Liverpool Music Week

Various Venues, Liverpool

Visualise this: psychedelic illustrations crawling across brick walls, lanterns swaying over the bar, a scattering of antique armchairs and the smell of beer and sawdust. You’re in 24 Kitchen Street, at the closing party of Liverpool Music Week – the UK’s biggest indoor winter music festival. An old rubber factory turned arts venue, this space has hosted everything from poetry sessions to club nights.

And where better to celebrate the end of a festival that has welcomed the likes of Caribou, Mogwai and Låpsley to the streets of the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool? Mssingno, Evian Christ and Nguzunguzu were the recipe for a great closing night.

The event attracted a crowd whose uniform of choice is a jumble of socks, sandals, beards, and ket knots (the big four). Despite a civilised atmosphere at midnight with a spot of small talk and a bottle of La Trappe by the bar, later on the bass was so excessive in the middle of Evian Christ’s set that a couple of burly blokes had to strap down the speakers.

Kicking off the night with XE2, London based producer Mssingno teases the room with this stripped back R Kelly sample. All eyes on him, he layers on the slow bass, laced with R&B come-to-bed vocals, before dropping the heavier grime. His finest moment is the inclusion of  When I’m Lit from Tink, up and coming Chicago rapper. Mssingno rounds off his set how it started, giving it a circular quality – we thought this was a nice touch.

The changeover between Mssingno and Evian Christ is both visually and aurally disarming: they stand side by side at the decks, whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears as XE2 drifts seamlessly into Evian Christ’s MYD.

Evian Christ, known to the folks in his nearby hometown of Ellesmere Port as Josh Leary, loves what he does. You can just tell. And so do the crowd – ears prick at his left field take on R&B. His mixtape Kings & Them is a thing of beauty, reminiscent of James Blake’s debut work Air & Lack Thereof. The lights go down, people begin to gravitate towards the primary school teacher turned trance and grime preacher. Evian Christ’s ruthless grime inflected beats rip the set apart, his edit of Dizzee Rascal’s I Luv U sends the crowd into disarray and by the time Fuck It None Of Y’all Don’t Rap is spun we are all completely beside ourselves.

Taking it up another notch still, the Waterfall EP punctuates the set with its merciless force. Very distinct from his earlier work, this pulsing, trigger-happy sound travels through the veins of its receivers. Followed by a series of reworks of Lil Durk’s Chicago rap, Evian Christ polishes of the show with an accelerated mix of Alice Deejay’s Better Off Alone, remember that? Flashbacks of Top of the Pops circa Y2K fill our head.

As Josh Leary skips off the stage with a cheeky grin, catcalls and applause can be heard in his wake.

Bringing the night to a spine-tingling end are LA duo Nguzunguzu, aka Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof. Asma goes straight in with bass-thick tracks tickled by giggling synths and lays down Future Brown’s Wanna Party featuring Tink, which seduces us into oblivion. A set teeming with sugary sweet instrumentals before descending into the hard-line beats of Ca$h Out. The crowd is practically bestial when they bring Do You Mind from Paleface Ft. Kyla into the mix.

All in all, a mind-blowing show to round off Liverpool Music Week. The soulful vibes from Mssingno and Nguzunguzu complemented Evian Christ’s sombre and distorted sound perfectly. One of the beards at the closing night told me that “the past and the future are not real concepts, we should live only in existence”… but we’re looking at a future where artists like Evian Christ are breaking the mould, and venues like 24 Kitchen Street are injecting life back into the forgotten areas of Liverpool.