Skeleton Coast Festival – Hoylake (5th August 2017)

Whilst the infamous Hope and Glory Festival descended into chaos in Liverpool city centre, over in Wirral, in the sedate seaside town of Hoylake, a buzzing micro festival was underway with top class acts, expertly curated by the team at Skeleton Key Records.

The delicious and unique prospect of seeing headliners Cabbage perform an intimate gig in a community centre had proved a big draw and ensured a much deserved full house.

Throughout the day and into the night the audience were treated to a plethora of poetry, psych rock, acoustic, indie pop and folk rock, from artists from Wirral, Liverpool and beyond. Two stages worked in rotation so that as one set finished you could move to the next stage without any clashes. The set times were adhered to with military precision with no one running over time except the last act.

Artist Jack Haworth entertained us with his poetic rapping which had a local flavour and made me chortle when he referenced Wirral as somewhere old age begins; the host town is synonymous with being a retirement village for gentle folk.

The Movamahs had grown since their last outing and rocked the parquet flooring on the top floor room with their high energy set.

It was nice to see local band AGP who are not to be confused with an electronic band with the same name on Sound Cloud. There is no similarity whatsoever!

Deja Vega were on the must see list and did not fail to impress. With a relatively early slot they filled the main room. One of the stand outs sets of the day, they delivered a tight set with less of a psych rock feel which was the prevailing genre of the festival.

Peach Fuzz, the latest signings to the Skeleton Key label had certainly developed their live set since their debut live performance at Liverpool Sound City back in May. At times you could detect elements of Hawkwind and Black Sabbath creeping in. It was interesting to see yet another band with guitars using a synth, which seems to be a developing trend locally, if not nationally.

An indie pop interlude followed courtesy of The Strawberries, who are having an extremely busy festival season. An onlooker remarked that they had been the best band of the day so far. This band is certainly a band worth following.

GIGsoup was suitably impressed by the Cut Glass Kings earlier this year in a live review and we featured their single “Here comes the Light” which opened up their set. They never fail to amaze, just two band members, drums and single guitar projecting the noise of a much larger band.

This was a special home town gig for The Sundowners, the folk fused psych rockers; a tight set honed to perfection by an impressive summer of back to back festival appearances. They delighted the audience with songs from their two albums amidst much tambourine and head shaking as always on the livelier songs such as “Wild Horses” and “Soul Responding”. The almost shamanic drumming on “King of the Dawn” exuded an air of mysticism and held the audience spell bound.

So young and so talented, it was the Mysterines’ second consecutive appearance at the festival for the young protégées of Alfie Skelly at Skeleton Key Records. It was great to see another band on the bill with a female lead singer. They kicked out a powerful, slick set and were undeterred by a momentary technical glitch which they took in their stride.

As well as local and national bands, Skeleton Coast scored an amazing coup bringing Josefin Ohrn and her hypnotic blend of psychedelia to Hoylake. It was an absolutely mesmerising set made all the more stunning by the ever changing psychedelic back drop projections.

Marvin Powell is a born festival artist in the purest sense. We were introduced to his new single, “Wind before the train”; title track to his imminent new EP and a new song “Samsara”. He has the most calming voice you could image, a place of sanctuary for your ears in an often mad world. What was so nice to see was his record label mates were in the crowd singing back to him, epitomising the friendly, family atmosphere of the festival.

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Jane Weaver delivered an amazing Kraut rock, synth, and psych rock inspired swirling set that had me hooked from the first minute. The main room projector had been throwing some amazing shapes all day and night, but for Jane Weaver, an interesting venetian blind effect was the mainstay, giving a very 80’s pop video feel to complement her analogue synth.  “Modern Cosmology”, her latest album is worth checking out. The hypnotic “Architect” was the stand out song of the set.

Paddy Steer brought a smile to many faces.  A real life electronic wizard had landed in straight laced Wirral of all places playing the most amazing trippy tunes and it was impossible not to dance.

So finally on to the  headliners,  to Cabbage, a band on the Skeleton Key Label up until March of this year. They unleashed their punk mayhem on a now highly animated audience and a few brave photographers zoomed in close to the front who luckily survived unscathed during their time in mosh pit central. Cabbage was simply the loudest band of the day belting out their anthems through the community centre roof and out across the Irish Sea and beyond. As we edged over the 11 pm advertised curfew,  you wondered how many residents were poised, phones at the ready to complain to the council about noise pollution.

The only possible complaint of the day was the bar running out of dark fruit cider and a delay in the procurement of new stocks. What an amazing nine hours of top class entertainment without having to drive into Liverpool.  Next year’s festival is already eagerly anticipated.