Monday, 11 March 2013

Ciaran's Threshold 2013 Diary//Saturday at the Festival.

Having been otherwise occupied on Friday my first experience of Threshold Festival came early on Saturday afternoon. With Camp and Furnace already getting busy early on, the festival quickly kicked into life as plenty of artists took to their various stages.

My day started with being the solitary audience member for Make Your Mark, a combination of art and dance. The level of grace and creativity shown be the five artists was very impressive and it was easy to relax and enjoy the individualist styles of the participants.

Following this I made a trip to Elevator, via the Unit 51 cafe, to catch up with some of the acoustic acts. I arrived just in time to catch some of Ronan Boyle’s set, his dulcet tones echoing around the room of smiling faces. He was swiftly followed by the immensely talented Caroline England who’s charming personality endeared her immediately to the crowd. A relaxing acoustic sound combined with a powerful voice could only be bettered with the addition of a mouth trumpet solo in a song proclaiming Caroline’s pride in being ginger. After Caroline, Gary Edward Jones took to the stage and also managed to impress the crowd with his mouth trumpet. A talented singer and guitarist, Gary had a strong presence surrounding him on stage and his upbeat demeanour made it very easy for everyone to get into the atmosphere.

To go and get a sense of the other acts offered by the festival I got down to The Picket for a couple of hours to experience a very different side of the festival compared to that on show at Elevator. I walked in to hear the passionate, local poetry of Gerry Potter. The raw emotion dripped from Gerry’s lips as he talked about the city that he loved, contemplating stereotypes and all aspects of Liverpool culture. Following Gerry was the brilliantly entertaining and off-the-wall T.E.Yates. After laying out his army of worker hamsters, Yates took to the stage accompanied by a trumpet and accordion to tell poetic stories with his very unique brand of humour and art thrown in between. The smile was a permanent fixture across his face as he presented various drawings to the crowd, including a series of dog faces followed by the punchline drawing of a catfish. I didn’t get it either but the attitude of Yates still made me laugh out loud.

Now I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that the next act would be a burlesque dancer but Mimi Amore had a wonderful rapport with the crowd as she slowly revealed more of herself. Certainly not one for the younger audience but the humorous way in which Mimi presented herself was very entertaining for all those present. To come across as sexy and hilarious at the same time is a real challenge, one that seemed much easier for Mimi than it would for most. She was followed on the stage by one of the appearances of Impropriety, the improv pairing that would present many of the acts throughout the day. With their abstract humour, as well as the odd groan-able pun, the guys came across really well and made the very most of their environment, utilising audience member’s heads during a fight between one of T.E.Yates’ worker hamsters and a 'pegfish’ (a peg...).

By the time this bit of improv came to an end, Felix Hagan and The Family were ready to take to the stage. Felix is a natural performer and his stage presence and glowing grin made it easy for all who were in the increasingly busy Picket to get into the lively music provided. With a solid band, including two members who had stepped in a handful of days earlier, there was almost a storytelling element to the performance as Felix’s style came across like that of a true musical theatre veteran. Cameos from Louis Barabbas and Mimi Amore helped show the friendly and enjoyable nature of the set, Louis really making himself at home on the stage.

I took a brief trip back through the Camp and Furnace to see what was going on, and to get some sustenance, before heading over to Siren to catch a bit of the Fringe Festival. The act I got to see was Sally Pepper, a University of Liverpool student who performs with a gritty punk attitude on an acoustic guitar. Sally had a good amount of patter with the minimal yet attentive crowd and her powerful voice flooded the room and captured the imagination of all involved. 

My final trip of the day took me to see Mashemon (above) in the Gold Room at Camp and Furnace for their audio-visual spectacular. As the music started so too did the screen behind them that accompanied the music, a live four piece band with an additional soundtrack. Lead singer Ronny had some playful banter with a particular individual who seemed very ‘merry’ and was really getting into the music. The sheer volume and power of the band was enough to impress the crowd and the intricacies of the sound added to the aura of the group.

Not a bad way to get my first taste of the festival, already very much looking forward to everything Sunday has to offer! The atmosphere surrounding the festival is so positive and the friendly and helpful nature of everyone involved made the whole day so much more enjoyable. Here’s hoping for more of the same!

Words by Ciaran Steward. Image by Scattershot Photography. 

Threshold Festival Past...