So, I left London with a camera, a half-full battery and a 4GB memory card as well as a significant hangover. I was originally supposed to go the festival with my former lecturer and noted gear nerd/filmmaker, Keith Marley but, at some point leading up to the event shit happened and I had to makeshift a new photographer so, I turned to noted cinematographer and first-time gig photographer, Anthony Gibney, also known as A-Bomb. I explained to A-Bomb that I lost my charger and had to buy a new battery for a spare as well as a new memory card for the even but without a working charger we were in a hairy situation. We got set-up in some mad back room of a warehouse dubbed The Invisible Wind Factory and I could hear Indian Queens playing their set; our delightful live editor Charlie Gardener had recommended them to me when I was quite inebriated (I think, he may have suggested someone else to me) and through the next room it seemed like he’d picked somewhat of a winner though, we decided to dart to Drop The Dumbells (I think, there was three stages so it was quite confusing as to what was which) so we could get to Pocket Apocalypse in time for the start of their set.
We arrived at Pocket Apocalypse and our first battery flashed us a red glare; the two of us recoiled in horror and flapped our arms around in the air, fervent in our devastation, I could see the fearful beads of sweat crying down A-Bomb’s anxious brow. What would we do? Who would save us if we ran out of battery at the start of the festival? We tried out the other battery; the spare; the back-up; the brand new, never worn, straight from factory and flat as a pancake replacement and pretty much did the same pantomime reaction.
We had to think on our feet; the festival asked that we try to restrict our photos to just the three songs at the start of a band’s set so; we decided that at least for the moment we’d rack up a couple of Red Stripes, take a few snaps and soak in a bit of Pocket Apocalypse.
Last time I saw Pocket Apocalypse it was ArcTanGent 2015 and naturally, I was fairly twisted. This time, I was looking to be more critical but, really my only coherent thought regarding the band was that they’re very good but, there’s still something that needs to click; there’s still that thing that one day will hear on an album from them and go “yeah, that’s tight. That’s all just fine and dandy”. That ungraspable element, somewhere in the ether of the group’s future, does well to highlight them as a continued one to watch.
They’re a great band though, nevertheless and I’m not surprised that I keep seeing them pop up at festivals I go to. It was great to see the band’s frontman repping a MinionTV shirt; I used to have the exact same one but basically I got really drunk one time and ripped the sleeve and covered the whole thing in sick; that was a few years ago now. Anyway, I digress.
In the interim, we went to get food, I didn’t realise there was some food truck there ’til later on so, we went to a petrol station and built a Birkenhead lunch of packaged food goods such as dunkers, jarg sandwiches and the only thing actually worth eating; pickled onion Monster Munch. A-Bomb’s cookies were pretty sick as well to be fair but, it’s always that debate of “cuck-ies” versus “kook-ies” with him; fucking actual scousers. We walked round the rest of the festival with a marks and sparks strong-bag filled with two things; junk food and a camera box…and usually juggled beers as well.
Cattle was in the other venue (whatever that was); we talked to some dude who seemed to know his shit for a while before it started; I overheard him saying he was doing more or less the same schedule as us so, I thought it was worth prodding around his brain a bit; I was satisfied with my findings; pretty cool hominid.
Cattle were impressive, it was too fucking dark for us to get any good pictures; though the battery made that a risky affair in any case; we got a few but the fear of running out of battery completely combined with our desire to imbibe alcohol kind of laid that notion of photographing the band to rest.
Points to Liverpool for still being a place where the beer is half the cost it is in London; I bought Anthony and I a beer at one point and I thought they’d only charged for one; London’s fucking ridiculous.
I was surprised to see that the heavy processing of the vocals is featured so prominently live; the band’s lead singer has one weighty fucking bellow on him but, it was far impressive to see him add to that by simultaneously controlling what looked like a couple of dozen pedals.
My memory is a big cloudy on this but, I think we followed Cattle with Part Chimp. Part Chimp were really fucking good. Really surprising actually. It was a lot like on the record but, it worked; it was incredibly tight performance to be fair to them. Hard to describe; really hoping to catch them again soon so I can go into the verisimilitudes of their stellar technique.
We followed Part Chimp with The Hyena Kill; they were pretty good but, whatever reason we ended up leaving halfway through to check out The Wytches. It was a strange crowd, the whole time, there was a surprising number of wanna be 60s hipsters; just learning the basics of spangly psyche music and loving being Topman as fuck. Boring bastards aside; The Wytches were actually pretty good. I enjoyed the way they blended the more proggy, psychedelic stuff with little twinges of doom and metal.
With that said, I guess I didn’t think they were as good as the crowd seemed to; although, me and the crowd were in very different mindsets about this whole thing. A-Bomb and I stuck around after The Wytches and got a few libations to watch Bo Ningen with; we had taken to a set of stairs aside from the crowd as our little spot in the Invisible Wind Factory; it had a good view of the stage and a lot of room to move around so; it was a good fit.
Bo Ningen are a band that, before today, I’d heard a little bit of but by the end of the night wanted to hear a hell of a lot more. There music was so electrifying and carefully articulated in everything they did. They were incredible to witness and just unbelievable. I had no fucking clue what they were doing but it was fucking tight. The singer twisted my head clean off as well.
Anthony, part way through Bo Ningen, realised that our new battery had decided that it had half-life now from being on the warning symbol. I dunno how that happened. With three bands left; we decided to ramp up the picture taking and try and cover Bo Ningen as much as possible.
The last track of the band’s set was probably the hilight. Then we realised that we had to go see USA Nails so I wanted to go through the press area and watch the set close from the sidelines but it was too much hassle so I trecked through the crowd again the opposite way, what became apparent though was that I had lost A-Bomb en route so, I stepped out of Bo Ningen playing this huge, sprawling instrumental and walked round the building still listening; through the other side and it was still going, I got back through to the other side of the venue and there was like another three to five minutes of seemingly improvised chaos. It reminded me of the fake door advert from Rick and Morty; I was amazed that it was still the same song that they had start shredding ten minutes prior, but we also had to dash in order to get to USA Nails. But, fuck me, what a way to close a show!
After slowly leaving Bo Ningen, we went to see USA Nails and surprisingly, I found them to be a bit like a human version of Gnod. I heard Shame Spiral and thought something similar but live, it really stood out. You can tell they’re a band really coming into their own but, they’ve yet to define themselves. It’s good to see how they’ve evolved since the last time I saw them; again, fucked-up at ArcTanGent 2015.
We ended the night with Evil Blizzard due to the fact that there was a 2 hour gap that we’d have to go through if we wanted to see The Cosmic Dead and I’m already seeing them at Raw Power so, I decided to make Evil Blizzard our headliners.
I had hoped that Evil Blizzard would be a good fit with A-Bomb both as the nearest things to KISS on the line-up and a great band to photograph; unfortunately though, the lighting was far too dark to get decent images of the whole band so we just did the best we could. As soon as they took the stage; I showed great courtesy by booing and telling them all to fuck off as well as extending my middle fingers out to extend the extraterrestrials a message of “Peace Among Worlds” but, sadly the crowd didn’t seem to understand how the band works and the lack of participation was pretty disappointing actually.
I could also tell that one of them was missing from having seen them before and later found out that one of them had to miss the show following a death in the family. It wasn’t quite the performance I was hoping for but, at the same time it was still very fucking good. The thing with Evil Blizzard is that they work best when people treat them like the rogues and heels they are and here they were just treated like excellent musicians and entertainers; it’s a fucking disgrace!
The set was decent to be fair; I was surprised to see a bass get thrown into the crowd, only to be returned a short while later. There was no theremin this time, the set did start late and seemingly end slightly early as well though. I suppose Evil Blizzard even on a bad day are still pretty wicked; the songs never stop being absolutely top-tier class A narcotics. I suppose really Evil Blizzard were emblematic of this whole affair really; it was all perfect on paper but, unforeseen circumstances soured things a little; whether it be us scraping through the photography by the skin of our teeth or people not really quite getting it at times, I think really it all went splendidly well; all things considered. There was a lot of firsts involved and a lot of plans going o-ry but, for the most part it was a solid event of great music and good times; Bo Ningen all things considered stole the show and were likely both A-Bomb and my favourites of the night but, Evil Blizzard were deserving headliners for us and I’d like to channel their spirit now and close by saying “Unleash The Misery”.
With Part 1 of the Merseyside Derby over it’ll be interesting to see how Liverpool Psych Fest compares with its newest rival; in the meantime, I’d like to thank Wrong Festival for the excellent event and I look forward to catching Cattle, Evil Blizzard and The Cosmic Dead when they arrive in London for Baba Yaga’s Hut’s Raw Power festival. I’d also like thank A-Bomb for his photography at this event; if you’re a promoter or a band based in Merseyside and would like to work with the giant reprobate himself, drop us a line.
Your move Liverpool Psych Fest.