Neighbourhood Festival 2019


It’s the morning after my best mate’s 21st birthday and believe you me, my body is feeling it. The beautiful sight of a sunny Manchester (which is rare these days) is slowly curing my soul, and the inevitably incredible Neighbourhood Festival is the light at the end of the tunnel.

The day starts in the beautifully welcoming Gorilla venue, and the act to kick us into action is The Magic Gang. It’s no secret that these guys know how to get a crowd bouncing, and with the place bursting at the seams, the countdown to kick-off feels as euphoric as a space station’s launch day.

Opening with big hitter ‘All This Way’, the tone is set for a fantastic set by the Brighton quartet. The first set of the day at a festival can always be difficult, but Manchester is in the party mood, and that gets rewarded with a performance of new and unreleased songs.

The ice in my drink slaps my lips as I finish round one, and we quickly scuttle over to our next venue, Refuge. Football FC are on stage for round two, and the audaciously raw sound really does wake up the neighbourhood. This is my first ever experience of Football FC but instrumentally, there really is some potential. Groovy, hard hitting riffs, and aggressive vocals make it almost impossible to not want to dance. The infectious band is fronted by a lead singer whose suggestive eyes encourage the cocktail of a crowd to get their dancing shoes on, but before you know it, that familiar empty cup scenario repeats, and we’re straight back over to Gorilla, to catch band number three, Snapped Ankles.

I have to say, it might have been worthwhile doing some research on this next band before today, because right now I’m witnessing music from another planet. Otherworldly would be seen as a compliment, so I won’t use that word, but with warping, alien sounding synths, and what sounds like gibberish lyrics, I’m questioning whether I accidentally fell through a worm hole when making my way to this set. Believe it or not though, it gets weirder, these…things?…are wearing the craziest masks you’ve ever seen, it’s almost like a family of Chewbaccas formed a band and took a fuck load of liquid acid. It all gets a bit too much, even for Manchester, and we make our way to the Academy for the first time today, to witness some human music, The Sherlocks.

Boy bands struggle to make a name for themselves in the large sea of indie music, but The Sherlocks have sure learnt how to surf. What feels like a mix of early Arctic Monkeys and Courteeners sends the Manc crowd into a frenzy. On the back of the release of their latest single, ‘Under Your Sky’, The Sherlocks are continuing their great momentum into their live shows. Whilst blasting out their most famous tune ‘Chasing Shadows’, it becomes very clear to me that these guys aren’t chasing shadows at all, they are the bright light themselves, with an even brighter future.

The day is growing old now, but it’s all about the young music today, with the fresh faces of Ten Tonnes next. Ethan Barnett, using his stage name of Ten Tonnes, is the younger brother of another successful musician – you might have heard of him, his name is George Ezra.

Barnett’s debut album was only released five months ago, but the crowd here in Manchester’s O2 seem to know every track. For the ones with slightly less familiar ears, the set list is peppered with covers, including ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup’, showing the band’s diversity.

Now time to go down under, no not the outback, even if the music does reek of King Gizzard influences, but the basement of our next venue, YES. This would be to witness the local newcomers and underground artist, Idle Hours. Since their debut release, Powder White, back in April 2018, the Mancunians have become a regular name on the doors of these Manchester venues. The band’s lyrics tackle social media and the digital dystopia that it creates. Political influences also shine through, but then again, who isn’t singing about the shit show that we’re witnessing at the moment?

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Personally, Idle Hours were the highlight of today’s festival, with infectious tunes, great lyrics, and what can only be a great future for this band. There were more empty cups on the floor than there were fans at the show, but when has that ever been the telling tale of a band’s success? Even Alex Turner has “played to quiet rooms like this before”.

As the sky gets darker, the acts seem to get brighter, now with a hugely exciting and mesmerising rock band from Cardiff. All credit has to be given for the group’s name; originally known as Buzzard, after some copyright malarkey their name changed somewhat…or should I say copy and pasted. Welcome to the stage, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. This is the final act as far as my night goes, and I most certainly saved the best for last.

We’re situated in the Night People venue for our conclusive set, but the capacity is redundant, an almost packed out basement sees one of the most exciting bands to explode out of the Welsh music scene to date, with influences ranging from John Lennon to T. Rex and even Father John Misty. This band has all the hits with that extra element of wit. If glam rock graced this planet before you did, then don’t worry, because it is back, and better than ever, in the shape and form of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard.

Ultimately, and I’m sure Idle Hours would agree, festivals such as Neighbourhood show that in this day and age of technology and nonsense, it is still possible for us to produce, discover and obsess over what are some of the most talented and mind-blowing bands on the planet.

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