It's nearly bank holiday season and one of the highlights of this fine time of year is undoubtedly the upcoming Liverpool Sound City. Held 3-5 May in venues throughout the city - but mostly in Liverpool's atmospheric, hipsterish Baltic Triangle - the festival is a multifaceted powerhouse in the European festival calendar.
Its strength lies in bringing in big names (Confidence Man, Loyle Carner, Blaenavon, Shame) as well as a strong array of emerging talent. Sound City has become a vehicle of sorts - a springboard perhaps - for band's edging forward in their careers and making tracks within the professional music industry. In addition to showcases, there's an authoritative conference event with high-end panels and keynote speakers. Not to mention a place for artist residencies and visual art workshops. The open-mindedness of the programmers, conveyed by the diversity of things on offer on the line-up, makes them outstanding.
Given our superlative appreciation, we're honoured to have been asked to help put a line-up together for the festival. The Gigwise stage at Sound City is held at Hangar 34 (a warehouse venue on 34 Greenland St) on Sunday 5 May and features some of our all-time favourite artists. You can see the full line-up on Gigwise below.
Headlining the above mentioned venue, which is 700-cap, is the mighty 'Boyfriend (Repeat)' hitmakers Confidence Man (set time: 23:00). Regular readers of Gigwise may recall their inclusion in our albums of the year, which we placed them in because in 2018 the Heavenly Recordings-signees from Brisbane were outstanding on all fronts.
Released in April last year, the album Confident Music For Confident People is a superbly honed collage of bright musical ideas that can ignite any nocturnal party animal's mood. In a way that's similar to their peers Happy Mondays and Primal Scream, their music manages to bring together hard to please purveyors of everything alt and pop fans. The rabble-rousing, daring, theatrical, sexy show the four-piece, who are led by two musicians who ditched their psych rock band to become Confidence Man and adopt the characters Janet Planet and Sugar Bones, deliver is absolutely incredible, and should not be missed.
But there’s a lot to look at earlier in the day when everyone’s gurning off Tim Peaks coffee or on their first Guinness of the day. Opening the stage at 2.35pm is the mighty Nate Husser who will be playing his first ever UK show. Husser’s someone Liverpool Sound City didn’t have on their radar until Gigwise made the festival organisers aware of his extraordinary talent. We caught site of our favourite rapper’s live prowess at Festival De Montreal De Jazz last year. It was extraordinary and the whole venue were crowning him king of Montreal hip-hop.
The coveted slot he earned at the above mentioned festival reflects how much of a well-known face on the scene he is over there. Husser has over ten million views on YouTube and even has a collaboration with Kaytranada on the way. Yet over in the UK he’s firmly under the radar. Which is an exciting thing for us. We feel he's the potential to blow on the UK scene. What makes him stand out to us is his rare ability - similar to Confidence Man's - to bridge boundaries between music fans. For instance, hip-hop purists looking for someone with incredible flow, lyricism and tastefully architected beats are as likely to find an artist to believe in as fans of shoegaze, post-punk et al. Rockers may find solace in Husser’s darkest moments. The project, thematically, is hard-hitting, with no filter between his heart and microphone. Delivered with a rugged atmospheric vocal tone, there’s some poignant, transcendental moments in his back catalogue.
The best example of his most left-leaning cuts is perhaps an older cut of his, ‘Catherine’. It’s a track that we played when hosting multimedia panel called ‘Tips for 2019’ in front of mostly Gary Numan and Bunnymen fans at Rockaway Beach festival. Of all the music we played it was Husser's sound that many people warmed to most. It affirmed our suspicion that it would be the right thing to invite him over to the UK for the first time. Husser will also be performing the Gigwise curation at FOCUS Wales later in the month.
MORE: Read our interview with Nate Husser
Another choice pick on the line-up is Shortparis (set time: 4.15pm). When we pitched to Sound City to have them on the stage they were already having conversations with their booker as they’d been trying to get them on the festival since last year but visa costs for Russian band’s coming to the UK means it’s not always easy. But here they are, in a better position than ever, with more fans and views on their videos than ever. Ask any music critic in Russia and they’ll likely point to Shortparis as one of the biggest success stories in Russia right now (for band with any indie credential that is). Their sound is slippery thing to grasp, though, and it’s perhaps best defined by Gigwise’s Steven Kline who says the following:
Shortparis are “a band trying to smash five decades of music with an electrified cricket bat. Rave, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, darktronica, Balkan folk, eastern psychedelia, Muse and rock ragas, all set about mercilessly by singer Nikolay while apparently in a fit of raging tears. The effect is similar to Leftfield having a nervous breakdown in a Moscow goth club…” There's further detail. You can read the review here.
Elsewhere on the line-up, The Magic Gang, who were absolutely superb when they played Sound City 2017, have been pushed up the bill this time around earning an hour's set just before Confidence Man. The uplifting, exuberant guitar pop the Yala! Records signees create will earn them a huge turnout in a city which has no time for less than great tunes.
Also, the hip-hop laden haunting guitar pop from Liverpool's The Post Romantics will draw in a big hometown crowd as they've built a reputation on the scene there. Similarly Liverpool's Monk's upbeat groove, with its blissed-out 60s psych pop and Mac De Marco'-esque nonchalance laden in there, will raise the roof. Aussie purveyors of soaring synth pop The Jungle Giants, and hotly-tipped dreamy indie poppers Kalpa complete the impressive Hangar 34 line-up.
Bring on 5 May.