If you can’t face the thought of toiling round fields for hours or days on end trying to see bands in far flung corners of the site, then a city centre festival is just the thing.
And Manchester’s Neighbourhood was indeed the aforementioned ‘just the thing’.
In the space of nine hours I managed to cram in complete sets by 11 bands, the vast majority of them new to me and, as well as being new, good too.
I’ll admit to being quite easy to please music wise but the success rate on the day was extremely high and is either a reflection on the current healthy state of indie music in this country, excellent curation by the festival organisers or a combination of both.
All the venues were in and around Oxford Road and meant that by some judicious selection you would have time to leave one, stroll to the next and get a drink in with a couple of minutes to spare.
I won’t go through all eleven in detail but these are the edited highlights.
In the basement of fairly swanky looking new bar/eatery/venue Yes, Asylums had a much bigger crowd than their ridiculously early time slot might have indicated but their set proved exactly why they were such a draw.
With a powerfully clean and angular indie-rock sound they blew me away, setting a ridiculously high standard for the rest of the day.
Essex boys BILK played upstairs in Revolution, were incredibly young and angry and could go on to be either the new Jam or the new Hard-Fi. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Another Sky took over Refuge and came across like a female-fronted Radiohead in one of their less obtuse moods. The closing song, Avalanche, was exceptional.
A new venue for me was The Bread Shed where Sea Girls played to a packed house and looked like stars already. I think I was the only one not singing every word. At home I played some of their stuff and didn’t like it as much as their live show had made me think I would, but that shouldn’t detract from their hugely crowd-pleasing appeal.
Just around the corner I watched whenyoung and Fuzzy Sun back to back in The Deaf Institute.
Irish three-piece – although now ensconced in London – whenyoung looked like 70s New Wave throwbacks but sounded modern and shiny and new with glistening indie melodies.
I can’t listen to Fuzzy Sun enough at the moment and their time on the Institute stage was the first time I’ve seen them live. Not disappointed at all.
If you like pop and soul with an 80s edge and added indie suss then these are the band for you.
A special mention for Declan Welsh and the Decadent West who played in what seemed the highly inappropriate venue for them of upstairs at Revolution where their left wing polemic was completely at odds with the glitter ball and cocktails of their surroundings.
They took no prisoners and somewhere, I’m sure, Joe Strummer was nodding approvingly.