Henry Lewis was in Salford on bank holiday Sunday to embark on a musical journey across the city.
Last updated: 5th May 2017. Originally published: 2nd May 2017
Image: Jody Hartley
With a line up curated by tonnes of top name promoters and labels, Salford's Sounds From The Other City was a true musical smorgasbord, spread across a weird and wonderful array of venues in the city.
With each stage all within walking distance of the festival's focal point at Islington Mill, SFTOC worked seamlessly well, with friendly faces, food stalls and bars aplenty making for a hugely enjoyable experience.
One of the busiest venues was The Old Pint Pot pub where, as well as housing performances both upstairs and downstairs, there was also the opportunity to enjoy a pint overlooking the River Irwell.
The permanently heaving top floor of the pub housed shows from Heavenly Records outfits including The Orielles and Amber Arcades, while downstairs the Pint Pot's own curated bill welcomed the likes of Lavender and slacker rock vibing five piece The Showers. While the beer garden was a tempting proposition for a bank holiday Sunday afternoon, there were plenty of other stages to visit.
A short walk down Chapel Street brought you to folk, Americana and experimental promoters Hey! Manchester, housed at the magnificent St Phillips Church. Taking a seat upstairs in the balcony of the church gave the best view across the whole building, which was truly exquisite with its huge stained glass windows and ornately tiled floor. Here, Tom Williams delivered his brand of country tinged rock and roll, which echoed emphatically in the huge venue.
With over 20 venues dotted around Salford there was plenty of opportunity to watch something totally out of the ordinary, and the laid back nature of the event lent itself well to this. Dropping into the United Reformed Church, which to the untrained eye could easily have been missed, led you to a deep and dark back room where Comfortable On A Tightrope were in charge of the musical proceedings. On hand to bring contemporary folk vibes where Cult Party, whose sincere melodies and lyrics married effortlessly with violins, sparse percussion and someone, incredibly, playing a saw.
The entire day undeniably felt like a journey through both music and also the history of the city. From student haunts such as the Pint Pot to religious buildings, via the industrial past of Islington Mill and the Regent Trading Estate, whichever way you look at it; despite being "the other city", Salford is perfectly equipped to hold an event as large and as vibrant as this.
Far from being just an event for guitar wielding acts, one of the stand out performances of the day came from Manchester MC Sleazy F Baby, who brought the fire to Bexley Live Square. With debut record All Blahk Tracksuit dropping last year, the rapper is on course for big things, and his performance in Salford was a high energy affair.
With big name promoters such as Now Wave and Grey Lantern involved, there was also appearances from bigger name acts such as Goat Girl, Plastic Mermaids, Vanishing Twin and Flamingods. It was Vanishing Twin who were the penultimate act at Grey Lantern's Regent Trading Estate base, bringing a totally immersive mish-mash of styles, with gentle pop drifting seamlessly into dramatic tribal drumbeats throughout the set.
Topping off the day of live music in Islington Mill's intimate club space were jangly Mancunian indie outfit Horsebeach. After launching third album Beauty & Sadness at Salford's Sacred Trinity Church only weeks before, the band looked totally at home, delivering plenty of tracks from the new record. There was also room toward the end for some of their older tracks, with 'Faded Eyes', 'It's Alright' and 'Andy' all featuring.
They concluded what was a brilliantly executed festival, which was undeniably one of the friendliest events you could wish to visit. There's absolutely no shortage of Manchester festivals, and Manchester is welcome to them. In Sounds From the Other City, Salford continues to deliver as an underdog, with a formula that has worked well for years, and will continue to do so in the future. It doesn't need to bring massive name headliners in, it will be absolutely fine in continuing to offer up a brilliant festival experience of discovery and total convenience.