be already honed their tone enough and write music that Robert Smith gives you the OK to support him is surely a good sign. They support The Cure 8 June at Malahide Cast in Dublin. This Saturday's gig is outdoors too and ought to prepare them well. 

When: Saturday 4 May
Where: New Bird Street
What time: 15:30

Some tickets to Liverpool Sound City are still available here. Sunday is sold out. 

Photo: Press