The first thing I have to comment on is the venue. For many attendees this was their first live music experience since lockdown and for most, the first without social distancing. Some may have been anxious about how the event but the whole team at Future Yard managed to create a slick running day that felt super safe yet completely relaxed, allowing everyone to focus purely on catching up with their closest music pals in a vibrant local setting. Even forgetting COVID-19 the venue is a huge success. The bright pink spark in Birkenhead that is bringing the community together and paying The Wirral back for its love of the arts and long years of musical offerings.
Music from the peninsula is thriving right now and truly competing with the talent across the water. Future Yard has finally provided a space for this talent to blossom, becoming The Wirral’s go-to music hub. The outside space is the perfect place to head for a quiet pint before you end up bumping into everyone from your favourite local artists to that mate you haven’t seen in 2 years. The great drinks selection and buzzing ambiance is worth the trip any day of the week and the fact that there was a great selection of live music on (courtesy of ClubEvol) was just a bonus!
My first highlight of the day was Munkey Junkey, the energetic hip-hop artist full of eclectic sounds and cut throat beats that piled some early reverberations through the venue floor. This was my 3rd or 4th time seeing him perform and it was certainly the most impressive. His lyrics and instrumental intricacies are subtle yet his set was anything but; vocals spat out with a frustrated passion and the live drums adding a bold Punky edge to give the tracks an extra punch.
The dark undertones of 'Bury Her Bones' changed the tone of the evening, from a blissful day out into a time to put your drinks down, stop talking and pay strict attention as Munkey Junkey and his band ramped up the energy and delivered a bending and twisting track that never stayed still but was pouring with angst throughout. It brought down the casual festival goers who were sat up on the wooden pink pallets down to the front row and announced that the chilled out day-drinking vibes had vanished and the energy packed night of music had begun!
If this didn't get people involved then the next outside act certainly did. Zee Davine of Tokky Horror took to the decks armed with synths, protest signs reading 'God Hates Birkenhead' and two anonymous dancing figures which forced the audience to dive into his Electro-Punk world whether they liked it or not. Late arrivals to Future Yard that got there during his set must have felt a strong sonic slap across the face on entrance with the high-octane erratic dance beats echoing around the courtyard right through the venue and out the other side.
My first trip indoors was for the insanely talented, multi-instrumentalist PIXEY. Although she has been teasing her distinctive brand of upbeat Dream-pop since 2019 with her summer anthem 'Supersonic Love', 2021 has really been her year! Her confident live performance reflected this. You could tell she was buzzing to be up on stage one again and she has the perfect songs for a long awaited return to live music; bursting with positive energy and fast paced indie grooves to get everyone dancing their COVID blues away.
The tracks from her 'Free To Live In Colour' EP shone, delivering exactly what the EP's title would suggest. Each track was brighter than the last. 'Just Move' saw PIXEY jumping around the stage with an infectious freedom whilst 'Mersey Line' of course resonated with the local audience. Yet, it was 'Electric Dream' that really showcased why she has become one of the region's most acclaimed emerging acts. The haunting Kate Bush esc sounds lull you into her dreamy vocal soundscape before exploding into a lively yet poignant chorus. It radiates both danceworthy energy and heartwarming lyrics that have such a charm and character to them that it is impossible for them to not strike a chord when you are witnessing them first hand. Her latest single 'Sunshine State' has to be the soundtrack of the Summer and is evidence that she is not slowing down one bit after her EP release!
PIXEY's performance was magical and a seemingly impossible set to follow, yet Birkenhead's very own Indie queen Zuzu stepped up! As she said herself, it is not often that an artist from The Wirral gets to play such a huge sold out show on their home turf, yet she took the opportunity and poured all of her passion, swagger and ability into each and every track. Her fan favourite bangers 'What You Want' and 'All Good' landed as ferocious and powerful as ever, giving the crowd their best time of the night to sing along. You could feel the collective enjoyment that was almost relief, knowing that we were all finally doing what we love again and you could feel this mirrored in Zuzu and her band. Just pure overwhelming happiness and appreciation for the situation we were lucky to be indulging in.
However, this wasn't the only emotive offering from the set. The newer tracks 'Timing' and 'Old Self' reveal a new chapter for Zuzu. These new releases, taken from her upcoming debut album 'Queensway Tunnel', reflect the changes that she has gone through in her musical life over the past year or so. After her 2020 EP she took full control of her music and formed her own record label Planet Z and has finally been able to announce her debut record due in November. As the album's title suggests, the new tracks feel closer to the heart and as true to herself as she has ever been. 'Old Self' in particular raised emotions from the crowd, not simply due to the geographical mentions of "I drove my car to the edge of the Mersey" but because of how shocked and flattered Zuzu was that the majority already knew the words to her deeply personal single that had been public for a matter of days.
It felt we were witnessing her realisation that she is on the crest of a wave; a local one. A wave that won't just crash down into sand but one that will plunge her into the wider music ocean. She has already won the hearts of every music lover on Merseyside yet she may have to appreciate this blissful local intimacy while it lasts as, when that album drops, she could be transitioning from The Wirral's brightest talent into one of the UK's biggest new sounds. As she played the record's unreleased title track record the crowd just stood and appreciated the emotive power as Zuzu sang with the most honesty I have ever seen from her. It is safe to say that after Saturday all attendees are just waiting in anticipation for that album.
The Mysterines capped the night with a typically furious closing set. Although the day had already been a non-stop musical buffet of Merseyside's finest, if there was one small thing missing it was a bordering on the dangerously intense moshpit. Who you gonna call if you meed to get a pit moving at 11pm in Birkenhead? The Mysterines of course. Their in-your-face growling Rock sounds never fail to split the singers from the moshers and get the sound tech's eyes widening. Lia Metcalfe was on form once again roaring out the angst ridden lyrics with the meanest vocals on Merseyside whilst the rest of the band filled what little spaces the room had with a Grunge-rock cacophony. Their latest single had to be the highlight of the set as the whole crowd joined Lia in chanting out "Tell me what you mean when you say that I'm in your head" and got the Future Yard walls shaking. The perfect end to a night that told anyone who wasn't aware, Merseyside is a force to be reckoned with. Not only did it highlight the diversity and immense talent we have to offer but also that there is one place you should go to discover it, Future Yard.