Carefully Planned #5


It’s been a hard week, and as I get to Manchester’s gem The Northern Quarter, I doubt whether I’ll be able to fulfill the rather ambitious programme that I’ve arranged for A Carefully Planned Festival. It’s bloody Sunday and I feel so bloody tired, but I come across with a bizarre cyclist who drives a bicycle fully equipped with big speakers, playing loud, cheerful music. This is Manchester, I guess, and I take that as an energizing signal. Let’s get the party started.

First I meet Fuzzy Jones at Cord Café. I follow a sweet voice that comes downstairs. She’s performing in a tiny non-stage, with her acoustic guitar, her silky voice and her funky bohemian look. It’s a nice start for this unlimited festival (more than 150 bands in two days!!) that celebrates its fifth edition – Congrats!

The sound of gentle guitars (she is accompanied by another guitarist) and the sweetness of her voice bring some peace of mind. It feels like a warm hug in a winter’s day. “Where’s love? Where’s your life?”, she asks so patiently. The audience enjoys this bunch of witty songs about wrecked relationships. “Blood and coffee in the morning (…) don’t look at me until I have a coffee”. Softly sharp, softly accurate. Classy.

According to the festival’s guide, her genre is ‘junk shop folk’. Well, that’s weird, but I do agree with the similarity to Joni Mitchell’s voice, by your leave. By the way, the gig guide is one of the best things of this festival, I just can’t help laughing at all the ridiculously insane genres list: from ‘dream-pop-post-folk-neo-everything’ (Haiku Salut) to ‘schizophrenic pop soup + sweet mangoes on the side’ (JaJa OK) or the paradoxical ‘pre-post-punk’ (Doctrines), just to mention a few examples.

Then I pop into a flooded Gullivers to see the final cut of A Sudden Burst of Colour. Judging by their name, it could perfectly be a new makeup line. Don’t let their young, angel-faces mislead you though: they sound very powerful (and the venue’s very loud sound equipment enhances that as well).

The room is quite stuffy so I appreciate some fresh air. I leave Oldham Street behind and head for Aatma, former Kraak – God save this venue, so authentic! By the time I get there Campfires is already shaking the crowd. Kindly energetic, the Leeds’ trio easily connects with the audience thanks to their good vibes and funny jokes. Encouraged by the hilarious gig guide, I dare to say that Campfires is a blend of post-rock, progressive basis and a quite indie-like singing.

With no time to mess around – this all-you-can-hear revue makes me feel so happily anxious! I run to Night & Day to meet the noisy Kamikaze Girls. This raucous 2-piece from Leeds and Brighton growls and invades the air with harmonic grunge -this thing of inventing genres is like a drug, please somebody help me! It seems to me that drummer Conor Dawson is a bit far from the Nefertiti eyed lead singer and guitarist Lucinda Livingstone. Yet, their knowing looks overcome any distance. She sings from the very guts, sometimes out of tune but always properly convincing.

I read Annabel Allum in shiny letters at Night & Day’s ladies’ toilets. You can’t escape the music, definitely.

Carefully Planned #5

Carefully Planned #5

Due to logistic reasons I just manage to see the end of the show by Doctrines at the same venue. It’s a pity, because they seem to have great fun on the stage, healthily aggressive.

I jump into Mint Lounge by the last song –holy shit! of Blooms. Their self description as “Manc-miserablism + cali-surf” makes me very curious, so I’ll try to catch this dreamy-surf-noise-fun band as soon as I can.

Focus. The good time is far from its end. Back to Gullivers, I pretty much enjoy Politburo’s weird, psychedelic atmosphere. In contrast to bands’ model student look, lead singer wears a shabby poncho –he looks just nice! Applause for his amusing falsettos.

Special mention to Pifco, as they perform some heavily noisy punk stuff at Castle Hotel. High-pitched war cry and forceful beating. Original outfit, indeed. Sensitive ears, please hold back.

Back to Aatma Again –mental!, it’s crowded due to insanely talented Vasa, a thunderous instrumental post rock quartet from Glasgow. Beware of the naughty-kid-look-like bassist. Bit spooky –glubs!

My friend’s right: it looks like the very same passionate crowd from Vasa turns up to Delta Sleep at Night & Day. Or maybe it’s the vague feeling that we all know each other after partying for hours and hours and hours. Delta Sleep’s soundtrack is ideal for an unconsciousness pleasant state, as well as for an inspiring awakening.

I’m aware that it’s impossible to be in two places at the same time, but I’m a Schrödinger’s paradox fan so I’m at Gullivers again, deadly alive, listening to mind-blowing Mind Mountain. Painfully piercing but thankfully desert rock infused psychedelia.

One friend deserts afterwards. He goes back home in search of ibuprofen, but man, the right medicine is right here, at Aatma: ladies and gentlemen, meet the Bad Meds. They clear my stunned mind straight away. Genre? “Punk”. For fans of… “Punk”. Naturally.

A Carefully Planned Festival  Official | Facebook | Twitter

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!