After enjoying a thoroughly rip-roaring day and night a year ago, Far Out couldn’t help but return to Salford’s Chapel Street for the latest instalment of Sounds From the Other City.
Named so because of Salford’s sometimes neglected status compared to its big brother across the River Irwell, the festival has become a staple in the musical calendar, not just in Manchester but across the whole of the north of England.
This year saw organiser Mark Carlin oversee SFTOC number 11. Since its conception the festival has grown accommodate a greater number of venues, promoters, and exclusive one-off performances that you simply won’t catch anywhere else.
One of the most admirable things here is that while some events’ natural capitalism and quest to unlock the mainstream market can neutralise them and take away their vibrancy, SFTOC still has its roots firmly planted in local talent and gems plucked straight from the underground.
Then there is the festival’s ability to create a roulette-style sense of occasion by placing some of the most forward-thinking artists around in spaces that you would never otherwise expect to catch them in a million years. This is a feeling that is maintained throughout the day and night as we meander up and down Chapel Street exploring pubs, clubs, churches, community centres and even converted railway arches.
A trip to the modest surroundings of the Salford Arms leads us to the a bill curated by promoters Tru Luv, who have put on a mouth-watering spread of hip-hop and electronica including the likes of D/R/U/G/S and Voodoo Black – a project featuring Mouse Outfit collaborators Sparkz and Dubbel O.
However, it is another rapper from our favourite Mancunian hip-hop collective Black Josh who takes to the stage for a solo set. It’s a truly intriguing scene. At the bar, a couple of regular aren’t happy at having their usual quiet Sunday pint disrupted, and out the back of the pub a collection of revellers who seem to have little clue who is on inside gather to sample the delight’s of the courtyard barbecue and grab a quick smoke break.
But inside a dedicated and noticeably youthful crowd are enchanted as Black Josh treats them to the kind of verbal acrobatics and flawless flow that have had us hooked for some time now.
An added bonus comes when regular Mouse Outfit ally Truthos Mufasa joins Josh to run through a feel-good version of their stoner anthem ‘Sit Back’. Masterful.
Meanwhile over at St Philips Church where esteemed promoters Hey! Manchester have taken the reins for the evening, a spot of musical mixology is going on where punk-rockers PINS and local duo Brown Brogues have teamed up to form SFTOC’s very own super group.
Another intriguing use of space at the festival is the Angel community centre, which has been taken over by Grey Lantern, who present a Faux Discx showcase. It’s a label that has spawned countless favourites in recent months, providing us with Track of the Day picks from the likes of Primitive Parts and Omi Palone.
With a potent mix of punk, psych-rock and riff-heavy hedonism being the order of the day over here, it soon seems pretty obvious that this is the place to be. Personal highlights come in the shape of a double dose of Far Out favourite Lindsay Corstorphine, not with the aforementioned Primitive Parts who he is also a member of, but in the shape of grizzly post-punk outfit Sauna Youth and hypnotic fuzz-rockers Cold Pumas.
While Corstorphine’s performance with both projects is characterised by a wired-eyed intensity that makes you feel unsettled and entralled in equal measure, the main vocals from both bands come from the drummer. If that’s an issue for you (as it seems to inexplicably be for some) then stay away, but in our opinion the quality of the tunes make both simply too good to refuse. At risk of letting the odd highlight pass us by elsewhere, Sauna Youth and Cold Pumas make our night at the Angel Centre.
If there can be such a thing as a central hub at an event as sprawling and free as SFTOC, then it probably has to be Islington Mill. The venue for out visit to Hookworms’ Lost Weekend last year has this time been taken over by big time promoters Now Wave, who provide us with a near-perfect show from London-based psych-poppers Gengahr.
Nestling somewhere between the likes of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and MGMT, Gengahr very much live up to the recent hype that has seen them become on of 2015’s most hotly tipped acts. The winner of our Track of the Day slot a couple of weeks ago ‘Heroine’ is a real standout, but there is simply not a dud moment during this feast of catchy slices of indie that leave us gagging for more on the way out.
As we hurtle towards the early hours there is the inevitable nag of guilt that there was so much else going on the we simply could cram into the schedule, but one last hurrah and a visit to the Old Pint Pot – where rock ‘n’ roll has been traded in for avant garde techno and the deepest of deep house – is the perfect way for a woozy final blow out. To really take in the full extent of this all-out extravaganza, you can only really experience it for yourself. See you in 2016, there’s not a chance you’ll be disappointed.