Freakscene 2 – Electric Boogaloo: EBGB’s, Liverpool
Feeling like a rejuvenated section of the scene, the brains behind Wrong Festival present their second all-dayer. Graham Smillie earns his keep with both words and photos.
Michael Edward has been quiet of late. The emotional toll of organising last year’s Wrong Festival was so great he put his guitar down for four months.
Consequently, his band Elevant have also been quiet. And so this, the second Freakscene (humorously subtitled Electric Boogaloo) was a tentative step back in the right direction. A couple of familiar bands on the line-up and a few we had not seen before. Just how we like it, to be honest.
First up is Blanchard a “conceptual stoner noise” band according to their Facebook page, and who am I to disagree? It must be daunting opening a show at 4pm when the venue is only just beginning to fill up. I’ve seen more than a few bands come on stage in a huff and turn in a half-arsed turn that does no one any good.
But the band – who hail from Lancaster and Chesterfield – kicked off like they had a home crowd, loud and shouty with tunes and a tonne of passion. I have no idea what any of the songs are called, but I enjoyed them immensely.
The first gang of locals to grace the stage were Takotsubo Men, who I first saw about a year ago. They came on then like a nervous breakdown on speed and to be fair haven’t really worked their way out of therapy yet. Explosive stuff driven by a singer, Ste Williams, who looks like he could go off any minute. One cheerful ditty after another, subjects include having your life ruined by someone (Tony Sabo, I think?) and cancer which is apparently, “a cunt”. What’s not to like? Brilliant!
As good as Lonesaw undoubtedly are, they are a hard listen. Industrial keyboards, drums and two discordant saxophones embellished with some fairly heavy shouty vocals can be a challenge in large chunks. After the first couple of tunes I removed myself to the other room. The music was being filtered through the house PA which took the edge off slightly and I began to appreciate what was going on a bit more. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Keep on doing it Lonesaw, it’s good.
I mistook Chupa Cabra for another inferior group on the poster, so it was a very pleasant surprise when they came on and totally nailed it with their high powered blues driven art rock. Jerky, angular pop music. Fast and furious and bloody good!
Like Edward and Elevant, Rongorongo seemed to go quiet for a bit last year but have come back better than ever. Mick Chrysalid’s unique stage persona is exactly what we are used to. One minute he’s on stage the next he’s in the audience hugging a photographer or standing watching the band looking like he’s considering buying them. On last nights performance he better get the cheque book out. The band were superb, and Mick’s voice was equal to the task. Black Rain was as good as it’s ever been.
Elevant were one of the massive hits of the day, and one of their very best performances. Michael, Hannah and Tom, the long-term members were joined by an extra guitar player and they just threw the kitchen sink into the mix. Everything you would ever want from a rock band was there; the passion, the tunes, the NOISE. Watching them on stage, it was clear that some mojo had returned; Edward in particular looked more engaged than he has for a long time.
The visiting Grey Hairs play intelligent, fast, heavy and tuneful rock and roll. The singer vibrates like he’ll take off if you give him a nudge, before False Advertising took off at a storming pace. This writer had heard much about them, but was yet to catch them in the act, and found little to disagree with. There was one point where the drummer and lead vocalist switched places, which didn’t quite work and fell a little flat. Still, you can’t have everything, and other than this moment, the band exceeded expectations.
A fine evening’s entertainment in a little noise oasis away from the Grand National madness which effects Liverpool every year. No one died, there were no drunken brawls and a good number of people got together and had a fine time.
A big thank you to Michael Edward for putting this on. He puts a huge amount of effort into his gigs and always supports and encourages the bands he puts on. More power to his elbow and roll on Freakscene 3 and, whisper it, Wrong Festival 2020?
Pictures by Graham Smillie