The Liverpool docks have gone from a budding outgrowth of the city’s music scene, to the new hub of live of music in Liverpool. The derelict warehouses that make up the area have long been facilitating the odd underground rave, but since the arrival of the Invisible Wind Factory, the docks have transformed into a centre for some of the most interesting and innovative musical events in the city. The month of May sees the return Sound City Festival to the docks, but as a very intense warm-up to Sound City, the 22nd April saw the arrival of WRONG Festival, a sprawling celebration of noise.
The Invisible Wind Factory was the main venue for the festival, hosting the more established acts such as The Wytches and Bo Ningen, but the festival was spread across two further venues; North Shore Troubadour, and Drop The Dumbulls, providing a home for the local and up-and-coming acts.
I started the day off in Invisible Wind Factory where Indian Queens took the stage. I came to the performance blind, having never heard the band before. I was struck by their style, most notably the beautiful, envy-enducing gold jacket and matching smoky-gold boots of guitarist/vocalist Jennifer O’Neil. Unfortunately the music did not match up to the aesthetic, and their sound was, for the most part, uninspiring. Boring is not exactly the word, as they did create some interesting sounds, but the arrangements came across as drab and muddled, and O’Neil kept on coming out with some very clichéd lyrics. The drummer was fantastic though. He had a very interesting set-up, with a symbol flipped on its side to make a hi-hat, a trick that created a brilliant resonance. I was somewhat disappointed to see him hidden away behind the two frontwomen though, which felt quite unnecessary on such a large stage.
Looking to find solace from this disappointing start, I decided to head down the road to Drop The Dumbulls to catch the second half of Kapil Seshasayee, who delivered a very primal performance, intermittently banging at some miscellaneous metal object and hollering aggressive vocals over glitchy IDM beats. This was a big step up from Indian Queens, and the kind of forward-thinking music I was hoping to hear at this festival. Seshasayee’s raw sound complimented the dark, anarchic atmosphere of Drop The Dumbulls, one of Liverpool’s coolest venues. From the trippy visuals of blinking eyes and neon splatters that backdropped the stage, to the psychedelic art plastered on the toilet cubicle walls, the venue is completely unique, and it often hosts some of the best music in the city.
I stuck around for the next band, three-piece punk outfit Chupa Cabra, who impress with their ability to drift through many different styles, evoking the likes of Half Man Half Biscuit, System of a Down, and Sleaford Mods, all within a 45 minuet set, and with all of these influences falling into the context of their own sound, without ever coming across as derivative.
It was time to see more of the heavy rock music on which the festival is based with Gravves who played at North Shore Troubadour. This is another great venue, styled in the fashion of a pirate ship with a small stage that is almost indistinguishable from the standing area, perfect for this kind of music. Gravves didn’t disappoint, bringing a slew of ear-throbbing guitar riffs and powerful, roaring vocals. The crowd were very much on-board with their grungy brand of noise, and this was the most movement I’d seen from an audience at the festival up until that point.
That was until the next band appeared: Jazzhands, a six-piece noise rock band proffering erratic, saxophone-driven melodies and general chaos. There was also a large element of audience participation as drumsticks were handed out and a beer keg was introduced for audience members to bash at. Everyone took turns adding to the drum patterns created by the multiple on-stage drummers, and the line between audience and artist was completely smudged out.
Unfortunately I had to draw my viewing Jazzhands to an early end as headliners, The Wytches were about to come on stage back at Invisible Wind Factory. I’m a big fan of this band, but I was slightly disappointed by their second album, All Your Happy Life, on which I felt they failed to progress after their starling debut. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the softer songs of their second album felt more powerful when played alongside their early work. The overall sound was perfect, which is a triumph considering the vastness of the venue, and the scuzzy yet melodious tones of the band echoed beautifully through the room.
As the festival phased into its nocturnal final stretch, there was plenty of other delights to behold. One of the highlights was Bonnacons of Doom who played at North Shore Troubadour. This was a band that blew me away the first time I saw them, and they gave another reliably mesmerising performance, bringing more of their demonic psychedelic rock, with band members donning mirror masks, and singer, Kate Smith’s chanting, wordless vocals making it feel more like an occult ritual than a musical performances.
This was a fantastic festival with too many great artists to mention, and a sparkling addition to the already buzzing Liverpool festival scene. I’m confident that it will be returning next year as it seems to have been a great success, and I will be the first to buy tickets.
Main image by Andrew AB. See more of Andrew AB’s work and find details here.