Photo by Peter Rea


What a difference a year makes. I had a fantastic time at Cosmosis 2015, despite feeling as though I was at an illegally organised psych fest in a crack den… in fact, maybe it was partly because it felt like an illegally organised psych fest in a crack den. The Victoria Warehouse is a sizeable upgrade in scale and in class in comparison to Antwerp Mansion, but there’s a downside; the security at the door this year seems a little excessive – serious looking uniformed staff rigorously pat-down and search absolutely everyone, while the muffled sound of the band that I’d arrived half an hour early to see, bleeds through the walls. I’m just here for the music, man.

Lola Colt kick things off on the main Air stage. This London based sextet have a touch of Jefferson Airplane about them, crossed with Ennio Morricone … like PJ Harvey circa 1994, with extra Americana. The wonderfully named dutch singer Gun Overbuy (which is also a socio-political statement about the USA) struts about the stage, strangling her guitar and wailing into the mic, while wearing a silver sequinned dress that reflects the kaleidoscopic imagery on the screen behind her. I just love her vocal style – backed with a pounding drum beat, shimmering guitars and deep bass, I’m hooked. This is exactly what’s needed to get us in the mood. One of the singles from their 2014 debut album Away From The Water, ‘Vacant Hearts’, along with the extended and outstanding title track, are the highlights of a thrilling set.


Lola Colt by Peter Rea

A short stroll past the bar and we’re in the Water stage, where Austin five-piece Holy Wave have filled the space to bursting point with blissful, sun-drenched Velvet Underground vibes. Kids with glitter all over their faces sway with closed eyes and smile at each other during a hypnotic, shoegaze, feel-good set, where the slow ‘California Took My Bobby Away’ shines above the rest.

Upstairs, there’s an exhibition of trippy looking sculptures, as well as stalls manned by locals artists and photographers. The screen print and t-shirts here are outstanding, especially those by Beyond the artwork is the Aether stage, where I found The Longcut playing to another packed, and dancing audience. There’s something for everyone.

The Raveonettes bring a laid-back sense of style to the Air stage, in a largely black and white, minimal arrangement. Danes Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo stand either end of the large stage while the heavy industrial fuzz of ‘Sisters’, from their last album Pe’ahi, thrills the spellbound crowd. But it’s the addictive beat and sharp guitars of ‘Aly, Walk With Me’ that brings about the first spontaneous loud roar of appreciation, tonight.

With all suitably warmed up, the Air stage steadily fills to capacity in anticipation of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The first sight of Joel Gion sends the crowd wild, and Anton Newcombe’s presence cranks it up a few more notches… they haven’t even picked up their instruments, yet. They start slow with ‘Wasted’, but it’s not long before Anton realises he doesn’t have a setlist. Someone is in trouble and the crowd are egging him on, calling for blood. What better way to turn the mood than with a thrilling rendition of ‘Who’? Everyone merrily sings along to the chorus that’s impossible not to singalong to… ‘WOOOOO!’ But then someone picks up the wrong guitar for the next song. Here we go again.


Brian Jonestown Massacre by Peter Rea

Tess Parks is an inevitable surprise guest, following her recent superb collaboration album with Anton. They sing ‘Pish’, from The BJM’s most recent release Mini Album Thingy Wingy and it proves to be a highlight, along with crowd pleaser ‘Anenome’, which raises he roof and is possibly the best moment of the entire evening. Between songs, the crowd start on each other, attempt to barge their way to the front, try to wind up Anton, heckle him for complaining at his fellow musicians/crew… how many other bands create such an edgy and passionate reaction as this, each time they play? Crowd surfing is possibly the only way you can legitimately get away with kicking someone in the head, so there’s plenty of that going on. Girls on shoulders sway their hands, and beer cans fly (thankfully) just short of their target (Anton). In the meantime, Joel nonchalantly stands there and shakes his tambourines, looking as though he’s just woken up. I bloody love this band.

‘I’ve Been Waiting’ calms things down a little and also leaves a big impression. Another new one ‘Here Comes The Waiting For The Sun’ steadily increases the tempo and is another high point, with a repetitive beat that eventually breaks down into a gorgeous, trippy, dreamlike state. But then it’s one of my personal favourites ‘When Jokers Attack’, and everyone just loses their shit. Long surviving band member Ricky Maymi showcases his guitar skills superbly, in amongst the chaos, with a fine solo. ‘The Devil May Care’ has the crowd singing again, and during the finale, they leave everything on the stage – the 4 guitars build a crescendo, one of Joel’s 5 maracas flies out of his hand, the walls collapse inwards and everyone is buried under a mountain of rubble. Great show, guys.

After dashing to the Water stage, I catch the end of Esben and The Witch‘s set, which is competing for noise with Sleaford Mods, in the next room. Not ideal. Unfortunately, I must have missed the stunning ‘Deathwaltz’. This Brighton-based three piece appear to be suppressing anger throughout, in a broody and dark set that’s driven by deep pounding drum beats and echoey guitars. When trying to play a new tune to us, which starts slow, they’re drowned out by some bloke next door who’s shouting about stuff over the top of a drum loop wot his mate did. It’s frustrating, but I guess I’ll just have to catch them (for the 4th time) when they’re in Manchester again. Without The Sleaford Mods.


White Hills by Peter Rea

My legs are starting to give up on me, so I wander around for a while. I’m sorry, I’m not too keen on generic eighties drum beats (or most eighties music), so I give The Jesus and Mary Chain a miss. New York’s White Hills put on a superb, energetic and entertaining show, as do Ringo Deathstarr… until I have no choice but to take the weight off my feet. Well, it is 2am. The Allah-Las are a great choice to close proceedings, and are well worth the wait. The Air stage gradually fills as everyone left standing congregates for this LA band’s brand of cheerful and nostalgic surf rock. There’s drunken dancing and a chilled, content feeling in the room. Especially during ‘Sandy’. A girl asks me the name of the band, and I think she thought I was making it up when I told her.

The Victoria Warehouse is a great venue, it reminds me in many ways of Liverpool Psych Fest’s Camp and Furnace. In fact, many things tonight reminded me of Liverpool Psych Fest. In a few years, maybe it’ll attain the same kind of status? If Cosmosis continues to grow at the pace it has from last year to this, the sky’s the limit. Other than the expensive token system for buying drinks, the massive queues for food, the overzealous security and the Water and Earth stages being too close to each other, it all worked out pretty well. Same again next year?

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.