As LIPA begin their annual 2ube Xtra events, Shaun Ponsonby wonders if the streamed concerts could help to integrate the institution in the wider Liverpool music scene. 

Traditionally, there has been something of a dissonance between LIPA and the larger Liverpool music scene.

Perhaps it is to be expected. Liverpool is one of the bastion cities of the British working class, and LIPA often sees middle class students travel from up and down the country to receive guidance in their music careers. Perhaps the privilege of some of those students is occasionally envied by one side, and taken for granted by the other.

But, this really doesn’t help anyone. At a crucial point in the Liverpool music scene, it would be remiss not to acknowledge that both LIPA and the wider scene could get a lot more from each other.

Take 2ube Xtra – a public music festival run by LIPA that is streamed online and on television.

It begins this coming Thursday (19th April) and features performances each weeknight at LIPA’s Paul McCartney Auditorium until the following Friday (27th), with entry being free.

Although ostensibly an environment to assess students’ projects, the potential of 2ube Xtra could have a positive effect for non-LIPA bands in the city if utilised properly.

Due to it being an assessment primarily, it’s for our third year students,” explains LIPA tutor Christina Malley. “But we also host outside acts sometimes. In the past we’ve had MiC Lowry, Amique and Red Rum Club to name a few.”

Clearly, then, 2ube Xtra are willing to involve the local scene to some degree. And this is beneficial to both parties.

For LIPA, inviting local acts can not only help break down that divide, but increase and diversify the audience at 2ube Xtra. Inevitably, the majority of the audience is often other LIPA students or family members. By reaching out beyond the bubble of LIPA, they expose the bands formed at the institution to more “realistic” audiences.

For local bands, the TV and streaming means more than just potential reach. When applying for festivals, most will ask for up to date live footage so they know exactly what they’re getting. To have the kind of high quality recording from 2ube Xtra free of charge is an absolute Godsend.

The production of the event is of an exceptionally high quality as this is being assessed too,” Malley says. “Plus all the stems from the sound desk, which means the acts come away with an enviable show reel and essentially a live EP/LP of their 40min set. And YouTube and Instagram are proving far more effective for artist promotion currently and so we want acts to capitalise on that.”

The live streams get better each year, which is encouraging. As our production team changes every year, it can be hard to build on in a traditional way, such as SBTV or Sofar Sounds. Potentially it could be huge.”

It is perhaps a difficult tightrope to walk – it needs to maintain its focus as marked performances, but equally wasting its promise as a genuine platform feels like a travesty of a missed opportunity.

Even leaving aside the potential for outside acts, the very nature of 2ube Xtra means that you never quite know what you’re gonna get.

Because we don’t know necessarily what genre or style each act is going to take, it is always a mixed bag. In the past we’ve tried organising the line-ups into genre-friendly nights but that hasn’t always worked from a promotional perspective, as people then avoid nights they don’t think they will like, and so we’re taking the mixed bag approach this year.”

Although there has been that divide in the past, Malley suggests that “there seems to be some thawing of frost” in more recent times. More bands originating from LIPA are being embraced by the local scene, most notably Pink Kink.

But several of the bands playing this year have also been embraced. Looking at the list, two obvious names that stick out are Caveparty and Good Problems – the latter of whom we have covered here on Planet Slop, for their fascinating debut release Curio.

So, if there was ever a time for 2ube Xtra to reach beyond the confides of LIPA, it is now. Perhaps the first step is for people to leave behind their misconceptions.

Malley agrees; “Don’t believe what you’ve heard – come and see it for yourself. The quality of the acts is great, whether you want it to be or not. Plus the bar is cheap!

Who knows? If this happens, more non-LIPA acts may be invited to play the 2ube shows – and given what the acts get for doing them, that can only be a good thing…right…?

2ube Xtra takes place at LIPA‘s Paul McCartney auditorium from Thursday 19th-Friday 27th April 2018, and is streamed on Facebook. It is free to attend, but you must register on Eventbrite.

See the line-ups for each night below.

Thursday 19th:

Motherhood
Aztex
Hannah’s Little Sister
Rosie Samaras

Friday 20th:

Cloud Factories
Camilla Sky
Steph Ball
Alchemy

Monday 23rd:

Moorlands
A Burial At Sea
Halt!
Almost Autumn

Tuesday 24th: 

Jessica Ray
Gill Guillermo
Rhonda Chan
Ruby

Wednesday 25th:

Secret Smokes
Good Problems
Bandit
Saber

Thursday 26th:

Caveparty
Exploring Birdsong
Jakkals
Molly Green

Friday 27th [Sold Out]:

Idle Frets
Georgia Black
Alex Dunaway
Nolan Garrett