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Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia - Day Two

  • Published in Live

Day two of this year’s Liverpool Psychfest kicked off in fine style with Newcastle’s The Glass Moths laying it on thick with their organ drenched, extended workouts. You have to make the effort to get in early to see the opening acts at these things, at least when you’re already in situ, and the rewards for the early birds were here today across all three rooms. Temple Songs tore it up in the Camp with their set very much being at the frantic, manic end of the psych spectrum whilst Rennes’ Sudden Death Of Stars were first on stage in daylight in the Furnace (a criminally early slot for a band this good) and wowed the lucky souls who’d made time for them with their sitar-infused, tambourine-heavy output.

Local quartet Strange Collective were next up at the Blade Factory, with their guitarist having just high-tailed it over from a wedding. Bringing to mind the Beta Band at times they plough a nicely fuzzed-up furrow when they get into their stride. Traams were then briefly witnessed back at the Furnace, leading to one of the weekend’s regrets that we’d not seen more of their thrillingly intense 30 minutes. By now most people had made it out of bed so upon heading back round the corner it was only possible to take in the fact that Cantaloupe had attracted a substantially larger crowd than saw them at Threadfest in May so things look to be going well for them. Islet rounded off the pre-dinner session for us back in the Camp (Nueva Costa were unfortunately a bit too weedy for us and a great amount of the other punters it seemed). Starting off by wandering through the crowd with handheld glockenspiels it was clear that the bigger venue afforded them the scope their ideas required to a better degree than witnessed at Long Division in the middle of the month.

Post-scoff our first stop was back at the Blade Factory but Cheval Sombre came across as being rather too much low-key acoustica for the moment so the visit was brief. Likewise Orval Carlos Sibelius, deemed “too Britpop” by Mr. Allen, got little of our attention in the same hall a couple of hours later. Far more up our street in the same space was Theo Verney, who can pretty fairly be hailed as a UK Ty Segall. As expected after seeing the band’s Long Division performance (albeit with I think a different bassist) they were ideally suited to the smaller and far more intimate confines of the Blade Factory, inspiring crowd surfing and general energetic movement amongst the front few rows of the audience. Big things should deservedly come the band’s way. September Girls were the final act we took an interest in at the Blade Factory but again we were at the tail end and so could see no more than the tops of their heads. Sound-wise though they were as expected from multiple listens to Cursing The Sea and far better than the moronic “Calendar Girls” comment made by some passing fool.

The larger two halls panned out for us largely as one LOUD and one quiet for the nighttime sessions. The Furnace hosted returnees The Lucid Dream whose thundering crescendo of sound & strobes provided one of the undoubted highlights of the two days but then things calmed right down with the harmonious sounds of Grumbling Fur, a solo-filled but rather straightforward set from Sleepy Sun who were hard to hear at the rear of the hall and were not the same exciting prospect as when last seen in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. Quilt, however, with their balance of male & female vocals were another highlight in a night that produced a few of those. Their light undimmed after a month on the road in Europe they were another oddly under-viewed act but pulled off a deeply affecting performance. Closing out our involvement with the Furnace came Woods, whose set featured all the songs you could have hoped for from Bend Beyond as well as a good dollop from current album With Light And With Love and their back catalogue.

The Camp therefore was clearly then the place to be if you wanted to endanger your hearing tonight. Lay Llamas enjoyed some of the best visuals of the day as their set wove, Live At Pompeii-like, from mesmerising to cacophonous. The backdrop technology failed for a short period during Anthroprophh’s set but by this point it was all about your ears as the pounding backbeat and extreme solos took on a physical form to churn your guts. Teeth Of The Sea took things further off down the track towards techno whilst simultaneously making excellent use of brass and maintaining the guitar solo quotient on a classic flying v. By this time the projections were of quite a menacing nature and the sound was flattening out the heads on the pints.

Gnod, augmented by Dave W. of White Hills, added further mayhem & madness to the already volume-laden atmosphere. Like watching Kim Fowley fronting space rock escapees from an off-world cult, the disparate Mancunian bunch elevated things to a whole new level of freakery. Who knows what they actually played – such things as discernible songs were no longer important by this point.

White Hills themselves were the final act of the night for me (so I’ve not a clue about the kerfuffle that apparently went off around the Goat show) and they topped off the entire event to perfection. Energetic, appreciative of the audience, waffle-free and fantastically overdriven the trio thrashed and fuzzed their way through to 01:30 as if their lives depended on it. The crowd were far to polite at the end to clamour for further songs (aware maybe for a change of event time constraints) but if any act that appeared here during the day’s 14 hours deserved an encore it was these guys. 

Our full set of photographs from this year's event can be viewed on Flickr.


Long Division Festival, Wakefield

  • Published in Live

A couple of months later than normal, due to the opening of the Unity Works venue and it being a sensible idea to make use of the place's great facilities as the showpiece venue of the event, Wakefield once more played host to Long Division over the weekend of September 12 - 14.  Our reporting here is limited to the performances on Saturday the 13th as we were unable to get a writer in to see The Cribs play on the previous day - a welcome sign of the festival's growing popularity (as was the fact of there being a fringe event on the same day at The Hop. Fawn Spots put in a good show at that).

Graziers (one of the event's other new venues this time around) was our first point of call for some good loud, local indie rock delivered al fresco by Alpha Shallows. Later in the evening Knuckles were on in the same marquee, managing to keep the guitar & drums duo thing interesting with some ribald banter along with their full-on sound characterised by the likes of 'Ejector Seat' and 'Dirty Pearls'. 

Warehouse 23, scene of last June's Fall performance in temperatures of sauna proportions, didn't get a lot of attention from us this time around but we caught the opening couple of numbers by local rockers Gunnarson, who have an element of the Hellacopters about them, albeit with less convincing vocals.

Gruff Rhys was the first act we took in at the Unity Works, midway through the afternoon. Concentrating solely on his current American Interior work his set was unfortunately affected by early technical issues and despite some funny banter the audience were clearly less than fully engaged with the overall performance or the core idea behind the journeys that inspired it. Patterns, ILikeTrains, TOY, headliners The Wedding Present and then Islet made up the other acts that we took in either in the venue's excellent main hall or in it's smaller performance space on the top floor.

Of those we were probably too tired to properly enjoy Islet in their post-23:00 slot but they did enough to make it clear that seeing them again in the future is a good idea. Patterns were enjoyably melodic and clean-cut whilst ILikeTrains didn't come over as I'd expected from their records but were a good watch with probably the best light show of the day. TOY also pulled off a good, in your face, performance for which the bulk of the audience were unjustifiably static. As headliners The Wedding Present didn't fail to pepper their set with the requisite number of old favourites ('My Favourite Dress' etc.) as well as brand new song 'Secretary' which got its first live outing.

Act of the day for me though were Theo Verney, playing in the odd location of 'posh' nightclub Panama and separated from the audience by a distance of at least 8 feet before a line of crash barriers provided something to lean on. Witnessed by a tiny crowd that can be happy they made the decision to wander along the trio belted out their set as if their lives depended on it. Personable lads they were clearly amused at the levels of security in place to protect them from the baying horde and also the Death Star-like mirror ball that was (uselessly) suspended above them. Both Theo Verney & Islet will be on at the Liverpool Psych Fest this coming weekend so a re-visit with both is definitely on my to do list.

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