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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!

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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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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Gardenback

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTO BY DANI BLAKELEY

Fresh-faced and eager, Gardenback are the rising act taking garage rock to the next level by way of a psychedelic twist. The three piece hail from Oldham, Greater Manchester, having met at school back in 2011 and uniting forces. It’s an acclamation to their dedication that they’ve continued to stay on our radar having been an act for seven years. Through sheer determination and ambition they’ve remained committed to achieving what they set out to achieve with Gardenback. Currently hitting the ground running they’ll be one of the feature acts at the first Manny Fest, Saturday 10th November, alongside the likes of Cannibal Animal, Chupa CabraSaint Ivy and many more. From the minds behind Psymmetry Collective and The Bread Shed‘s Fuzz Thursday night, the all-dayer echoes the the ideals of the collective – to unify a set of like-minded, hazy psychedelic artists and draw a line of Psymmetry across the alternative scene.

Having supported the likes of DZ Deathrays and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Gardenback are fast making a name for themselves with talk of lots of new material in the pipeline: “The new stuff feels very cohesive and fits together really nicely. It works.” Latest single ‘Health & Wellbeing’ focuses on the bands own mental health experiences and how these have been influenced by the state of the current financial and political climate. But they’re not just another act wailing about the state of current affairs, their lyrics tend to derive from personal feelings and circumstances.

Similarly, they’re passionate about sharing a message as spokesmen for their followers, recently having worked with Beat It, to support men’s cancer research development. Jacob, the drummer of the band was involved in the campaign and explains that it’s important that musicians use their influence to benefit society. “No matter how big or small, it’s a really good opportunity to share positive causes with other people. We try every year to do something for charity, the last two years it’s been putting on gigs for the homelessness charity Lifeshare. Music brings people together and together we can make things happen.”

 

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With humility and compassion being a heavy theme for Gardenback, it’s clear why the trio are such close friends and that through similar ideals, they’ve lasted so long. Likewise, their influences and inspiration comes from an identical appreciation for acts such as Joy Division, PiL and Televison which results in the outcome of their 90s alt-rock sound, with a splash of 70s post punk thrown in. But what are the current acts that their listening to. Who are the contenders of the scene turning Gardenback‘s heads? They casually concoct a list of acts that generate a similar buzz to themselves, being at a similar level or status: Déjà VegaThe Orielles and Teenage Fanclub beckon a comparable audience, whilst the likes of St VincentCharles Mingus and Thelonious Monk offer an insight into their varying influences.

An eye for an on-stage spectacle too, the three members discuss the most exhilarating live acts they’ve ever witnessed. St Vincent seems to be a recurrent theme, seen at Albert Hall a couple of years ago, her stage presence and spectacle of a show – in particular when she sang ‘Strange Mercy’ solo atop a pedestal – appears to have caught the attention of Gardenback. Favoured stories are recounted and Radiohead is thrown on to the table, which brought drummer Jacob to tears at Old Trafford Stadium, whilst Neil admires Savages, “…their presence as performers and the sheer force in their music hits you.” They’re clearly an act with a keen vitality to continue pushing Gardenback ever closer to their hedonistic aspirations.

Manny Fest #001 takes place Saturday 10th November 2018 at Manchester’s Peer Hat with tickets at just £6!

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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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Everything Everything

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

They’re the millennial indie kid’s favourite flashback and they’ve not stopped in over ten years – Everything Everything live up to their name, time and time again. In the wake of their fourth studio album, released last year, EE have marker-ed themselves as a statement Brit indie rock act that has transcended through time. At this years Neighbourhood Festival in Manchester, the iconic quartet were in pole position as the headline act at The Albert Hall and we managed to have a quick chat with lead singer Jonathan Higgs just before the day fully began.

Since their early days the band have constantly tried to avoid the cliche with their eclectic and dynamic style, by way of complex song construction and programming. Back in the early days, their sound was younger, blossoming and representative of the indie pop scene that was bursting into the ether but now it’s hit a maturer, adept peak. “We were more into RnB back then – more into production – whereas now we’ve had to draw line (and realise) ‘hang on, I don’t actually want to be Craig David'” jokes Jonathan as he mentions that around the time of their fruition they were leaning towards a more American, RnB style of work. Arctic Monkeys immediately come to mind as an act that swayed towards this heavily western sound and didn’t return from it, but Everything Everything feel they edged close to it and “tested the water” with their first two records but soon got inspiration from elsewhere.

Nowadays their inspiration comes from dance music and the generally new wave that’s providing an awakening for pop music as of late. But as with the world is in this current climate, creatives have a platform to discuss the state of the world and the bending timeline that we are all now embroiled in. Everything Everything supporting Stoptober and War Child has been a recent push that just so happened to land at the end of their run of gigs for this year. “Attitudes and approaches attract us – we’re much less bothered about the genre or how much went into it or opinion.” This can be seen with tracks such as the recently released ‘Breadwinner’ which touches on the theme of an ideological image of society as represented by the title and mentions of theories and phrases that people often easily dismiss, as well as typical stereotypes of the world.

As a band, having worked over such a long period of time, EE  have been through numerous different record labels which saw them move from Universal to Sony for three records, having been in the right place at the right time. There’s whisper from Jon about them soon switching again to a different label, but we can’t reveal anything about that with you – die hard fans will just need to keep an eye on Everything Everything‘s movements over the coming months.

But also with experience comes knowledge and skills within the industry. Back in 2009 the indie soundtrack ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ was only released on vinyl and no other formats as of course the only real format was CD, radio play and “probably MySpace” – but this was a decision that they chose just as the peak for vinyl sales began to descend. Speaking now of the new wave in record sales, Jonathan has a refreshingly unpopular opinion: “we’re fetishising a format rather than the music itself. I see the record as a vessel not the actual music.” This pleasantly makes a mockery of those who buy tangible pieces of music in a classic ‘hipster’ sense, for the ‘look’ of the sleeve or the image that comes along with a wide record collection. Music is at the heart of Everything Everything.

This year has seen them play at the final Festival No 6, a festival which has been a massive support for the band over the years and has often slotted them in amongst their ever magnificent lineups. They played the first one back in 2012 and sadly the last one – “never made the headline slot though” – which is a clear indication that this act can stand the test of time. Quick mentions of the pipeline dream to play in the Glastonbury headline slot are mentioned in passing, but it could soon be a reality if they’re to keep going at this rate – particularly as they’ve been making new music all summer long, ahead of their planned small break for the last few months of 2018.  “There are babies in the band now. It’s kind of like a new era – we’ve got families and a new record label and the Mercury nomination – it feels like a new chapter of optimism for the band.”

The next form that Everything Everything takes is unfortunately likely to be the last but they want to go out in style, they want it to be “bold.” Jon mentions that with the ageing of them as members they’re making way for new, current acts such as The Magic Gang whom he recommends, as well as Tom Grennan, who will be supporting them this New Years Eve for the Kendal Calling organised event. But of course, there’s no forgetting the legendary act that is Everything Everything.

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

398

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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