Muto Leo, Alright the Captain, Hillary and The Democrats, So Sexual, 8mm Orchestra: Mello Mello, Liverpool
Liverpool Fringe Festival 2012 delivers a devilish concoction of sounds perfectly suited to Mello Mello's fervent atmosphere. Getintothis' Andy Minnis ticks off the stylistic boxes.
Promoters New Path and record label Edils Recordings combined to present four days of sounds during the recent Liverpool Fringe Festival at Mello Mello.
Nottingham-based five-piece 8mm Orchestra specialise in dark, brooding dynamic tunes, edged with sweeter, melancholic touches.
Combining heavy rock riffs and spacey electro layers, they came across something like a mix between Muse and Gary Numan.
Carving out cinematic soundscapes, they aptly closed their set with a song dedicated to Neil Armstrong - darkside of the moon, indeed.
Next on stage were local band So Sexual (main image), who brought a lighter tone to the evening, in an increasingly-packed and noisy Mello.
Combining deft musicianship and sprightly hooks their impact is lessened by the slightly muddy vocals amid the commotion as they struggle to be heard.
Between bands, New Path's Stephen Johnston curated a playlist of extreme eclecticism, playing tracks ranging from Pixies to the Jurassic Park Theme. It was odd but it was wonderful, and one beautiful thing about Mello Mello is that you can get away with playing almost anything. It's a liberating place to DJ without a doubt.
Up next on stage was Liverpool indie-pop act Hillary and The Democrats. The venue had emptied a bit by the time they began, but they played a strong set of classic Indie songs, enhanced with some synth touches.
There was a lot of collective nodding around yet we were left trying to think who they sounded like, rather than appreciating the sound they made.
Their last song was the bouncy Let's play Kubb!, which was a marvellous (though probably unintentional) link to the Scandinavian-themed events held over the same weekend at Camp and Furnace.
A change in dynamics followed as Alright the Captain - a Midlands-based trio who played at Mello Mello a few months ago, took to the stage.
They seriously impressed back in July, so much so Getintothis bought a t-shirt and their album.
Over the past few months, they've been gigging across the country and at various festivals. Of all the acts, we were looking forward to this one the most.
After a long wait, the first few songs seemed a bit shaky, as if they needed to settle into playing. The venue, as ever, had become hot and toasty and the drummer was dripping with sweat - it can't have been easy playing in those conditions.
However, a few songs in and they hit their stride - and were at their best, rocking out. The set was a mixture of some new songs as well as playing the harder edged tracks from their debut album Snib.
They produced a great, enormous, overwhelming, complex and impressive wall of sound that kept a smile on my face just as much as when I saw them the first time. Overall, the performance felt more ragged than before and rough around the edges, but no less passionate. They are serious contenders and I can't wait to see them again, hopefully back in Liverpool soon.
Headlining were post-punk, math-rock outfit Muto Leo.
A band with a big live reputation, yet this was the first time these ears had had chance to catch them. In most reviews of this band, there will be an obvious Foals comparison and that's not surprising.
There are clear parallels and influences, but Muto Leo's sound is lighter, with a shoegaze edge. They create a dreamlike atmosphere but also mix in impressively tight, frenetic moments.
Their sound is more varied, more experimental perhaps than Foals. There are moments where a song feels like it could come close to a cover but then it veers in a totally different direction, picks up speed and escapes like a runaway horse.
We're carried along with it on a maddening but gripping journey into staccato riffs and ever changing rhythms. As a newcomer to their sound, I find myself loving it - and they provide the perfect end to a varied but impressive line-up on this Sunday night.
The two day event at Mello Mello was a great pairing of indie rock and post-rock/experimental sounds. Hopefully it's an event that will be repeated again soon. I can't wait!
Pictures by Steve Williams.