”I left the magnificent Epstein Theatre feeling privileged to have witnessed some awe-inspiring local talent, in a night that would prove career-defining for all the bands involved”
Having had a rather heavy night beforehand, I swapped my usual cure of eating everything in sight for what would be a more than satisfying remedy: a night of beautifully crafted music amidst an equally beautiful setting. Harvest Sun presented a homecoming show like no other, as By The Sea headlined at the prestigious Epstein Theatre, and with support from Gulf and We Are Catchers, the Merseyside line-up was complete. The evening highlighted the wealth of talent that Liverpool has to offer, with By The Sea treating us to their new LP Endless Days, Crystal Sky in its entirety. The Epstein Theatre was the perfect venue to showcase the bands, the plush velvet seating and gold tilted ceiling conjured up a feeling of grandeur that was well apt for the upcoming musical offerings.
Gulf kicked off the proceedings as newcomers on the scene having performed only a few gigs, though it did not show as they executed their psychedelic pop with the upmost meticulousness. Akin to that of Tame Impala and Temples, they emanate melancholy, with aching vocals teamed with dreamy reverb guitar – a scouse-psych sound that resonated throughout the theatre, relinquishing a trippy aura to the lavish venue. Tracks like ‘Tell Me Again’ and ‘Emitter’ transmit you to a cosmic-pop heaven, demonstrating why Gulf has already garnered attention from the record labels, notably Bella Union and Domino who are rumoured to have shown interest, and with good reason. Definitely ones to watch for 2015, Gulf could become the pioneers of a Mersey musical uprising that would bring Liverpool back to its rightful place as the musical hub of the UK.
We Are Catchers took to the stage with singer/songwriter Peter Jackson and his piano, engineering playful melodies alongside to-the-point lyrics that would have you reminiscent of strolling down the docks. The Beach Boys-esque harmonies prevailed, as the stripped back set saw the audience transfixed and almost experience a daydream state, one that was still grounded in the reality that only a Liverpudlian wit can accomplish. A particular favourite was ‘Tap Tap Tap’, an upbeat number full of charm that can’t help but lighten your mood (particularly when you are suffering from a distressing hangover.) All in all, the set was like being in a fanciful rom-com, with heart-warming and whimsical moments aplenty as We Are Catchers looked right at home as a theatrical centrepiece within The Epstein Theatre.
To complete the Mersey line-up was headliners By The Sea, a band that has gone from strength to strength in the past year. Showcasing their newly released second album Endless Days, Crystal Skys, the set was doused in shoe-gaze – the 6-piece intricately weaving bass, drum, synth and guitar melodies as a whole, seamless body of work. Frontman Liam Power’s vocals were flawless; his deep baritone couldn’t help but send shivers down your spine. The Epstein was packed to full capacity, representative of the Wirral lads influence and reputation within the local scene, as the audience took to the aisles to literally dance the night away, with one rather drunk older gentleman even taking to the stage to bust some moves. The arrangement created vast spatial dimensions of synth, texturised intermittently with guitars and drumbeats yet still upheld a certain feel of intimacy between audience and artist. Confessing that they haven’t played it in a while, ‘Youth’ displayed the complexity of the band’s apparent minimalist sound; as bass riff plus trippy guitars plus underlays of synth plus Power’s ghostly vocals of ‘the spirit dies with youth’ amalgamated into one sophisticated track. It truly was a gig to remember, with By The Sea at their absolute pinnacle, and I can only highly recommend listening to the album in full. I left the magnificent Epstein Theatre feeling privileged to have witnessed some awe-inspiring local talent, in a night that would prove career-defining for all the bands involved. The Mersey sound is alive and kicking, ready to wake the alternative scene that has lain dormant for long enough now.