When I was given the chance to attend an event named ‘Piñata Carnival‘ I was doubly excited at the promise of an evening set to be filled not only with great music from three local bands but the promise of piñatas which appealed to my inner child.
I was not left disappointed on either count. All three bands delivered impressive sets and gaudy piñatas decorated the stage creating a fiesta vibe despite the terrifying image of Donald Trump’s head staring menacingly at the audience adding a somewhat surreal touch to the night.
Photo Credit: Gary Coughlan
First up, creating a row of black Dr Martens and skinny jeans at the front of the stage, were emerging local talents Black Pulp. No strangers to the Liverpool music scene with their complex indie pop/rock sprinkled with a dash of psychedelia, they immediately created an intimate, relaxed atmosphere getting the crowd to move in closer.
New single Cry Again is already a personal favourite of mine and its complex, looping and twinkling guitar lines laid over rapid fire drums wowed the audience.
Other highlights included Rendezvous which used a grunge era tactic of slower paced bridge building to a punchy chorus that smacks you in the face, followed by their debut single Vapour with its oh-so-relatable lyrics, ‘Joy Division t-shirt and necklace makes her choke’, evoking bittersweet memories of teen angst.
These guys are real crowd pleasers and delivered a tight, polished set backed up by frontman Jack Smith’s vocals, mellow but with a northern rasp, connecting to his audience with an effortless charm and showmanship.
Black Pulp // Photo Credit: Ellie Roffey
Next to bounce onto the stage were the brilliant Native Kings led by energetic front man Cameron Warren, whose Daffy Duck jumper brought joy to my heart.
The band have a heavier, punk-driven sound polished off with funk and indie influences which they describe appropriately as ‘funky power punk’.
They delivered an exuberant set full of head bangers including Russian Roulette with its memorable guitar riff and catchy chorus which instantly set the tone for a set that weaved between thundering drums and shattering guitars to more melodic pop-tinged moments creating a collision of worlds and sounds. The set also included new single Afraid to Love You due for release at the end of the month and Piece of Me, an absolute fist pump of a tune.
Their stage presence was electrifying and the strobe lights created a chiaroscuro effect as the shadow of frontman Cameron’s hair could be seen flying around like a halo as he headbanged across the stage.
Native Kings // Photo Credit: Gary Coughlan
Finally came the debut performance of a band which had up until now been something of a mystery. An Englishman, an American and a Norwegian walk into a bar… sounds like the start of a corny joke but no, it’s an intro to the quirkiness that is Skinner’s Lane.
They started appropriately with Intro tune displaying a complex, heavy but vibrant sound with strong influences from Royal Blood and Black Keys and immediately connected with the crowd belying their lack of experience.
Comprised of Zak Langford-Do on vox/guitar, Erlend “The Earl” Hellevik on bass and James Kerr on drums, the band have a natural energy and stage presence and above all created a feeling of fun.
Charismatic Californian Zak somehow managed to get the crowd to sing along to songs they’d never heard before and showed a quirky sense of humour to his song intro’s- ‘the next song is called Dear Brighton – has nothing to do with the place’
Skinner’s Lane // Photo Credit: Ellie Roffey
They later brought on a guest guitarist and a sax player whose addition created a joyous cross-pollination of rock and jazz which caressed and comforted the eardrums after the incredible aural onslaught of the night. Zak’s sense of humour continued, ‘feeling saxy?’ he asked the crowd.
The set ended with a song called To My Face with the highly relatable hook line ‘Come and say it to my face’ I have to say I didn’t know what to expect from Skinner’s Lane but my lack of expectations were magnificently exceeded and I can’t wait to see how this band develops in the future.