Last night was the city’s inaugural GIT award, an award celebrating new music within Liverpool. The ceremony took place in the suitably hip teashop LEAF on Bold St with Mancunian compere John Robb kicking off proceedings. The formula is simple, each act gets a short introductory video screened and then take to the stage to perform one or two of their tracks, before being handed a memento of the evening.
Though twelve bands were shortlisted for the award (out of 380 who applied at the first stage) only ten were able to perform on the night. Bill Ryder Jones whose film scores and orchestral offerings don’t lend themselves to the relatively small stage on offer, has to remain content with a screening of his new score for upcoming gangster thriller ‘Piggy’. Likewise of the now London based Outfit who screened a short extract from their single ‘Two Islands’.
First of the gurning musicians to hit the stage were Mugstar, in all honesty a poor choice as opening act. Too melancholy to really set off proceedings correctly, not a reproach on their sludgy guitar sound which is interesting if not to everyone’s liking. The band’s front man giving it more than his all as he brandishes a T-shirt covered by a phallus. Mugstar are followed by cheeky Liverpool rapper Bang On (A.K.A Elliot Egerton) whose performance seems sadly lacklustre in large part down to the crowd who are still sober and largely disinterested at this point. The only people dancing seem to be the photographers who at this point are hugging the stage; some emulating the robot, others far more fluid in the movement, but all of them moving in perfect synchronisation with each other. Despite this Bang On’s charisma shines through, as he seems disappointed that he couldn’t leave the stage on the back off his witty farewell, instead being dragged back on by the compere to receive his GIT memento.
The eventual winners took to the stage third and were perhaps the first group that got most of the audience’s attention, their performance was technically perfect with great harmonies, playing a new track which was nearly as haunting as their first single ‘Are you hiding out in Hell?/Hell’ which is no doubt the track that won them the award.
As the night progresses, it feels a bit of a disappointment that the introductory video for each act, consists of a 90 second extract from one of their videos. Unsure whether it’s technical, economic, or creative issues that stop these shorts from being specific to the event in some way but it’s a little touch that could have made the evening a touch more evocative.
Fourth to take the stage are Stealing Sheep an all girl trio, whose music adds to the diversity on offer at the awards. Their nu-folk-esq sounds won the crowd and the compere over as they adamantly made their way through three tracks with no repercussions. Though only a three piece they seemed to make noise beyond that, topped with perfect three part harmonies. At this point in the evening Peter Guy was invited on stage to say a few words, recalling how the blog and it’s name came about along with process taking to create the awards, along with the somewhat obligatory mentioning of sponsors and supporters. Attempts at humour more than not fell flat but many truisms lay in his speech especially as he introduced the surprise “Inspiration award” to ‘The Kazimier’ the crowd erupted into unanimous applause, partly because half of the Kazimier’s staff were at the event and partly because of the city’s appreciation for the exceptional venue that always goes the extra mile when running nights and hosting gigs.
An intermission followed, with the fifth act nominated Forrest Swords given control of the decks, which all night had been of a decent quality complimenting the live artist perfectly making the inevitable set up times between bands pass much quicker. Leaf by now becoming noticeably fuller, the atmosphere lifting with it John Robb introduces the sixth act of the night Miss Stylie whose lively grime track sets the standard for the second half of the evening, I can’t help but feel she would have been better suited on as first act in the place of Mugstar simply on the basis of her liveliness.
Ninetails, one of two personal highlights of the night, there was an energy to their performance that was only matched by ‘Esco Williams and The Controllers’. They write and play music intricately and beyond their years, amalgamating elements of math rock, prog rock and pop. As the night takes its toll on them they still perform a note for note rendition of their tracks Mama Aniseed and Rawdon Fever. Esco Williams and his band, are the liveliest act of the night, combining Funk, Soul and elements of R&B to somehow produce something that feels both retro and contemporary. Williams’ fronts the group like a true leader bringing the band together and including the crowd into it too, all the while singing impeccably. The sole band to band to really get any effective audience interaction and participation.
Between the two aforementioned acts played Ex Easter Island Head, their percussive use of guitars is both interesting and impressive but probably a bit too esoteric for the audience, whose conversations seem to drown out all but the kick drum, I even overhear someone say “it insists upon itself” which seems to sum it up quite well. They lie somewhere between a rhythmic band and a melodic band but not being either well enough.
Concluding the night were The Tea Street Band whose music harks back to the 90s hedonistic dance scene, they were a suitably closing engaging with a sense of resolve. Everyone seemed more interested in the evening at this point…by the last band, dancing extended to include more than just the photographers who had been keeping their ruse up all night.
There was a huge applause as Guy was invited back on stage to bring up the guest of honour, Paul Du Noyer, journalist and author of Guy’s favourite book on Liverpudlian culture ‘Liverpool: Wondrous Place’. Not one for many words, Du Noyer pulled the burning envelope out of his pocket to announce the victors. After a couple of seconds of searching and confusion the band or what is left of them dutiful make their way to the stage, to receive the monolith that is the physical GIT award. After thanking the relevant parties and looking genuinely appreciative of the award they leave the stage and the night concludes. For some the night has just begun, the festivities will continue, the night was a success and hopefully will continue and evolve in years to come. Loved Ones may have won the physical award but they all deserved it, hopefully the positive effects of the award will see the profile of all the acts increase and help put Liverpool’s scene back on the map.