Sounds From The Other City 2018


Once a year the incredible people behind Sounds From The Other City (SFTOC) turn a section of Chapel Street and the surrounding area into an oasis of the best new music in the country that’s like a playground to explore and discover your next favourite band. Over 130 acts play across 20 odd venues, with line ups compiled by promoters like Now Wave, Strange Days, Heavenly Records and Tru Luv, and every year it gets bigger and better, and this being the 14th edition is surely the biggest and best of them all. This is in no small part due to the unbelievable weather this early Bank Holiday weekend has blessed us with; Salford looks absolutely resplendent, bathed in stunning rays and hipsters dressed inappropriately for the heat (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much in my life…it’s what I do to bring you dispatches from music events…you’re welcome).

This year Salford has been transformed into ‘Soundstown’ with its own mayor, dog show (no, really), screen printers and much, much more; there’s plenty to do besides listening to some of the most exciting new music in the country. But the music is what I’m here for, and arriving at 3pm there’s time for a couple of quick tinnies on the grass outside the wristband exchange in the glorious sunshine, before I start exploring this colossal buffet of fresh sounds. I start at Now Wave’s stage, a converted industrial unit next to Islington Mill, which is a bit of a hub for the festival to see Leeds four piece Mush. They’re the spit of indie slacker heroes Parquet Courts, with one brilliant song ‘Alternative Facts’ running for what feels like 10 mins of perfect guitar rock driven by krautrock rhythms and ripping guitar solos, I love it. With bands only getting around half an hour each, it’s a perfect introduction to their sound and leaves plenty of time to see as much as possible.

After a brief break which includes some storming Taiwanese chicken and a couple of cans of Magic Rock’s wonderful Inhaler (they are providing the beer for the whole fest – another treat), it’s down the road to fivefour studio where Tru Luv are holding court, which has a paddling pool outside to cool down in, with some intrepid people dipping their feet in in the late afternoon sun, I can only assume that come 10pm or so there were full on swimmers in there. I’m here to see Pearl City, local duo Nick and Greta, who make soaring pop music set to intricate beats and it’s stunning. Greta is a brilliant front woman, clutching a bunch of foliage she stalks around the stage, dancing and beguiling like a young Kate Bush, unleashing an impressive set of vocals that stun the 60 or so people here into a kind of awe. I think a few people have found their early new favourite right here, me being one of them.

It’s back over to the industrial units next, this time to the one housing Heavenly Recordings who have pulled a blinder by putting Hatchie on their bill. Aussie Harriette Pilbeam has already released one of the best guitar pop songs this year in the Pitchfork approved ‘Sleep’, and based on her performance to a packed out crowd here, there’s plenty more where that came from. With her band she performs half an hour of guitar pop that could soundtrack any late 90s/early 2000s American teen films (a golden era for the genre – 10 Things I Hate About You being the pinnacle, but I digress), which is a compliment of the highest order.

Drahla, the Hookworms approved Leeds trio (indeed, joined on stage by Hookworms’ MJ playing guitar for a band he produced) are upstairs at the Old Pint Pot, where Strange Days have put an impressive line up together, and are on ferociously loud form, nailing through their set of post punk rockers at a rate of knots. After a quick jaunt back to fivefour studio to catch an energetic Suzi Wu (still no pool swimmers, alas), it was time to set up camp at Grey Lantern’s stage in the downstairs at Hot Bed Press, for the quite exceptional run of Happy Meals, Not Waving and Lorenzo Senni, for it is now the electronic hours, and I’m ready to throw down some serious shapes.

Not Waving

Happy Meals start the run off nicely, with Suzanne Rodden providing the performance of the night, wading into the crowd, writhing on the floor, climbing amp stacks and generally being awesome, whilst Lewis Cook creates some seriously cool synth grooves for Rodden to ride on. The act of the day, however, is 100% Not Waving, who throws down an absolutely immense, pummelling, transfixing techno set that sets the Hot Bed Press on fire, and where pretty much all of my aforementioned shapes are thrown right out, for nearly an hour, alongside a throng of people dancing their little legs off and smiling their little faces off at just how brilliant the Italian Alesso Nataliza is. Simply stunning, a recommendation from a friend, and a firm new favourite – this is what SFTOC is all about. Lorenzo Senni follows, and whilst he is technically flawless, he doesn’t move me like Not Waving did (both figuratively, and literally) so I leave after a few tracks to enter the balmy Salford night in search of some after party action, which I find at Islington Mill in the shape of a rapper atop of someone’s shoulders which is great but I have no idea who, or what is going on. I finish up at the Old Pint Pot again to catch Boredom, whose first live show is right here, and which features Delphic frontman James Cook. An incredibly impressive set up, they have no laptops and a glut of analogue synths to play with, and they bring a bright, hypnotic groove to the people still standing at 1am, which bodes well for the future.

And with that, I’m done. SFTOC is the best music event (hell, might be the best event full stop) that Salford, and indeed Manchester, has to offer. Year after year they outdo themselves, creating a paradise of music, art and culture where you can wander round with no plans and discover some of the best new music around by accident. Everyone is having the best time, you make brief new friends who have just fallen in love with the same act that 5 minutes previously you had no idea what they even sounded like, and the booze is great. The people involved deserve all the credit that is thrown at them, for SFTOC is a special, special place. Here’s to next year, yeah?

Sounds From The Other City: Official | Twitter