Sounds From the Other City (Sunday May 4th 2014)
A decade on from inception, the all day arty gig party held by Islington Mill is one good reason not to blow your brains out. The seriously hot vegetable chilli they were selling did that for me! Of the eleven performances I witnessed only one that was less than top notch, and to be fair to Golden Teacher The Crescent was too packed and uncomfortable to stay and listen to them very long. Nevermind, my new band of the day ZZZ's were starting up over the road in the Old Pint Pot Wotgodforgot. As the final blast of live music action these three Japanese women based in New York were perfect; their compulsive no wave rhythmic itch had everyone twisting the night away. As they played I made new friends, waved at old friends and purloined plenty of abandoned cider. Why would you buy an overpriced drink, sip two sips then leave it behind? Waste is obscene!
My musical trip began at Maxwell Hall on the Salford University campus. Hosted by Fat Out 'til You Pass Out, Buried Bones and Gizeh Records, this was easily the most innovative and imaginative room I experienced. P. J. Philipson played his beautiful heavily effect laden guitar instrumentals inside a white tent positioned centrally whilst Jamie Robinson projected purple and white squiggles and red blood cell clones from his magic laptop. A chilled out beginning with some dreamy soundscapes was perfect for the hungover casualties of Patrick Crane's birthday party the night before to slumber to. My longest run of the day took me south to the New Oxford where Thomas Long unveiled some fine new Easter songs in a short solo acoustic set. He'd been hiding all away, working on the second Easter album and growing a cool beard, but the wait was worth it. I told him "I'm In Bloom" had better be on the album, and the final song which may or may not be called "Suicidal Kiss" also sounded like it made the grade. He started with a small surprise, a folk song called "Jamie Foyers" he'd covered from Ewen MacColl via Martin Simpson's arrangement. Another old friend was back in town just outside in the Bexley Square tent. Daniel Weaver's five minute laptop soundtrack to an abstract animation film called "Vent" was a disturbed evocation of mental deterioration. As black and white lines wiggled across the screen, a voice intoned, "There is a void so dark that my retinas burn... my tongue splits... I tense in a language I created... my noise turned against me." Out of the heart of darkness and into The Crescent pub just in time for Picastro to play some fine songs in a duo with my old friend Ant from the Helpyourselfmanchester punk rock gig collective, back in town playing viola. "What's with the hats?" asked singer/guitarist Liz Hysen, referring to the cone shaped headwear that had been fashioned from leftover SFTOC flyer-posters.
"I don't know," I told her from just in front of the stage, "but I've got Killing Joke on mine, on my third eye!"
"That's cool," She opined.
"It's not just cool, it's magickal," was my heckle revelation.
"Like a holiday when things move too fast," could have been the lyric that best summed up the event itself. I think it was the last song, a hypnotic mostly two note strum called "The Stiff" that she said was based on the Jack Nicholson film "The Passenger," which she recommended everyone see. When they finished I took the setlist.
Mountain / Relief
Just over the road in in the Old Pint Pot Wotgodforgot MiSTOA PoLTSA started rockin' like 12-string demons. Mark sent the mic stand flying into the crowd and they were living proof of the Neil Young / John S. Hall mantra that rock'n'roll will never die. The loudest band of the day, their heavy gigging schedule has really paid off and they've gone from being a good band to one of the best in Salford/Manchester. Some people have opined that Sean is the best drummer in Manchester, but different drummers have different styles; he could well be the best rock'n'roll drummer in town.
Back at Maxwell Hall Monkey Puzzle trio had taken up residence in the central tent. Charles Hayward drummed up his typically excellent storm, Nic Doyne-Ditmas plucked at an unusual upright electric bass and bespectacled Vic Corringham sat at a table singing idiosyncratically through effects, looking like the coolest teacher in improv school. Charles took a short break from drumming to walk amongst the people blowing a melodica, but was soon back to hammer home the finale of my favourite performance of the day. Half of Grumbling Fur's set was lost to an ice run, hot chilli feeding frenzy and a clash with Chantal Acda, but the four songs I heard from Alexander Tucker's Thrill Jockey duo sounded pleasant.
"It's sounding very Scandinavian," opined Daniel Weaver as he left Maxwell Hall.
"She's Belgian!" I informed him, having missed the start of Chantal Acda's trio's set. Her delicate songcraft helped me slowly gulp down more fiery chilli. The room was rather under-populated, but the mood was relaxed and calm and brought much needed respite from the headless chicken run earlier in the day. By the time she'd sung her last song, I was so chilled I couldn't be bothered to rush back to the reportedly packed Old Pint Pot for a bit of Kult Country and just hung out until Sly and the Family Drone had set up in a ring outside the white tent. A Fat Out gathering surrounded them as they drummed up some noisy tribal beatnoise chaos. Lots of people joined in on drums, including two Tribal Fighters and 2 Koi Karp, and Jamie Robinson took to crowd surfing with no elf and safety considerations. I watched from up on high, stood on a chair, as last time I joined in on drums with that lot my ears were shot for several days afterwards. Although they weren't the last band that day, they were the last at Maxwell Hall and it seemed right to finish my review with them because nearly everyone gathered around them will be back later in the month (May 23-25) for three days of the Fat Out Fest at Islington Mill with Melt Banana, Nisennenmondai, Charles Hayward, Terminal Cheesecake and Drunk in Hell. Be there or be somewhere else less cool unless it's the Sheffield Melt Banana gig!
This review appears slightly edited in Que Vida 1
Fat Out fest