Liverpool Sound City 2014

No one likes Sound City more than us. But we’re dismayed to see that, in the past two years, their Early Bird tickets have shot up, to more than double their 2013 price. No matter how you slice it, that’s quite a hike.

As Brighton’s The Great Escape freezes its prices over the past two years (and have only increased by a fiver over four years), Sound City’s have soared:

Sound City 2012 £20 + £2BF
Sound City 2013 £20 + £2BF
Sound City 2014 £30 + £3BF
Sound City 2015 £50 + £5BF

We support Sound City, every year we pay our way. We’re punters, same as everyone. We write a website? So what? That gives us the right to feel the squeeze, unlike those who grab free tickets and moan. You didn’t pay: reel it in.

So, for us, this price rise stings. And we wanted to know why.

“Our early bird is higher than in previous years,” says Sound City’s Dave Pichilingi.

“There is a clear reason that will become very apparent when we make our first announcement,” he adds.

Can he give us a clue? Can he give us a reason to part with £110, now, for a couple of tickets? Honestly, if it’s to secure front row tickets for Kooks, we’ll probably pass.

“All I can say at this time is that Sound City is under going a dramatic change next year as we move to our next phase. It will set the agenda for metropolitan festivals on a world stage,” he adds.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge but amazing. We’re very excited.”

We’re happy to pay our way if we get good value. If we’re honest, this year’s event wasn’t a vintage (sort out the security, guys: queuing up half an hour to get into a half empty Nation? What’s that about?) – and, in many ways, it did feel like a festival that had outgrown its original clothes. A festival in transition.

That the city is a better place for having it is in no doubt. What happens next will be something we’ll be watching with interest.

If it was us? We’d dump the keynotes, and focus on the music and the brilliant knack Sound City has of infecting the city, of making us crash headlong into our new favourite French band, and hatching plans to work together. The city as one all-inclusive musical melting pot. We love that.

But we doubt that’s the smartest way to unlock grants and funding. We imagine catalyst funding, youth development, digital futures, inclusivity and all that jazz is music to the Arts Council’s ears. There is a danger, with events like these, of embracing all things shiny and new, spreading your offer too thin, and generally jumping the shark.

Sound City flirted with football and fashion this year. And while they were doing so, they let the Kooks through their defence. Let’s hope ‘growth’ doesn’t mean ‘ill focused land grab’.

What do you think? How would you like Sound City’s difficult second phase to sound?

Sound City Early Bird Tickets

Pic: Pete Carr

  • Daniel O’Connor

    I thought Sound City was great this year, seeing Wolf Alice, Courtney Barnett, Drenge, Jungle, Hold Steady, San Fermin, Darlia and Factory Floor was worth the £55 non-early bird ticket, everyone of those bands would command a £15 ticket in their own right, by my reckoning that’s a saving of about £65, though i did go and see some of them individually after which sort of defeats my point. The scope has vastly improved, and if they’re going to give us an 40% this year then that is great.

    The Kooks? Sure they’re shite but they kept the Saturday day trippers away from Jungle, I’d welcome another crap headliner for the Saturday, perhaps The Fratellis?

    Remember the bad ol’ days when Mongrel played Alma de Cuba? Worst thing I’ve ever experienced, I’m haunted by that prat’s thought process of “Damon Albarn’s been pretty successful with world music bands maybe I could too?”

  • Sean

    football and music. YAWN. haven’t we moved on from that. Does the Anfield Wrap have to have their say about everything in this city?

  • Hugh

    “Can he give us a clue? Can he give us a reason to part with £110, now, for a couple of tickets?”

    But that’s the whole point of Early Bird tickets, you buy because you’ve liked the festival in the past. If they announced some of the line up then released tickets that would just be a general sale surely…

    I think it was pretty obvious from the higher price that there is going to be something bigger happening next year. And as much as you want to knock The Kooks, each time they’ve played SC they’ve packed out the venues and people have watched from outside.

  • Dominic

    I’d like to see some bands actually announced before they raise the prices, which is something that I don’t think has happened in recent years. I don’t mind paying £50 for a ticket, but I’d rather know – rather than assume – that there was something I was really interested in before paying it personally.

  • Stephen Cunningham

    Based on this year, £55 still represents tremendous value. I though this year was the best Sound City yet. I was surprised by the increase in price though.

  • Jess

    Soundcity this year was dreadful though – the atmosphere on the Thursday was flat compared to previous years, the farce on Saturday trying to see any bands in the square as the staff were clueless how to deal with the queues – both the Kaz and Nation were empty – two of the biggest venues – because of it. And their tendency to cancel acts / move without notice, maybe you could use the very annoying twitter handler for actual information instead of trying to be wacky and endlessly RTing praise.

    So a price hike for a “just trust us”? Don’t think so lads. Maybe I’ll just join the rest of the liggers and get a free ticket in return for a sycophantic review in the echo.

  • Jack Buckby

    maybe the price rise is because they’ve decided to actually pay people this year?

  • Jack

    Are they going to start paying all the local musicians that play at the festival any time soon (with actual money rather than payment in kind), as opposed to expecting them to haul all their equipment to each venue and then play for nothing! And I completely agree with Jess about the very annoying twitter handler.

  • Bill

    nothing worse than wanna-be comic spurting unfunny witticisms over the air, is there? And as for Sound City, it’s too big. Too many bands over running, too many so-so conferences. The whole event needs a fucking good pruning back.

  • JD Moran

    They didn’t pack out this year. Probably something to do with the 50+ queue shortly into Jagwar Ma’s set (with The Tea Street Band also to come before The Kooks) to get into a venue that was barely half full. We missed most of Jagwar Ma’s set thanks to a seeming desire to make the venue seem busier (to those outside at least) than it actually was. Either that or it was a decision based on concerns that four portaloos was a dangerously low number for a venue and event of that size.

  • ewarwoowar

    2013 was brilliant, loads of little and big (the Epstein) venues with strange stuff happening. It was rubbish this year, Heavy handed jobsworth security and 8 pound burgers.

  • Phil

    I understand your point about seeing each individual artist you like would cost at least £15 each, but I don’t think you get a “full set” from each artist. For example Courtney Barnett only played 5 songs in her set at the Zanzibar this year.

  • Stephen Cunningham

    2015 is rumoured to be all in one location at Stanley Dock Heritage Market site. Very poor decision if true. Its major appeal was its city centre location and the atmosphere that generated. It was also good to go to a favourite bar away which served a decent pint away from the official venues. No chance of that at the docks, captive market forced to drink Tuborg but I’m sure they want a bigger cut of the drink/food money. I’m not sure people come from all round the country to Sound City to be shipped out to a venue outside the city centre. They come to be part of an amazing event in one of the country’s best cities to have a night out.