As I look out to the view beyond my window whilst writing this, the sun is filtering through the sharp, clear air and bathing the city in a comforting light as evening settles in. It’s a reminder that the months of cold winter isolation are nearly over, and that summer is soon to arise at out doorsteps. And with us all being music fanatics (I’m assuming that’s why you’re here, right?), summer means only one thing. And that is festivals. And lots of ‘em!
One of the glorious things about living in Manchester is how many events they throw together over the summer months, ranging from huge commercial enterprises to individual pub/bar all-day sessions. And everything (and I do mean everything) in between. The city prides itself on putting together a good party and there is seldom a weekend between April and September when something isn’t happening in the city; be it the Northern Quarter, Castlefield, Didsbury, Chorlton, Salford or simply making use of the communal space in Piccadilly Gardens. So to raise the spirits and at least metaphorically raise the temperature for the summer, I thought I’d take the chance here to preview some of the events taking place in Manchester over the opening months of summer 2013…
Future Everything Festival (21st – 24th March)
A glorious and though-provoking few days of exploring the future of technology, innovation, communication and idea-sharing through lectures, art installations, demonstrations and discussion groups, Future Everything also has an impressive and ever-growing list of electronic artists supporting the festival. This year sees appearances from Brandt Brauer Frick’s jazz-infused techno and neo-classical ensemble, supported by a 65daysofstatic DJ set (20th March at Islington Mill), Andy Stott and Lee Gamble exploring UK Hardcore, Music Concrète, Jungle, Dub and electronica at the same venue (22nd March, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti from Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Harmonic Coaction’ audio installation at MediaCityUK on 21st March and Land of Light performing live at Soup Kitchen (22nd March) to celebrate 15 years of Aficionado Recordings.
Tickets for all events are available individually from the Future Everything ticket site at but you can still by concessions tickets at £30 if you are a student or out of work. Which seems like a heck of a good deal to me, considering it should get you into all of the events with that! The event is also running in conjunction with The University of Salford’s Sonic Fusion Festival which also looks to be a “must do” that particular week!
Sounds from the Other City – Sunday 5th May
Get muddled up with the distinction between Manchester and Salford it's pistols at dawn as far as the Salfordians are concerned! So it’s fitting that the “Other City” - as it is known – has its own quirky, charming and effortlessly excellent festival taking place assorted pubs, clubs and venues down Chapel Street on Sunday 5th May, which just so happens to be a bank holiday so you can indulge in the ales without worrying about work the next day. The line-up is always a great blend of new and fresh national acts and local innovators and this year is no different: with established upcoming acts such as Stealing Sheep, Hiss Golden Messenger, Post War Glamour Girls, Haiku Salut and Childhood being ably supported by local acts such as Songs for Walter, G R E A T W A V E S, GNOD, Letters to Fiesta and Bipolar Sunshine. Oh, and tickets are an extremely reasonable £18 advance, available here. Get involved, and see what weirdness is going on down by the River Irwell…
Chorlton Arts Festival – 17th – 26th May
The Chorlton Arts Festival is one of Manchester’s great surviving institutions. Now into its 13th year, it has moved beyond humble beginnings to now be one of the UK’s finest festivals of its type. This year’s event runs from 17th-26th of May and features such tantalising events such as Esben and the Witch performing with Ghosting Season at St Clements Church on Friday 24th May, the crazy and intoxicating world of The Candle Thieves at Wilbraham St Ninian’s Church on Thursday 23rd May, The Jeffrey Lewis and Peter Stampfel Band at St Clements Church on Saturday 25th May and Toy and PINS at the same venue the night after.
Tickets are available for all separate events and can be found here but if you’re going to be around for the weekend, it might make more sense to buy a full weekend pass for only £28, giving you the chance to see all the other art installations, talks and performances that make up the weekend. Oh, and make sure you go to Barbakan Delicatessen while you’re there. Best bread and sandwiches in Manchester…
Parklife Festival 2013 – 8th & 9th June
Now into its fourth year and newly relocated to a new and larger venue at Heaton Park, Parklife acts as the opening salvo of Manchester’s party summer. Always an excellent couple of days with a broad church of electronic and dance acts – both past and present – its success has been built on two things: excellent line-ups and a general bonhomie that prevails over the weekend. Indeed, amongst all of the madness and mud last year, Drowned in Sound managed to even get a full hour chatting away with Nile Rodgers and Johnny Marr prior to Marr guesting during Chic’s set; something that still goes down as one of my favourite music journalism experiences ever. That’s the sort of thing that happens at Parklife: fun, frolics and excellent music.
While headliners Example and Plan B might not be to the individual taste of every DiS reader (though Plan B’s ‘Ill Manors’ soundtrack still remains one of the most brutally sharp, dark and insightful urban records of recent times) there’s plenty to entertain across the whole bill: from Jessie Ware’s future-pop to The Horrors sky-touching psychedelic masterpieces; from Four Tet’s chess-puzzle electronica to Jurassic 5’s bouncing hip-hop tag-team, and Everything Everything and Delphic’s homecoming triumphs. As well as the bands, there’s a tremendous collection of DJs and Producers on across the weekend; the highlights being Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Erol Alkan, Hudson Mohawke, Roni Size, Pearson Sound, Derrick Carter, Simian Mobile Disco and the legendary David Rodigan. All backed up by Manchester’s own Now Wave promoters, who will be DJing across the weekend as well as curating the second stage. Great times for both the esoteric fan and the casual fun-lover.
Early Bird Weekend tickets are already sold out but Standard weekend and individual day tickets are available (priced at £69.50 and £45.00 respectively) from parklife.eventgenius.co.uk. Heaton Park is located to the North of Manchester City Centre but is easily reachable by bus or taxi from the city centre, and organisers have promised extra transport links to get people to and from the event.
Manchester International Festival: (4th – 21st July)
The Manchester International Festival rolls around welcomingly again for its every two-year visit to the centre of the city. 2011’s event was a sold-out and warmly received triumph and 2013’s event looks to keep up that high standard. Stand-out events include Massive Attack’s first UK dates since 2010, in conjunction with visual artist Adam Curtis (4th – 13 July residency); The xx performing in residence for 18 nights (6th-18th July) in a specially designed venue in the city centre; post-rock pioneers Mogwai performing their ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’ soundtrack live and in full in Albert Church (19th & 20th July); Goldfrapp appearing with the Royal Manchester Northern College of Music Orchestra at the same venue (17th & 18th July) and Delphic playing three intimate dates in the Pavillion Theatre (19th-20th July). Alongside that are multiple talks, performances, art and theatre installations and DJs until late in Festival Square each night of the festival. Ticket prices range, though most are still available from the website, with the exception of The xx’s residency, which sold out in double-quick time after going on sale!
New Music from Manchester – March 2013
Though The Kill Van Kulls have always done a wonderful line in 80s-tinged anthemic electro-pop, their more recent leanings have taken on a more beautiful and melodic charm, oozing from every soaring vocal and nagging melodic twist. New single ‘Wooden Heart’ is 150 seconds of effortless elegance and swooshes’ of colour that brighten up any dark, cold evening. The Wooden Heart EP is released on the 18th of March and available from their website, they follow it up with several tour dates including a free show at London’s Babble Jar on the 27th March, followed by a Manchester date at Soup Kitchen on the 29th March and support slots with The Fratellis in Bristol, Newcastle and Liverpool later in the month. With XFM putting them to the top of their playlists and a burgeoning interest in them from across the country, it looks like summer 2013 may be a joyous one indeed for The Kill Van Kulls.
Having been around the local scene with their delectable dream-pop and elegant, woozy soundscapes for a couple of years now, Glass Ankle recently signed to Air Cav’s Crystalline Label and are preparing their eagerly-anticipated Fragments EP for release in 2013. With a combination of Gregor and Claire’s beautifully dovetailing vocals and a swirling and insistent bass and drums combination, their songs hang delicately in the air with a natural prettiness, minimalism and charm. Having played several warmly received local shows towards the end of 2012; we’re all waiting on more from them this year. And if that wasn’t enough, keyboardist and vocalist Claire Brentnall also creates gorgeous, delicate and ethereal ambient pieces under the name of Shield Patterns , who we’ll be returning to again at a later edition of Drowned in Manchester. You should really be jealous with people that talented; but when they’re coming out with music as beautiful as this, we’ll happily embrace it instead :-)
People of a certain age (and sadly, that does include me) will recall Cyril Sneer as being the cigar-chomping, money-grubbing pink Aardvark antagonist from the 1980’s children’s TV show ‘The Raccoons’. I certainly don’t recall any heavy, towering and genre-pushing alternative and post-rock snowstorms, complete with stunning interlocking riffs, rumbles and piercing vocal intersections. It hovers neatly on the border of progressive but escapes it by being simply too full of life and energy to get snagged up its own backside. In a nutshell, it’s outstanding. They’ve been mentioned on here before by my predecessor Simon Catling but they’ve just released their lead single ‘How Presidential of You’ from their second record A Riot of Colour, due for release on April 15th through Weatherface Records. Oh, and they’re launching it with a special live show at The Deaf Institute on April 13th. Far more enjoyable than 'Run With Us'. Though I do think it would make an interesting B-Side cover…
Kid British were always one of Manchester’s under-sung treasures and we were all disappointed to see them split up in late 2012. But as the saying goes: as one door closes, another opens; and that is certainly true with the emergence of Bipolar Sunshine – the new project of former singer Adio Marchant. Though his graceful voice will be recognisable to any fans of his previous band, his new moniker allows him to stretch the limits of this into a touching, elegant and heartbroken croon; merged with burbling bass and distant, stirring strings and breathtaking flourishes: a rich, deep and complex blend of sounds that lodges between your ears and soothes your synapses with its mellow beauty. Tantalisingly, we’ve only got one full track so far - ‘Fire’ – but significant airplay on Radio 1, 1Xtra and XFM suggests that the clamour for more will be acknowledged and rewarded in the next few months. If the rest of the material is as delectable as his debut single, it could be something quite magical.
Now this is a little bit special. Former Christian AIDS / Stay+ member Phil Young disappeared from view in Manchester during the early half of 2012, only to re-emerge with some of the most extraordinarily heart-rending and weirdly beautiful music that the city has heard in many a year. With a stirring and jarring comparison between the dark, wounded baritone of his voice and the elegant, sparkling and ever-changing synthesiser backgrounds; the music is speared through with pain, shame, sorrow, regret…yet a glow of redemption and catharsis present within the blackness too. It’s a difficult listen at times, but a rewarding one; and to see his live shows is to witness an artist utterly dedicated to his creations and vision. Every now and again, Manchester throws up a genuine gamechanger in a particular field. And right now, Moses Gold may just be that gamechanger.
With Radio 1 airplay, sold out shows and a ticket to SXSW booked, it would be easy to just put The 1975 in the “made it, not worth talking about anymore” pile. But it’s important to acknowledge the successes from the city and it’s highly impressive to witness The 1975’s aluminium-clad indie-pop anthems shimmering significantly into public consciousness. There’s an unashamed 80’s love to what they do, yet there’s also a dark and seedy undertow to their sound that muddies the waters and maintains the interest throughout what they do. And they can do melodies too. Big melodies. And searing choruses. Pop certainly isn’t a dirty word; but when it’s refined through as intriguing a filter as The 1975 provide, it becomes something instantly more tangible and engaging.
Manchester Gig Listings – March – May 2013
Tuesday 19th March – Frontier Ruckus: The Ruby Lounge
Tuesday 19th March – John Smith: Band on the Wall
Tuesday 19th March – Wild Nothing: Sound Control
Wednesday 20th March – Brandt Brauer Frick & 65daysofstatic: Islington Mill
Wednesday 20th March – Ulrich Schnauss: The Deaf Institute
Wednesday 20th March – June Tabor: Royal Northern College of Music
Thursday 21st March – Holy Other / WIFE / Bearcubs: Islington Mill
Thursday 21st March – Yo La Tengo: Manchester Ritz
Friday 22nd March – Johnny Marr: Manchester Ritz
Friday 22nd March – Andy Stott / Lee Gamble / Rashad Becker: Islington Mill
Friday 22nd March – Culture: Band on the Wall
Friday 22nd March – Aficionado present: Land of Light: Soup Kitchen
Saturday 23rd March – Space Dimension Controller / Jam City: Islington Mill
Saturday 23rd March - Johnny Marr: Manchester Ritz
Saturday 23rd March – Fiction: Soup Kitchen
Sunday 24th March – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Manchester Ritz
Sunday 24th March – The Black Crowes: Manchester Academy
Monday 25th March – Biffy Clyro: Manchester MEN Arena
Tuesday 26th March – Kodaline: Manchester Academy
Wednesday 27th March – Evans The Death: Night & Day
Wednesday 27th March – Grey Lantern Presents Department M: Kraak
Wednesday 27th March – Everclear: Manchester Academy 2
Wednesday 27th March – The Gaslight Anthem: Manchester Academy 1
Thursday 28th March - The Gaslight Anthem: Manchester Academy 1
Thursday 28th March – Skreamizm: The Warehouse Project
Friday 29th March – Ghosting Season: Common Bar
Friday 29th March – This Many Boyfriends: Night & Day
Friday 29th March – The Kill Van Kulls: Soup Kitchen
Saturday 30th March – WHP & Kaluki Presents… : Victoria Mill
Sunday 31st March – Cut Ribbons / Holland: Trof Fallowfield
Monday 1st April – Hurts: Manchester Academy
Thursday 4th April – Fuzzy Lights: The Castle
Friday 5th April – Gesamtkunstwerk: Islington Mill
Friday 5th April – Hookworms / Baseventura: Soup Kitchen
Friday 5th April – The Wildhearts / Eureka Machines: Manchester Academy
Saturday 6th April – Bob Log III: Ruby Lounge
Saturday 6th April – The Ataris: NQ Live
Saturday 6th April – The Misfits: Manchester Ritz
Saturday 6th April – Mary Epworth: The Castle
Wednesday 10th April – Jesca Hoop: Takk
Wednesday 10th April – Steve Mason: Gorilla
Wednesday 10th April – James Blake: Manchester Academy
Thursday 11th April – British Sea Power: Gorilla
Thursday 11th April – Team Ghost: Soup Kitchen
Thursday 11th April – Letters to Fiesta / Songs for Walter / SILVER: Dulcimer
Friday 12th April – British Sea Power: Gorilla
Friday 12th April – Peace: Manchester Academy
Saturday 13th April - Carefully Planned ft. Shield Patterns / Ffuries / Epic 45 - Venue TBC
Saturday 13th April – Underachievers 5th Birthday ft. Patterns: The Roadhouse
Saturday 13th April – ‘Set in Stone’ Ian Tilton Book Launch & Deadbeat Echoes: Gorilla
Saturday 13th April – Cyril Snear Album Launch: The Deaf Institute
Sunday 14th April – Adam Green & Binki Shapiro: The Ruby Lounge
Wednesday 17th April – Frank Turner: Manchester Academy
Thursday 18th April – Pere Ubu: Band on the Wall
Thursday 18th April – Grey Lantern – Wreaths EP Launch: Kraak
Friday 19th April – Lower than Atlantis / Dinosaur Pile-Up: Manchester Academy
Friday 19th April – A Hawk and A Hacksaw: Soup Kitchen
Friday 19th April – And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Manchester Academy
Saturday 20th April - 16th Carefully Planned All-Dayer - The Castle
Saturday 20th April – Kate Nash: Gorilla
Saturday 20th April – And As I Watch You From Afar: Manchester Academy
Satury 20th April – Veronica Falls: The Deaf Institute
Sunday 21st April – Dog is Dead: Sound Control
Sunday 21st April – The Leisure Society: The Deaf Institute
Thursday 25th April – Low: Central Methodist Church
Thursday 25th April – Alessi’s Ark: The Castle
Friday 26th April – Darwin Deez: Manchester Ritz
Friday 26th April – Luke Sital-Singh: Cornerhouse
Friday 26th April – The Last Underachievers: The Roadhouse
Friday 26th April – Kill For Company: The Deaf Institute
Saturday 27th April – Fossil Collective: Night & Day
Sunday 28th April – King Charles: Sound Control
Monday 29th April – Chas & Dave: NQ Live
Monday 29th April – Minus The Bear: Manchester Academy
Wednesday 1st May – CHVRCHES: Sound Control
Wednesday 1st May – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: O2 Apollo
Drowned in Manchester returns in May.