Day Two dawns for Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, and the bleary eyed and the fresh faced alike assemble early at the Baltic Triangle to begin to absorb what is certain to be an interesting day.
Opening the District stage are Manchester’s Purple Heart Parade. Back to a five piece after recent personnel changes, the announcement of their addition on this year’s line up was accompanied by the revelation that their debut album is set for release on London label Club AC30. Their set has attracted quite the crowd and with them being from a neighbouring city, the locals are out in force. ‘Pepsi Cola Addict’ is a new track from the band and with its fuzzy reverberation, haunting vocal harmonies and eerie countenance it is a welcome addition to their repertoire.
Leaving PHP to a buoyant audience its over to Camp for one of the most anticipated bands of the day, Stockholm’s Dead Vibrations. Their dark sound has been captivating for a while and it’s come as no surprise that Fuzz Club have snapped up their debut album for release. The early set time stings them, but the room gradually fills and their electrifying performance leaves tingles. The highlight of the set comes in the form of ‘Reflections’ a moody number with catchy guitar riffs, motorik drumming and powerful vocals. Their set is over all too soon and they are cheered from the stage by those fortunate to have caught their set.
Remaining in Camp, Leeds’ post-punk quintet Autobahn are next up. They channel Joy Division-esq vibes and front man Craig Jackson draws on more than just a hint of Faris Badwan. With the release of their second LP The Moral Crossing set for release in November, they waste no time in plunging the room into musical darkness. Latest release ‘Future’ is a prominent feature with its heavy synth influence, intriguing rhythm section and neo-romantic vocals. As the room fills, the volume of applause increases and for so early on in the day, they have been well received.
Back over to District, which is already almost full to capacity for Buenos Aires’ Hurricane Heart Attacks. The Argentinians who have scheduled their first UK live tour around todays show have attracted attention as the number of bodies in the room indicates. Their first song shows their nerves, but that soon passes as they blast out ‘Tangerine’ from 2015 LP Incredible Machine. The rest of the set is flawless, with another highlight coming in the form of latest single ‘OCD’ which utilises a Happy Mondays-esq mid section ensuring that feet are tapping. They leave the stage to rapturous applause and chants for more; it may be their first UK tour, but if popular opinion is anything to go by, it won’t be the last.
Brighton’s Zofff have received sufficient hype for intrigue to mount around their set and people take their places in The Blade Factory. They offer a marginally industrial spound created in elongated batches, blending electronically created static noise with motorik drumming, reverberating guitar and intricate bass creating kosmische soundscapes that are captivating live.
To continue what Zofff started, it’s over to Furnace for the first of the day’s big hitters, California’s White Manna who are touring their new LP Bleeding Eyes. Due to a mishap involving the USA border force, an absent band member results in a singing drummer but for those who don’t know this, you really wouldn’t know. Famed for their live performances, this set is no exception with the volume cranked up and the larger venue suiting their sound. The full room visuals compliment, creating a full sensory experience and the packed room is lapping up every second of it.
Norway’s Rancho Relaxo are known for churning out great records and their aloofness, so their appearance here this year is most welcome. Opener ‘Strange Vibrations’ gears the full District room up to fever pitch with its repetitive synth melody and fuzzy guitars. When the vocals kick in the sway builds and the fact that most have waited a long time to see them live only adds to the intensity. They proceed into ‘Stars’ another great track raking from their LP White Light Fever released by Wrong Way Records last year.
I leave the delights of District to experience a band that have been drawing recommendations across the weekend, Dutch trio The Homesick. Most of their set comes from LP Youth Hunt, released earlier this year. The post-punk influenced sound features a haunting mix of vocal play, booming bass lines and catchy guitar riffs. As they proceed they gain their stride and the music comes alive. Highlights include ‘The Best Part of Being Young is Falling in Love with Jesus’ and ‘Eater of Meat’ which both possess a momentum that is refreshing and invigorating at this stage in a festival. A previously unknown entity but one that will certainly be followed with interest from now on.
A Place to Bury Strangers are famed for their explosive live performances and tonight is set to be no exception. The lights go out to allow for a stage illuminated only by white and strobe lights, setting the scene. Opening with ‘We’ve Come So Far’ from 2015 LP Transfixiation the tone is immediately set; loud. A melodic interlude comes from Lia who sings solo, before electronic noise brings us back to the pounding intensity they are famed for with ‘Deeper’. The room descends to complete darkness and the crowd think it’s all over, but fear not, the trio pop up in the centre of the room on a makeshift unit comprising drum machine and microphone, whilst Oliver swings his bass unashamedly. The crowd jump around them ecstatically and feel part of something special; which they are. The set ends all too soon for most but a euphoric atmosphere prevails as people excitedly talk of what they witnessed.
A visit to the PZYK Cinema and a much needed rest on an inviting beanbag allow precious recovery time before Nonn begin downstairs. The Swedish electro three piece released their debut self-titled LP on Fuzz Club records recently and with their catchy reverberated sound laced with all the best parts of the 80s, it’s not hard to understand why they are here.
W.I.T.C.H. (or We Intend to Cause Havoc) were the most popular Zambian rock band of the 1970s spearheading a new genre dubbed Zamrock. Main man Emmanuel ‘Jagari’ Chanda began a collaboration with Jacco Gardner in 2016 and it is the result of this we witness hear today. The set comprises a number of stories as well as their recognised sound and it is simply impossible not to move along to their brand of acid funk. Some questioned their placement so late in the bill, sandwiched between two big names, but they have rightfully earned their place here.
The Black Angels are a band who need no introduction and so shall not receive one. Latest album Death March released earlier this year has divided opinion, some claiming it to be their best yet, whilst some feel it to much of a deviation away from their recognised sound. Their set tonight combines a blend of said LP and their debut Passover, with all being executed to a supremely high standard. Its namesake from The Velvet Underground rings out in the background as they take to the stage and go into opener ‘Currency’. We step back to ‘The Prodigal Son’ before ‘Medicine’ swings back up to present. ‘I Hear Colours (Chromaesthesia)’ from Indigo Meadow is a fine addition with its jangly lyrics and swirling harmonies and gives way to the haunting ‘Half Believing’ which brings the tempo down, but only a notch. ‘The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven’ is another offering from the 2006 album and ‘I’d Kill For Her’ is back to the present. A perfect set, from a fantastic band who deserve all the praise they receive as they leave the stage.
The tag for this event was the subtle ‘This Festival Will Destroy You’ – based on the inebriation around, the excited chatter and the aching muscles, I’d say they succeeded in their aim.