Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that seem a little bit far-fetched. And so it was, after a gig, some wine and the seemingly mad (but evidently ingenious) idea of putting on a festival, that When In Manchester was born.
I say mad because starting a festival isn’t something that is done overnight, and isn’t something that comes without a ton of hard work, but as the girls behind When In Manchester proved – both in selling out and making the even itself a storming success – it’s certainly possible.
The trickiest thing with festivals is making the tough decision of who to see, and who you’ll regrettably miss out. While I wish that I could have split myself in half and seen everyone at When In Manchester, I had to stick with running between the two venues, and catching who I could.
With that, here’s a little taste of what I saw:
Among the abundance of bands taking on psych revival in the past few years, Kashmere are a breath of fresh, indie-rock air. After The Prions opened, and while FØXE took on Gullivers, Kashmere played The Castle Hotel. Like an amalgamation of all of your favourite indie bands, Kashmere are certainly fit for a much bigger venue but until the time allows they weren’t about to shy away from a smaller stage, and their sheer energy was gratefully received.
BANG BANG ROMEO:
After seeing Judas at The Castle I headed over for my first stint at Gullivers. Bang Bang Romeo were one of a very few names on the When In Manchester lineup that I knew nothing about. Most I had at least heard of, if not seen before, but Bang Bang Romeo were excitingly fresh, and refreshingly exciting. Sultry and cool, with an overpowering sense of emotion, they appeared to have everyone transfixed. From the slower songs, to spoken word, with an underlying 60s influence, everything they did was ridiculously powerful. They were certainly a welcome find.
Another new face, and another one I’m glad to have found, I caught the end of Todd Dorigo seeing the evening in at The Castle. With the charm and the look that could easily front a band, but the solo stamina and talent that means he doesn’t need it, Todd Dorigo is proof that being a singer/songwriter can be so much more than the likes of Ed Sheeran have caused people to believe. With lyrical wits carried by his New Wave inspired hooks, Todd Dorigo’s one to keep an eye on.
Well and truly into the evening, and with everyone sufficiently drunk, Manchester’s Man Made took over Gullivers. Glitter-clad and on week five of a six-week tour, Man Made seem at home on stage, and though they were no doubt close to dropping, there wasn’t the slightest hint of it. As they encouraged everyone to join the one lone dancer at the front, and everyone seemed to comply, it was clear the energy was only getting stronger as the evening went on.
Though the energy stayed high it seemed to descend into complete madness. As Trampolene’s Jack Jones recited his darkly comic John Cooper Clarke-esque poem ‘Ketamine’ he commented on someone taking it in front of him (though I can’t confirm whether this actually happened), as the rest of the band wandered around on stage before joining him at his mic. Eventually, they took positions at their own instruments, and launched into their full, slightly hypnotic set. It’s odd how much a band’s intellect can shine through on stage, but Trampolene – if not solely Jones – know what they’re doing.
Quickly making a name for themselves in Manchester, Cupids’ beat-inspired rock and roll is endlessly enjoyable. I’ve said it before of Cupids, but it’s revival done right. Far from a sloppy attempt at remaking old music, the take their influences and mould them – and when playing to a packed out room in Gullivers, it’s clear that it works.
NO HOT ASHES
Bringing the evening to a close were No Hot Ashes. Though they’re visibly young, No Hot Ashes make their age work for them, almost like bouncy balls were their energy but far from naïve and with a talent well beyond their years. Taking lyrics from everyone from Grandmaster Flash and MGMT, No Hot Ashes have a sort of cheeky humour about them, moulding the work of others to make their own entertainment. And entertaining it is.
After such a success of a day, we’ll just have to sit and wait eagerly for the announcement of When In Manchester 2017.