With recent shows including a typically raucous Moats gig at Maguires and the lauded Twin Peaks basement set, KYC (Know Your Culture) have been cultivating a name for championing some of the most exciting music to grace our city in recent times. Where such aforementioned examples, revelled in their intimacy and energy, tonight’s event at St. Luke’s Church, part of Liverpool’s esteemed Light Night, relies on a very different sort of buzz, and represents a different challenge for KYC. Sweaty writhing is replaced with a breezy and more disparate affair, the intensity replaced for something with a bit more space, and a whole lot more scope.
Weather was clearly going to play an important role, as the lack of a roof leaves St. Luke’s particularly susceptible to the elements. Earlier showers suggested we were in for a drubbing, but, aside from an early downfall, the elements refrain from dampening proceedings. The choice of St. Luke’s itself, however, is an inspired decision to hold such a rostra of artists, accommodating for both a main stage and a smaller acoustic set-up. Artists such as Luna, who, as ever, radiates grace, her piano playing and singing both intricate and emotive, and accompanied by her equally impressive backing vocalists and drummer, make the acoustic stage a delightful interim between main stage acts. Others, however, while delivering worthy performances, feel a little shoehorned in, a blanket to cover the changeover without being given due space to shine. Georgie Pruden admittedly grows into her own slot, her quaint, tender playing and vocals truly gorgeous to behold; though the brief transition unfortunately stunts her performance, as she is unable to indulge her audience as her potential indicates she most certainly is capable of.
Whilst the lack of breathing time between one set ending on the main stage and another starting on the acoustic was something which could have done with a little bit of revision, it is the spread of acts and the general open-plan feel of the evening which is the crux of its success. On KYC’s behalf, some of the bookings truly shine in such a festival-esque environment, and make St. Luke’s four walls seemingly expand significantly. The sullen, melancholy grunge/post-rock of ADHJ inspired a sea of nodding heads, whereas the more visceral, direct dynamic of Asterisks injects those assembled with an infectious ‘fuck it’ form of energy and buzz. As darkness begins creeping in and the wind picks up a little bit, the setting truly begins to come into its own, the acts matching it every step of the way.
Bella Union’s Bernard and Edith end the night with a performance which marries perfectly the duo’s twin notions of intricacy and grace, Edith arresting in her presence on stage, and qualifying the label attention they have garnered in recent times. However, it is the psychedelic allure of Aldous RH and Moats’ vigorous indie which really steal the show. Now packed to near enough full capacity, Aldous RH, otherwise known as Alex Hewett and formerly of Egyptian Hip-Hop fame, delivers on character in abundance, donning the kaleidoscopic robes to match. Wooing his crowd alongside his band with a delightful concoction of hazy guitars and drunken beats, best expressed on tracks such as ‘Patience Is The Way’, Aldous RH sedates the whole of the church into a state of blissful, disconnected paradise.
Moats, meanwhile, exhibit a raw and intensely emotive aesthetic, frontman Matthew Duncan living and projecting the emotion behind every word and note in an arresting fashion. Notably, it is most recent single ‘Hungry’ which draws the biggest reaction from the crowd, capping a performance which, as a gentleman who had recently staggered to the front informs me, ‘was proper rock’n’roll’.
The shared notion one receives from every KYC gig is the same; that that these are shows organised and attended by members of the same music community, a community who has sincere concern and love for the local culture. The desire to put on such an event as this evening is in itself admirable, championing some of the most promising musical assets to the city in one of its most iconic landmarks. There is certainly more scope, and creases apparent which indeed require ironing out. The potential however, is clear. KYC have proven themselves, once again, as important and innovative purveyors in Liverpool’s current musical scene.