Now in it’s ninth year, Sounds From The Other City celebrates all that’s new and experimental in music. In recent years it’s provided opportunities to see bands either starting out or at least heading on their way up, with the likes of The Ting Tings, Alt-J, Wu Lyf and Dutch Uncles all performing here early in their careers.
I headed out to Salford to see what all the fuss was about – and wasn’t disappointed. Spread over eight venues, there was only one band I had heard of on the bill, so it became a bit of pot luck what I saw (part of the fun, I suppose). I decided to take a safe option, and divide my time between Peel Hall (programmed by Now Wave) at Salford Art Gallery and the unlikely First Chop Brewing Arm – a micro brewery in a railway arch (programmed by Hey! Manchester). With these guys programming, I knew I’d be in for some interesting audible treats.
At Peel Hall, I caught Face & Heel, an electronic duo in the mould of chvrches, singer/songwriter Eaves (cracking voice) and, to finish, PINS – the one band I had heard of. At the First Chop Brewing Arm, I caught Gay – an experimental band from Toronto (and ace), Thomas Truax – who really defies description, but if pressed I’d describe him as an off-off Broadway David Byrne, (at one point he left the bemused audience scratching their heads as he exited out the front of the venue, still singing, only to re-enter the building from the back entrance, serenading the occupants of the ladies’s toilets). Quite deliciously bewildering.
My last act in the micro brewery were the incredible Solids. Guitarist, drummer, fast, indescribably LOUD. This venue, by the way, has the most fantastic acoustics – down to the arched ceiling, and (I’m reliably informed by Hey! Manchester’s Chris Horkan) a really shit-hot sound engineer.
In between hops across from one venue to the other, I managed to catch the starts of Las Kellies at The Old Pint Pot, Monkey Puzzle Trio at Maxwell Hall and Islaja at The Crescent. Not a bad result for four hours work. Incidentally, the food and beer were great and relatively inexpensive (£3 a pint? Cheers), the venues weren’t too far away from each other,and the festival has that rare quality you only get from programming well, paying attention to detail, and investing a great deal of love: atmosphere.
Review and images by Chris Payne
Main image: Thomas Truax at Sounds From The Other City Festival, Salford
What: Sounds From The Other City
More info: http://soundsfromtheothercity.com/