bike

– ISLINGTON MILL, SALFORD –

After a windswept mass bike ride around the city centre, it is a short detour at the end of the route to converge at Islington Mill in Salford for the “I Bike MCR 2009 Festival” grand opening party. As well as live music in the downstairs room of this former cotton spinning mill, there is the “Rollapaluza Roller Racing”. This is where two cyclists battle it out on a pair of vintage rollers (bicycles without its front wheels) connected to a huge dial over a simulated 500m distance, which is a bit like an extreme sprint class.

The first to take to the stage in tonight’s lengthy line-up is “7 Hertz”. This Leeds trio give a chin stroking set of their classical jazz improve, that would not been out of place in the bohemian hangouts of the fifties. Next up is “Gareth S Brown” with his keyboard and laptop. Also from Leeds, he sits behind his two instruments of choice looking quite lonely and nervous. His entire set is made up of strange sounds and beats streaming from his laptop with the accompaniment of melodies thoughtfully bashed out on his keyboard.

Throughout both of these sets and all others to follow, is the constant distraction of the “Rollapaluza” racing which was only ten yards or so from the stage. Half way through a song you would suddenly be interrupted by the screams and encouraging shouts of the people watching the race entrants.

“Geekgirl” from Manchester are next up onstage and take us away from the previous avant-garde sounds emanating from the sound system. All dressed in white and with front woman Fia sporting a full tennis players outfit, they manage to retrieve some of the attention from the ongoing racing. The sound this semi acoustic trio provides is loud, powerful and grungy throughout.

As if listening to your varied music collection on the shuffle setting, “The Lovely Eggs” now take the reigns to put a massive fun filled smile across everyone’s face. Hailing from Lancaster, this couple brings a welcome break from anything that means anything. Their raw garage sound and simple uncomplicated lyrics can quite easily revert the most sensible of grown ups back to their rose tinted childhood days. Tracks such as “I Want To Fall Off My Bike Today” and “Jon Carling” could have easily been something that Holly or David overheard whilst walking past an enfant school playground and then elaborated on this to create a song. It is this beautiful and naïve unfussiness that sets them apart. As well as being a joy to listen to, both band members tonight have cheeky grins throughout, that give you the impression they may just have let off a stink bomb in the head masters office or put a whoopee cushion on his seat and then ran off before they can get caught. As they leave after giving us “Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion?” you are left with a feeling that you’ve managed to escape the confines and struggles of adulthood for a short while and nothing bad could ever happen in the world.

More fun is now starting with the arrival of “Hot Pants Romance”. This is now the time for anyone harboring feelings of music snobbery to clamber onto their saddles and pedal for the hills very quickly. These three girls (yes, all in hot pants), including their accident prone drummer, that seems to collect injuries in her spare time, are not professing to be talented musicians or singers. The noise they give always gets the same reaction from an unsuspecting audience. Leaving many scratching their heads as to whether they are for real or not. My answer to anyone asking this question is “Do they have to be?” and it would seem to be that I’m not the only one, as they get plenty of support slots and gigs.

We are now into the small hours of Saturday morning and the last two bands are of a similar ilk to each other, both giving us a lively ska punk set each. First is “John Player Special” and they seem to be slightly forgetting some of the, punk ethos by worrying about the quality of the sound and also refusing to play last. So to close this opening party is “The Autonamds”. They are a talented bunch with a message. Beanie on sax adds an extra element to the sound and also jumps in on vocals with Iain on occasions too. It may be late on in the evening, but with songs such as “Apocolypse No!” and “Great Benefit Cheat” the few remaining attendees have certainly been persuaded to find their dancing feet.

Simon Zaccagni

‘Accidental Editor’ None of this was planned; I’ve never been in a band, never been part of the ‘music scene’ and never expected to be the gaffer of a music website with loads of dedicated music loving writers. I bought my first record when I was 8 and haven’t stopped buying since. I love crate digging for bizarre and weird stuff, but equally happy ploughing through press releases looking/listening for something I’ve never heard before.