Sunny Saturday afternoon in Manchester (yes!) and it’s so tempting to leave everything behind and have a healthy sunbath. Duty calls however and when I get to Aatma, it feels like joining a vampires’ meeting. A nice crowd dances to the temperamental Psyblings. Sweet young insanity comes in spurts. Just a few hours earlier, we heard about Clinic headliners’ cancellation, “due to illness”.

Reverb mics make a funny effect when Psyblings’ singer speaks: “Fucking light!” he might be a bit annoyed with the badly-timed dazzling day.

I blink my eyes and suddenly a weird version of Johnny Thunders is standing next to me. Nothing to be surprised of, really.

When Phobophobes turn up, I’m quite dazed and confused due to the strong incense scent. I like the singer’s deep voice, which matches the vintage-horror-movie-like keys. The keyboard and bass players are so perfectly aligned that they look like a bicephalous crazy musician. I particularly enjoy their final magic-trick and the previous ‘No Flavour’: a great tune that may drive you to a dead end street, but it’s ok. Nihilist is the new sexy. Trust me.

Time to head for Night & Day and catch the super cool trio Cowtown. They play a ragbag of utterly catchy, raucous and punk-length songs at full gallop, insanely loud. At this point I remember this feature about the convenience of wearing earplugs at live shows. I might be getting old (Old is the new sexy. Trust me!)

“This song is about being confused about all things.” They end the show with a rather awkward staging: the three of them standing still, raising their weapons (guitar, drums and keys) up above their heads. Of course, a special mention to Wet Dreams DJ, who fills the gaps between the sets with the finest music.

Same day, same venue. Now it’s locals Enemies Eyes’ turn. This band is the hidden gem of the festival for me. Gritty psychedelia with a dash of dirt blues. Singer/guitarist Aisling Davis’ piercing shrieks won’t leave you indifferent. She has some shots of whiskey every now and then. Sponsored booze or just clearing the throat? Classy, either way.



A maintenance stop is much needed now so my friends and I have a fast and sneaky suspicious curry. The next 24 hours will be critical, we all agree. Feeling a bit guilty and miserable for having missed Novella and Secret Fix, I head for Night & Day again, which is packed as Californians Triptides are about to start their surf-pop-rock-soaked daydream trip. I can’t tell whether the angel-faced frontman’s permanent smile is reassuring or disturbing, as if he knows something that we just don’t. He says he’s glad to be in a “cool place” like Manchester, and mentions bands such as Hipshakes among other cool bands. Superb performance of ‘Mary Anne’, playful yet undoubtedly powerful. Equally mind-warping are ‘Who Knows’, ‘Night Owl’ and ‘Graveyard’, just to name a few.

A local psych veteran shares his enthusiasm with me: “They’re fucking great!!!”. They are, indeed. Pretty Things. We rush back to Aatma, catch a glimpse of Mancunian Watchmakers and its absorbing, hypnotic melodies. Back in Night & Day (exhausting!). With having Clinic out of the line-up, Telegram Londoners are the well-deserved kings of the night. They give us a stunning performance, just merciless.

After ‘Inside/Outside’ and its smashing intro, that’s a fact: there’s something in their commonly accepted weirdness that makes them interesting. Plus, they’re the perfect example that sometimes –only sometimes-, good decisions are made out of a drunk silly joke. Ask them if not how they got their session with the great Marc Riley. ‘Follow Follow’ is a smash hit, no doubt. People go mental with their high-octaned, uncontrolled blast. Hats off to their David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ cover and singer/guitarist Matt Saunders seems to have so much electricity to spare…They sweat –which it’s always a good sign for me, and we sweat with them. It’s really stuffy and the glitter is melting all over our twisted faces. An insane mosh-pit, a spontaneous fan appears out of the blue on the stage and dives into the crowd after a less-than-a-minute of glory.

Encore’s corner



I stay for the psychic aftermath –sorry, afterparty at Night & Day, just because I take my job very seriously, right? I’m also curious about what the Telegram guys are doing on the turntables.

Bassist Oli Paget-Moon is first at the helm with a cracking ‘Down Down’ by Status Quo, driving the already feverish crowd even madder. Soon after frontman Matt Saunders joins him and they both start pressing all the buttons they feel curious about, like two kids with a brand new toy on Christmas Day. Then there’s a total eclipse of brief/eternal silence. They keep trying and experimenting nervously though. Hilarious!

Tonight I’m wearing my invisibility cape so I can watch the whole scene without being noticed at all –this is any voyeur’s dream, innit? The crowd dances out-of-their-minds on the ridiculously slippery dance floor. It’s so nice to see many of the musicians that have been performing earlier amongst the fans, dancing with them, making the party even greater!

A guy takes off his shirt and shakes his body as if he owns the world. And for a couple of songs, he certainly rules this mad world.

Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!