Liverpool Sound City review: A multi-genre spectacle

Ben Jolley checked out the scenes from this year's Liverpool Sound City festival.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 7th May 2024

As the birthplace of The Beatles and home to the iconic Cavern Club, Liverpool is undoubtedly, one of the UK’s most important cities when it comes to music. That reputation has undoubtedly been heightened thanks to Sound City, a festival that has spotlighted not only local but national and global talent since launching in 2008. 

Now in its 25th year, the 2024 iteration takes over seven (mostly basement) venues conveniently located just a few minutes walk from one another. With countless live gigs (yet minimal clashes) on the agenda, there’s a wealth of new discoveries to make: alongside bill-topping shows from moshpit-inciting indie bands like Corella and The Snuts, rising names from the worlds of pop, hyperpop, alternative and electronic prove equally exciting at the city’s smaller spots. 


All image credits: Liverpool Sound City (Facebook)

Kicking off Skiddle’s Saturday downstairs in The Shipping Forecast is Lo Lauren, whose hook-filled pop - which veers from vibrant singalong earworms (‘Never The One’, ‘Only One on Earth’) to soft and vulnerable moments (‘Rose and Jack’) - paints her out as Kent’s answer to Carly Rae Jepson. From the energy she puts in, you’d never tell it’s her debut festival show. 

Similarly compelling is Welsh-Parisian hyperpop artist Kitty, whose auto-tune and metallic-snares combo will be loved by fans of Charli XCX and PC Music – especially the flirtatious ‘Sugar & Spice’ and ‘Heart on Crack’; she dedicates the latter to “a woman who raised me… Lady Gaga”. Throughout a bouncy 30-minute performance at Kazimer Stockroom, her potential is fully realised in front of an intimate crowd.  

Also in the hyperpop sphere, food house - aka pro skateboarder Tony Hawk’s producer son Gupi and pink-hatted vocalist Fraxiom - turn The Jacaranda into an underground club with their most dedicated British fans. “The bass in this next song is so crazy it’s gonna kill Margaret Thatcher again, because just one time wasn’t good enough,” Frax says to huge cheers, incorporating a freestyle rap about Sound City over a ridiculously frenetic beat just seconds later. Bonkers? Yes. Ridiculously good fun? Undoubtedly. 


On a totally different sonic planet, at the larger Grand Central Hall, several artists and bands see their TikTok popularity translate IRL. Kicking off with uplifting recently-released single ‘Keep It Up’, Good Neighbours storm their first-ever festival set. Performing with a full live band, Oli Fox and Scott Verill’s toe-tapping songs recall the early-2010s era of Passion Pit and GROUPLOVE. Commendably, their biggest hit (‘Home’) is not their final song; instead, it’s the drum-led ‘Daisies’, which is primed for a coming-of-age movie soundtrack.

flowerovlove’s fluorescent pop songs - especially ‘coffee shop’ and ‘love you’ - have a modest crowd clapping along, too. After a cover of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’, her own track ‘Next Best Exit’ caps off a short-but-sweet appearance packed with effortless charisma; sauntering across the stage while head-banging and swishing her hair, she ends by throwing rolled-up posters into the crowd. 

Then there’s the grunge-infused alt-pop of Nxdia, who plays guitar and weaves between singing in English and Arabic throughout her songs. After kneeling down to the eye level of her female fans at the barrier during ‘Dopamine’, a cover of The Pretty Reckless’ ‘My Medicine’ makes their influences clear. Despite bravely saving their biggest songs - queer anthems ‘Jennifer’s Body’ and TikTok smash ‘She Likes A Boy’ - until the end, the bet pays off as their heavy riffs vibrate the floorboards.

Equally impactful, in a different way, is Saturday night’s high-kicking headline act, Caity Baser, who bounds onto the stage dressed like she’s about to step into a boxing ring. Launching into a succession of tongue-in-cheek tracks which recall Lily Allen and Eliza Doolittle, the rising British popstar is a real chatterbox. The screams from her girl gang of front-row fans certify the adoration as the singalong ‘Oh Well’ is bolstered by a cover of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. It’s just a shame there aren’t more people in the unexpectedly small audience to witness charismatic Baser’s first time headlining a festival. 


On Sunday, Kazimer Stockroom is the place to be thanks to two distinctly different showcases. Things get off to an electrifying start at independent record label Submarine Cat’s event, which fizzes with mixed-age music-savvy types enjoying Fräulein’s captivating scream-fuelled noise and Flat Party’s raucous socially-conscious rock; the latter’s set ends with erratic frontman Jack Lawther being fake-stabbed by a guitar. And, fresh from releasing their debut album, Home Counties’ tambourine-and-maraca-shaking electro-post-punk causes a one-in-one-out situation to gain entry to the six-piece’s frenetic alt-dance party – not bad for their Liverpool debut. Despite its bleak and still resonant subject matter, the tongue-in-cheek Yard-Act-style 2022 throwback ‘Back to the 70s’ is incredibly vibey.

Similarly energetic is The Spanish Wave’s strobe-heavy showcase early Sunday evening. Producer/vocalist Xenia’s songs - which fuse apocalyptic electronic sounds, and heart-broken lyrics sung in Spanish - sound like what Grimes and Rosalia could make in the studio together, but with elements of t.A.T.u. and Crystal Castles thrown in. Halfway through, the beats get louder and harder with militant drums and rolling breakbeats (‘Asedio’), while the thumping yet ethereal techno of ‘APNEA’ would do serious damage at Berghain.

Up next, Canary-Islands-via-London duo Adora brings the reggaeton party vibes; with basslines as funky as Chic and electro-synths to match New Order, plus synchronised dance routines, they are Spain’s answer to the equally camp Aussie duo Confidence Man. After a weekend at Liverpool Sound City, it’s clear that - whatever genre you’re into - finding plenty of new favourites is guaranteed at this endlessly-exciting festival. 




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