Photos by Jody Hartley
“A festival like no other” is what we’ve said about Sounds From The Other City in years previous, and there is no way we’re retracting the statement in 2018. Indeed if I could accentuate the statement, I would. This year, Salford – Manchester’s ‘other city’ – became SoundsTown, a discombobulated place of nutty characters with each venue acting as shops and services within the town. A brilliant concept helped out by a scorchingly hot day, we start the day at SoundsTown Town Hall to collect our wristbands and the SoundsTown gazette for all our up to date news on local news and stage times.
After a surprisingly long queue, we head to the furthest fields of SoundsTown to fivefourstudios for Manchester born and bred artist [ K S R ]. The small white room is the perfect location for this early afternoon set as beautifully swirling visuals are projected behind him. I was naively expecting a far-out venue early in the day to cause a lack of attendance, but how wrong I was. The busy room sways in agreement with [ K S R ]’s heartfelt music and there is perhaps too much audience participation every time he tries to explain how his name is stylised and his multitude of social media handles. Precise and intellectual gentle hip-hop was an ideal way to start the day, watch out for this one.
The best thing about Sounds From The Other City is that it’s the ONLY day/metropolitan festival that actually feels like a real festival, not just going between locations to see some music. Extravagant decoration and special events between venues creates the effect of an authentic festival site and truly brings people together as a community in the process. Next, we head over to SFTOC central at the Regents Trading Estate which houses Now Wave and Heavenly Recordings’ stages. Set between them is a large area of bars and food, centred by a party tent with loud music booming from 2 til 10pm, afternoon drunk dancing required (pictured below).
Heading into Heavenly Recordings’ stage, the room is packed out for next up: Hatchie. The Australian musician is on a steady rise up to indie stardom and deservedly so. Accompanied by her full band, there is no hesitation diving into Hatchie’s endless pool of delightful dream-pop. ‘Sugar & Spice’ shows off her lusciously alluring vocal tone which blends perfectly with the reverb-soaked instrumental. As the last strum of ‘Sleep’ rings out, there is slight awkward laughter from band and crowd alike as the resounding pumping bass only a couple of metres away reveals itself. At any other gig it might have ruined the vibe but at Sounds, it’s just another part of a fun, wonderful day. The set finishes with the undeniably brilliant ‘Sure’ and we all sing along to “You say you want it to be over, but is it ever really over?” inside really wishing that this performance would never end.
The rest of the day consists of running around Salford’s resident favourite pub The Old Pint Pot dipping in out and of killer and seriously packed out sets from The Foetals, White Room and topped by off Manchester’s own W.H Lung. Named after a local Chinese supermarket, the band specialise in post-punk with some time to kill. With only a few tracks lasting less than 6 minutes, the stampeding drums, fuzzy guitars and swirling synths almost hypnotise the crowd with their unstoppable rhythms. Heads and feet bop uncontrollably to ‘Nothing’ – you can actually see the disillusioned look on people’s faces as the song stops, you really feel these songs could go on forever and you wouldn’t even realise – which almost happens with phenomenal set closer and debut hit single ‘Inspiration!’.
As the live music dies down, SFTOC hosts a range of afterparties and late-night soirées to keep you up until the early hours. Unfortunately, I could only go to one, but I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. Manchester’s own Thirsty Girls Collective took over the Salford Arms and redecorated it to become the one and only Moe’s Bar for their legendary Homerpalooza night. Everyone loves The Simpsons, and only losers don’t like drag, so we were correct in knowing all the best vibes would be at their Simpsons-themed drag night. DJs playing songs from the show plus classic 00s pop bangers interjected by short skits from the incredible ladies on stage – we couldn’t have picked a better way to end one of the best days of the year.
See you in 2019!!!