Having spent the previous week over in Austin, Texas, in search of the best new talent at South by Southwest, Liverpool Sound City Festival Director Dave Pichilingi announced his vision for 2009’s incarnation at the O2 Academy last Thursday. His trip to America had seen Liverpool Sound City represented well, putting on sold out shows both in New York and Texas, and showcasing talent such as the Hot Melts and The Whip to an enthusiastic American audience.

Sound City could have chosen few better bands to mark their media launch and signal their intentions for 2009 than Animal Collective. Boasting an impressive cult following on both sides of the pond and undoubtedly the most original and fresh sounding album of 2009 so far, Animal Collective are big news. Hailing from Baltimore, USA, Animal Collective have been around for the best part of a decade, offering an incredible output of albums and EPs in a short space of time. It is, however, for their latter two albums that Avey Tare and co. have truly established themselves among critics and music fans alike, the eccentric sound of 2007’s Strawberry Jam being followed by this year’s critically acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavillion.

Following a short talk from Dave Pichilingi, the O2 academy opened its doors to the public in time for an entertaining support slot from Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele, fronted by Dent May, an American with a similarly experimental approach to music as the headliners. There was, however, no guessing as to who the crowd were there to see.

The reception when Animal Collective took to the stage later on, to a backdrop of the hypnotic artwork to Merriweather Post Pavillion and a series of strobe lights, acted as the perfect demonstration of the cult following’s passion for their music, as the O2 Academy witnessed an atmosphere as lively as it ever has been. The majority of their set was made up of songs from the current album, a definite highlight being the launch single ‘My Girls’, although old favourites such as ‘Peacebone’ made a welcome appearance on the setlist.

Now entering its second year, Sound City aims to become the Northwest’s equivalent to SXSW, and is rapidly making progress to attain such a standing. Last year’s debut event witnessed a plethora of artistes performing at a variety of venues across Liverpool. A staggerring amount of talent was on show last year; internationally renowned acts such as Santigold (nee Santogold), Ladyhawke, Mystery Jets, Crystal Castles, Hercules and Love Affair, Glasvegas and Laura Marling performed alongside local heroes such as The Wombats, Soft Toy Emergency and the Daisy Riots. The amount of exposure gained by these acts in the year since is testament to the success of the inaugural Sound City in finding only the hottest talent available.

This year promises to build upon the initial success, as a new wave of talent will flock upon Liverpool this May. From May 20th, bands such as Metronomy, Little Boots, Mongrel, White Lies, Datarock and Deerhunter will be showing off the music behind their hype over the past year at a venue near you. With Dave Pichilingi promising a few surprises and big names to be announced by the time May 20th comes around, and if Animal Collective have set the standard for the rest of this year’s acts to follow, then there is little doubt that Liverpool Sound City is an event not to be missed.

For a more extensive line-up for Liverpool Sound City and to purchase tickets, check out www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk/

Josh Brown