Liverpool’s Arts Club hosted the return of X & Y Festival this year, showcasing more local talent alongside some top class acts. Boasting a line up with the likes of Hudson Taylor, Amber Run, The Hummingbirds, and Fickle Friends, an eclectic mix of music graced the two stages inside the quaint club and saw a mix of people flock to the popular venue.
With the festival kicking off in the early afternoon modest crowds greeted many of the bands further down the running order. Black Diamond were one of the first acts to grace the Loft Stage bringing some heavy rock anthems to the small room, filling every inch of space with distorted chords and ringing guitar riffs. With an on stage presence that did not seem even slightly hampered by the small crowd which stood before them the Liverpool quartet blasted through a short set which brought the room alive and shed some energy.
At around the same time as Black Diamond stormed the Loft Stage it was also time for some more local lads known as The Jackobins to take to the Theatre Stage. Another band which were radiant with energy, were also met by a particularly small crowd, however that didn’t seem to stop front man Dominic Bassnett from giving it his all. Jumping around the stage and crashing to his knees, intense lyrics and strained vocals shook the room and demanded attention. Hopping off stage towards the end of the bands penultimate song Dominic stood by the sound desk watching his band top off their set with a clatter of instruments before leaving the room in a bewildered silence.
Vynce drew one of the biggest crowds to the Theatre stage earlier on in the day, bringing some catchy and jangly melodies to the room with some lifting and repetitive hooks. With more uplifting beats after the likes of Banfi, who’s set highlighted the calm vocals of lead singer Joe Banfi, Vynce capitalised on the atmosphere set before their arrival and added some more liveliness with their on stage presence. Still flocking in numbers the crowd grew during Vynce’s set and for the first time the venue really appeared to build an atmosphere worthy of the bands on show.
Changing the pace a little upstairs on the Loft Stage, singer songwriter Eliza Shaddad’s soothing vocals were received by another significantly smaller crowd in comparison to the theatres stage. With her band the artist gently swept through a set which highlighted her incredibly mellow yet powerful voice which at times brought the room to silence. Often appearing a little shy on stage and with some low key charming interaction, a little awkwardness only added to her affable performance.
It wasn’t soon after Vynce that Fickle Friends were bearing down on the venues main stage. The Brighton formed band tinged catchy chords and keyboard melodies with an almost disco like edge. With the addition of some bubbly lyrics from front women Natti, Fickle Friends sparkled with an array of songs known to many who have followed their growing presence amongst the UK blogosphere.
Polar States re-invigorated the Loft Stage with an energetic set fronted by their charismatic and sure footed front man. Having played Liverpool’s Sound City festival towards the start of the season and headlining the cities O2 Academy, the lads have certainly gathered a following at home. Zesty on stage and with a belting set the band, who still clearly have a long way to go, proved that they are making steps in the right direction.
The Hummingbirds altered the trend of bands witnessed before them on the Theatre Stage, bringing a more acoustic influenced sound that saw the suited five piece rattle through a chatty and upbeat set. Interacting with the crowd and laughing and joking with a few hecklers, the band jumped into song “Emma” with front man Jay Davies dedicating the song to anyone who’d be cheated on by a guy before. With some charm and folk inspired melodies, the band’s set was a highlight at the Festival and with “Knocking on the Door” recently becoming the bands first music video there’s certainly more to come for the outfit on the rise.
Model Airplanes were a far from home back in Dundee, Scotland but took to the Loft Stage here at the Arts Club like any other. With their thick Scottish accents taking over the room, chilled and easy listening songs brought pleasant melodies and unruffled singing to a crowd, some of whom seemed to have a little affinity with the band. Much like the jangly melodies heard earlier on in the day from 23 Fake Street, who’s feel good songs struck a urge to dance, the foursome’s set only furthered this urge through hits like “Electricity”.
Heading back over to the Theatre Stage it was clear that the venue was reaching its busiest. With Amber Run about to make their way onto stage the crowd erupted as a dim light was brought up on front man Joshua Keogh as he opened with “I Found”. Filling the room with strong lyrics and minimalistic instrumental presence each word captivated an audience and left them silent. Working their way through more material released on debut album ‘5AM’ Joshua praised Liverpool and injected some energy into the room after picking up his telecaster, swapping out the slow and powerful lyrics for some hectic guitar bursts. With a crowd that seemed to carry the same energy as purveyed on stage, Amber Run nailed their performance and were certainly one of the pinnacle highlights of the festival.
With such an impressive performance blasting through the speakers downstairs by the time Amber Run had left the stage, the loft was practically empty. Fatherson were next up in the loft and seemed to delay their set a little to wait for the influx of people to make their way upstairs. It was hard to ignore that at first the crowd seemed to be lacking in numbers, yet as the band blasted through their set this soon began to change. With some frenzied guitar playing being layered with clean cut vocals, songs like “I like Not Knowing” heightened the atmosphere. It might not have quite reached the point of those support slots with the likes of Twin Atlantic, but the Scottish rockers made yet more waves here in Liverpool with the same force as those in Scotland.
Now the festival was within touching distance of its climax. As an almost packed crowd awaited the arrival of Hudson Taylor, that instantly recognisable Irish folk music with a pop twist was minutes away. Walking on stage it was instantly apparent that much of the crowd before them had come to the festival to witness the band, and playing a set a wash with hits such as “Battles” and “Chasing Rubies” they didn’t disappoint. Winning the crowd over immediately the brothers maintained and built upon the level of excitement in the room and were even momentarily joined by front man Joshua of Amber Run.
Hudson Taylor | Interview
Amber Run | Interviews
Model Aeroplanes | Interview
The Jackobins | Interview
23 Fake Street
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Review and Photos by Jacob Flannery |