It’s a rare warm sunny day in Manchester and along with an estimated half a million other people today we’re off to see some live music with big hitters Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys and The Killers in town not to mention Elvis Costello and Parklife happening, today is the busiest day Manchester has experienced on the calendar since the Covid outbreak and it shows -the sat nav is sending us on a magical mystery tour of southeast Manchester trying to avoid the jams and eventually we end up at The Klondyke in Levenshulme for the 1st ever Neck Of The Woods festival, a celebration of grassroots music happening in Manchester right now.
1st thing that strikes us is what a fantastic setting The Klondyke is. A magnificent building with a large old bowling green outside, Ideal for this sort of event. The traffic meant we missed Cory Fosters but thanks to some late running times we caught…
…Man & Boy and “Boy” is he a great drummer, loved the track Fight Club.
The Be Positives have a sound full of harmonies that’s not too dissimilar to The Coral at times and have a bassist who has more than a passing image of the legendary Dave Grohl.
Mercy Kelly, a very professional and confident set from some young lads whose music and songwriting are well above the average for their years.
Tay Temple, a mainly female band with some great deep and dirty riffs in their tunes – also hats off to Tay who lasted and saw out the entire festival after her performance.
Meek, the 2nd best new find of the day, is another mainly female band with just 1 male member like Tay Temple but with a twist rarely seen. In an industry so focused on image and/or youth its refreshing to see Mum’s giving it a go and what a go they did, absolutely brilliant performance that you couldn’t help but smile to whilst watching, Pity Party is a belter of a song so if this is a new category of music – Mum Rock then sign me up!
Alex Spencer a young 14-year-old and his band. One to keep an eye on in the coming years no doubt as there’s some talent in those young bones.
The Cultures. Solid performance despite a few technical issues, not especially my personal type of music being of a more mainstream Indie type vibe but perfectly executed despite said issues and speaking to others later on they really enjoyed their set. I prefer my music to be a little quirky or different and that sums up…
…Minerva Daisy almost perfectly, they’re a sort of less shouty Florence and the Machine, fantastic vocals and rather chilling well until they threatened us with a Bruno Marrs cover and the power failed so back inside to check out…
…Hunter and the Wolves who on balance I think were my personal favourite new find of the day, a big groove going on with this band and if you like say The Eagles Of Death Metal and/or The Fratellis then you’ll love the sound from this band.
Test Card Girl. The 1st act of the day I’ve already previously seen before and as I’ve previously mentioned I like my music quirky and different and this lady nails both perfectly, wonderful tunes to chill out to in the sunny weather, think of a Lily Allen style vocal but with well written and intelligent lyrics and you’ve got her.
Easter, the band not the bunnies and chocolate eggs now and there’s some quality indie rock from the most “mature” band members of the day, a good solid set.
Mr Matthew Fisher , the penultimate outside act, another quirky band, I got tones of Jarvis Cocker and Spector about their performance even though nothing sounding similar that they performed, just a general vibe he/the band gave out but unfortunately we had to cut our time with them short to catch…
…The Perps. Now if you want to wrap up the last 35 years of Manchester’s Madchester scene then I give you The Perps, top fun and energetic feel-good music performed with pure Manchurian passion.
Urban Theory, unfortunately with schedules slipping we didn’t get to see much of Theory’s acoustic set, the outside stages headliners but enjoyed what little we caught.
Pagans SOH – Ive been following these for a few years now and watching them progress, one of the few non Manchester-based bands playing today, West Broms Pagans SOH have been setting some musical roots in the city so I knew what to expect from this band and boy they didn’t disappoint! Without a doubt the performance of the festival, had everyone watching raving about them afterward. What do they sound like? That’s a tough one as it’s pretty unique. Hip-hop/funk/reggie with a liberal dose of metal thrown in for good measure, it’s chaotic, high energy-powerful stuff and it’s clear why the band gain more followers with every gig they play. Following them was going to be a tough act.
The Haciendas were the ones to have to, thankfully they had plenty of support from fans of theirs here tonight who love what they do, this is my 2nd time seeing them and although something isn’t clicking with myself and the band they’re gaining a lot of love with the locals so guessing it’s some sort of Manchurian connection I lack.
Suave Martyrs however is a band I can get fully on board with. I’ve heard nothing but good things about these young lads and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint, great tunes, great sound, and a great performance, they’re gaining a decent young following and it’s easy to see why. I expect them to be playing some of the city’s larger venues within a few years if tonight’s performance is anything to go by.
Dirty Laces, being no stranger to them it’s great to see things going from strength to strength and their performance tonight backed this up dirty raw tunes that could have been written in the 60’s and 70’s and brought into the 2020’s it’s refreshingly different yet familiar to well seasoned rock music lovers and a bit of a shame that due to the overrunning they, unfortunately, had to finish the set before the curfew kicked in, probably the 1st time the Song You has been less than 10 mins long when performed live
And so on that the 1st ever Neck Of The Woods festival ended, a few lessons learned when chatting to Ruth one of the organizers “It was unfortunate that there were so many events on the same weekend. When we initially looked at dates that the venue had available, only a few larger events were showing up and our festival was booked well in advance. So we were just unlucky!”
I’d say possibly turn it into a 2 day festival or better stage set ups to aid transitions but on the whole, it was a fantastic day and I’ve been too much worse well-established ones.
Fingers crossed for it to happen again next year to showcase more of what Manchester’s next generation of bands have to offer, going by today the future is very bright for the city and I can’t wait to see more.