At the Atlantic Stage the modest crowd gathered is split down the middle due to a large pothole filled with rain water, and the wind is picking up when Jane Weaver takes to the stage. I reviewed her latest album, The Silver Globe a few weeks back, http://vinylcountdown.weebly.com/blog/jane-weaver-the-silver-globe Spoilers – I liked it. Weaver was pretty genial with the crowd, and her vocals were crisp and CD perfect as she laid down her eerie psychedelic folk. I just felt kind of guilty that the crowd wasn’t bigger for her, maybe due to people not being aware of her stuff. She did a great set, including Mission Desire, Argent and The Electric Mountain. I hope to hear more from her soon.
Next, we travel to the North Stage (remember the North!) to see C.A.R. Imagine Grace Jones crossed with The XX or Crystal Castles and you wouldn’t be far off. With a stark, stripped back sound and raw, almost angular vocals and 80’s synths, C.A.R was an interesting listening experience that soon drew in more of a crowd due to her pop synth sensibilities. She's a promising artist, if a little rough around the edges. I'll be interested to see what she comes up with in the future.
Side bar: The one really irritating thing is that The North Stage was opposite both the Cavern Stage and the Kraken Stage causing a continual bottleneck, meaning if you wanted to travel from The Atlantic Stage to the Baltic Stage, or to frequent the fair, or many of the other eateries, bars or toilets you were stuck wading through a continual traffic jam of people. Another problem was that the sound bled through really badly from the Cavern and Kraken stages to the North stage because they were all in such close proximity. I really hope this is something that the organisers of Sound City address next year, as the Bramley More Docks were a great venue, and this was one of the few things that marred the experience for me and my brother.
After a much needed beer, coffee and cake infusion, we were off again to the Atlantic Stage to see the hotly anticipated band The Cribs. They didn't disappoint. With a searing setlist that included Burning for No One, Different Angle, Men's Needs and I'm A Realist, the band was poised to please the crowd with a diverse array of their hits from new to old, with the energy of the Manics and the enthusiasm of Ash. The only thing I disliked, and it's a pet peeve was when one of the band members half-heartedly threw his guitar at the amp and it bounced off. Look, I get it, you're trying to be rock and roll, but really? We know you're not going to wreck your own stuff, so who are you trying to fool? Unless you bought your guitar at Primark, you're not going to trash it, are you? So please, cut the shit and keep up the great music, because that's what we're there to see. Otherwise, great performance.
Gaz Coombes was a much more mellow affair, but nonetheless enjoyable. I regret not actually getting the chance to review his latest album, as everything I've heard on 6 Music and at the gig was quite promising. In stark contrast to the singer's Supergrass days at the height of Britpop, Coombe's career as a single artist is one of melancholy and thoughtfulness, evocative of Thom Yorke in a lot of places. It was a nice palette cleanser coming after The Cribs, and the performance was polished and the music was good.
Belle & Sebastian were unsurprisingly the highlight of the night and quite possibly the whole festival. The band kicked off with Nobody's Empire, and the excellently disco The Party Line, the crowd inspired to dance by Stewart Murdoch's brilliant, unabashedly dad dancing that was infectious and caused a quarantine barrier to have to be erected by the Kraken and North stage. Not deterred by this wholly fictional quarantine I just created for a terrible joke, Murdoch climbed into the crowd to meet his people and just be generally charming and amiable, mixing with the crowd, getting one of them to put mascara on him, and bringing a woman from the audience up to the stage to dance. But this was just the start.
The only dud of the performance was the song Perfect Couples, which just seemed to fall flat, and to be quite frank wasn't my favourite song on Girl's in Peacetime Want to Dance. But compared to the rest of the performance, this is just a minor gripe.
But the bit that really got me was when they played “I Want the World To Stop,” a song that along with “You’re In A Bad Way” by St Etienne have been songs that have cheered me up and got me out of a funk I was in. The crowd was buzzing, I was yelling clapping and dancing like the happy idiot I was, and everyone was having a great time. But then they cranked it up a notch.
Oh my god, has he really dragged most of the front row up on stage? Yes, yes he did. I haven't seen such good will and geniality at a gig since Andrew WK offered to piggyback anyone in the crowd at Leeds Festival years ago, and then proceeded to piggyback a man back and forth on a stage whilst singing Party Hard. He got most of the front row up on stage. And they were dancing, and the band somehow played and sung The Boy With the Arab Strap around them. What a band. What a night. Me and my brother had a blast, and I really hope they return to our fair city, the true Capital of the North (suck it, Manchester!) to grace our ears again.
In retrospect, I think we both enjoyed Sound City 15 a lot better than the previous year. Although the Bramley More docks wasn't without its disadvantages, I feel like the festival was outgrowing the pubs, clubs, nooks and crannies of the city centre as the fest was getting a lot more popular, and that for the most part, it was a great location. I just hope that next year that the smaller stages are much more spread out and that there's more in the way of seating areas and toilet facilities next year.
P.S: I bought this great St Etienne art print after the gig in the Screenadelica tent, in honour of the fact that A. Although St Etienne weren't there, they're a great band. and B. As mentioned earlier, I owe "You're in A Bad Way" a debt of gratitude for how it gets me out of a rubbish mood. Here it is!
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.