A disconnected maze of mayhem and melodies landed within Manchester’s student union quarters as Pangaea – Europe’s biggest student run festival – landed on a cold, wintry Saturday night. ‘Space Odyssey’ was the flavour and Manchester’s roistering batch of exam-free students went to town on it. Cue tin foil antennas adorning a sea of green faced youths wearing all manner of ad hoc Martian uniforms. A collage of striking colour that would have made the cut in any Steven Spielberg extraterrestrial thriller.
Set within the University of Manchester’s fabled scholar nerve centre, the 16 stages presented by the organisers were as diverse as the artists billed. Almost like an IKEA Eden, with an arrangement of flat-pack, inflatable tents scattered across the grounds whilst also taking over the various Academy floors and hideouts; the area was packed.
Each stage embraced a distinctive artistic direction with its performers. The Ice Palace Dome was defined with sound-bites of hip hop fuelled brass including the incisive thunder of Manchester ensemble Riot Jazz and the 20 strong blues drenched murmurs of the University’s own MSC Big Band. The Wormhole exuded a more left-field stylistic approach as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – aka Londoner Orlando Tobias Edwards – produced a set of succinct snippets of dance heavy beats before being followed by the pioneering ambience of Paul Woolford – convulsive, enigmatic but an easy sound track to groove to. Blackpool based Rae Morris chilled with her infectious brand of Stockholm-pop. Reflective synths never sounded so crisp. UV Ball Pit Room told its own story.
Manchester brew savant Mr Scruff headlined on The Future Sounds, combining a perfect blend of old-school beatnik extracts aloft du jour snapping electronic sounds. Congo Natty – The Rebel MC – snapped through continuous rounds of astute phrasings and intense musings against the backdrop of his pulsating, bass heavy compositions.
The DJ tents that hid between the various live arenas offered extreme bouts of house, dub and soul music throughout and confirmed Pangaea as Manchester’s principal student experience. It’s important to remember that Pangaea is an observance for the weighty exams all had faced throughout the first term back in university. So odd face mask more associated with an economical remake of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’? Check. Inventive styles fusing together live for the ears? Check. Booze? Check. If Carlsberg did festivals…Pangaea would shit on it.
Words by Clive K Hammond