It’s a scorching day, the temperatures well into the 20’s, and as I sit on the grass with a cold, crisp pint in hand, it’s difficult to believe that I’m in Manchester right now…
This is the setting for Raw Fest, with the weather on side for a change and a great line-up of acts, the grounds of The Rampant Lion are overflowing with Mancunians soaking up the atmosphere. Kicking things off are Gold Jacks, whose classic rock sound gets proceedings off with a bang. Their set is packed with crashing cymbals and some raucous guitar riffing, bringing the big rock concert feel of Knebworth to the small outdoor stage.
Being situated a matter of minutes away from Rusholme, sheesha pipes are in abundance out in the grounds of The Rampant Lion, and through a haze of scented smoke comes the suitably psychedelic outfit of Butterfly Jam. Laid back vibes compliment the mid afternoon sunshine with funky rhythms and blissed out three-part harmonies, shimmering like heat rising off a hot road, while the drums offset the floating melodies with punchy driving rhythms, keeping the groove locked down.
Later on Salford outfit Monroe plays a set of covers which is well received as the crowd begins to get into the swing of things, but it’s another act from Salford that brings the festivities to life. As an instrumentalist myself, I’ve been privileged enough to work with Shauna in the past, but it was a real pleasure to hear her perform today. Backed by acoustic guitars and drums, the Dublin born and now Salford based singer got toes tapping and phones tweeting to the sound of her unique acoustic soul. With a handful of original material and a clever rendition of The Black Keys ‘Tighten Up’, Shauna Mackin helped light up the stage at Raw Fest and illuminated a few more to her music.
As the day wore on and the sun began to set, there were a few last fleeting glimmers of brightness, most notably the trumpet led shenanigans of Brouhaha and the hip-hop inspired Off The Record, bringing the days live music to a close. Raw Fest was a brilliant event and has set the standard for mini festivals, one that I can only hope more will follow. Now, with the sunshine a distant memory and the rain clouds once again swirling around, all I can say is this: BRING ON RAW FEST 2013!
Words by Jonny Lewis