Liverpool Music Week came to an end this past Saturday with the Closing Party at Camp and Furnace playing host to almost 20 acts across three different stages. Camp 1 and 2 featured the likes of Deerhunter, Gang of Four, SOAK and LA Priest, while the smaller Blade Factory stage saw a selection of up-and-coming artists including performances by a number of local bands, as well as some from further afield. There was also a Halloween Party along with the venue’s weekend Food Slam taking place simultaneously in Furnace, making for a very busy and interesting evening.
The Blade Factory stage saw a number of good performances, with three standing out in particular. Wirral four-piece Holy Thursday put in a great early performance with an interesting take psychedelic-pop. Australian five-piece Holy Holy travelled from Bruges in a van that morning but showed no signs of tiredness with their wintry and soulful atmospheric rock. Headliners Spring King performed at SXSW earlier this year and the Manchester four-piece closed things in style with their energetic and poppy post-punk.
The largest crowd of the four sub-headliners turned out for SOAK and her Camp 1 set. Recently nominated for the Mercury Prize, it’s been a big year for the Irish-born teen after her debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream appeared in May. In the past she’s performed solo but here two band members accompanied her to produce a fuller, more powerful live sound which helped to elevate her fragile but soulful vocals on the bigger stage.
Baio is best known for being the bassist in Vampire Weekend, with the melodic chime and piano chords of the infectious single “Sister of Pearl” sounding very similar to his work with the New York four-piece. However, the rest of his set largely consisted of dance breaks and emotional electro-pop with Baio singing over them in a style not too dissimilar to Brian Ferry. It was entertaining enough, especially the little wiggle dance he kept doing, but his overall performance on Camp 2 could be a little bit hit-and-miss.
There was a fair amount of intrigue surrounding LA Priest leading up to his set, primarily because of his work with short-lived electronic art-rockers Late of the Pier. Although not quite as exciting as his former band, he’s still got a head full of interesting ideas that make him worth watching. Dressed in all white and wearing some sort of foil mask, an opening performance of single “Oino” was a particular highlight. The crowd were certainly into it, with LA Priest using a loop of their cheering at one point, after earlier using part of his mask to manipulate his guitar.
Deerhunter caught many off guard by starting a little earlier than scheduled, the sound of “Desire Lines” causing a rush towards the main stage. Their strong opening was followed by a series of shorter, quick-fire songs, including a couple from their latest album Fading Frontier, before the highlight of the evening “Living My Life” had even the most stubborn members of the audience dancing along to its tropical-esque melody. After playing some older, pre-Halcyon Digest material, they unleashed an ear splitting extended version of Microcastle centrepiece “Nothing Ever Happened” which was brought to an end with several minutes of feedback blasting out from behind a bright yellow haze.
Judging by the numbers that remained, the majority of people had come along for Deerhunter. However, it was Gang of Four who stole the show with an absolutely blistering performance. Playing just after 1am didn’t help matters, but those that decided to stick around were not left disappointed. Only Andy Gill remains from the original line-up, with his jagged, buzzsaw-like guitar work being backed up by a fantastic rhythm section which gave the post-punk legends more of a funky dance-punk edge. Original lead vocalist John King left the band in 2012 but John Sterry did a fairly solid job of replacing him, energetically hopping between mic-stands and barking politically charged lyrics throughout. The energy on stage was more than mirrored by those who remained, with plenty of beer puddle dancing being done to songs like “Damaged Goods” from their 1979 classic Entertainment! and the 1981 single “To Hell With Poverty!”