Liverpool Sound City 2012

So in my first post about working for Sound City music festival I said I was going to do a day-by-day documentation of the festival but the 10am starts and 3am finishes definitely took their toll on me, hence why the original plan flopped. Now I’m going to still do a day-by-day kind of post but all in one go, seeing as I’ve finally caught up on sleep and recovered from the whirlwind that was Liverpool Sound City 2012.

First, can I just say though, I read an article about the festival yesterday and the writer had entitled it, ‘Liverpool: A Sound City’ – how good is that? Wish I’d thought of it first! It made me laugh anyway, but yeah, Liverpool really is a sound city, to use the regional lingo and ‘sound’ as an ajdective. This event was just another reason as to why I’m glad this is ‘my’ city. It was, of course, also another fabulous notch on my CV and allowed me to make some lovely new friends as well as work with and meet some outstanding bands and people in the industry. I may not have sat down for more than 10 minutes throughout the entire weekend and my feet may be permenantly damaged but it was so, so worth it! (Sorry the images are all rubbish but I only had my iPhone with me so couldn’t get any good quality ones).

(Catch my Day 1 at Sound City entry here!

  • Day 2: (Thursday May 17th)
Thursday was the first day of the festival and the first day our roles began to get manic but exciting at the same time. I actually had an exam in Manchester in the morning so when this was finished I was on the next train from Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street and at the Hilton Hotel by 1.30pm. Myself and Sian had volunteered ourselves to work with Phil Ellis of Exclusive Entertainment and our first task under his industry power was the less than glamorous task of registering the bands, tending to their needs and issuing passes and wristbands to the Access to Music colleges who came from all over the country. Access to Music has an expanding network of music centres, sixteen of which travelled to Liverpool to attend the UK Music Student Awards at the Echo Arena and some to perform at the ATOM Live Tour Auditions to be held on Friday.
Thursday was pretty mellow as the festival was firing up ready for the big weekend events, which suited my afternoon’s work in the hippy-centric venue of Mello Mello on Parr Street just perfectly. Mello Mello was the venue we had been assigned to for the entire weekend with the task of undertaking roles of Stage Manager Assistants. Having never done anything like this before in my life, it was a little daunting but highly exciting and as I said in my Day 1 entry, a challenge is always good! With things pretty much under control at Mello, myself, Sian and Dan were sent to the recently opened Epstein Theatre to staff guestlist, usher audiences and “be the face of Liverpool Sound City!”
We finished pretty early this night (which was most definitely made up for with the early morning finishes for the remainder) and managed to go and catch the gig we were all pretty desperate to get to: ALKALINE TRIO! Call it slacking but we had to make use of our delegate passes and weekend wristbands somehow. That’s what perks of the job are for ;). Seeing one of my all-time favourites in such an intimate venue was a fantastic way to end Day 2 on a massive high. You can see a full review of the Alkaline Trio gig HERE.
  • Day 3: (Friday May 18th)
ATOM Live Tour Auditions at Bumper, Hardman Street

Day 3 definitely heated up as we went on to work at the final leg of the ATOM Live Tour Auditions at famous Liverpool nightclub, Bumper on Hardman Street. We were still working with Phil Ellis at this point butmanaged to chat to a number of other industry bodies and hopefully gain some connections for the future. We got talking to a member of Middle Finger Salute who had performed at the Warped Tour with Blink 182 – so jealous!! The morning was hectic and sweaty in Bumper, darting up and down Hardman Street on Starbucks and Red Bull pick-ups, organising the Access to Music students and feeding them their 18, 18″ pizzas. The auditioning bands were pretty good too!

The evening of Day 3 of my work and Day 2 of the festival was probably the most physically and mentally challenging of all. We were to staff the doors of the headlining event as swarms of fans encroached on the Liverpool Academy of Arts to see The Temper Trap in action. Seeing the Temper Trap guys wander in and out of their tour bus and chat to the staff was surreal but fab! However, standing in the freezing cold winds, soaked through with rain, for three hours, from 7-10pm was so exhausting. I thought I would never know what it felt like to be warm again; even my gums were cold! I was pretty worn out at the end of this shift and about ready to crash so getting to see the late night performance form Michael Kiwanuka at the Epstein Theatre was the perfect wind down cure. He was amazing live and his stage looked beautiful.

  • Day 4: (Saturday May 19th)
After a very lengthy, very hot shower and good nights sleep under a cosy quilt, I woke up refreshed and ready to take on Day 4 – the final day of Sound City. Today myself, Sian, Maggi and Jenny were to basically go to the ends of earth to ensure the show at Mello Mello, from 3pm-3am happened and happened with precision. Losing our qualified Stage Manager, Maggi early on in the afternoon meant a challege lay ahead of the rest of us who had minimal experience in stage management. We sat down, gave ourseves a pep talk and grabbed the metaphorical bull by it’s raging horns and by 3am, when we were all totally wiped out, the show had ended and we had succeeded. Our venue, Mello Mello was packed to the rafters with singing, bouncing people as the bands all played their sets, getting throught he schedule with a fluidity even we didn’t expect of ourselves.
Of course we faced our problems along the way. We thought we had lost Flat Back Four, the band set to warm up the crowd for the headliners. We had to run around the city centre in search of keyboard stands for a demanding band who demanded: “five keyboard stands or we don’t play!” but the show must go on and go on the show certainly did.
Mello Mello, Parr Street, Liverpool.
The schedule paper we were working with on Saturday through to Sunday morning, looking a little bit worse for wear!

Working at Sound City was an almighty challenge but left me feeling extremely proud of myself and everyone I had worked with. I met some lovely people and got the chance to add another string to my bow and get a taste of what it’s like to be a Stage Manager and Production Assistant. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year. Obviously this post is a merely a summary of the weekend events or you would be here for the rest of your lives reading my ramblings but thank you Sound City for letting us get involved and for giving me an unforgettable experience.

Special thanks to Phil Ellis, Niall MCGuinnes and Darren Roper for their support throughout the festival! 

2 thoughts

  1. Great read Steph identified with lots of your exhausting descriptive demands of the festival. I shot the three days for Peter Guy Getintothis (Liverpool Echo) And yep can’t wait to do it all again next year!

  2. Oh wow that must have been amazing! I wished I hadn’t left my camera at home. I think exhaustion melted my brain a bit 🙂 Maybe we’ll cross paths next year!

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