Liverpool Sound City 2015

8 June 2015

Remember months ago when I said I was going to start sharing some more lifestyle and travel based things with you? Well I finally did something that didn't revolve entirely around food (although still a little bit). So something a little different on the blog today, I'm going to indulge my post festival blues for a bit and tell you all about our weekend at Liverpool Sound City.

I'd heard a little bit about Sound City before from its previous incarnation at various city centre venues, but 2015 saw the festivals first time at new home on the Bramley Moore Dock and my first time in attendance. Sound City is a city based festival, so there's no camping, and with Dave currently living only a short drive away we were lucky that we didn't need to spend on a hotel. At only £65 for a 3 day ticket, and with headliners The Vaccines, Belle & Sebastian and The Flaming Lips, it was an experience we really couldn't resist.

 I really love Liverpool's docks, there's something about large masses of water that I've just always liked (part of the appeal of living just minutes from Lincoln's Brayford waterfront) but the industrial history of the docklands and the way they've shaped the cities history and culture is both beautiful and fascinating to me. As it was the first year at the site, we had no idea what to expect and I'd been eagerly keeping an eye on their Twitter for weeks hoping to catch a glimpse of the site with little luck. I'm glad they didn't reveal much before the big day though as I think it made it even more impressive when we arrived. The festival was spread out across 7 stages (plus a few pop ups) all located around the old dock, and accompanied by an amazing mix of stalls and food venders. I didn't take a digital camera with me because I was a bit worried about breaking it (large crowds + loads of water seemed like a recipe for disaster where technology was concerned) so the only photos I took were on my phone or my much loved 35mm lomo fish eye, but I managed to capture a little bit of the weekend. The whole thing was really calm too so if I was going again I'd probably feel a lot more comfortable taking a 'proper' camera with me (although Dave took the amazing photo at the top of this post on his phone, so maybe I just need to hone my cameraphone skills ready for next year).

The festival didn't open until the evening on Friday so we took the opportunity to visit one of my new favourite coffee spots 92 Degrees Coffee first for some caffeine and cake before taking a walk along the docks. It's quite a long walk from town and in hindsight, probably not the best idea to do before an event where you'll just be standing around or dancing for hours on end but even on quite a cloudy day it was really nice to do. Things were pretty quiet at first as we waited for the site to fill up, so we spent most of the evening just getting used to the layout and exploring the venue - the views from the main stage were amazing. I also took the opportunity to start exploring the food and drink options since Liverpool usually has an amazing food scene and found not only were the prices pretty reasonable for a festival, they went well beyond the standard greasy burger vans found on other festival sites. We started off with these hot dogs from Posh Dogs (£5) and in the future I'm not going to accept a hot dog from anywhere that doesn't come with macaroni and bacon because they are the most amazing and unhealthy thing I've ever eaten. Plus their sign had a mustache on it, and I sure do love an ironic mustache.

The night ended with watching Everything Everything and The Vaccines take the Atlantic Stage, I don’t think I’d realised until we saw them how much I love Everything Everything and I’ve listened to them non stop since I got back. They played a few tracks from their new album which is out later in June and I'm really excited to hear the full thing. The Vaccines were probably the most energetic band we saw all weekend and after a lot of dancing and singing I was really glad to head back to Dave’s house for a cup of tea instead of to a tent. I think end of the night tea and cake should be a thing at all festivals from now on, it would be so much better than expensive beer and horrid burger vans (looking at you Reading fest).

The site opened earlier on Saturday, with music starting at lunchtime but we took a little detour on our way in to see our friends at The Little Macaron Shop for lunch. When we got to the site it was much busier than the night before, and the sun was putting everyone in a much better mood. We stumbled across a sort of bonus stage in the form of a small boat that was hosting acoustic performances and taking trips around the dock. We took trips and saw two performers, one male and one female. Even though I didn’t know either of the artists before we boarded this was probably one of the highlights of the weekend for me because it was so unique. It’s kind of a gamble, because if you don’t the music you can’t just walk off to another stage once you’re stuck out in the water but luckily both the people we saw were great and getting a proper look around the old docks was really fun.

After we got off the boat we raced over to see Astronomyy, who had been really high on my to watch list and then to the Baltic Stage. This which was the only stage in a proper 'building', housed inside of an old warehouse and hosting the Tim Peaks Diner coffee stall, making it our favourite place for a bit of a rest without having to miss out on any of the action. The sound wasn't amazing inside the echoey warehouse walls but it was a really cool atmosphere in there nonetheless. We ended Saturday back on the main stage, watching Liverpool based Stealing Sheep, who performed some tracks from their new album, and The Flaming Lips who put on the most insane stage show I’ve ever seen. It involved a lot of inflatables, lights, and an enormous ‘Fuck Yeah Liverpool’ balloon. I don't know much about them as a band really so I wasn't fully prepared for their set and I'm still not sure if I dreamt most of it. They were really fun though, and the crowd was surprisingly well behaved, including 5 minutes of being (reasonably) quiet at the singers instructions while the paramedics saw to someone who needed some help before carrying on with the show.

The long days were starting to take their toll (I’m definitely getting too old for festivals) so we had a bit more of a lie in on Sunday and then took another trip to 92 degrees before getting the Sound City shuttle bus down to the docks. The bus was £2.50 from the city centre which is probably more expensive than just using a regular bus or MerseyRail would have been, but it did take us right to the entrance and we got to talk to other festival goers on the way so it was a bit more of an experience at least. We took a bit of a wander around the stages but there wasn't anyone we really wanted to see until late in the day so thought we’d join the queue for another boat trip. It turned out we’d missed the final trip to listen to any music on the boats, but after a little wait we were able to have a ride on one of the power boats instead, which was pretty much the coolest ten minutes of my life. I haven’t shut up about this since getting home but since I desperately want one to just ride up and down the river outside my house. It is my birthday soon too...#prrequest #gethannahaspeedboat

After the boat we decided to check out the American Pizza Slice stall - I’ve seen their shop on previous trips to the city but it was the first time I managed to try anything from them. The pizza was fantastic though and at around £3 for an enormous slice (I think it's slightly less when you visit their usual shop) I'm definitely going to be ordering from them next time I'm nearby. And anyone who takes a proper wood pizza oven to a festival is okay by me to be honest. It still wasn’t quite time for any of the main acts yet so we decided to take a look at the days issue of Bido Lito for some recommendations and stumbled across Findlay who were probably one of my favourite acts we saw all weekend. One of the great things about festivals is getting to stumble across new acts or for even ones you know already surprising you with their set and Findlay were a great find, they seriously killed it. If they aren't huge soon then there is something wrong with the world.

We then went to see Natalie McCool, who like Stealing Sheep was another Liverpool based artists I’d known about for a few years but it was my first time actually seeing live. I’ve spoken to Natalie online a few times in the past and she’s always been lovely so it was great to finally see her do her thing.

The final headliners were Belle & Sebastian, who were incredible. I barely knew any of the songs but I still had a brilliant time watching them, especially when they invited about 30 audience members up on stage to dance with them (as if they didn’t have enough band members on such a tiny stage to begin with!). Once again the atmosphere during their set was amazing and a really great way to end the weekend. Although technically they didn't actually close the weekend because we managed to run across the site back to the Baltic Stage and catch a solid 30 minutes worth of Peace's set afterwards so that I could get some final stupid dancing and bad singing of my system. There were dj's and other fun activities carrying on into the night but I really am too old for that much excitement so we went home for more tea and leftover macarons instead.

In case it wasn’t obvious already, we really enjoyed our three days at Sound City. There were times when I missed the camping, like when we realised how expensive the bar was and that we didn’t have a tent full of beer to go sit in instead, but overall I thought it was really well put together and suited the feel of Liverpool perfectly.

Tickets for next year’s festival are on sale now at the super early bird price of £50 until the end of the week (I’m not sure what the price will be after that).

Let me know what you thought of this more life type post or what your favourite festivals have been in the comments :)

**Disclaimer: we paid for everything ourselves and Sound City are not in any way affiliated with this post.

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