Zombies, ghostbusters and evil clowns are not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about Liverpool Music Week. Tonight, however, it’s Halloween. The grand finale of an event that brings together young Liverpool talent, celebrated names and new international artists is taking place in the impressively spookish and dark spaces of the city’s Baltic Triangle. And by the look of things this pagan fright fest has many fans with a serious commitment to fancy dress.
Alongside established names, like cult post-punk heroes Gang of Four and ambient indie experimentalists Deerhunter, the line-up includes plenty of local names, representing a broad spectrum of Liverpool music in 2015. Clean Cut Kid is one of the hottest Merseyside exports. Despite an early billing, they attract a sizeable crowd. Sitting in the corner of the vast Camp warehouse is Chris Baio, Vampire Weekend‘s bassist. Given that his band is frequently used as a reference point to the sound of Clean Cut Kid, tonight the young hopefuls might be a little scared, or at least nervous. “This next tune is about ADHD. It’s a big thing. Lots of people got it,” announces the singer. Not your usual subject, but both the audience and the band are clearly enjoying CCK’s unashamed indie-pop hooks and funky beats. By the end of the set, the hugely expanded crowd is happily bouncing along to the tunes. And Baio is looking happy.
Lying Bastards, Liverpool’s ‘mutant band’ consisting of members of other local outfits, get the party started with an indie swagger reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand. The tiny Blade space erupts into a dancing frenzy encouraged by the band’s impressive moves on stage.
All We Are is one of Liverpool’s breakthrough bands of this year. Recent Domino signing, their debut album released in February 2015 received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Tonight they demonstrate why their tight hypnotic grooves are such a hit and why seeing this band live is an absolute must. But there is more… As this is a special show in their adopted home city, they premier a new track ‘Down’, revealing a more voluptuous sound with a rocket-propelled dance vibe. With work on the new album already underway, this is a stirring starting point that will, no doubt, expand their rapidly growing fan family.
As might be expected of a Mercury nominee, Irish singer-songwriter prodigy Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, draws a big crowd. Like all sets across the night, this is a bite-size slice but it makes you think she is someone we’ll be listening to for many years to come. Her instantly recognisable emotive voice and unassuming stage presence convey an image of someone both vulnerable and confident, giving a promise of a lasting talent.
The sheer musical variety tonight is beyond doubt. From Cavalry’s folkish indie to the tight lean grunge rock of Broken Men and Sugarmen’s anthemic tunes, it’s hard to fail to find something to please your ears. Summoning rave vibes, ‘Earth shaman’ LA Priest preaches to the Halloween monsters. Even the Green Man dude, whose home-made leaves and branches gain significant crowd attention, seems mesmerised by the psych-pop alchemist.
It’s clear that for many, the biggest draw of the night is Deerhunter. Anyone unfamiliar with the band’s previous output could easily mistake them for a breezy pop sensation. Tracks from the new album, Fading Frontier, definitely get the Halloween multitude going but some of the older, less radio friendly material receives equally hungry awe-struck appreciation. The band end on a full-blooded 14-minute rendition of ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ that leaves the monster mob aghast.
The big late headliner comes in the shape of the reformed, reconfigured Gang of Four. They give a proud and angry performance but the centre of party gravity and its post-punk climax belongs the Mancunian upstarts Spring King, who rule the smaller Blade space next door to the industrial expanse of the Camp room. Mosh pit action, a flying trident and an enthusiastic Dracula stage invader make for a fittingly exuberant end to this Halloween hullabaloo.
Photo credit: Steven Sibbald
Check out GIITTV’s Liverpool Music Week Closing Party 2015 photo gallery HERE.