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Shy Billy, L100 Cypher, Unstoppable Sweeties Show & More: Studio 2, Liverpool

Last week, Planet Slop joined up with Rogue Gallery for an eccentric and eclectic night of rock, hip-hop, blues, jazz-pronk and acoustic queercore. Here’s how it went down.

Obviously we can’t write an unbiased review of this gig. I mean, we staged the gig. We curated it. There is no way we could possibly sit here and critique it with any ounce of impartial credibility.

So, the only real way we can do this is from our own perspective.We were asked to contribute to Studio 2’s Independent Venue Week celebrations at fairly short notice.  We had 2-3 weeks to get something together that would reflect something about us. This is no easy task for IVW; not only will a lot of bands have gigs already booked, but the potential audience will already be decided on where they are going too. This meant we also had to put together a bill that would appeal to a whole ‘nother crowd.Shy Billy were already pencilled in to play – a booking made by co-promoters Rogue Gallery. We premiered the video for their single Waiting Gracefully, so we were cool with that.But elsewhere, we wanted to make sure we reflected more of what Liverpool has to offer.QFolk opened up. Accompanied with just an acoustic guitar, the non-binary  queercore singer-songwriter bellowed into the microphone somewhere between Chuck Ragan and Bruce Springsteen, but in a dress and wearing lip stick.Being the first on meant that the crowd was initially fairly sparse, but it’s safe to say that QFolk charmed us all with between song banter. A rush of people entered whilst QFolk was yelling Britney Spears’ Toxic. That was pretty much the perfect first image for the night.Bridging the gap between QFolk and Unstoppable Sweeties Show was the Tosin Trio. Main man Tosin Salako is undeniably one of the most charismatic performers playing around the scene. He feels every note and cultivates sheer joy in music.

They mostly premiere some new music for us tonight, and it was exactly the kind of bluesy rock & soul that we’d have hoped for.

By now the numbers inside had grown significantly. Walking around and talking to people, we realised that we had achieved exactly what we set out to; it was a uniquely diverse audience who wouldn’t necessarily have been in the same room otherwise. Some even confessed that they wouldn’t have come had it just been rock, or just been hip hop, or just been acoustic queercore. But the mish mash of styles convinced them to come check it out. It was different.

Perhaps this is why – in possibly the strangest part of the night – Fred Perry sent a photographer down to photograph members of the audience. There was also a BBC logo hanging above the stage. Steve Lamacq was ending his Independent Venue Week broadcasts from Studio 2 the following night, and the venue was already prepped. But we’ll take the association!

? Read our interview with Unstoppable Sweeties Show here ?

In a strange way, Unstoppable Sweeties Show brought the line-up together. They are pretty out there, and their self-styled jazz-pronk contains elements of pretty much everybody else on the bill. It’s a bizarre set that twists and turns in ways that the audience can barely imagine. Those who came in from different backgrounds didn’t seem to know what to make of it all at first.

But, the secret weapon that they have in their arsenal is their sense of humour. So many bands with an avant-garde sensibility often come across as pretentious. Unstoppable Sweeties Show avoid this entirely with their humour. By the time they close out with an unexpected cover of The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, they have converted many of the early head scratchers.

After that insanity, it made sense to bring us all back down to Earth somehow. Shy Billy managed to do that with relative ease – though we’re not sure we would feel the same way if they were following any other band. Straight up balls to the wall rock & roll, enhanced even more so by the addition of Little Triggers front-man Tom who is now also providing slick licks and a striking fashion sense to the the band.

Having been somewhat pushed into a name change due to radio regulations (apparently the word Bastards is far too offensive) we can only hope the process doesn’t delay in Shy Billy‘s growth, as there’re few bands who’ve shown such consistency at live shows in the past three or four years, regardless of the moniker at the time.

The L100 Cypher are a collective of MC’s in the city. No two shows are the same. Hell, no two line-ups are the same. When we asked them to play, we were expecting them to bring three, maybe four guys with them. What we ended up with was a whopping 11 guys and gals on stage.

The Cypher have appeared on many bills in the city, but always seem to be on in the afternoon – a slot that never makes sense to us. The full impact of their performances aren’t felt until late at night.

Perhaps this explains the hunger of their performance, which was more palpable than most of the other bands on the bill. Jamie Broad appeared to be leading the pack and took to the stage first, swiftly followed by Saint ft Nikki & Iona Fazer, Niggy Raw, Chedeye Knights, That’s Juvey and Valin Goodz, whilst DJ 2Kind’s absence was filled by MJ Ruckus of Dub Defenders.

Of course it was a school night, and not everybody could stick around. But the sheer energy was electric, and you can’t help but wonder why a hip hop or grime scene in Liverpool has never been fully supported. Anyone who says such scenes don’t exist in Liverpool are making assumptions and clearly haven’t been looking.

All in all, we feel like we achieved what we set out to achieve. In a week with so much competition, we pulled something together that was different and attracted an audience that feels a little outside the norm, and a short notice at that.

A massive thank you to everyone who played, and everyone who came. It was Planet Slop’s first official event, and we couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

Pictures by Graham Smillie

 

 

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