Liverpool Fringe Festival Bank Holiday.jpg

WHEN socialists say everything should be nationalised, I can only presume they haven’t been to The Mathew Street Festival. If they had they would have an asterisk next to this claim with an accompanying footnote reading ‘apart from music festivals, for the love of god don’t let the public sector anywhere near them’.

On the Mathew Street Festival website the organisers (Culture Liverpool, which is part of Liverpool City Council) claim to be ‘proud of our music heritage’. They show this pride by booking the finest tribute bands the world has to offer and bringing them to Liverpool. Because I don’t know about you, but nothing describes Liverpool’s musical history to me quite like So Patrol, the premier Snow Patrol tribute band (who incidentally clash with a Muse tribute band across town, how do they expect people to make THAT decision!)

Now don’t get me wrong I love anything that allows you to drink in the street. I’d go to a BNP rally if you could take cans. But surely we can do much better than this. A token gesture to actual bands from Liverpool who write their own music is made in the form of The Williamson Square Stage (but only on the Sunday, they don’t want anyone getting any ideas.) If you are heading into town I encourage, nay demand this is where you make your home. There is actually somehow a brilliant line up (I presume they got Dave Monks to do it) starting with Married to the Sea at midday and finishing with The Dirty Rivers just after five and with loads of brilliant stuff in between. Aside from that it all looks shite.

But, as any physicist will tell you, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and after years of looking at The Mathew Street Festival line up with a mixture of disbelief and horror, the proper music venues of Liverpool (the people who incidentally should be running the festival itself) have starting putting on all day, and night, shows of their own. As the festival has deteriorated into the mess it is today, the fringe has grown each year to now include 18 venues across the city.

Peter Guy has very kindly done a full listing of all the bands and venues here

I’m not going to tell you who to go and see, there is too much quality and variation on offer. Generally speaking The Lomax and The Zanzibar look boss. Or if you want more of a laid back setting, Mello Mello and Head of Steam look good too. All I will say is that, unlike the main festival, The Fringe starts on Friday, and you could do a lot worse than go and see The Mono LPs (10pm) at The Caledonia or go to a fantastic line-up including The Romleys and The Ragamuffins at The Krazy House. In fact if you leg it you can probably do both. Other tips? If you are planning on going to see The Tea Street Band (9.30) in the Zanzibar I’d get there early or you might find yourself listening from outside. Oh and one band missing from Peter’s write up is The Troubadours who are now playing The Zanizibar on Sunday at 8. Which is great news.

With the main festival finishing at 6pm and The Fringe going on all night there is every chance to take part in both if you feel you must. Just make sure you go and see at least one band who isn’t dressed up as another band this weekend. Feel free to post your tips/bang on about your band below.