Sun. Salford and Sounds from the Other City (SFTOC). 2015’s exhibition of talent was as inspired as any.
Each arena embodied a distinctively beatnik baring. Now Wave’s takeover of the iconic, medieval terrain of St Philips Church – towering within its stature, the venue is one of Salford’s primary historical hotspots – fused seismic artists that flattered the crushing acoustics of the space. Winner of Piccadilly Records’ Album of the Year Jane Weaver’s voice has rarely sounded better; meandering through tracks from ‘The Silver Globe’ and pushing through the reverberating atmosphere of the humbling surroundings. Pinkshinyultrablast also sounded vast as their blend of ardent electronica meets cinematic grandeur cooling.
The hardened metal bar – The Crescent – housed Gizeh Records and Little Red Rabbit. Renowned for their avant-garde roster – all acts highlighted this with warped imagery and disturbed undercurrents regularly exploding – the dark edge to their stage complimented the vast genres covered at SFTOC. Naked (On Drugs) – deftly spoken patterns entangle with brash jazz stabs generating a typically bizarre allure – and Last Harbour – Warsaw charging guitars meeting harsh vocal patterns that refuse to simmer – consolidated the labels’ alternative sensibilities. Ironically the strident, thrashing that is routinely performed at The Crescent was in abundance at The Old Pint Pot with Fat God’s “perfect marriage of bile, brutalism ad beauty”; normally home to Salford University’s finest, innovative alumni, here distortion was at the crux of the billing. Denim & Leather tore. Bexley Square Tent offered up sun-kissed acoustics; Songs for Walter calmly ailing Bank Holiday warmth with his pleasing compositions, Liz Green and Aidan Smith.
Islington Mill and First Chop Brewing Arm exuded a similar contorted vitality. The harsh electronics of Paddy Steer – dressed in an outlandish monster outfit, the twisting sequencers made for bizarre viewing – fuelled the underground brewing lair into frenzies of intoxicated grooving. And hats off to the food; those jalapeño burgers second to no taste sensation at all. Except perhaps the Toc ale. Islington Mill – the hub once more for SFTOC – had a more independent feel; Groves starting the frolics before Gengahr finished them.
At 10 years old, SFTOC remains Salford’s musical identity. The artists it welcomes generate a buzz not experienced across the Irwell in Manchester. It is Salford’s heartbeat; a welcome break from the modern frustrations in a hipster haven unlike any other.
Words by Clive K Hammond