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PREVIEW: LIVE AT LEEDS 2019

Festival season is finally upon us and Live At Leeds are once again at the forefront of promoting the freshest new bands around. This year it has a mouth-watering selection of 100+ bands performing across 21 different venues in the Yorkshire paradise that is Leeds. 

Stellar names such as Metronomy, Kate Tempest, Tom Greenan and Sundara Karma will be joined by acts that will be shaping the musical landscape for many years to come such as Bloxx, Sports Team, Gengahr and Goat Girl. This is Live at Leeds’ biggest line-up to date so make sure you keep May 4th free in your calendar and bag yourself a ticket before you miss out on discovering your new favourite band.

Heading up the lineup this year are some of Live At Leeds’ true success stories, led by returning guitar heroes Sundara Karma. Since forming in Reading, their blend of infectious hooks and direct lyrics have taken on the globe – with a debut album that took them to headline nights at London’s Brixton Academy and beyond. After returning last month with the mesmerising ‘Illusions’ and a hotly anticipated second album on the cards for next year, their set at Live At Leeds is bound to be an unmissable spectacle of what a band can be in 2019.

One of the most acclaimed and creative bands of the past decade, Metronomy will return in 2019 to open up a bold new chapter. Formed in the creative mind of frontman/band leader Joe Mount, their tear-stained lines of indie heartbreak have become a signature sound – with five studio albums morphing and growing into swaggering neon-pop with a catalogue of anthems to boot. An unmissable live act, Live At Leeds 2019 will be in for a treat when Metronomy come to town.

Tom Grennan is arguably the breakout artist of 2018, with an incredible year that has sent him to some of the biggest stages in the UK. After scooping a Top 5 Album with debut LP ‘Lighting Matches’, Tom has packed rooms across the country – with his gravel-smooth voice and unstoppable stage presence making him one of the most beloved songwriters that the UK has seen in quite some time. Bound to bring passion and charm to Live At Leeds 2019, he’s one only set to get bigger and bigger from here on out.

This is no doubt one of the most exciting weekends of the year if you’re keen to discover great new music. Over the years Live at Leeds has cultivated itself a reputation as being one of the most eclectic festivals on the circuit and has always been a keen promoter of new and exciting talent.

Tickets are still on sale but make sure you grab yourself one quick before you miss out on one of the best weekends of the year.

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FESTIVAL: What to expect from Bluedot

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Bluedot is back and it’s bigger than ever! The music and science festival has curated another stellar line-up full of mind-warping acts and science programmes this year and will take place, as ever, at Jodrell Bank Observatory. This year’s festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings so expect a very moon-themed weekend.

Bluedot has always been a festival that pushes the boundaries in terms of creating memorable and exciting experiences for its attendees. The mixture of science and music compliment each other well and under the gaze of the beautiful Jodrell Bank Observatory the festival really comes alive at night.

Headliners Kraftwerk, Hot Chip and New Order are joined by a great supporting cast of acts such as John Grant, Kate Tempest and Anna Calvi. Professor Tim O’Brien will present ‘One Giant Leap: Jodrell Bank and the Race To The Moon as well as other science programming that consists of Luke Jerran’s ‘Museum of the Moon’ and actual archive footage of the Apollo 11 landings in July 1969.

Kraftwerk need no introduction. If you’re into any electronic music then you can trace the roots back to Kraftwerk. The German electronic pioneers bring their 3D show to Bluedot and this is guaranteed to be one of the most amazing things anyone will see this year. Hot Chip are back in 2019 with a new album to boot. Very few bands are accomplished as them live so make sure you take your dancing shoes with you and you know what you’re going to get with New Order. Like Kraftwerk, their fingerprints are all over modern electronic music. They are the best band Manchester has ever produced. Period.

KRAFTWERK 3D Der Katalog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kunstsammlung NRW Düsseldorf 2013

There’s also a solid DJ line-up consisting of the immense Maxine Peake, La Discotheque and MCR Live Resident, the fabulous DJ Paulette. No matter what you’re into, Bluedot has it covered. Tickets for the festival are still on sale but you’ll need to grab them quick before they disappear. I can’t recommend this festival enough so you have to be there!

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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FESTIVAL: Inner City Electronic

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Inner City Electronic returns to Leeds for another triumphant city-wide celebration of the best in electronic music. Taking places across a plethora of Leeds’ best venues, this festival is a 24 hour party mirroring Leeds’ cultural renaissance as a European-style 24 hour city.

With a stellar line-up thats consists of Nina Kraviz, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Bebn UFO, Nightmares On Wax, DJ Stingray, Craig Richards, DJ Boring, Moxie, Orpheu The Wizard, Shanti Celeste, Ralph Lawson, Willow and Ross From Friends and with parties hosted by Resident Advisor, Dimensions, Percolate and Transmission Funk there’s only one city to be in on June 1st.

The venues set aside for the festival are Brudenell Social Club, Church Leeds, Distrikt, Freedom Mills, Hifi, Hope House, Hyde Park Book Club, Old Red Bus Station, Sheaf St, Wire, The Wardrobe plus some other secret locations TBC. With venues ranging from 250 to 1700 capacity, the festival offers a unique experience to explore the city across a range of parties and events, from small intimate art galleries boasting state of the art sound systems to terrace parties, industrial warehouses and even an 18th century church.

These parties will be running alongside a vast array of workshops, showcases talks and masterclasses that focus on musical development, culture and technology and the music industry in general.

Last year’s masterclasses from the likes of KiNK and Prince Fatty, an ‘in conversation’ series of talks with artists Craig Richards, Paul Woolford and Midland and a range of talks and panels with numerous industry panellists. In addition inner city electronic played host to technology showcases from the likes of TPI Audio, Master Sounds, Pioneer, Rane, Akai and many more.

Tickets are still on sale for Inner City Electronic but make sure you’re quick and get yours sorted because they aren’t going to be sticking around for much longer.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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FESTIVAL: Top 5 live acts @ Parklife

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Since its inception, Parklife Festival has always curated cutting-edge line-ups consisting of a wide range of genres. Now in its the 9th year it’s still growing and enhancing its reputation as the crown jewel in Manchester’s music scene. Take a look at our interview with the founder of  Warehouse Project and Parklife, Sacha Lord, and explore the creative mind behind the festival. This year’s line-up continues to put diverse and exciting acts at the forefront.

During the festival weekend, you do really feel the whole city of Manchester come together for one big party and it doesn’t look like this party is ending anytime soon. Here I’ll give my top 5 picks for who you need to see at this year’s Parklife. The line-up is jam-packed full of talent so this wasn’t easy. But here goes:

Solange

One of the most accomplished acts on the bill this year. Her unique style of soul-infused R&B is made for big festival stages. Her last album, 2016’s A Seat At The Table was genuinely ground-breaking so this isn’t something you want to miss.

Nas

Is there a better hip-hop album than Illmatic? Feel free to answer that one. Nas doesn’t need any introduction. One of the greatest rappers there’s ever been. Again, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Ben UFO & Call Super

Ben UFO & Call Super on their own would probably get onto this list. But both of them together? Absolute shoo-in. Who knows what they have planned for us but one thing’s for sure it’s going to get us dancing. Both are pioneers behind decks so expect some mind-bending greatness when they get the party started.

Ricardo Villalobos

The Chilean-born DJ and producer has been in the game for decades and still manages to completely mesmerise and surprise audiences. It’s difficult to really pin down what to expect from a Villalobos set as they’re always different so just expect something pretty unique.

Pusha T

The last time I saw Pusha T was at Parklife a few years ago. He was amazing that day so pretty sure he’s going to treat us all again this year. Always controversial and never boring if I had to put some money on it I’d say this will be the highlight of the weekend.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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PLAN: Off The Record 2018

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER     MAIN IMAGE IS CHILDCARE

It’s back. Manchester’s multi-venue live music event and conference Off The Record is set for another show-stopping year. We’re very proud to be part of the trusted curation team for this years event alongside a distinguished array of influencers including our very own Everything Everything, Rob Da Bank and faves The Orielles. With all acts now collated and the phenomenal lineup announced, the next step is navigating the lineup across the different venues of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Never fear, we’ve narrowed down a swift timetable of the acts you need to catch at this years’ Off The Record!

On Friday 16th November, kick things off with Nottingham based alt rockers Babe Punch at The Peer Hat set, to rouse your spirits with their grunge/punk mix as they commence the day at 18:40pm. Having supported the likes of Hinds, The Cribs and Ezra Furman, they’re well on their way to being up there amongst the movers and shakers of the music industry. On at the same time but definitely worth catching are Anglo/Korean duo WOOZE at 18:50 on Night & Day‘s stage with their compelling sound that of a warped pop that’ll be something entirely new to your ears.

After that you’ve got a bit of time to nip over to the Everything Everything curated stage at Band On The Wall, where MCR Live darlings Giant Boys beckon you at 19:30 with their minimalist take on post-punk. Theirs is a sound that entwines a Slaves-like level of recognisable Brit punk with something fresh and DIY, comparable to The Foetals to keep the pace going. Make a move towards the end of their set and you’ll have time to catch the end of female-led indie from an MCR Live curated choice, in the form of Thyla, who take the 19:50 slot at The Castle. Blending two quite opposing genres is no mean-feat and we can assure you that whether you go in to watch Thyla after listening to their music, or you rock up without the prior-knowledge, your head will be turned.

Then it’s a quick change over to Aatma for MCR Live residents Peaness – pronounced ‘Pea-ness’ – to brighten up your day (in the darkness at 20:25) with their self sufficient indie-pop which has seen them climb the ladder organically, finding fans in every corner that hears them. Next there’s a bit of a clash but it depends on what mood you’re in on the day. The feral garage punksters Avalanche Party hoist up Night & Day with their bare knuckles from 20:40 – expect nothing less than a snarling wilderness from these Yorkshire renegades. On the flip side, the otherworldly beauty of Pearl City at The Castle makes for a dreamy evening slot at 20:45 via their experimental sound that compromises a spectrum of instruments alongside spellbinding visual trickery.

Photo is Pearl City by Warren Millar

Glaswegian electro-pop might be something you never thought you’d come across but it’s here and it’s here to stay. Happy Spendy bring something new and alive to Aatma from 21:25, featuring their positively themed electronic whirl of wistful, occasionally romantic and always unique sound. Dive into Night & Day next and stay there for the foreseeable with Self Esteem followed by HimalayasSelf Esteem gives you a slice of Slow Club from singer Rebecca Taylor, now embarking on her own project and taking us all by storm with her. Drawing influence from everything and anything – pop culture, her experience’s in the band that she loved but was no longer the place for her creatively, and the freedom that came from stepping away, her new sound is dramatic, direct and deafeningly exciting.

Although we’ve penned this next MCR Live curated selection since 2016, the band have since gained notoriety for a set that is highly energetic, full of melody & cheekiness with ripping hooks – listen to this band once, and you wouldn’t be surprised that they’re all fans of Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkey’s, Jack White et.al. Straight up Rock’n’Roll. Liked The Blinders last year? You’ll LOVE these. It’s Himalayas of course, sinking their teeth into you at 21:45, headlining Night & Day.

The final live act of the day takes shape in the form of London based CHILDCARE. What gets better than being hand-selected by icons in their own right Everything Everything? Celebrating British awkwardness, this act formed off the back of male-nanny-turned-lead-singer Ed being heard singing by a six year old he was minding who pushed him to take it live. Now out in the open, this four-piece will win over fans of the likes of Baby Strange and Indoor Pets. Catch them at Band On The Wall at 23:30. The night is still young and Everything Everything then take to the decks of Band On The Wall as they close this years festival with a DJ set that’s sure to grab your attention, going on late into the night. It’s a long but fruitful evening ahead for many the music fan, what more could you ask for?

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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UPCOMING: MIF 2019 announces first wave of artists

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

Now in it’s eighth year, Manchester International Festival is proudly, a festival that unites creatives from different backgrounds and demographics. By weaving them together in a celebration of cultural unity that takes place all across Greater Manchester, it’s a biannual event that immerses all of the city together and next takes place from the 4th to the 21st July 2019.

Don’t peg this as any specific type of creative festival – MIF covers the whole spectrum – having premiered many a distinguished act from the fields of architecture to visual arts and everything in between. Think Björk, The xx, Maxine Peake, Zaha Hadid Architects, all have performed, produced and presented work at previous versions of the festival. What’s more, Manchester is rife with a collection of unique sites that make for prime locations to host international talent. To name a few that are sure to capture your attention: Kanye West performed his first ever Manchester show at the O2 Apollo for MIF back in 2007; Kenneth Branagh and Maxine Peake were cast in a portrayal of MACBETH at St Peter’s Church in Ancoats in 2013 and last year saw New Order reunite at the old Granada Studios complete with a 12-piece synthesiser orchestra of students from RNCM.

 

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New Order

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Well in advance of the next instalment, the lineup is now already starting to emerge. Just this week, MIF announced that the opening festival slot will be hosted by none other than Yoko Ono. As one of the most respected artists in the world, Ono invites us to join her for her first display in Manchester at Manchester Cathedral, to ring those age old bells and call for the world to welcome peace with open arms, as thousands of voices from the Cathedral and abroad will sing out. Stating “PEACE IS POWER”, the display titled ‘BELLS OF PEACE’ will mark the opening of Manchester International Festival 2019, with one of the most reputable acts of recent generations.

Following on from this, the man of the moment Idris Elba presents ‘TREE’, in partnership with Young Vic Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah as they search for the soul and spirit of contemporary South Africa. An exploration within dance and film, with Elba’s debut album ‘Mi Mandela’ as the soundtrack, the performance is set to show a journey through the ever changing country by way of one young man as the feature star. From the open on the 4th through to the 10th July, the duo will be taking over Upper Campfield Market Hall for this one-off, world-premiere meeting of two creative minds.

The final announcement comes in the form of another man of the hour – Skepta shares with us his own idea of what the future may hold for humanity. ‘DYSTOPIA987’ is to take place in a secret Manchester location that is as of yet undisclosed. With very little being shared in advance about the performance, other than an eerily cryptic name and the promise of a display that is dark and riveting, we’re already eagerly awaiting to see what the featuring musicians, performers and promised use of technology will evoke. MIF 2019 already cultivates the idea of a merger between performance techniques both old and new, by way of technology and the performers themselves. Expect the unexpected and if it hasn’t happened yet it soon will.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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REVIEW: One Cut of the Dead @ HOME

WORDS BY ALICE SALMON

When you think of horror-comedy, you’ll probably go straight for the Scary Movie franchise – and with good reason. It takes something special for laughs and scares to sit comfortably in the same script without lapsing into parody or farce – did somebody say Sharknado? One Cut of the Dead is a breakout zombie horror classic that marries the two in award-winning fashion. It screened at HOME last night as part of Film4’s FilmFear season.

One Cut of the Dead is the brainchild of Japanese writer-director-producer Shin’ichiô Ueda – and it simply can’t be reviewed without first acknowledging the 37-minute single-take opener that has audiences going mad. At first, it’s disorientating: who is it that keeps wiping blood spatter off the camera lens? It only becomes clear later on that this isn’t an overlooked continuity error – it’s actually the central axis of a stellar meta-comedy.

“POM!”

But back to the plot. The film opens in a disused water filtration plant, somewhere in rural Japan. A megalomaniac director berates two young stars for their apparent ineptitude during filming of – you guessed it – TV zombie flick, One Cut of the Dead. They take a break after a scene’s 42nd take as the mood gets fractious. Needless to say, the cast are then split up very quickly, after some brief exposition – which is when the zombies come to play.horror, one cut of the dead, home, manchester

As the living and undead play a game of cat-and-mouse around the abandoned plant, the director pops back at the worst possible moments, delighting in how realistic everyone’s fear seems – and how great his film is shaping up. Watch out for make-up lady Nao’s invaluable self-defence lessons and being surprisingly handy with an axe.

Side note: it’s really difficult to not give away all the spoilers on this one, so it’s best you witness how the plot unfolds for yourself…

Every film genre features the joke-within-a-joke trope. Yet here it feels organic, the plot more relatable and the humour more…human.

The trailer points towards One Cut of the Dead being just another gore-fest at the hands of an unknown director. But that’s just a secondary device around which the main plot is based – which in itself replicates the reality of Ueda’s entire project. Any initially clunkiness adds to the comedic credibility of the latter stages of the film as Ueda’s intent slots into place.

This film comes highly recommended for those who aren’t so good with gore. Ueda portrays the trials of filming on a tight budget with aplomb, making easy bedfellows of contrasting concepts: a cast making the best of things, a father-daughter reconciliation and the universal appeal of slapstick.

No wonder it has a coveted 100% rating (97% viewer rating) on Rotten Tomatoes. Heartily endorsed by Film4 Channel Editor and FilmFear curator David Cox, One Cut of the Dead lovingly pokes fun at the genre it inhabits. This irreverently self-referential offering is one to watch, laugh and recommend to everyone you know: you won’t regret it.

You can still buy tickets for FilmFear here, taking advantage of HOME’s multi-save ticketing system.

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PREVIEW: FilmFear @ HOME, 26-31 October

Words by Alice Salmon

Halloween is just around the corner and all (evil) eyes are on HOME, as celebrated indie horror film festival FilmFear returns for another year of screams, spooks and scares. (Please note: pun-haters and the squeamish alike should look away now). This season (of the witch), MCR Live will be covering the festival for the first time – and with its fiendish calendar of events co-curated by Film4, there’s something for the horror fan in every (haunted) house.

You’ll find previews of cult genres (cheerleader slasher, anyone?) alongside Q&As from (in)famous directors and a (blood)-spattering of cult classics. These really are six (six, six) days of unmissable cinema. Music fans too, listen up – with scores from John Carpenter littering this year’s festival, everyone’s spine will be tingled. Here are some of our top picks ahead of the festival’s respawn tomorrow:

One Cut of the Dead (15)

Released last year to critical acclaim, Japanese zombie horror One Cut of the Dead has already gained notoriety for its agonising 40 minute single-take opener. Be prepared for blood, guts and a surprising amount of black comedy.

Mandy (18)

Blending action, horror and romance in one lethal cocktail, Mandy stars Nicolas Cage and Andrea Riseborough in their fight against a seemingly-innocuous hippie cult who are in turn in league with a satanic biker gang. It ticks every box for those who like their horror bold, bloody…and with crossbows.

The Fog (15)

The penultimate day of the festival sees one of three cult classics brought back from the afterlife. Our pick of the three is The Fog, starring horror heroes Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau – it’s an ‘80s feast for the (six) senses.

 

Want to check out these, and more, but you reckon it’ll get pretty expensive? Think again. 

HOME offers a multi-buy ticketing system, so the more films you book tickets for, the more money you save. For fans of indie cinema, horror classics, and those who already know what you did last summer, this promises to be devilishly good.

Click here for the full programme of events and ticket bookings

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neighbourhood

Review: Neighbourhood 2018

The real festival is the neighbourhood you go with. WORDS – DARYL GORMAN

In case you missed it, last weekend Neighbourhood Festival took over Manchester venues across the city for another one-day extravaganza bringing both the new and nostalgic indie & alternative acts to the people of the North. As with all festivals, it’s not ALL about the bands you go and see, but the atmosphere in and around the venue and the company you go with that makes them so special. Neighbourhood Festival was no different – (plus, that’s the whole point of a neighbourhood, isn’t it?) The music enhances your experience. Don’t get me wrong, the bands that we saw we’re all incredible, but as a whole the experience isn’t one I am going to forget in a hurry.

Before we begin, however, let me address the elephant in the room. In my preview, I listed the 5 bands that I was most looking forward to seeing; of those we only got around to seeing one. (Due to scheduling clashes with some of the bands playing and a last minute decision to not change venues.) But I digress. With so much on offer, here’s a rundown of the band we managed to see!

Patawawa

If you were at Neighbourhood you might be wondering why the first band that we saw was only on at 3.30. The short answer is our late arrival to the festival, which sadly resulted in missing out on the first few bands – (and a quick trip to student haunt Thirsty Scholar, of course). We cut this short though, in order not to miss our first band – the incredible Patawawa.

patawawa neighbourhood

Vivacious energy came from the whole band playing to a packed out YES basement, who understandably had beaming smiles on their faces that failed to budge throughout – let’s just say that is was a GREAT way to start off the day. For a new band that, the energy and vibes that the trio brought was pretty insane. By the end of their set (closing with the massive banger that is Patagonia), there was not a single person in the room not dancing – a full-floor right up to the intimate stage, Patawawa truly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. These guys know how to play to an audience and live their music is even more infectious – an incredible feat considering how young they all are. I said in my preview that I wanted to boogie with Patawawa & it was clear that every single person in the room felt the same.

Sports Team

Elsewhere in YES, Manchester’s most instagrammable venue the Pink Room to be precise, was Sports Team. Between flailing himself on stage, swinging around a mic stand and proudly beating his chest with his mic between lyrics, the incredible energy levels from the lead singer were next to none – somehow topping all of Patawawa.

BUT, what made Sports Team extra special for me was the juxtaposition between their frontman and the percussionist who stood straight-faced and solemn throughout the duration of the set, occasionally shaking a tambourine or playing with synths to the beat of each song (otherwise, he just stood there eerily and really captured everyone’s attention). Describing Sports Team and this odd pairing of personalities on stage really doesn’t do them justice, but this dramatic stage performance really just sums up the band as a whole. Any band who can write a belter of a tune about relationship struggles by using Ashton Kutcher as a metaphor are going places in my eyes. They’re supporting Hinds on their upcoming tour and I CANNOT wait to see them again (mainly for tambourine man – big up yourself).

sports team neighbourhood

Photos – @manc_wanderer

FLING

Yet again to the Basement in Yes (we did go to other venues, I promise) to see Bradford based Fling. Now I had gone into this set with no knowledge of the band at all, but I am so glad I didn’t. A chance conversation the night before about this band’s set at The Castle a few weeks prior to Neighbourhood led to us heading to the basement – as soon as we walked into the room we were ready for an absolute TREAT.

fling neighbourhood

Photo – @itsjesscampbell

Fling make as much of a statement through their music as they do their attire – which each adds to their presence and the overall ethos the band purvey. Unlike most cliché band uniform, each member of the band have their own look; take them all apart it wouldn’t work at all, together this brings in a truly unique styling that perfectly allegorises this individualistic band. Leading the pack, the frontman donned a sleeveless fishing jacket, bum-bag, camouflage trousers and a smiling face shirt straight out of the 90s. Pretty nuts in itself. Joining him onstage, the bassist in a skeleton onesie and guitarist wearing a bright red jumpsuit. (Seriously check out their social media pages, I am not doing them justice here.)

Musically, Fling are incredibly unique amongst other bands in 2018 – their songs have this strange resonance to them, complemented by their physical stylings. The whole thing about Fling just works when it really shouldn’t, to the point where I literally cannot stop listening to them even days after seeing them. From their psychedelic musical styling combined with their distinct look,  comedic lyricism and pitch-perfect harmonies Fling have taken aspects from various genres and patched them together seamlessly to create a live performance that will certainly shock you. Either way, I am glad that we went back down into that basement.

Her’s

her's neighbourhood

Photo – @slavetothepower

Jumping back into the music with the easy listening, one of the most talked about bands on this year’s line-up, the lovely guys from dream-pop outfit Her’s. They were EXACTLY what I wanted them to be. The Dynamic duo play their unique sounding music to a packed out crowd at Gorilla, (told you we went to more than one place) and in trademark effortless-crooning style, somehow manage to capture the full attention of every single person in the room.

Arriving to the venue a while before the band took to the stage, thankfully we decided to perch on the balcony at Gorilla which soon filled up to the brim, to give the band our full attention. Her’s smooth indie-pop tunes didn’t get lost on stage thanks to their incredible stage presence, and a sweet camaraderie, guarantee a great time for everyone in the audience. If you haven’t listened to them yet, get on it – you won’t regret it.

Spector

spector neighbourhood

Photo – @freyagorton

Running over to Manchester Academy in order to catch the whole of Spector’s set proved somewhat of a challenge (meaning we missed a couple of songs). Here though came the equal-highlight of my day,  when – somewhere in the beginning of Chevvy Thunder (which was around halfway through their set) – it hit me that I had actually seen Spector before, and I was suddenly taken back to being Twenty Nothing again (if you know, you know). Suffice to say, this was a very special moment, and they absolutely owned the stage for their entire set.

Finishing off their set with an extended version of the impeccable All The Sad Young Men,  Spector had everyone in the venue singing along from start to finish in an emotional outpour and an ode to our teenage years all in one. Perfect. (My personal highlight from their set actually came the day after. After they finished their set we went down to get a drink and to decide who to see next, our Head of Music was a big fan of Spector as a teenager and the best way she could honour them was to hum their closing song (a few drinks down, in a banjo style for all of her Instagram followers to see no-less), only for it to get reshared by the band the next day. Pure cringe.)

Swim Deep

Swim Deep Neighbourhood

Photo – @imshaunabtw

So here we are, headline act time. Sadly, as I mentioned, there was a major clash in scheduling throughout Neighbourhood – to name but a couple, Everything Everything & Lady Bird both playing at the same time. So, how do you choose which one to see? Well you don’t, you end up finding out that the person you went with was a MASSIVE fan of Swim Deep when she was 15 and you go and see them, to bring back those memories of youth (and already being at the venue proved to be a big help in this decision). But the late 80’s/early 90’s surf-pop stylings of Swim Deep held up – even though I wasn’t as familiar with them as I was with Everything Everything or newcomers Lady Bird, it was still a great experience.

 

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I hadn’t heard Swim Deep before the night, so I ended up sitting on a step outside the venue being taught about their greatest hits so that I could enjoy the set as well. And it’s these intimate moments you get with your friends between the bands that really makes festivals like Neighbourhood special; because the venues are so spread out, you have time to travel between the bands you want to see. It might mean missing bands, but it also means time to make memories & time to enjoy some great bands that you didn’t know about, (or perhaps forgot you knew.)

< SPECIAL MENTION – DEEP FRIED CALZONE >

One of the great things about inner-city festivals when it comes to the age-old debate of ‘camping Vs city’ is the ability to dip out and dip back into the festival “site”.Unsurprisingly we had to take a little break from the music part-way through, partially because we needed to rejuvenate some energy and partly because there weren’t any bands playing that we were really excited about (and partly because I needed some food).

With no street-food vendors in sight around any of the many venues, we took a detour just down the road to Albert Square – luckily for us, the timing of Neighbourhood was paired with Manchester Food & Drink Festival. My life changed in that moment, I was introduced to Deep Fried Calzones. (Aside from the music, the memories and the fun had, the Calzone was so good it deserved its own chapter.)

 

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FESTIVAL: Dimensions

WORDS BY JOSH DE SILVA      PHOTOS BY ROB JONES

Dimensions Festival takes place in the spectacularly beautiful surroundings of Fort Punta Christo, nestled just outside of Pula on Croatia’s Adriatic coast. Encompassing a repurposed moat, tiny hidden rooms and expansive clearings, as well as the idyllic beach stage and the awe inspiring amphitheatre in Pula, the site itself is the real star of the festival, but there’s plenty more that makes Dimensions special. 

The lineup reads like a who’s who of underground music, with a great level of variety spread across the 11 stages, almost all of which boast fantastic sound. With the addition of boat parties and the Knowledge Arena, an area for workshops and discussions, Dimensions promises something for just about anyone. While it didn’t quite deliver on every aspect, Dimensions certainly feels like one of Europe’s most accomplished dance music festivals. 

Read on for a day by day breakdown and to find out some of our highlights, as well as what we think could be improved in years to come.

OPENING CONCERT

Dimensions’ opening concert is traditionally the festivals’ chance to show off the breadth of their booking ability, with past guests including Grace Jones, Massive Attack, and Larry Heard’s first live performance in years. This year followed suit, with German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk bringing their 3D live show to the majestic Roman amphitheatre alongside composer Nils Frahm and Detroit Legend Moodymann, as well as Nubya Garcia, Josey Rebelle and Debora Ipekel.

Frahm’s emotive performance felt like it was written especially to match the grand surroundings of the arena, with soaring chords matching a pulsating light show, drawing those who had arrived early down from the raised steps and onto the main dancefloor. 

After a short break and with the venue now packed with revellers donning their 3D glasses, Kraftwerk silently marched onto the stage to take their places behind four illuminated plinths. Before I talk about the performance, I want to note that the 3D aspect of the show was a bit of a let down, and felt more like a gimmick than actually adding anything. For the majority of the performance the glasses simply crisped up the visuals, with around 3 or 4 instances where a 3D element, such as a satellite or UFO, actually emerged. 

Sadly I felt the rest of the performance didn’t quite meet the high expectations either. The band worked their way through their many iconic songs, but the soundsystem felt a little too quiet throughout which seemed to take a bit of the punch out of the tracks. Coupled with the bands’ trademark robotic lack of movement, this translated to a slight lack of energy. It is however truly remarkable that classics such as ‘Numbers’ and ‘Tour De France’ were produced in the 70s and still sounded completely modern and fresh.

Moodymann stepped up for the close for what was ultimately a classic Moodymann party set. He dropped crowd-pleasers such as Peggy Gou’s ‘It Makes You Forget’ and DJ Koze’s ‘Pick Up’ whilst sporadically cutting the music to jump on the mic – great for some, but very safe and a bit disappointing for others given his legendary reputation.

THURSDAY

Our Thursday kicked off with our first and only boat party of the weekend, courtesy of Leeds’ Tribe Records. Alex T, one of the shop’s staff and a member of Dimensions’ DJ Directory, warmed up nicely alongside Cosmic Slop’s Mike BC, with a set of groovy Techno mixed with hits of Garage and Minimal. 

Next up was Danish DJ Courtesy, who has been making waves over the past couple of years. She picked up the intensity, shifting through the gears quickly into driving techno. A solid, if slightly predictable set was rounded out with a few uplifting trance tracks before she handed the reins over to Saoise. 

My first time seeing her DJ, Saoirse was one of the highlights of the whole weekend. She played to the majority English crowd by moving rapidly through Garage, House and Techno with a distinctly UK edge. Perfectly timed classics such as Happy Clappers ‘I Believe’ and even some Drum & Bass kept the crowd on their toes, with mixes always sharp and blazing through tracks in quickfire succession. Her set flew by and by the time the boat returned to the docks the boat was properly rocking. 

Thursday night started off in the Dungeon, a new stage for this year within a small tunnel inside the fort. New York’s DJ Python opened, with a fantastic warm up set blending Dub Reggae, EBM and pitched down House – which all sounded great on the excellent soundsystem.

Salon Des Amateurs residents Lena Wilikens & Vladimir Ivkovic’s 4 hour b2b on the Void stage had been highlighted by many as a must see set of the weekend and they didn’t disappoint. Working through their usual brand of chuggy, dark and often psychedelic Techno, they entranced the packed crowd. With the tunes getting weirder and laced with acid towards the end of the set, it really was a great way to kick off the festivals’ night time programming.  

Sadly lightning storms meant the music was cut out a few times later on, which affected the flow of the stages a bit and we decided to call it a night.

FRIDAY

Friday’s beach lineup was stacked with UK Jazz, which has exploded recently thanks to the likes of Yussuf Kamaal, Alfa Mist and Ezra Collective.

The day started off with talented keyboardist Joe Armon Jones and Bassist and producer Maxwell Owin, who’s recent album Idiom on Peckham’s YAM Records is a fantastic flagship of South London’s electric Jazz scene. Playing exclusively their own material, mostly unreleased, it felt like two extremely talented musicians just simply having fun with their music, which translated perfectly to relaxing on the beach with a cocktail and soaking up the vibes, and the sun. 

Next up was Ezra Collective, a 5 piece for whom Joe Armon Jones plays keys and led by charismatic drummer Femi Koleoso. The beach stage quickly filled up as Femi introduced the band and gave a shout out to the London Jazz scene, a large portion of whom were in attendance. If most people had been relaxing throughout the day, Ezra Collective’s set felt like the kick start to the real partying, quickly lifting the energy levels until the whole beach stage was rocking. The feel good performance felt accomplished and each band member was clearly at the top of their game, with numerous solos, a dance cameo from the band’s tour manager, and even a cover of Shanks & Bigfoot’s ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ feeding the party atmosphere. 

Our Friday night started off at the Void stage for Manchester local and cult favourite Il Bosco, who’s Red Laser Records label and parties provide some of Manchester’s finest House, Italo and Techno. His set was another fantastic example of a warm up set done right, with spacey synth heavy disco tussling with deep Italo cuts like Coco Bill’s ’Evita’ and tracks from Red Laser’s back catalogue such as Kid Machine’s ‘Wheels of Fury’.

Next we headed back to the dungeon, quickly becoming a favourite stage, for Sheffield’s Pretty Pretty Good, whose plethora of residents took over for an extended 5 hour slot. They worked through from chuggy EBM and pitched down electro to groove laden Techno all the way up to Garage and Dubstep, with Stanton Warriors’ breaksy remix of Basement Jaxx ‘Jump ‘n’ Shout’ a standout tune. 

The Moat at Dimensions is one of the most unique and characterful stages at any festival, and we had saved our first trip in for Electro legends Detroit In Effect. After a brief announcement on the mic that ‘the real party’ had now started, the duo kicked off at breakneck speed, scratching and cutting their way through Electro bangers, Footwork and Ghetto. The intensity was high but the mood was always playful and slightly tongue in cheek, with vocal tracks like DJ Assault’s ‘Yo Relatives’ cutting through the heavier Electro. After dancing the hardest we had done so far, D.I.E. felt like it would be hard to beat. 

We closed the night at The Clearing, essentially Dimensions’ main stage, for Avalon Emerson. Whilst she played some great breaksy tunes and some killer jungle, the set was permeated with lots of lengthy breakdowns, which seemed to ruin the flow a little, before ending on a dreamy synthpop tune as the sun rose.

SATURDAY

More storms meant Saturday’s programming didn’t kick off until a few hours after it was scheduled to. We headed to catch live Techno dons London Modular Alliance, whose stripped back, acid tinged Techno sounded ridiculous punchy and crisp on The Void stage’s incredible soundsystem.

Next up was Margaret Dygas, who ended up being the pick of the entire festival. Starting off her set with groovy Minimal with some killer basslines, she looked comfortable and in full control whilst she picked up the pace into more driving techno. Effortlessly blending records for extended periods, she whipped the crowd into a frenzy, with each drop bringing cheers, and Moony’s mellow Garage banger ‘3 Days’ sparking numerous ID requests. As she handed over to Sonja Moonear, we couldn’t help but feel like she was only just getting started and deserved a few more hours to show what she could do. 

Another pick of Saturday night was Skee Mask, who had played a Dub set in the Subdub arena the night before. He jumped through tempos from broken UK Techno to Jungle and Ghetto, and even dropped DJ Taye and DJ Manny’s Teklife classic ‘WTF You Here For’. 

SUNDAY

Sunday’s start was again delayed by storms, but this felt like a bit of a welcome break as many recovered from the past few nights. Hessle Audio’s sold out boat party saw around 100 no-shows and the energy levels across the campsite felt  little depleted. 

Once the Dimensions app announced that the music had finally started again we headed to Pearson Sound in The Moat. An exercise in showing off the breadth of Hessle’s sound, his set shifted through choppy UK Techno and Breaks, with occasional stabs of lighting acting like a natural strobe and adding to the fantastic intensity of the moat. 

Next we headed to the garden for another of the festival’s most anticipate sets – Fabric Resident Craig Richards b2b with Nicolas Lutz. Having played together two nights before at Fabric, you could see that they were two DJ’s who were very in tune with each other. After an hour or so of groovy minimal hooks, full of rolling basslines and crisp hi-hats, the pair moved into darker territory and settled into a more Techno heavy vibe. Whilst their mixing was always tight and the tunes were good, it felt very linear and more twists and curveballs would have helped to reinvigorate the energy-lacking crowd.

We ended up with Josey Rebelle, clearly a favourite of Dimensions having played multiple times over the course of the weekend – and picked to close out the festival. Closing The Void after Palms Trax, you could have expected a more funky and Disco inspired set but Josey didn’t mess about, heading straight into slamming Techno, Rave and Acid House. Dropping tunes like Heiroglyphic Being’s ‘This is 4 the rave bangers’, she lifted the energy levels and helped to end the festival on a real high.  

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