Review: Liverpool International Music Festival

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In telling the story of Liverpool’s underground music scene, the evening proves the ongoing importance of the city’s counter culture. Arts Club becomes the perfect venue for telling such a story; moving upstairs and downstairs between two performance spaces feels like taking a journey seemingly through time. I continuously re-enter the same space to find something new and different in terms of music, set, and audience.

The 80s feel of indie-rock band, Veyu, kicks off the evening. Their absorbing sound evokes a melancholy mood with impressive vocals and guitar, but had a way of switching between hopeless longing and upbeat optimism. Their intense yet sensitive performance shows both the romantically poetic and darker sides of punk. I recommend ‘The Everlasting’ for first time listeners.

From cool kids to ladies dancing with fried eggs sewn to their chests, downstairs I find Pete Bentham & the Dinner Ladies, but there is more than meets the eye. Performing a more satirical and primitive rock & roll, witty songs like ‘Walking Down Bold Street’ are timeless. The line ‘we don’t buy Britain, Britain’s shite’ speaks volumes in 2016. Pete Bentham’s warm presence and classic scouse humour, and the daft dancing of the Dinnerettes, encourages us to join with the catchy beats and chants, like ‘hip potater’.

Back upstairs, Organ Freeman completely changes the game. I find them in front of the barriers, rocking out amongst the audience, whilst two gnomes play drums onstage. Unpredictable and energetic, they bring a kind of electric punk magic to the evening. Batting around colourful balloons with lights inside, they perform songs inspired by drinking coca cola from a can, the elephant man, and mythical goblins that eat fossil fuels. Safe to say it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before, or will see ever again.

In complete contrast, a more reserved Clinic perform in scrubs and surgical masks. Their experimental rock ranges from the tense, repetitive beats of ‘Miss You’, accompanied by haunting vocals from Ade Blackburn, to the distorted ‘See Saw’ with its pounding rhythms. Their music is as mysterious as they are. Somewhere between punk and pop, with some warped electronic surprises.

Throughout the evening, you could feel the anticipation for Buzzcocks downstairs. They walk onstage and everybody loses their minds. Performing favourites such as ‘Boredom’ and ‘Fast Cars’, Buzzcocks are as loud and fast-paced as ever, complete with classic punk-rock poses as Steve Diggle raises up his guitar during solos. They deliver exactly what the nostalgic crowd wants; punk in its purest and simplest form.

This might make me a sinful millennial, but I prefer the Lying Bastards upstairs. The band is a mixture of members from Broken Men, 69 Watts and Jimmy and The Revolvers, resulting in an extremely unique sound. Henry Pulp’s powerfully passionate vocals blend with the beating drums and wailing guitars, and I hear punk-rock meet funk and soul. Perhaps by this point my ear drums have given up, but the speakers are too loud to really appreciate their talent, which is a shame.

A celebration of 40 years of punk successfully squeezed into four hours and one venue. In the words of Organ Freeman’s Luke Bather, ‘punk shows, 30 minutes, very strict!’

23rd July 2016

Pete Bentham & The Dinner Ladies – Organ Freeman – Lying Bastards – Veyu – Clinic – Buzzcocks

Liverpool International Music Festival presents: 76-16 From Eric’s to Evol Live [Punk/New Wave] at Arts Club, Liverpool.

Photo taken using iPhone 5S

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