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!


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


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 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 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.)


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.)